Anyone involved in the publishing industry knows it changes daily. I worked at a publishing house in the early nineties and then again in the 2010’s and comparing and contrasting my two stints capsulizes what is happening all over the world: we’re becoming a digitalized culture.
No surprise there, but it was fascinating to see how the first publishing job relied upon print mail order catalogs, had no website (the web had yet to take off), and printed hundreds or even thousands of copies of a book and stored them in a warehouse until they were shipped to retail bookstores.
Twenty years later at my second stint at a similar publishing house, I saw several online stores, print on demand and electronic mailing lists with thousands of names. Changing publishing industry
In the past, getting published was the hard part. Marketing a book mostly fell in to the hands of traditional publishers. Today, publishing is the easy part, but marketing a book is the uphill climb.
Yes, the good news for someone who wants to publish a novel and not deal with traditional publishers, is print-on-demand. Indie authors can self-publish, but people finding your book is the hard part.
Social media helps. But it still hemorrhages time and energy to get a book known and build a following. I have come across this advice more than once as I learn about marketing a book: word of mouth is the most efficient tool to promote a book
What order should you do these items? I would say start with the social media items. In the meantime, you can still network. Start by telling your friends and family about your books. The list may seem overwhelming, but remember it’s to be done over months, even years. Just do one thing a day to market your books, even it if is minor or only takes five minutes. Also, not every item on the list may work in your situation. Do what is best for you.
NOTE: I am not a marketing expert for indie authors. I am learning as I go and below is to help other authors who have no idea where to get started as far as promoting their book. I will update this page as needed.
- Amazon Author Page-Create author page with Author Central
- KDP Select-Enroll in KDP Select
- KDP Select Countdown deal
- KDP Select Ad Campaign
- Audio version book-as of this writing CreateSpace now has an option to record your own audio CD of book
- Amazon Giveaway-if you look toward the bottom of the page of your Amazon book, you’ll find an option to “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.” For a fee, you can give away as many print copies of your book as you want. Also, you control how long the giveaway lasts. One benefit to this giveaway is the exposure for your book. Another benefit is building an Amazon email list. If you require the shopper to “follow” your author page, then they will receive notices when you publish more in the future.
- My Amazon Author page.
Email Marketing Services
- Having an email list is one of your most valuable tools.
- Send email marketing campaigns regularly.
- Collect emails from your author website, conferences, bookfairs, etc.
- Use email marketing services like MailChimp, Drip, ConvertKit, AWeber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign. (I use MailChimp because I was already familiar with it. I do not have experience with the others.)
- Author page-you may already have a personal Goodreads page. You can convert it to an Author page or create a separate Goodreads account for your author persona.
- Make friends with those who read the genre in which you write. GR will allow you to friend only so many people per day.
- Goodreads Author program (ads cost .50 per click)
- Book giveaway-this used to be free, but now there is a fee.
- My GoodReads Author page.
- Author page-Start an author Facebook page; try out all the options offered on the page (sell books from the page, etc.)
- Freebie launch
- Invite friends to your author page
- Join groups on Facebook related to your genre, but follow their rules about promoting your books.
- Facebook Ads-may or may not be beneficial to the indie author; I’ve used them in the past for a non-profit organization I worked for, but never for my books.
- My Facebook Author’s Page.
- Author account-set up an account just about your books.
- How to use Instagram as an author
- Science fiction author Pierce Brown has an effective author Instagram account. Of course, it helps if you look like a model.
- On my account, I’m including the covers to my books. Still a work-in-progress.
- Twitter author account– use hashtags in your description of your genre and link to your author website.
- Tweet regularly.
- Announce your latest projects, but don’t overdo the promotional thing.
- Converse with others on Twitter. I chose to be encouraging to other authors. Some people use Twitter as a platform for personal, political and religious views. In my opinion, Twitter is a better experience for networking, not arguing.
- Pin a tweet at the top of your feed with your latest news, etc.
- Learn how to best use Twitter. Google articles on the subject. Here’s one to get you started.
- My Twitter Profile.
- Author page-set up an author page. Must have LibraryThing account. It’s free.
- Giveaways-giveaways are free on LibraryThing as of this writing. An author can giveaway both print and digital copies.
- Note: If you are enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select, do not offer ebook giveaways on LibraryThing or anywhere else. Once off of KDP Select, offer 100 ebooks as giveaway on LibraryThing. In my experience, most members of LT want print books, anyway. I usually offer up to five books for a print giveaway.
- My LibraryThing Author page.
- Find a host. I use WordPress.com. There is also Blogger.
- Buy a domain name. It’s more professional-looking. (I haven’t done this yet, but that’s why I created this to-do list.)
- Blog regularly. Give updates on your book releases. Discuss what you’ve been reading. Offer tips on writing ficiton. But what else can you write about?
- Offer free sample chapters.
- Sell books from your website.
- Include links to all your other social media accounts (Facebook author’s page, Twitter, etc.)
- Here’s some tips from Writer’s Digest on creating your author website.
- Create a YouTube account. Many indie authors have a YouTube presence in which they offer writing tips and give updates on their books. It’s a great way to build a platform and gain a following.
- Follow authors on YouTube. Some of my favorites are: Vivien Ries, Jenna Moreci, and Ellen Brock.
- Create a LinkedIn account.
- Add “author” to your resume.
- Post regularly on LinkedIn.
- Network with other authors.
- Create a trailer for your book. Just as movies have trailers–you know, those previews before the movie at the theatre–books have trailers. If you self-publish your book, you may not have the budget for a fancy trailer. It’s still possible, however, to create a simple, effective video to promote your book. In my opinion, an effective book trailer should be anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Manuscript. Write a manuscript for book trailer. You can include your back cover copy as inspiration.
- Music. There are many websites where you can download free background music for your trailer. YouTube has its own free music library. I recommend using instrumental music matching the tone of your book. Also, you may want to narrate over the music. Here’s a list of royalty-free music sites.
- Software. Use the free video software that comes with your computer to put your trailer together. Or you can buy more sophisticated software. Or you can hire someone to put your video together. The choice is yours.
- Get your trailer online. Include it in these places: your author website, your GoodReads author page, and YouTube. Link to it from your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook.
- Contact locally-owned bookstores in your town. Ask them about placing some copies of your books on their shelves.
- Upload ebook editions of your book to SmashWords. For free, you can create a SmashWords account and upload your books for sale. They will get a portion of your sales, but you get a bigger royalty than Amazon offers. SW has an instruction guide you can download to prepare your ebook for their website.
- SmashWords is an online distributor of indie ebooks. When you upload a book to SW, you will find it listed on other online retailers like Kobo and ThriftBook.
- Try SmashWords only if you are not enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon forbids you to sell your ebooks elsewhere if you are using KDP Select. You may want to experiment and alternate between SmashWords and KDP Select.
- Giveaways are a great way to gain interest in your work, especially if you are writing a series. Through KDP select, offer the first book in your series for free for a limited time.
- Include sample samples of your novel. Post them on your author website.
- Include a sample never-before-seen story on your website. Allow visitors to your website to download a short story about your novel’s characters as a PDF. Or post it in a blog entry.
- Post Giveaways. Give away samples of your book through GoodReads, Amazon and LibraryThing. Politely request a possible review on Amazon and elsewhere for a free copy of your book (or ebook).
- Build an ARC (Advance Readers/Advance Copy ) team
- Tips on building an ARC team
- Ask people to review your book. The more reviews a book gets on Amazon, the more exposure it gets.
- Form a street team to promote your book. This is a group of volunteers to whose purpose is to get the word out there about your product. One way would be to form a private group on Facebook and meet. This is what musicians do to promote their tunes.
- Find out more about building a street team:
- Find influencers for your book. An influencer is someone already established with the audience for which you are looking. This person (or persons) can write a promotional blurb for your book.
- For example, if you have written a science fiction novel, see if you can secure other sf authors to write some good content about it. You can use this at the beginning of your book, on your website, Twitter and Facebook posts or other promotional materials.
- Check out this article with more details about influencers.
- Create a Patreon account. Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, as well as ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons.”
- I do not use Patreon, so I neither endorse nor renounce it. It sounds like an interesting concept and I am still researching it. I am only listing it here as an option.
Conferences and Conventions
- Attend conferences, conventions and other venues to network. Find conferences related to the topic or genre of your books.
- Print signs for your booth.
- Print up business cards.
- Use a bookshelf with copies of your books. This is just an option.
- Print up bookmarks and/or postcards that advertise your books.
- Have a sign-up sheet for people to leave you their email address. Add these to your email list afterwards.
- Here are more tips for networking and promoting your book at a conferences.
- Join or create a network group for authors.
- Here are some ideas for network groups: 11 Powerful Networking Groups for Authors
- Create a Reddit account. Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.
- Join groups for writers.
- Join groups about your book topic or novel genre.
- Create an Bookbub author account. Bookbub links to sales deals for ebooks. Bookbub sends out daily emails promoting ebooks. You may already sighed up with them.
- Apply to get your book listed on BookBub. For a fee, you can promote your book through them. Fees vary. I applied, but I was told my book was too short. I have heard through different sources an author should apply more than once.
Book Promotion Sites
- I do not use book promotion sites. I am only listing them as an option.
- Here is a list of book promotion sites. Use them at your own risk.
- Create a Meetup account. Network with fellow authors in your area.
- Meet with groups interested in the topics or genre for which you write.
- Have a professional portrait taken.
- How to take a great author photograph
- Here’s why you need a fantastic author’s photo
More links to check out:
Other Epiphanies on Writing: