Book marketing is essential for any author looking to sell more than a few hundred books. Over the course of promoting The Regulars, I tried many different things, some which worked and some which did not.
The secret to book marketing is to focus on strategies that you as an author are good at, and enjoy. That way you’ll actually enact your plan, as opposed to giving into Netflix and a glass of wine.
Here are five effective book marketing techniques that anyone can do, whether you're self- or traditionally publishing. If these pique your interest, you can also check out my online course, The Pro-Active Author.
1. Start a monthly newsletter
Sending a regular author newsletter is an excellent author strategy. Not only is it free, always a bonus, it’s also a way to showcase your personality/include your humor/share pix that aren’t anywhere else. Newsletter platforms these days are incredibly easy to navigate. I spend 3 - 4 hours tops on my monthly newsletter, but you could definitely do it even quicker, depending on your style
I create my newsletter in Mailchimp and send it to a subscriber list that I build by hand (ie adding new friends into it), as well as through an email pop-up on my website.
Be savvy with the way you sell to your audience. I only really make one direct ask per “big thing”: one direct ask to pre-order/buy the book/do an Amazon review. Other times, they’re more soft asks, they’re more like ‘if you feel like it” or just less in-your-face.
On the back-end, you can see from your newsletter platform what links people click on, so you can work out when they’re going to book buying sites.
2. Plan a panel event
As well as your book launch, you have the opportunity to organize panel events in the weeks after launch (they should be after the launch so you have the chance to sell books). When thinking of panel events to promote your book, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Research—or better yet, attend—venues who host the kind of event you’re interested in and look at what’s popular. Listen to the zeitgeist. Create events around things you know readers are interested in.
You don’t need to know people to ask them to do an event with you, even if they’re more “famous” than you. If they have a book or platform to promote, they’ll probably be flattered that you asked! Partner with local writers if planning something somewhere you’re not intimately connected with
You can delegate organizational aspects of your event to an intern. And always social media the hell out of what you’re doing.
3. Define your author brand
You need to know who you are before you can tell people about it. Even though the word “brand” is a bit gross, bare with me: what we’re talking about when we’re talking about brand is your genre, your values and your personality. We’re talking about how to clearly convey your these things to the world so people get you. The way you present yourself should be simple and uncomplicated: your brand—who you are and what you write—shouldn’t be counter-intuitive or confusing. Think of your favorite authors: most of them have a pretty clear brand, ie. easily communicated personality, set of values and genre.
Authenticity is key. Let’s start with writing a simple statement about who you are and what you write about. And let’s pair it with an accompanying image of you that feels right.
I am a novelist who lives in New York
I write about funny, flawed, feisty women
Here’s my picture.
Here’s how it turned out:
You can do something similar for your website or just to have as a guiding image.
Now think about your brand (or just YOUR) values: your attributes and defining characteristics. Someone mine include humor, feminism, and optimism. These values should be evident in your web presence, copy style, image selections, etc.