If we’re working on stereotypes and sweeping generalisations, which I love to do, authors and marketers have traditionally moved in different circles. Authors, so often thought of as introverted and reclusive, are seemingly the yin to a marketer’s yang; brash, outgoing, and constantly yelling at you to buy their steam mop.
Whether or not these stereotypes are anywhere near the truth is neither here nor there, because as a self-published author you’ll need to occupy both spaces and be comfortable in doing so. Thankfully you won’t have to flog off steam mops (as fantastic as I’ve heard they are); no, you’re selling the deliciously juicy fruits of your labour.
But how to sell? You’re an author, not a marketer. You also presumably don’t have the capital to air a Superbowl commercial or hire a blimp. What I’d give for blimp money.
Fear not, self-publishers. There are at least 3 incredibly effective and easy-to-use book marketing channels that’ll also cost you next to nix.
1) Social Media
Unless you’re a truly old person or one of those hipsters that’s ‘above it all’, you’ll assumedly already have a personal Facebook page. So do around 1.8 billion other people – that’s quite an audience. As an author, you should invest the time to create a second page for your writing exploits. This can be connected to your personal Facebook, and is ridiculously easy to manage.
Once you’ve set your author page up, it’s time to get posting. Here are just a few tips for maximising your social media reach:
- Use the 80/20 principle: Only directly sell to your audience 20% of the time, with the other 80% of posts being literally anything else.
- Always use a picture: Posts with relevant images get 94% more views than posts without. Selfie it up, hot stuff.
- Use hashtags: Putting a relevant hashtag (e.g. #hotauthor) on a post makes it eminently more searchable.
- Post consistently: Whether it be multiple times a day or every few days, ensure that your social activity doesn’t suddenly fall of a cliff.
- Engage with your audience: Don’t be aloof. Encourage conversation on your page. Answer your fans’ questions. Be accessible. If someone compliments your #hotauthor selfie, be sure to reply.
- Share yourself: It may surprise you, but your fans will be keen to see the real you. Offer up insight into your day-to-day life and writing processes.
- Pay for ads: Your organic reach will only stretch so far. Once you’ve built up a committed fan base, it’s worth promoting your most popular Facebook posts in an effort to reach new eyes.
Once you’re comfortable with Facebook, investing the time to create a Twitter and Instagram account will only add to your marketing reach.
Technically another social network, Goodreads is important enough to be considered an entirely separate beast. It’s essentially Facebook for book lovers, with 47 million monthly users interacting with their favourite authors and talking all things books. No other place compares to Goodreads when it comes to getting discovered, winning fans and scoring ever-valuable reviews.
You’ll begin your Goodreads journey by creating an author page which features a photo, a bio and your titles. There’s even an option to run a feed of your blog. Once you’re set up, it’s time to get active. Here’s how:
- Goodreads has a huge amount of ‘book clubs’ that are open for anyone to join. Jump into a few and shake some virtual hands.
- Review other authors’ books. Put time and effort into these reviews. The author may repay the favour, and other Goodreads members could well be entranced by your writing style.
- If you’ve got multiple titles, consider giving one away for a short period of time. You can tie the giveaway in with a reasonably priced Goodreads ad.
- Goodreads is a community, not Ebay. Put away your hard selling hat and put on your making friends moccasins.
Goodreads is only growing, so getting in now is an investment in your writing future. If I sound like your parents it’s because both they and I have your best interests at heart. Now go clean your room, we’ve got people coming over.
The internet’s bookstore, Amazon, plays possibly the most important role in the success or failure of a self-published author. It’s where the overwhelming majority of self-publishing dollars are made, and knowing the marketing nuances of this omnipotent self-publishing God will be key to how you fare as a standalone doer of books.
Whether you use Createspace, Lightning Source or Kindle Direct Publishing to produce your books doesn’t particularly matter, but what you do once they’re up on Amazon very much does. Tips? Yeah I’ve got some tips.
- There is an algorithm quirk on Amazon called the 90 day cliff, which prioritises books that are less than 3 months old. Be sure to do the bulk of your marketing during this period.
- Keywords and categorisation play a huge role in the searchability of your book. Research what successful titles similar to your own have used, then apply them to your book.
- Free books are downloaded up to 100x more often than priced books. If you’ve just uploaded your first book, consider making it free for a short period of time. If you’ve got multiple titles, make one of them permanently free to stoke interest.
- Spread your promotion out over days. The Amazon algorithm rewards books that have sales spikes of multiple days rather than those that have single day spikes.
- Use Amazon’s marketing tools. Pay for an ad every now and again – they’ve been proven to work. If they invite you to be a part of a special promotion, it’s wise to take them up.
As dirty a word as marketing can feel to self-published authors, it’s vital that you take it seriously. Your book could simultaneously hold the keys to ending world hunger, solving climate change and ushering in world peace, but if a book is published to Amazon and no one is there to read it, was it even published at all?
Your book presumably isn’t anthropomorphic, and thus lacks the vocal chords to speak for itself. It’s up to you to get behind the loudspeaker and big it up.
Thankfully, the basics of marketing your book are just that – basic. And if you do them well, you could be on your way to riches. I’m talking BLIMP money.