Typing ‘The End’ is absolutely not the end for writers these days. When you’ve finished your book, that’s when the hard work starts – MARKETING. Adam C. Mitchell is a crime-noir author who is spreading his wings into gamebook writing and guest-blogs on all that promoting your book entails.
MARKETING BASICS FOR ALL WRITERS
If you’re reading this though, it’s more than likely you’re a self-published author and it doesn’t matter if you write novels, short stories, gamebooks or heck, even poetry - at some point, you’re going to need to market your masterfully crafted book.
Now before you climb that horrible marketing mountain that some say is harder than Everest, we need to face the facts that you probably don’t have all the marketing tools in your writing toolbox. Chances are you spent your budget on the book itself, so what you have left for marketing is small and any grand hopes of how you may have wanted to promote your book will have gone up in smoke… No morning show interviews, no full-page ads in big literary magazines and certainly no TV commercials to announce the arrival of your book. The best-case scenario here is if you get your book picked by a blogger or reviewer but what are the chances of that happening? At this stage, you may start to ask yourself: Why bother?
The simple answer is: No-one else is going to bother unless you do. If you believe in it, then it’s down to you to get your book the attention it deserves. This may seem like a lead weight around your neck, especially if you’re a new author with no proven ‘track record’, but it just means you have to pull out all the stops to get the word out.
But what in blue blazes do you do? Simple - you keep reading, because I’m going to drop a few hard-learned bombshells, so that you can launch a promotion worthy of your masterpiece. Just when you thought you were a writer— plot twist! You're actually a marketer. Let's get started.
1. You are more than just a writer…you are a BRAND and creating your own brand is the first key to success in marketing. This is especially crucial in the run up to a book’s release. Your future fans and potential readers will want to know more about, not just the book, but the person behind it too. They may want to know about your background, other books you have written or which books you like to read. What’s important is that you build a strong relationship with your reader base, and the best way to do that is to carefully grow your online persona as a writer. Control tightly what your readers know and see about you.
Top Tip: Look at other authors for inspiration when building your brand.
2. Develop your online persona with a website. As a self-published author, it’s absolutely essential. Your website is the heart of your brand and it’s not only where you sell your books but also where you invite your readers to learn more about you. At this stage, an author’s website doesn't need to be lengthy or elaborate to get the job done but it should contain your bio and photo; taglines, cover images and excerpts from your books, a contact form and links for sales and social media.
You can also consider having a downloadable media kit available. This includes your photo, a short bio, blurb about your book and a few reviews, if you have them.
Top Tip: Make it easy for visitors to buy your books and subscribe to your mailing list.
3. It’s all about lists…email lists that is. This is a surprisingly key part of your website as it enables you to get a newsletter out there. Let’s be honest, it’s highly unlikely that readers will check your website for updates regularly. However if they’ve subscribed to your email list, you can send a regular newsletter that covers all your news and updates. That way you can keep in touch with the readership who genuinely want to find out more about you.
Creating and maintaining this all-important list is one of the best things you can do to secure sales of both your current and future books. You can develop a real relationship with your email subscribers and turn them into paying customers. Because email marketing is a long-term strategy, you should get the list set up right now. Follow this up with monthly email updates - share news about your upcoming book signings or promotions and simply connect with your readers.
Top Tip: Aim for consistency with sending newsletters because this is how you establish a loyal audience.
4. Choose your audience carefully. Successful book promotion requires you to think not just about your book’s content but also who the natural audience is. Consider these questions: ‘Who wants to read your book? Where does this audience go to get your book? Where do they go to get more updates on new books? Would they hunt for your new releases? Would they be persuaded by ads in their favourite communities? With which communities are they affiliated?
Top Tip: Do some background research on your target audience and get to really know them!
5. Book reviewers are your best friends. It’s essential that you hunt down and get as many reviews as possible, especially for the king of selling sites - Amazon - where the more reviews you get, the higher your book’s visibility is. In addition, many potential readers won't even look at a book that hasn't been reviewed yet with an Amazon-verified purchase stamp of approval. Look for book reviewers and bloggers who love the genre you write in. Ask them (or even beg if you have to) in the nicest, least annoying way possible to read your book and leave a review.
Top Tip: When marketing your first book, you need to check your pride at the door and be just a tad bit shameless.
6. Choose the right cover for your masterpiece. A lot rests on a cracking book cover. Remember what the old folk, teachers and probably your grandparents say - that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover? Yeah, people still do that. It's essential that you choose a cover that both stands out from the crowd AND resonates with your target audience. While you can design your own cover, consider bringing in the professionals These days, with sites like fiver and LinkedIn, you can network and get quality work done from as little as £5 to £100. While that may sound like a lot of cash to spend, think of it as a long-term investment. The right book cover can stop potential readers mid scroll down the page or mid stroll down the aisle.
7. Freebies. In other words, just give your book away on Amazon. The most tried and tested way to get noticed as a first-time author is to simply give away your book for FREE. Now before you hunt me down with pitchforks, tie me to a stake and burn me alive, note that I don’t mean you should make it free permanently. A free book launch (especially with e-books) can help you get noticed and build up your reviews on Amazon. As a side note, be sure to choose the right category for your book on Amazon. Some shoppers stick to genres that interest them and are more likely to narrow their book hunt by category. If you choose the right category for your book, you’ll have a better chance of getting found by your target reader.
Top Tip: Sign up to Amazon’s KDP programme which lets you give your book away for FREE for five days every three months and reduce its price to £0.99, which can also help get reviews.
8. Amazon adverts. Not only can you publish and sell your book on Amazon; you can also promote it there. If you do decide to buy advertising, choose the sponsored product ads option. This pay-per-click ad allows you to target Amazon users with keywords that are related to your book. Although setting up an ad campaign with Amazon means that you're actually paying them to sell your book, there is a benefit - you'll enjoy better book visibility. You only need to pay when an interested shopper clicks on your ad, and you control the maximum daily amount that you wish to spend.
9. Get Social. First things first, you need a Facebook business page (most call it an author’s page). Your personal profile just won't cut it with marketing your book, but don't worry, creating a business page is free. With that, you can boost your book-related posts Yes, you will need to spend money to market yourself and your book, but you'll be happy to know that Facebook works with every budget. Even if you can only spend £5 a day to promote your book, it can get you in front of a large group of people. I do not recommend using Facebook to market your book if it's still listed as free on Amazon though.
When marketing on Facebook, follow these best practices:
· Choose a custom audience of readers who’ve shown interest in your genre.
· Make an ad that’s targeted specifically to these readers and their interests.
· Link your ad to the excerpt page on your website, which contains a link to your book’s Amazon sales page.
· Control costs by only running ads on Facebook on the most popular days/ times. The Facebook ad manager will provide this information.
· Don’t waste your time with going after page likes-- use ads to push click-throughs to your website.
Well, that should help get your marketing campaign started, and I’ll be posting another guest blog soon – zeroing in on those all-important newsletters.
You can catch up with Adam C Mitchell through his website https://mitchell-ac.wixsite.com/acma