In a perfect world, your book would sell itself. But in reality, independent writers have to wear many hats, including one as a marketing strategist.
Unsurprisingly, there are generally two camps of writers: those who are put off by the responsibility of marketing and publishing their own work, and those who are excited to extend their creative ideas into self-promotion.
Regardless of which category you find yourself in, the key to success is having an excellent marketing strategy. Here are a few solid tips that are proven to increase book sales.
What is the right moment to start marketing your book?
Once you have finished writing your book, it might be hard to do, but it’s important to look at your book as a product to sell. In order to generate demand for your book, you need to formulate a campaign to help build awareness about your book among your target audience. This is why it’s recommended that you draft your marketing campaign before the book is published – so that you already have an audience buzzing about your book and anticipating its release, helping to build momentum during your first month of sales.
How do I craft a marketing campaign for my book?
The elements that make a good marketing campaign find innovative ways to tackle a book’s genre, target audience, and reach. Just like crafting the right title or book description, advertisements for the book should have the look and feel that is appropriate for the genre, and give the audience a clue about the world they would be diving into. It’s important to do some market research about who reads the genre of your book, and what other interests and activities they enjoy, so that you can promote your book’s release on websites, at events, and in stores that your demographic frequents. Chances are that if this is your first time being published, your initial reach is on the smaller side. This isn’t a disadvantage at all! In fact, you have the opportunity to be a “hometown hero” by linking up with locally owned and family-run businesses, art collectives, fairs and events to help you promote your release. Having a face to the name of the author can go a long way in meeting readers and gaining a devoted following, so take advantage of the resources you have available to you in your neighborhood. While it is important to have a strong digital campaign, do not underestimate good old-fashioned word of mouth! In either case, repetition is key – you want your promotions to be seen and distributed in several different outlets. The more often your promotions pop-up to your target audience, the more likely your book is to garner interest.
Here are some other aspects you might want to consider to bolster your sales.
Digital and Physical distribution.
The best way to maximize sales is to publish your book in 3 forms: in printed book, ebook and audiobook format. Each reader has different preferences, so when you publish the book as digital, printed and audio, your sales potential – increases.
Advertise on Social Media.
Create a business account on major platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc.) as early as possible, including quotes from your book, inspirations, and some behind the scenes content to entice your audience. The key to a social media presence is consistency, so make a weekly plan of what you will be pushing and schedule posts for a couple of times a week. Once your book design and advertisements have been crafted, you can post with a more aggressive schedule (every other day in the weeks leading up to release, and every day the week before). Once the book is published, collect review quotes, pictures of meetings with readers and interviewers, and other special ways to document your first month of release to share on these platforms, or to promote where you will be doing book-signings, readings and interviews.
Focus on getting your book reviewed.
While it would be amazing to score a review by NPR or The New York Times, you don’t necessarily need to land a major publication in order for your book’s reviews to have an impact on sales. Think about the major online platforms that will be handling your distribution (Amazon or Kindle Books, for instance), and ask your fans to exclusively purchase AND review on those sites in the first week that your book is available. Nothing sells an item like a well-rated and widely reviewed product, and there’s a good chance the algorithm on those sites will push your book if it’s generating traffic. In addition to reviews on seller sites, find book clubs, fan clubs, and literary collectives that would enjoy your book’s genre and thematic material. Offer incentives (like a free autographed book!) for reading and reviewing the book. When it comes to reviews, quality is key if it lands on the book description, but quantity can help you get better sales.
Create a website for your book. Having a landing page for your book is the easiest way to direct traffic to your preferred retailers, manage your own distribution if you ship out copies of the book yourself, manage reader feedback, and have all your press kit materials ready for press outlets to use in one neat place. If you have a website for yourself as a writer, all you need is a separate page for your book with its own unique hyperlink (think “book-title.com” versus “author.com/book-title”).
Podcast interviews and advertising. Podcasts are unique in that unlike radio, each program focuses on a narrow scope of content. This means that finding a podcast that appeals to your target audience is a powerful way to promote your book! Ask to advertise, or be a guest on a podcast that does book reviews in your genre, or tackles the same subject or thematic material as your book. If you have an audiobook version, you can even offer for them to air a clip of your book as a tantalizing preview.
Consider the communities your book may inspire. If your book is about personal development, you can offer the book to high-tech companies, entrepreneurship schools, etc. at a discounted bulk price for gifts to employees. If you’re a Young Adult writer, local schools have creative writing programs who would love for you to attend a career drive or book fair. Consider not only who would read your book, but what kind of influence your book can have on your readers, and who would be inspired by your writing, or by your journey as a writer!
How much money will I need to invest in marketing the book?
By and large, the main resource required for quality marketing is not money, but time. Making sure that you implement strategies months (possibly over a year) before your book hits the marketplace is the best way to ensure you will have a powerful first quarter of revenue.
That being said, here are some places you may want to consider investing some money in your promotions:
- Social Media Manager
- A devoted designer for press materials
- Event photographer who can be present at podcast interviews, book signings, etc. to take professional shots
- PR representative for a digital media campaign
While the potential costs of hiring your own team can be exorbitant, these are things you can also potentially do yourself or find a friend willing to do a favor. Being resourceful sometimes means figuring out outside-of-the-box ways to help your business grow. Students of design or business at local universities may be able to donate or subsidize their work to build their portfolio.
In the end, the more you put your creative efforts into promotion, the better chance you’ll have of getting your book in the hands of more readers. So whether you plan on putting the business hat on yourself or delegating to a team of professionals, make sure you don’t scrimp on marketing; your wallet will thank you!