Many authors are intimidated by the thought of marketing their books. As I mention in a post on my blog recently, the concept of an author platform makes most writers run away or start talking to the dust bunnies in the corner.
The basic premise of book marketing is this: write great books that people want to read, then effectively market them. If you’re self-published, use professional editors, designers, and formatters so your book looks amazing. I self-published my first three books and invested in those services through scrimping and saving. Now you can crowdfund. It’s doable.
If you’re traditionally published, you will still be doing the majority of your own marketing. I have an agent now and am published by a boutique literary agency out of NYC. While they do a small bit of marketing, I do 90%. My BadRedhead Media clients are a mix of NYTimes bestsellers and successful indie authors, and they too are doing all their own marketing.
You must market your books so people can find them. Here are my top ten tips:
1) Know your demographic
Who is your ideal reader? Most authors have no clue (I know I didn’t at first either). The best place to start: Pew Research Center. Tip: Everyone is not your demographic.
2) Where is your ideal reader spending time online?
That’s where you need to be. Most authors spend their time on Facebook, whining about how their books aren’t selling. Facebook is the largest social media channel in the world – but is it where your readers are? If your books are YA, you need to be on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, which skews younger.
3) Be social on social media
Too many authors blast and spam, with little to no interaction, which is not only ineffective, it also violates almost every social media channel’s rules. Listen, retweet and share, interact and reply. It’s not all about you. And for all that’s holy, cancel that automated welcome on Twitter. Newbie mistake.
4) Blog at least once weekly
This is effective for your SEO. Not sure what to blog about? Focus on your branding and keywords. What are you most excited about? Remember, we brand the author not the book. Write about what you are authentically passionate about or an expert in (Hint: it doesn’t have to be writing!).
5) Add your social media icons to your website and blog
This is seems so obvious, but so many authors don’t do it. If you make people search for ways to find you, they’re out.
6) Add your books to your site/blog
One author complained recently that nobody was purchasing her books. I looked at her site and you couldn’t find a single purchase link anywhere! Lesson: add your books and link to Amazon (and other purchase sites).
7) Be authentic
Not sure what to tweet/post/blog about? It’s really easy: what interests you? Share that, even if it’s not at all about your book. So what? Unclear about your branding? Read more here: Branding 101.
8) Use tools to manage it all
9) Have a plan, work the plan
I find most authors will flit from here to there, trying a bit of this and a bit of that, with no strategy or clear goals in place. Create a marketing plan, have goals, and measure those goals. Reset as needed.
10) Above all else, write a damn great book
None of the above will matter if your book is awful. Learn your craft. Spend the time and effort to work with a professional editor, formatter, and graphic designer. Use betareaders. Send out ARCs. Make sure your book is as close to perfect before release to have the best possible chance at success!