You’ve sweated over the manuscript, found affordable editing and proofreading services, located a book designer who came up with some really cool cover art and now you’ve got a self-published book with your name on the cover. You’re finished and it’s time to sit back and bask in the glory, right?
You’ve joined the ranks of writers like Stephen King and Mark Twain also self-published. Would we have ever heard of them if they had just sat back after they published the book? No way!
Only 20% of the work necessary to becoming a successful self-published author has been completed once the book is written and published. The other 80%, marketing and promotion, still has to be done.
In today’s changing publishing industry authors have to be hands-on marketers if they want to see commercial success. Fortunately, writers are known to be out-of-the-box thinkers which is a good thing because it’s time to get creative again. Use your talents to create some interest in your book. Get your book seen in as many places as possible. The following suggestions concentrate on the Internet since we’re talking about e-books but don’t limit yourself if opportunities arise. Do a live reading from your book, offer to speak at book clubs, don’t forget the traditional mediums like printed press releases and radio interviews, consider having business cards for your book printed.
The difference between marketing and advertising is cash. I want to take this opportunity to say there are many cost-effective promotional methods that don’t require a lot of cash. Don’t count on more traditional advertising methods like display advertising and direct mail that can be expensive and very seldom deliver the hoped for results, in fact, you’re lucky if you get a 1% return on your outlay.
Start your strategy before your book is actually published. Your first step should be to set up a marketing plan (you’ll need one for whether you decide on either traditional or web-based events). Don’t let the words marketing plan intimidate you; your plan doesn’t need to be in a certain format or even be formal. Just get your thoughts and line of attack organized.
Let’s check out some marketing possibilities that may spark an idea.
- When downloading your polished manuscript, list as many tags as allowable. These are words that a reader might use while doing a search for some other purpose. They just might stumble across your book, find it interesting and decide to visit your site to find out more; you might even make a sale or two.
- Set up a virtual tour (Google’s Book Blogs Search Engine). Keep in mind reviews aren’t enough anymore to create ‘buzz’ for a book. Readers like to hear from the author, form a connection and maybe get an inside bit of trivia about the book. Create some interest and give potential readers something to talk about by writing a guest blog post or taking part in a Q&A. Audio and video presentations are excellent attention grabbers and don’t ignore the power of images!
- Create a website, blog or Facebook page exclusively dedicated to your writing. Post sample chapters or excerpts from your book. You’ll even want to post passages or quotes at other sites and on Twitter to drive traffic. You might also create a discussion and invite others to take part in exchange for a link to their site (I advise viewing sites before agreeing to post their link.)
- Comment on blogs, forums and discussion boards—don’t ignore those for niche subjects. A friend, who is not only an Indie author and publisher but also a self-pub, offered a tip to one of her workshop attendees: (a) ask yourself who is the most successful writer in your genre/style; (b) do you follow their website and blog; (c) try to be among the first five of their blog followers to respond to their blog posts and tweets…why? People will begin to see your name associated with their name over time and you will be referred to as one of his protégé’s.
- Compose free press releases announcing your book’s release, events involved with the marketing, author interviews; I like to use prlog.org. Have them distributed widely across the web.
- Step up your social media networking. Set up accounts at Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or Tumblr. There’s virtually no end to the places you can create a social network online—just don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to have loyal followers than to leave someone feeling neglected not to mention the stress factor involved in trying to visit so many different sites.
- You can also link many of these so that one post is seen on several sites saving you time and effort.
- Offer resell rights for your e-book to your fans or start a group of affiliates to increase sales.
- Create a contest or giveaway to gain attention for your book. Draw potential readers to your site by offering to give away a signed copy of your book, a gift card or a kindle in a random drawing (see http://www.random.org).
- Be creative, maybe you could arrange a visit to a setting mentioned in the book. For example, a scene might take place in a vineyard or sponsor a writing contest for the best first line for a short story or the most creative flash fiction piece under 500 words offering a prize.
- Offer to be a guest on an Internet radio program. How many shows should you be interviewed on? As many as possible. Readers like to hear authors talk about their book, their writing life and hear some anecdotes.
- List your book and yourself in as many directories as possible
- Set up some Google Alerts you can use to keep tabs on your promotion results. These are search engine results delivered to your email inbox: Example of wording for an alert about your book: Mother Goose’s Rhymes Twitter (how often can the book title Mother Goose’s Rhymes be found with Twitter).
- Make use of article submission and distribution sites. Be sure to take advantage of the author’s bio at the end of the article mentioning you as the author of ‘How Not to Spend Your Summer Vacation’.
- Don’t leave libraries out of your marketing equation. Many libraries are now loaning out e-readers so that the volumes of e-books available are seen. Libraries sponsor story times, reading groups, live readings. Just make certain you issue a press release for each event.
Not long ago I came across a very creative idea for book marketing—eBay! The creative part being not sticking your book in the line-up of other books for sale but taking advantage of the people who sign on without a specific item in mind.
Imagine someone logs onto eBay with no particular goal in mind, they’re there to browse and since one of their interests is motorcycles they decide to see what they can find for the cross-country trip they’ve been dreaming about. So there they are scrolling through the motorcycle accessories and they stumble across your book about entitled ‘Mexico on a Motorcycle: Riding Out The Recession’. Hey, something they have to have!
Thoughts and ideas pop up all the time. Listen to that niggling little voice in the back of your mind and share with the rest of us. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.