You’ve studied craft, developed a working relationship with your muses, written the book of your heart, and clicked Publish! Congratulations, you’re a self-published author.
Will readers flock out and buy your book, love it, and tell all their friends? Probably not, unless you’ve spent a little time and effort on the marketing side of things. As self-published author Molly Jameson confirmed during our recent interview with her, you don’t just hit “Publish” and experience phenomenal sales; promotion is a much more realistic way to sell a book.
At the most basic level, effective promotion means connecting with readers and cultivating an interest in what you’ve written / are writing, as well as maintaining that connection.
Great. So how do you do that?
Connect with Readers where they are
Social media is a good way to build your audience and connect with readers. I follow several authors via Facebook, which has an abundant number of author pages. The authors generally post on a periodic basis – sometimes on topics relating to their writing or their books and sometimes on humorous or other non-writing related topics. The posts serve to keep the authors visible, raise awareness of their upcoming releases, and create a connection with their followers. That connection can keep an existing reader buying an author’s books and can also cause a potential reader to give a new author a try. One new-to-me-author that I encountered on Facebook was so engaging in her posts that I bought her book when it was released, though it is unlikely that I would have considered it, had I just seen it at the store.
Whether you’re connecting with (potential) readers via your social media channel of choice or reaching out to them in person at book signings, conferences, farmer’s markets, or other places where readers gather, the goal is to:
Build your network
“I told two friends, and then they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on.” ~ Breck shampoo commercial
Word-of-mouth is an effective marketing tool. How many times have you picked up a book because a friend or someone whose opinion you trusted recommended it? By connecting with your readers and building your network, you are creating a word-of-mouth marketing channel. Members of your network can also provide a boost to your book sales by posting reviews (perhaps in exchange for a free or early copy of your book) on sites like Amazon and Goodreads; reviews that will be seen by potential new readers.
Reach out to reviewers and bloggers
In addition to leveraging your reader network (or if you don’t yet have a reader network), you might consider reaching out to people/sites who do reviews, like The Reading Café. That can be a good way to expand your reach and connect with readers you would not otherwise find. You can also reach out to bloggers for guest-blog opportunities, which will get you and your work in front of a new audience that, hopefully, will contain some potential readers. As always, you’ll want to do your research and make sure any reviewer / blogger you work with is a good fit for you and your writing.
Everyone likes to get something free, right? The Goodreads Author Program provides a simple (and free) mechanism for doing author giveaways. You can add per-click paid advertising to your giveaway, which is a little more complicated, but a basic giveaway is pretty easy to setup. You can also run giveaways via Facebook and place ads for a relatively small fee.
Use a book promotion service
Depending on the time, money, and inclination you have, you may consider adding a book promotion service like Robin Reads or Fussy Librarian to your marketing plan. Keep in mind, however, that even if you are using a paid service, you will still have work to do.
Whether you’re self-published, traditionally published, or just getting started, the main goal of any marketing/promotion is to get and keep your name in front of readers. One of the best ways to do that is to keep writing.
So, have you had done any marketing/promotion of your own? If not, what kind of things keep you connected to the authors your follow?