Do you know the most powerful way to market your book?
Word of mouth recommendation.
It’s a free, highly credible, highly viral resource that helps to amplify your efforts to create interest and buzz about your work.
And all you really need for word of mouth marketing is a book worthy of sharing, and a way to get it into the hands of the people who will spread the word.
Well it is simple, but not necessarily easy.
The devil is in the details, right?
Although the concept is simple, the implementation is going to require some time and effort, especially in the beginning.
However, with a good plan, you’ll soon reach a tipping point where your fans begin to market for you in numbers great enough to really impact your book sales.
How To Get Started
The best time to design and implement your marketing plan of action is beforeyou even start writing your book. It takes time to build relationships, learn your readers wants and needs and develop a base of rabid fans that clamour for more.
Grow your readership as you write your book, and when it’s time to launch your baby, you’ll already have an invested and eager audience waiting.
Great advice, except my book is already written. Now what?
Even if you already have your book in hand, don’t panic! The process is still the same. It just may take a little longer to see the book sales come rolling in.
So, let’s skip past the year or two (or five) of blood, sweat and tears that were required for you to pound out, edit and polish your masterful novel, and assume that it is indeed worthy of personal recommendation.
The next step is to get your share-worthy work noticed and shared by the right people. Here are a fey key things to remember:
- Focus more on discoverability rather than selling. Your work is important, so help those who can benefit from it, find it.
- Accept responsibility for the marketing and promotion of your book. Even if you choose to outsource some of the work, your book’s success depends on you taking action.
- Marketing and promotion is just an extension of your author platform. The lines between platform building and book marketing are often blurred. For the biggest impact, combine these 71 strategies with the 101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams.
What follows is a list of 71 tactics to add to your book marketing arsenal. Not every strategy will work for every author, so pick and choose what makes sense, adapt what you can, and after you’ve gone through the list, you may come up with some of your own marketing ideas to implement.
Promote and Market Your Book Like a Master
1. Identify your audience. This is a vital step in the promotion and marketing of your book, and–if done right–will make the rest of the process infinitely easier. Find out who your book appeals to, get to know those people well, and be where they are, both online and off. (Bonus points for authors who do this prior to writing their book!)
2. Establish a budget. How much money are you able and willing to spend marketing and promoting your book? Include everything from paid advertising to travel costs.
3. Create a marketing plan. Don’t skip this step! How much time can you devote to establishing and maintaining your book promotion strategies? What marketing tactics do you intend on implementing first? What are your goals and how will you measure them?
4. Get creative. Use your book’s theme, location, or time period for inspiration and making marketing connections. A character’s hobbies, occupation, lifestyle, values and interests can be jumping off points for developing promotional strategies. Brainstorm (with Google), companies, experts, businesses, organizations or groups that you can approach for joint marketing ventures.
5. Tell your author brand story. Write an author biography that succinctly defines your reason for being; keep it to two or three short but memorable paragraphs that will resonate with your readers. Show some personality and give your readers a reason to care.
6. Create your hook. Having trouble summarizing 40,000+ words into a few, attention grabbing sentences? Here’s a couple of resources to get the creative juices flowing: Think Fast! 10 Minutes to the Perfect Elevator Pitch and Writing Loglines That Sell.
7. Build your email list. Invite people to subscribe, and make it worth their while by providing remarkable content. Use your list wisely to create and build buzz for your launch. Engage your tribe early, keep them ‘in-the-loop’, and ask for feedback so they become invested in the successful outcome of your book or project.
8. Make it easy to buy. Ensure your author website includes book links that are clear, easy to find, and go directly to your listing at every retailer you’re listed with (Amazon, Smashwords, B & N, Kobo, or Apple iBookstore).
9. Link your book to trending topics. Write articles that tie your book topic or genre to current popular interests.
10. Schedule social media. Decide when and what you will share on your social media platforms. Optimize your profile on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Pinterest. Select the most effective time for reaching the most people with Tweriod, Sprout Social or Buffer.
11. Promote your ebook for free. Here’s a list of free sites from Mediabistro.
13. Time your release. Time the announcement of your new book with an important, relevant news event, blockbuster movie or trade show.
14. Create a readers guide at the end of your book. Use your book’s description to let people know that your book contains a helpful discussion guide at the end.
15. Learn some copywriting principles. Marketing isn’t just storytelling. It’s also about getting your readers to take action. Hone your copywriting and content marketing skills and turn your audience into book buyers.
16. Host and record author hangouts on Google+. Not sure how? Try this comprehensive post on demystifying Google+ hangouts from The Future of Ink.
17. Think outside the ‘box’. Gain marketing information and insights from outside the writing industry that you can tweak and apply to your book marketing strategy (music industry, small business start-ups).
18. Get a professional and distinctive author photo. Use this image across all your social media profiles, on your site, at the end of your book (along with your author bio) and on your print materials.
19. Create a press release. A good press release will include the information needed for a reporter or blogger to understand the news value of your story. Make sure it’s clear what you are announcing, why the reader of the press release should care, and where they can get more info if they’re interested. Then submit your press release to free press release distribution sites.
20. Get media savvy. Develop a relationship with local media, including radio, newspaper and tv connections. Find an angle that hooks reporters and will benefit their readers or viewers. Pitch articles, interviews and relevant blog posts. Here’s an awesome post by Patrick Garmoe at Copyblogger to help you out: 109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media.
21. Read marketing, blogging and social media roundup posts. Save time! Take advantage of resources provided by other bloggers and writers that scour the web for you, and dish up the best of the best around the web. Try Kristi Hines’ Fetching Friday on Kikolani.com, Ana Hoffman’s Weekly Marketing Skinny at Traffic Generation Cafe, or The Writer’s Weekly Wrap-Up here at Your Writer Platform. (If you’d like the Wrap-Up delivered straight to your inbox, join the mailing list here.)
22. Guest post frequently and strategically. Guest blogging is one the best ways to increase visibility, gain influence in your genre or topic and draw targeted readers to your online ‘bookstore’ or author site.
23. Get early/pre-release reviews. At least three months prior to publication, make a list of book bloggers and reviewers in your book’s genre, read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and start sending your manuscript out for early reviews.
24. Create bookmarks. Old school, but still effective. Include an image of your book cover, your hook or logline, as well as your website and contact info. If you think your audience will understand and use a QR code, include one on your bookmark or other print materials. Check out How to Create a QR Code in 4 Easy Steps by Corey Eridon at Hubspot.
25. Be friendly. Introduce yourself and get to know the owners and staff at local, independent bookstores. Contact genre experts and well known book review blogger sites. Who do you know? Who do you need to know? Step outside your comfort zone and devise a plan to reach out to these people.
26. Tempt your readers with more. Insert sample chapters from the next book in a series at the end of your current book to pull your readers in.
27. Understand Amazon’s system and use it to your advantage. Use categories to streamline and increase discoverability. Test out your new copywriting skills and create sizzling book descriptions. For more help with your Amazon descriptions, try Author Marketing Club’s Amazon Description Generator.
28. Write a series. Obviously this won’t work for every author or book, but when possible, creating a series is a very powerful and effective way to develop a presence, gain reader loyalty and boost sales of earlier works with subsequent novels. For more on this, read Jonathan Gunson’s ‘Series’ – The Single Most Effective Career Strategy A Writer Can Employ.
29. Advertise your previous works in each book you publish. One of the best places to advertise your previous work is at the end of your current book, where you’ve got a happy reader, eager for more.
30. Create a promo kit. Include graphics, images, links, excerpts, and sample Facebook shares and Tweets, that can be sent to bloggers upon request.
31. Participate in a podcast tour. Do some research to find author friendly podcasts, or use your connections to create your own podcast tour.
32. Attend live networking events, conferences and expos. Attend, or write a proposal to present at an event, to gain connections, increase you credibility and develop a supportive network of influencers.
33. Update your email signature. For every email you send, ensure that you include info on your new or upcoming book and a link back to your blog or book website.
34. Develop a workshop based on your books content. Especially for non-fiction writers, teaching your book’s content can further solidify your expertise in the minds of your readers and your peers.
35. Design or re-design a book cover that sells. Commission a professional to design a cover that is not only striking, but clear and readable even as a small thumbnail.
36. Design a launch strategy that works. Your book launch requires a lot more prep and strategy than several Tweets and a beseeching email to friends and family. Plan a party, launch at a unique venue that relates to your book’s content or team up with other authors announcing their new release to heighten the excitement across several author platforms and audiences. Here’s a great post via Firepole Marketing on book launch strategy.
37. Sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program. Add to your income by earning fees on all qualified purchases through your affiliate link (not just on your books).
38. Add a ‘contact the author’ section at the end of your book. Give details on how readers can connect with you via email, your author website or through social media.
39. Writing is your business. Make sure your on and offline presence (website, social media profiles, print materials) is professional and doesn’t portray a hobbyist. If you’re not committed, neither will your readers be.
40. Submit your article to a link roundup. If you are creating exceptional content on your author blog (you are, right?), then make a list of related, popular blogs that do link roundups (like #21 above, but in your topic or genre) and submit your article. It may not always be accepted, but when it is, you will get a back link as well as an influx of high quality visitors to your site.
41. Participate in or organize a virtual blog tour, blog hop or sharing contest. For a description of the pros and cons of each–and what to expect–read this post by Donna Brown at Molly-Greene.com: Author Promotion: Blog Tours, Hops & Sharing Contests.
42. Create urgency. Use time-limited coupons, giveaways and contests. Host a contest on your website. Offer bonuses or special extras to readers who purchase your book prior to a certain date.
43. Join forces with local merchants. Team up with store owners and other businesses to offer certificates, prizes and merchant coupons to be shared or given away during your book promotions. (Advertise these perks on your site and on printed materials).
44. Time and coordinate promotions. Try to time your guest posts, author interviews, giveaways, advertising and other promotions to run at the same time, so that each promotion gains momentum from the other. The perception of ‘being everywhere’ will strengthen your chances of creating the word of mouth marketing momentum we’re looking for.
45. Become a subject matter expert. Even if you’re a fiction writer, you can still tie concepts in your book to topics that require expert opinion.
46. Don’t stop promoting one book to start writing another. The buzz and excitement of a launch can be exhilarating, but the marketing and promotional effort for a book must continue far beyond the initial days and weeks of ‘getting it out there’. Include in your marketing plan a schedule that allows for ongoing promotional activities of your previous work, while providing time to write your next bestseller as well.
47. Try Fiverr. Find some quality gigs that will submit your book to free websites, submit your press releases or have someone (relevant) share your most recent–and fascinating–blog post.
48. Do book readings or author visits live or via Skype. Try schools, your local bookstore, library or community college. Get people interested before you get there: create a packet that gives a summary of what to expect during your visit, printed materials like a flyer and book order form (that can be photocopied) or other promotional materials (like bookmarks).
49. Connect with your readers offline. Gain exposure through book signings, book clubs, writing groups, school visits, workshops, library readings and local area meet-ups. For tips on book signings, check out JA Konrath’s post on Book Signings: Everything You Need to Know.
50. Make your vacations work for you. If you’re heading to a new locale, why not do a little advance research and set up some readings and visits at your destination’s local libraries, schools or bookstores? (Are you starting to see a pattern here? Get out from behind your computer, and meet your people! )
51. Take it further with video. Record your readings and share on your YouTube channel, Facebook Page, Google+ and on Goodreads.
52. Promote others. As you help promote other authors in your genre, by sharing their blog posts, reviewing their books and the like, you will build good will and a strong network of peer support for your current and future projects.
53. Create a Bit.ly vanity URL for your book. Bit.ly is a link shortening service that can also give you stats on the number of clicks on your link and where it was shared. Use Bit.ly to create a link that is easily shareable (not super long or a jumble of letters and numbers) for your book. Here’s a video how-to.
55. ‘Free’ sells. Giving away your work for free is controversial, but often free now can mean increased sales down the road. Freebies might include free chapters, free signed copies of your book or other giveaways.
56. Add a Hellobar book teaser to the top of your author website.
57. Create a virtual bundle. Package together a print book and ebook, an ebook and course, or an ebook with videos and a workbook to add more value and options for your reader when purchasing your work.
58. Encourage your fans to market your book. Your fans can earn a little extra income by enrolling in Amazon’s or Smashword’s affiliate programs and adding links to your books on their websites or blogs.
59. Repurpose content and reach more people. Take your popular posts, useful insights, inspirational quotes, noteworthy results, chapter outlines or key points and repurpose them to share as a presentation on Slideshare or short videos on YouTube.
60. Slideshare. You can embed your presentation on your site (or others can embed it on their site), and you can embed YouTube videos–including your book trailer–into your Slideshare slides. Remember to add hyperlinks so viewers can get in touch or visit your author website.
61. Rock your book trailer. Show your creativity, humour (if appropriate) and personality. Try to avoid the jacket-flap blurb over a photo montage, and consider incorporating your overall message and brand. If you don’t feel you have the skills to create a book trailer that steals the show, you can hire a company to make one for you–just do a little cost analysis first to see if the marketing benefits outweigh the price tag.
62. ‘Consign’ your book. Consider trying a consignment style approach in gift shops, specialty stores, boutiques and galleries. The store owners may not want to purchase your books outright, but may display and sell them in their store for a cut of the profits.
63. Partner up. One of the best things about being a writer is that your only true competition is yourself. There are no ‘winners’, just insatiable readers that will devour a book in hours that took you a year or more to write. Use your connections or develop new ones to help cross promote with other authors, illustrators, musicians, designers, experts, events, charities, interest groups and so on.
64. Sell some ‘merch’. Give your fans the opportunity to promote you and your work offline by creating and selling themed merchandise on your site.
65. Use Vine. Vine is an app that allows you to make short video loops, and forces you to get to the heart of your message quickly. Fun to make and easy to share, your Vine videos can include a myriad of images and behind-the-scence glimpses of your writing process, your brand or even your personality.
66. Donate. Build goodwill (and good Karma ) by getting your book into the hands of people that might not normally have access to your work. Considering donating your book to hospitals, shelters, churches, libraries, doctor/dental offices, hair salons, organizations or clubs.
67. Back of room sales. Promote your work when giving lectures, speeches, and teaching at workshops. Have a selection of your books with you and available for purchase.
68. Sell your books using Pinterest. Use Pinterest to relate to the fans you already have as well as intrigue new readers with ‘visual’ stories of you, your brand and your work. Your incentive? Pinterest has 70 million users, with approximately 80% of those being women. And stats show that about 70% of Pinterest members use the site to get inspiration on what to buy. (Plus it’s fun!)
69. Have a Google+ online launch party. Use your new Google+ hangout skills to set up an online launch party for your book, or for the launch of several books by authors in a related genre. As an example, here’s a press release for an online book launch party.
70. Reconnect with your University Alumni. Your university, college or even high school can be a great resource. Notify your alumni of any upcoming events, check to see if they have a listing of alumni books (so you can add yours), and ensure that they are on your press release distribution list. You can even offer to do a presentation for faculty or the students.
71. Have fun! Take a moment to breathe, and realize that not everything on this list needs to be done today. Concentrate on the first three steps so you can frame your marketing strategy moving forward, then add tasks and tactics as you have the time and attention to do so. Enjoy it! You are finding ways to get your work noticed and shared by hundreds, maybe thousands of people who will then share it with even more. Go, word of mouth marketing!
For those of you who have already begun your book marketing and promotion, what strategies have you received the most return on? What tactics were a complete flop? Any advice you would care to share with those writers who are just beginning their journey?
And for those of you just starting out, what part of the promotional process are you finding the most difficult? Please share in the comments below.
Original top photo by DuBoix