If you’re an indie writer, you’re responsible for promoting your book, but even many traditionally published authors are finding they’re responsible for many promotional tasks that were previously done by the publisher. At the same time, new publishing options, like ebook publishing and on-demand printing mean more competition than ever before.
I won’t go into the decisions involved in traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but recognize that marketing support at traditional publishers is waning except for their high-profile (best-selling) writers, so you’ll be more involved in promoting your book regardless of which path you take.
Promoting your book
Before we get into specific tools and tactics for promoting your book, let’s talk about some overarching concepts to bear in mind.
Beware of scams
As more folks determine to write books (I’ve heard estimates that 81% of adults want to write a book), a cottage industry arose to help self-published authors with various tasks normally performed by the publisher. Everything from editing to formatting to cover design to marketing is available to writers — at a price.
Some of these services are valuable, but many are simply scams to bilk writers out of thousands of dollars. Writers, who lack the skill necessary to perform these tasks themselves and no ability to determine their worth, pay fees and, sometimes get little or nothing of value. In other cases, they get substandard work for the high price they paid.
These companies make money because authors are convinced they’ll make millions of dollars off their book, with the right cover, editing, marketing. In reality, the average Kindle ebook sells less than 10 copies, which nets the author around $100 (not including these services).
Do your homework.
- Check out the company carefully and ask for references
- Go online and search for comments and complaints about the company
- Ask to see their work
- Learn some of these tasks, especially if you intend to write more books, although you’ll find a number of spammy masterclasses out there willing to take your money for training that’s useless
Create a Plan
Marketing, any type of marketing, takes planning and the time to start that is before you finish the book. If you don’t have a marketing background, check out local colleges and universities for help. They might take on your marketing plan as a student project, as a service project for the student chapter of AMA (American Marketing Association), or can refer you to the local SBDC (Small Business Development Center).
You can get insights on crafting your own marketing plan by reaching out to the SBA (Small Business Administration) for helpful outlines and publications or check out books on the subject from the local library or Amazon. Here’s something I wrote on my marketing website to help in crafting a marketing plan [Part 1; Part 2].
Low-cost tools for promoting your book
Social media is free, although it is time-consuming and takes effort away from writing. I try to divide my day up into writing time and marketing time. Again, I start early before the book comes out.
Even though it’s free, you’ll likely spend some money on tools to lighten the load (I use Hootsuite and Buffer, which each cost about $10/ month each. Although they have free versions, I feel it’s best to pay for the extra power you get from the paid versions). You also might consider advertising on these platforms, which is reasonably priced. Some general recommendations:
- The key to building a social media plan that works is sharing content. But, share information about your book(s) sparingly — only 20% of the content should be promotional.
- Optimize shares by sharing at the time most readers are online (which is likely after work and on weekends — although Sundays do really bad for me so I don’t bother sharing). Also, don’t overshare. Once or twice a day on Facebook and most other social platforms is good, up to 5 times a day on Twitter will work.
- Free isn’t what it used to be because too many authors are giving their books away. Instead, consider sharing snippets of your writing, book trailers, and a synopsis of the book.
- Respond to folks who interact with you on social networks. Thank those with positive comments and apologize or thank them for their feedback when someone posts something negative. NEVER delete negative comments or get combative.
Facebook – some folks use a Facebook page, others prefer a profile (personal account). I think you should create a page so you’re not sharing photos from my family birthdays, etc. That doesn’t mean your page should be all professional, but there are just some things you don’t wanna share with your market (for me it’s my political ramblings). I do share many of my promotional efforts on both my page and profile.
Unless you’re a celebrity, you’ll have to work on getting folks to like your page (without that, you’re basically talking to yourself). And here are some tools for doing that:
- Invite friends to like your page
- Include a link to like your page everywhere — on your website, Goodreads and Amazon profiles, email signatures ….
- Try promoting the page for a few dollars to users who are readers
- Post interesting content about other writers, writer’s conferences, new books, reviews, etc in hopes that your page’s fans will share the messages
Twitter – requires a different strategy because the platform is different
- Use a great picture as the profile picture and the book or other book-related images as the cover image
- Share interesting content, especially RT content from your followers (or folks you want to follow you)
- Follow back
- Find people to follow (I use Hootsuite and find folks posting about their books or book-related material)
- Clean your following list from time to time to eliminate old accounts — dormant, infrequently post, or no longer following you
Goodreads — I have an entire post to optimize your Goodreads strategy.
Other social networks — most networks follow the recommendations for Facebook, so use that as a starting point.
While a website is a form of social media, it’s so different I put it as its own strategy.
Here are recommendations for making your website work in promoting your book:
- Use a self hosted website (which is as cheap as $4.99/ month). A WordPress hosted blog looks unprofessional and you’ll never get good SEO
- Collect subscribers
- Connect with your social networks for both liking and sharing
- Publish posts (reviews, advice, writing samples) on a consistent basis — at least once/week — and share across social platforms
- Be creative, fun, and open
- Offer tools for readers to interact with you and respond to them
- Think carefully about branding your business with a consistent color palette and images
- Use a free template. Often they’re badly coded or really wonky to work with if you can’t code. You can buy a quality template for about $50.
- Set it and forget it
- Forget to monitor performance with Google Analytics (free)
Networking is probably the best tool for promoting your book. I’ve found that authors (especially indie authors) are very willing to help each other and promote each other’s books.
- Join Goodreads and some authors’ groups
- Pay it forward; don’t ask for something without giving something. Some of my best connections are folks I met when I offered to review books
- Join Facebook groups for authors and add value to these groups
- Find local groups of authors. I’m in 2 wonderful Meetup groups for authors
- Check out conferences for writers
Latest news from Buried Ladies
So, things are moving at a brisk pace. In addition to attending the Brain to Books Cyber Convention, we have lots of exciting things going on.
- I’m running a giveaway on Amazon. I’m giving away 10 books chosen at random from folks who sign up for the giveaway. Here’s the link to add your name to the hat.
- I’m finishing up Book 2, Scars of the Past. You’ll get to see many of your old friends from Book 1 and some quirky (and sinister) new ones. I’d love to get more Beta readers for this book, which should be ready by the end of February for comments. Sign up here.
- If you’ve already purchased (or received a gifted copy) of Buried Ladies, please consider writing an honest review (use the link below). And, if you didn’t like it, please send me specific comments so I can improve the next book. If you don’t have a copy yet, enter the giveaway or get it on Amazon (FREE on Kindle Unlimited, $2.99 Kindle, $9.99 paperback).
Thanks so much for my community for making all this possible. I’m happy to hear from you at: [email protected]