Marketing is probably the most important thing for you to do, apart from actually writing something that is. You can write a hundred books, and get them placed on Amazon and other online stores, but unless you tell people they are there, you’re not going to get many readers.
You need to be thinking about how you’re going to do this a good few months before your book is even ready to be published. Personally, I use the What, How, and Where method for my marketing plan:
What are my objectives?
How am I going to achieve these?
Where am I going to market?
This method may, or may not work for you, but feel free to use it, or adapt it to whatever does. The first thing to do is create and write down a marketing plan, and to help you I’ll go through mine with you below.
Promotion and Marketing come in 2 flavours; pre-publication, and post-publication. There are things you need to think about and make decisions on even before your book is ready to be published.
It’s no good simply stating, “sell lots of books,” you need to break this down into smaller goals, mine are:
- Attract high numbers to website
- Get your book into digital bookstores
- Convert visitors into buyers
- Place your book into high street bookstores
- Create public awareness
If you can achieve these five simple objectives, then, as long as your book is good enough, you should be able to sell quite a few. Next up is deciding who my target audience is. What type of people are going to buy your books? For my book (Kopek the Destroyer), it’s:
- Dog lovers
- Animal lovers
- Humourous story lovers
How much are you going to charge for your book? Your book may be the most precious thing in the world to you, and you may even have invested many years of your life writing it, but if it the price isn’t right then your sales are going to suffer. The easiest way to find how much you should be charging is to search on Amazon for similar types of books and see how much they are. You should bear in mind that as an independent publisher your books aren’t going to be able to carry a premium price as an established author.
Try not to get too depressed when you work out how much profit you’re going to make on each sale. You did know that the vast majority of authors are broke, and only write for the love of it.
How do you want your readers to see you? Your author brand is your public face, and it needs to be consistent across any profile you have. You do have multiple profiles don’t you? No? OK, here’s some of the places you should have an account with a standard Bio, or About Me section:
Email: It’s worth thinking about creating a new email address dedicated to your writing. If you use Gmail, then you can also take advantage of GoogleDrive to save and share excerpts from your book.
Facebook: Even if you already have a Facebook profile, consider creating a new page dedicated to your writing. Do try to keep this separate to your main Page, and only makes posts that are relevant. The posts don’t have to be specific to you, but can be about writing in general.
Twitter: Personally, I think Twitter has overtaken Facebook as a means to promote your book. It’s important to get a profile early on and start to build a good reputation.
Google+: As these account profiles are linked into Google searches, it’s a good idea to have one of these.
Your website: This is your place to shine. There are no restrictions on how many words you can use, or what the format needs to be. Make sure you have links to each of your social network profiles, and visa-verse. Also, don’t forget to put a contact form on your website so you can start to create a mailing list.
Amazon: If you intend selling on Amazon, then you should have a profile. Many readers search out an author’s profile before they buy their book.
Writing Forums: Not only useful for publicising your book, but also exceeding useful for getting feedback on your writing.
Now you’re ready to start connecting with not only other authors but potential readers.
- Offer up your book to members on a writing forum for feedback. Not only does this help you become a better writer, but it is also useful for catching those elusive grammar errors.
- Start offering advice to other budding authors. There’s always someone with less knowledge than you. Doing this often enough helps to build your reputation as a serious writer.
- If you have one, then put a cover of your book on your website.
- Start to identify Facebook and Twitter Groups that will be useful in promoting your book
- Find blogs that will read your book and publish a review for you. If your book is ready for publication, or you have already published it, then I am more than happy to do a free quality review for you.
So, now you have your objectives, and you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to move onto promoting your new book in earnest. You’ll be glad to know that you’ve already done most of the hard work in the pre-publication worklist. From here on in it’s all about spreading the word.
Having something to give away is always going to help get your brand out into the world, but it may also contribute to selling a few more books.
- Free Bookmark
- Free Pen
- Free T-Shirt
- Signed copies
These are things that I will use to encourage people to buy my book directly from my website. As they all have my book name and web address on, it means that every time someone sees one they can read my name. I can also use them as giveaways, or in competitions.
Now the important bit, what tools am I going to use:
- Google AdWords
- Word of mouth
- Awareness material
- Work Colleagues
All of the above are things that I can use to either create an awareness of my book or drive people to my website. I should mention a company I use frequently, and that is VistaPrint. They often give away merchandising products on a regular basis. One of the most useful products I get from them is postcards. There is almost a weekly giveaway of 100 postcards for free from this company. You can simply choose one of the standard designs, or for a small charge (about £3.00) or you can design your bespoke one. Here’s an example of my postcard FRONT / BACK.
I managed to spend about £100, and saved well over £500 during the first month of promoting my book by using VistaPrint’s offers. They send out an email every week with some offer on it, either 250 free business cards or 100 free postcards. In that month I collected:
- 5 bespoke t-shirts
- 12 pens
- 500 postcards
- 1,000 business cards
- 75 brochures
- 3 notepads
- 100 return address labels
If I were to go to a traditional shop, this would have cost me at least £600. The t-shirts and pens I can use as giveaways, or in competitions; either of these will help to create awareness for both the book and the website.
The method is the “how” you are going to use the above tools and information to achieve your objectives.
- Using marketing material in competitions, or giveaways – t-shirts, pens, etc. should create more awareness
- Placing material, such as bookmarks and postcards, in public areas
- Shops – postcards
- Give away business card magnets
- Pubs – list the ones that you go to on a regular basis. You can drop material into others, but they won’t be as effective as your regular haunts.
- Radio Stations – list the individual radio stations that you are going to contact.
- Newspapers/Magazines – Which magazines are good matches to your book.
- Dentist’s waiting-rooms
- Doctor’s waiting rooms
The final four points are places where people have to sit and wait, and most will likely pick something up to read, even if it’s a flyer.
So, there you have it. You may not do all of theses things, but doing any of them will help you sell your books. I hope this article has been useful for you, if so, then please leave a comment. Or, if you disagree with anything I’ve said or have a better way of doing things, then let me know.