Growing up in the Chicago area, during Michael Jordan’s career, made me a huge basketball fan. Recently, I’ve been pretty excited because the NBA playoffs kicked off. One of this season’s captivating storylines is the Philadelphia 76ers return to the playoffs. From 2013 to 2017 they were arguably the worst team in the league. During one stretch they lost a record 28 games in a row.
During their period of losing, the general manager and many of the 76ers players adopted the saying, “Trust the process.” Even as they were losing at a historic rate and being criticized by everyone in the basketball world, the team stuck by their mantra and embraced the process of building up a winning team. They knew the results wouldn’t be immediate and it could take years to develop the right team before a winning culture returned.
Over the years they’ve hired the right coaches, drafted the right players, signed the right free agents, and ultimately remained patient. And this year they are finally seeing the results they’ve been promising their fans.
Why am I bringing this up?
Because book marketing also has a process. You won’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden your book is a bestseller. It’s a slow process that causes many authors to lose patience. But you will be rewarded if all your book marketing efforts are working towards the same goal and you continue to build your platform.
So let’s get into the book marketing process …
Develop Your Marketing Strategy
Before you start marketing your book, you need a clear plan to guide your actions. Determine what separates your book from other books. The reality is, there are more books than ever available to readers, making it incredibly challenging for your book to stand out. But the good news is that you wrote your book for a reason. There is something different and unique about your book that no other book offers. So what is it? What makes it unique and why should people want to read it? Your answer is the key to your book marketing strategy.
Identify Your Target Audience
Part of developing your strategy is identifying your target audience. In order to optimize the efficiency of your marketing strategies you need to know who you are trying to reach. If you wrote a young adult fiction, market to young adults. If you wrote a nonfiction about raising children as a single parent, market to single parents with young kids.
This seems obvious, but we often see authors assuming that anyone and everyone is potentially interested in their book. While theoretically this could be true, it’s not the most efficient way to use your time and money. Narrow down your audience to only those most likely to be interested in your book and you will see better results.
Get on Social Media
Social media is all about connecting with people online. There will always be a ton of value in attending conferences and doing book signings, but your reach is limited to a local crowd with in-person events. However, social media makes it possible to reach people all around the world. By posting regularly, interacting with fans, and letting readers see a glimpse of your life, you’re able to grow your fan base and ultimately expand your online presence.
Each social media platform has its own unique advantages and you’ll want to consider which ones are best for you. We typically see authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Goodreads. But if you are still familiarizing yourself with social media, it’s better to start with one platform and commit to establishing yourself there before expanding to other platforms and risk becoming overwhelmed.
Build Your Author Website
Your author website is the foundation for your online presence and it essentially links all your different online activity together. When someone hears about you and wants to learn more, they can visit your website and be directed to exactly where they need to go.
For example, they should be able to find links to your social media pages, your author information, upcoming event details, where to buy your books, your blog posts, and a place to subscribe to your email newsletter. Your goal is to have your entire online presence connected and your website is your online home to achieve this.
Grow Your Email List
Newsletters allow you to communicate with your subscribers on a regular basis. Many people might not be convinced to buy your book the first time they hear about it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested, they just need to be encouraged. When you send monthly newsletters, you’re consistently staying in touch with promotions, special deals, book bundle packages, and other incentives to help persuade subscribers to read your book.
Since newsletters are so effective, you want to grow your email list. Promote your newsletter on social media, create free content that requires an email sign up, add pop-ups to your website, and include call-to-actions on your blog posts. Find creative ways to encourage people to sign up for your newsletter.
Publicity is a little bit different than traditional forms of advertising. With publicity, your goal is to get your name out to the public through different sources of media. This can include press releases, guest blogging, going on blog tours, interviewing with different media outlets, getting professional reviews, book signings, etc. What makes gaining publicity difficult is that you can’t do it all on your own. It takes collaboration with bloggers, journalists, bookstore managers, and other media sources who have credibility and influence in the industry. Their powerful voices, in essence, give your author voice more power.
Fill Out Your Book’s Metadata
Book metadata is the data search engines use to decipher the differences from one book to the next. When a potential reader searches for something online, search engines read the metadata attached to a web page and return results to fit the search. So your book’s metadata is the key to readers finding your book online. Whether they are searching directly for your title or for a specific genre, when you fill out the metadata accurately and strategically your book then shows up in more searches that match it.
When more people are discovering your book, then more people are reading and buying it. In a previous blog post, we took a deep dive into book metadata, to help authors better understand how it can help your book’s online reach.
Launch Your Book
A book launch is not only a celebration that your book is published, it’s also an announcement to the world. Most people outside your family and friends won’t know about your new book. A book launch allows you to share your huge accomplishment with local media and members in your community.
It also presents a great opportunity to spread the word to your online community. Post about it on your social media channels, write about it in your blog, live stream part of the event, or leave updates on your website. There are so many different ways to share the event across your various online platforms to increase excitement for your book launch event.
Obtain Reader Reviews
Reader reviews are so important to your book’s success online because they help build your credibility amongst readers. Reviews from unbiased readers simply reinforce to undecided readers that your book is worth their time and money. And as you begin gaining more reviews, your book climbs in the online bookstore’s rankings making it easier for readers to discover.
However, once your book is released, reviews can be very difficult to try to round up. One solution is to create a launch team that reads your book ahead of the release date. Then everyone on the team leaves an online review the day the book actually releases. Reviews then flood the retailer, causing your book to shoot up in their rankings. Close friends, industry connections, and loyal fans of a writer’s previous work typically make up a great launch team. By building this core team, you’re able to start your book off on the right foot.
Offer Free eBooks
When you aren’t a well-known author, your job is to find a way to get as many people to read your book as possible. One of the most effective ways to do this is to give it away for free to a number of readers. Think of it this way: it’s better that someone reads your book for free than not read it at all.
When you get your book in the hands of more readers, good things can happen. You can build a loyal fan base that will continue to read your written work. You can also create word-of-mouth, which continues to be the most effective form of marketing. Even if a sale isn’t taking place, the more readers you have, the better.
Contests and Giveaways
The idea with a contest or giveaway is to offer an awesome prize that a reader can’t turn down. Then, in order to enter the giveaway for a chance to win, they must engage in some way. Maybe they must like your social media page, comment on a photo you posted, or subscribe to your newsletter. As long as the engagement offers you value, it will work.
Contests and giveaways are great for increasing leads and generating more engagement, so depending on your specific book marketing goals you can create and cater a contest or giveaway to specifically reach that goal. Be creative with these! Here are some book contest ideas we’ve come up with that you can try out!
DIY Book Marketing Guide
Book marketing can be confusing and even overwhelming at times, but I do believe that if you trust the process you will eventually achieve success. Just like with the 76ers, your book marketing can prosper with the right moves and by trusting the process. If you’re looking for a more in-depth look into book marketing, eBooks2go has created a Book Marketing DIY Guide you can download!