So yeah, if you read the title and immediately clicked on the link to read this post, you’ve come to the right place. You’re obviously slightly desperate and probably equally clueless, which is why you thought, “Book marketing for dummies? Sign me up!”. The idea for this post came about due to a text message from my cousin and fellow writer Inilya Spencer. She’s a new author and wanted to know if I had any advice regarding marketing. I was all, ummmmmm…nope.
Then I thought about it for a few days and realized that I have learned a thing or two about book marketing over the last year. I’ve mastered the art of ballin’ on a budget.
Start a Blog or Website– To me this seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many authors are out in these streets without a web presence. As in, you go to Google them and all that pulls up is their Amazon book page. For real? Let me check my calendar real quick; yep, it’s 2015. As a legitimate author, you must have web presence. Whether it’s a blog or website is up to you. But if a reader cares enough to seek you out, you should care enough to make it easy for you to be found. Plus, that blog or website creates a one stop shop for said reader to find all of your books in one place. Winning.
Join Goodreads–This is seriously the single best thing you can do for yourself as an author. In case you live under a rock, and are not privy to Goodreads, it’s a social network similar to Facebook dedicated solely to people who love books! I’ll admit that I slept on Goodreads for a while because I didn’t want the headache of managing another social media platform. I was stupid, but you don’t have to be. Even if your book is nothing but an idea at this point, you should still get on Goodreads quick and in a hurry. Once you’re there, join as many groups within your genre as possible and interact with them. You can use Goodreads to solicit book reviews from readers who actually have an interest in your genre, promote giveaways, drive traffic to your blog, and create ad campaigns, which we’ll talk more about later. Goodreads is so important that I’ll wait while you go there now. Seriously. (Add this to your shelf while you’re there.)
Work Your Social Media Jelly– Again, this seems pretty obvious, but you should have a few social media platforms that you’re comfortable using and are actively engaged in. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or whatever. Pick your poison and promote yourself. Notice I said promote yourself, not your books. Social media is meant to be, well, social. As in readers follow you in an effort to get to know you, not just your books. Engage regularly. Post about random thoughts, family events, cute bunnies, that delicious burger you made or whatever. If you’re doing it right, it should be fun. If you’re doing it wrong, it becomes a chore and you get blocked for being a spammer. I’ve stalked the pros and I’ve noticed that most of them only post about their books when they have a new release or event coming up. Keep it classy and keep it moving.
Postcard Anyone?–As you can see in the text message pic above, I love a good postcard or bookmark. These are oldie’s but goodies in the marketing game. They’re an inexpensive way to promote your book. Get some great ones designed with your basic information and pass them out like candy. I carry a stack in my purse. You can give them away at the hair salon, grocery store, book store, library, gym or wherever. They’re like over sized business cards that you should never leave home without.
Ad Campaigns–This is one marketing strategy that’s going to cost you a little more than time. Ad campaigns are targeted ads that run for a specific period of time on a particular platform. You pay-per-click on your ad. The good thing about these types of campaigns are that you get to choose your budget, the length of time the ad will run and your target demographics. Some platforms that offer per click ads are Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve only run one ad campaign and I used Goodreads. So far I like it. Using a $25.00 budget I designed an ad that will only be shown to readers that previously rated books by similar authors in my genre at 3 stars and up. This is an awesome feature. I write in Christian Fiction and I listed about 20 other authors in that genre. It’s great that I know my ad is being seen by people who are fans of the genre and who also take the time to rate books they read.
Put Your Book on Sale–Fluctuating the price of your book is a great way to draw attention to it. Make it 99 cents for a period of time and hashtag the mess out of it on Twitter and other platforms. Contact promotional book sites to have them list it during your sales period. List it under the Kindle Count Down Deals. If you’re only selling your book on Amazon, you can also enroll it in the KDP Select for maximum exposure. One of the best tried and true strategies is to offer one of your older books for free to help boost the sales of your newer books.
Show Up and Show Out–One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a super popular author who said that new authors should focus on becoming well-known where they live. She admonished authors to keep their efforts local because it’s cheaper, easier and just makes good business sense. Go to every local book related event you hear about. Call up local bookstores and ask them to order copies of your books. Contact your local libraries and offer to host a reading or donate copies of your books. Join local book clubs. Look for opportunities to showcase your books through speaking engagements and community events. Get out there and strut your literary stuff!
The American Way– Last, but certainly not least, you can always pay someone to market for you. I’m in cahoots with my blogger friend Quanie Miller who has just started her own business which assists writers with all things publishing related. You can pay someone to do the leg work for you and do what we all would rather be doing anyway: write!
I hope this helped get the wheels turning for those of you who don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to marketing. With a lot of effort and patience, you can sell your books. Once I stepped up my marketing game, I’ve watched that little graph on my sales report steadily climb over the last month. As long as I’m selling at least one book a day, I count it a success.
By the way, you can get my cousin’s new release here! Can you tell I’m excited for her in this pic? Excuse the treadmill and random suitcase in the background. I guess we stay ready to go ’round my way.
What kinds of marketing advice do you have to offer? Don’t leave us hanging! Tell us all about how you get down in the comments below!
10 thoughts on “Book Marketing for Dummies”
Say it ain’t so! You’re going to make me join ANOTHER social media platform…Good Reads. I have to admit the ad feature you described is pretty nifty. I’m on Good Reads, but I only use it to rate books I’ve read.
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I know what you mean Simone. I’ve been avoiding joining Instagram and Pinterest because I don’t want another social media platform to manage. It can be pretty time consuming! But if you don’t do anything else Goodreads is great for writers. There are so many excellent groups and it’s a wonderful place where you can go and solicit reviews from avid readers. I still struggle to interact there like I should, but every time I stop by, good things happen for my sales chart!
Hey! Thanks for the shout out! And um…I think you’re doing a GREAT job of marketing yourself! One of the things I’ve learned is this: unless you’re one of those authors that just gets visibility straight out the gate, you have to just write quality books because eventually, as long as you’re doing your due diligence of building your platform, they WILL get reviews. And reviews sell books. And the people who like your books will likely buy everything you’ve written since kindergarten, so just write, write, write. Slow and steady wins the race. It ain’t sexy, but it works. And LOL@ Simone about Goodreads. I stalks my people so I’m going to friend her in 3, 2, 1…
Thanks Quanie. I feel like I’m not doing enough, but I’ve learned that slow and steady wins the race. Like you said, it’s constantly producing quality books that eventually builds a readership. I always say that there’s no such thing as overnight success. They’ve been grinding for a minute, we just see the results. This is weird, but I love watching old sitcoms and movies for just that reason. I see some big headlining stars with a measly walk on line and think to myself, ‘everyone had to start somewhere’. They pursued their dreams early on against all odds, and made them a reality. So I’ll just keep writing my little heart out and trusting God for the increase!
Loved this post. so helpful. I am going to check out Goodreads immediately. I appreciate your generosity with sharing from your own experiences.
Thanks Diahann, I just try to share what little knowledge I have. I’m glad it was helpful to you!
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Thanks for the scoop on Goodreads. I’m on it, been on it forever but didn’t know how to work the darn thing. Now, I’ve got a clue! Thanks for sharing.
Lol, you are not alone Ann. I’m still trying to get the hang of it. It has been so beneficial in helping me to solicit reviews/grow my readership. I think Goodreads works for you, if you work it.