Publishing a book is a long process, and there are a multitude of people who have made careers out of helping authors get through it. Unfortunately, not many people are...
Marketing may not be the first thing on your mind as an author, especially when you are still writing your book. However, marketing is an essential part of the modern author’s job, even if you also hire a publicist. Marketing may sound intimidating to authors and while it is no easy task, there are some things to keep in mind that may make it an easier task to navigate. Below we’ll outline a few great marketing tips for authors.
1. Know Your Book’s Worth!
The first thing to remember is that marketing is really just convincing people that your book will be worth what a reader will spend to read it- in terms of both their money and their time. With as many books as are available, it’s important that it’s clear why they should spend it on your book and invest in you as an author. But how can you do that?
Think about what people will get from reading your book. No matter what genre you are writing, people are more likely to read your book if they feel like they can benefit in some way from reading it. This benefit may be anything from financial advice to a compelling romance. The earlier you start thinking about this, the better.
2. Find Your Target Audience
Another thing that helps you focus your marketing strategy is to determine who is your target audience, and market to them first. A target audience is not everyone; people have wildly different tastes, goals, and desires, and preferences in genres and writing styles. Find your niche and make them your first marketing priority. It may be physics professors, expecting mothers, aspiring chefs, high school students, or another specific group. Give thought to who will want to read your work and where they gather. If you’re writing a book about innovations in surgical medicine, considering being a speaker at a medical conference. If you’ve written a novel about superheroes, consider reserving a vendor table at a local comic book convention.
Look into what websites or web pages your target audience visits on a regular basis, and post content there. Establishing yourself in your target community will have the added benefit of making it easier to sell future books, as members of that community will grow to know, trust, and respect you.
3. Be Accessible
Personally engaging with your audience is an important step to growing a dedicated fan base. Create social media accounts and post often- try to keep it professional and don’t veer too far into the personal. Imagine that you are the next J.K. Rowling or John Grisham. Do you want pictures of your dog or kids all over your Instagram page? When someone tags you in a post, reply! If you can, give fans a shout out. Try to post to each platform at least once a week, if possible.
Another bit of advice is to make it easy for your readers to find your work. If you do not have a website, consider making one. If you do, then make certain that you have easy to find links to where people can buy your book, and include these hyperlinks in relevant social media posts. Set up a newsletter so that readers can find out about any upcoming releases, contests, or giveaways. If your book is available in any brick and mortar stores, mention them on your website as well. Speaking of brick and mortar stores, see if any in your area would be willing to let you do a reading, or even host a launch party. Generating local buzz can help bolster sales, and start spreading some good word of mouth.
4. Be Yourself
Be persistent and stay authentic. Being persistent means that you need to continue marketing your book even after it has been released. Many authors focus on the first push after a release and then drop off their efforts. When this happens, you miss new potential readers. Word of mouth is great, but you can’t solely rely on it. Staying authentic means exactly what it says. If something feels wrong to you, think twice about doing it. Being true to yourself will not only make you feel better and it also builds and keeps trust between you and your audience. No one likes to feel like they’ve been deceived.
Another important aspect of marketing is the appearance of the book itself. As kids, we’re taught not to “judge a book by its cover.” While this is excellent life advice, with books being a metaphor for people, it usually doesn’t hold true for actual books. The cover is usually the first thing a prospective reader sees, and it may just be the only thing they see if it doesn’t capture their interest. Make sure your cover fits the content of your book, that it grabs people’s attention while still being appropriate. If the genre you are writing in has a preexisting fan base that produces art, consider commissioning one of those artists to make content for the cover.
Other things you will need are book descriptions and author bios. You will need to write several of these in varying lengths, each for a different platform. Shorter ones are great for social media, medium length ones will be required for the book itself, and longer ones may find a home on your website. Once the cover gets potential readers’ attention, the description will likely be the next thing they use to determine if your book is worth their time and money. Use it to hook them in without giving too much away, or sounding too clichéd.
Author bios can be a bit tricky as well. You will need to list your professional accomplishments, sounding impressive without being overly boastful. One thing that will help with this is writing your bio in the third person. If you’re having trouble striking that Goldie Locks zone between humble and bragging, ask someone you know to help you write it. Someone else saying good things about you may come across as more genuine. On the note of author bios, remember that you will need an author photo to go along with them. This will need to match the style of your book: if it’s a professional or academic work, dress up for the camera. It sounds superficial, but people may take what you have to say less seriously if you don’t.
Marketing likely won’t be your favorite part of the job, but parts of it can still be fun. Book signings, readings, and launch parties are all likely to forge good memories. Just remember that this process will be easier if you start planning early, even before the book is done. Besides, planning your marketing campaign will give you something to do while editors comb through your book, or when you need to take your mind off of that one paragraph that’s driving you up a wall. If some of the strategies discussed above don’t appeal to you, that’s ok. There is no sure-fire way to market a book; what kind of campaign will work best for a particular piece is dependent on countless variables. Go with your gut, and make your marketing campaign your own. Before we wrap up, here’s one final thing to keep in mind: marketing is an important part of an author’s job, but it’s still second to writing. A close second, to be sure, but no amount of marketing can save an underdeveloped book. Put your work through the ringer and make it the best it can be! It may not guarantee a spot on a bestseller’s list, but it’s a step in the right direction.