(Last of a five-part series)
Marketing your book effectively will be every bit as challenging as writing it, and you should plan on spending a comparable amount of energy and effort.
For one thing, you face the daunting reality that the rise of self-publishing has brought masses of dreck to the marketplace. Your marketing challenge is to distinguish your quality book from that dreck.
The good news is that the most effective marketing techniques are free or very inexpensive; and conversely those that are expensive, such as paid advertising, aren’t all that effective.
A strong online presence is critical to your book’s success. According to this article in The Atlantic Monthly, a Codex Group survey has found that readers are relying more and more on online media, as well as personal recommendations, to find reading material. With that in mind, here’s a sample of what I’ve found to be the easiest and most productive marketing initiatives:
Take maximum advantage of the free marketing platform that is Amazon. Write a compelling description of your book. Here’s an article on how to do that. List your book under all the possible categories and keywords, so search results on those terms will include it. Since good reviews are critical, ask anybody who says they like your book to post an Amazon review. Get your book reviewed by Amazon’s top reviewers and other major reviewers. Here’s an article on how to solicit reviews. Activate the Look Inside feature by uploading a pdf of your book. Create an author page, with a photo, and keep it updated. For further information, here’s my article Marketing on Amazon.
Create a web site for your book. It should include full information about you and your book and where to buy it, including
- Contact information
- Sample chapters
- Tables of contents
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- A feedback form and message board for comments, advice, etc.
- A signup form for audio and/or Skype visits with book clubs. For example, see this signup page.
- Photos of your book covers
- Media kit, including news releases and photos
- Video or audio of talks and interviews
- Links to articles and reviews both about your book and what you’ve written about other topics
- News and updates on your topic
- Links to other useful sites
- Reading guide to suggested books (Make money from this guide by joining the Amazon Associates program and earning a fee for books sold through your site.)
- A link to purchase your book
- A description of other products and services you offer
Your book site can be part of your general author web site, but it needs to be a dedicated page. You can make one web site do multiple duties by redirecting a book’s URLs to its specific page. For example, ExplainingResearch.com goes to the page on my web site about that book, TheRainbowVirus.com goes to my novel, while DennisMeredith.com goes to my home page, which changes as new books are published.
Distribute news releases on your book, and send them to appropriate media. You can produce multiple news releases, including one announcing the book, ones pegged to special dates or events relevant to your book, and ones that pitch feature angles on your book topic that might attract coverage. Post the news releases on your web site, on both the book description page and the media page.
Post your book on the online galley site NetGalley. It’s not free, but it can be a worthwhile step to get your book noticed by reviewers, bloggers, journalists, booksellers, educators, and the media. If you’ve joined the Independent Book Publishers Association, you can take advantage of their discount listing fee of $350 for six months.
Use Facebook, Twitter, a blog and other social media to highlight your book. You can post periodic updates on your book’s sales and other events, and articles on your book’s subject, in which you mention your book. The book Social Networking for Authors by Michael Volkin contains a wealth of good ideas. Also, here’s an article with some good tips on using social media and here are ten social media tips from Guy Kawasaki, author of APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur) How to Publish a Book.
In his Forbes article on the new era of publishing, David Vinjamuri quotes author Robert Bidinotto, on the power of social media for authors:
Social media has been the great equalizer of advertising, promotion and marketing. This is essentially asymmetrical warfare. No customer going to Amazon knows what is traditionally published or independently published–and they don’t care. They’re interested in an experience that will educate or entertain them. Social Media allow the individual author to become a personality and establish real emotional bonds with his readers. I happen to really like my readers and I deal with them online all the time. By using social media to become a personality to my readers, I have not spent one nickel in paid advertising—and I haven’t had to.
There are, of course, many more steps you can take to market your book. As outlined in part II of this series, you should read the many books, web sites, and discussion groups on self-publishing, some of which are listed in Jacqueline Simonds’ list of books on her Self-Publishers FAQ, to help you decide which steps are best for you.
Here are some other useful sources of marketing advice:
- Carol White’s Book Marketing Checklist
- Cathy Stucker’s site Selling Books
- Createspace’s extensive collection of articles on marketing
- My article Marketing Your Book
- John Kremer’s books and web site
- Direct Contact PR article Creating and Executing a Book Publicity Plan
- McCauley’s Marketing Manifesto
- Midwest Book Review book publicity & marketing list
- Midwest Book Review list of book reviewers
- Poynter’s Secret List of Book Promotion Contacts
- The Savvy Book Marketer web site
- Smashwords Book Marketing Guide
- Tony Eldridge’s site Marketing Tips for Authors
This concludes the self-publishing series. I hope it has been helpful and that my experiences help make your self-publishing adventure a rousing success!
Here are links to other articles in this series: