Are you an independently published author? Have you self-published your books—whether fiction or non-fiction, digital or print—through independent outlets such as Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and Smashwords, and now you are trying to figure out how to get the word out and maybe sell a few copies (how about a couple hundred or a couple thousand or more)?
Or maybe you went with one of the print-on-demand hybrid publishers who now wants to charge you to advertise your book. Or was your book published by a traditional small or mid-sized press, but their marketing budget for your book is incredibly small or non-existant?
I think the one thing all writers have in common—regardless of how and with whom they publish their work—is the fervent wish that there was an active marketing division behind the book helping to get the word out, setting up book tours, and stocking bookstore shelves.
In the absence of a marketing team or even a publicist, a writer has no recourse but to do the work herself. And work it is. Advertising and promoting, and ultimately selling lots of copies of your book, does not have to be expensive, but it does take work.
I recommend a three pronged strategy to publicizing your book: 1) word of mouth, 2) social media, and 3) local selling.
I’ll start here with word of mouth advertising to give your book that push out into the marketplace. In future blog posts I’ll address social media and local selling. Word of mouth starts with your family, your friends, and your co-workers.
Maybe you’ve already done this, but if not you should send an email to everyone you know announcing the publication of your book, whether it be digital or print (or both!).
- Be sure to include a photo or graphic of your book cover in the email.
- Include a direct link to your book’s page on Amazon and other outlets that are selling your book.
- At the end of the email ask that the recipient forward your email to anyone they think might enjoy your book.
Send your email announcements out in short batches (so they don’t go into people’s spam folders), and use different opening salutations for family, for friends, for work cohorts, etc.
Create an Email Signature That Promotes Your Book
An email blast is a good marketing tactic when your book is first released, but you want to keep reminding people that you have a book available for sale long after those heady first days. The easiest way to do that is to create a signature for your email that includes a thumbnail of the book cover and links to points of purchase.
Check with your email's Help link for details on how to do this. Once set up, you can also include links to your author webpage, your blog, and your Facebook page (more about those when we get to social media).
Bookmarks are a great way to help people remember to buy your book. There are places on line like Vistaprint.com that are quite popular for creating and ordering bookmarks. But I’m really cheap, so I made mine using MS Word, got them printed at Office Max during a sale, and hand-cut them.
When you meet someone and have an opportunity to bring your book into the conversation, give them a bookmark that has your book cover and the Amazon url on it so they'll have a reminder to look for your book.
You can leave bookmarks in strategically placed locations, such as the staff lounge at your workplace, or on give-away tables at events where you are promoting your book.
Create a Newsletter and Collect Email Addresses
A short e-newsletter letting your family, friends and fans know when you’ll be participating in book events, doing book store appearances, or coming out with a new book is a great marketing tool. Have you won an award? Toot your horn!
Staying in touch with people who enjoy your work is a good thing. But don’t litter their in-boxes with daily announcements. Monthly check-ins is a better idea. Unless, of course, something really big comes up. Then, by all means, get the word out.
How to build a list of people to send your newsletter to? Easy--wherever you go to promote, sell, or sign your books, be sure to have a page available for people to sign up with their email addresses.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to jumpstart sales of your book. And you can continue that momentum via emailed newsletters. But you’ll have to use other methods to keep the sales coming and to reach a larger audience. That’s where social media and local selling come in.
Watch for future blog posts for ideas on how to use social media and local selling to promote, market, and sell your books. And leave a comment if you have other ideas or had good experiences promoting your book through word of mouth!