– By guest blogger Fiona Cole
In self-publishing the responsibility to market your book remains firmly at the feet of the writer.
Each successful self-published author solves the marketing of their book differently, and often with surprising ingenuity. Some people drive online traffic with keyword strategies. Others sell books in the back of the room during presentations and workshops. Some authors become social media “celebrities” amassing a huge fan following, whilst others become experts and spokespeople for a cause or professional arena.
Here are our top recommendations for marketing your book online.
- Start early
If you don’t want to end up with a garage full of books and no idea what to do with them, you need to think through your marketing plan as early in the process as you can.
Identify your ideal readers and how you can reach them. That is the beginning of marketing your self-published book.
- Build an online author profile
Find online forums, sites and social networking groups that are relevant to your genre or field of expertise. Be genuine and generous with your contribution to these forums, sharing information, offering support and giving feedback and encouragement. This way you will have a strong foundation on which to build your author profile. You can do this well before your book is published.
- Set up an author’s website
Marketing your book online starts and ends with your author’s website, which is a must-have if you are serious about making a name for yourself as a writer.
An author’s website should have:
• A homepage that sets the scene with compelling, visual and optimised content that reinforces your brand.
• About the author, after all it is you they want to get to know.
• Book pages – one for each book – with image, description and a buy now button with a link to a point of sale.
• A blog page where you can write things and where your fans can post comments.
• An events page with dates and places you are going to be signing your book or speaking.
• Your social networking information.
• A contact form or email address.
• The ability to sign-up to your newsletter.
Other things you can add include: testimonials, reviews, a list of your recommended reads, a downloadable media kit (see No. 6), a promotional video (see No. 9).
- Start a blog
If you want to build credibility as a writer one of the best ways to do this is to post your writing. Online content in the form of blog posts and guest articles on other blog sites will help people to get to know and like your writing. With a strong blog following you will generate more traffic to your website and increase the time people spend there, which is beneficial to your website rankings.
- Use social media
There are lots of social media platforms out there, but for simplicity we recommend you stick with Facebook and Twitter, otherwise you risk spreading your efforts too thin.
- Create a media kit
This is what you send out to media outlets and booksellers to promote your book. Your media kit should include:
• A one page promo with a description of the book, including the genre, RRP, available formats (paperback, e-book) and a few short blurbs and recommendations if you can get them from a reviewer, professional peer or industry professional.
• A high quality image of the cover, in high resolution that is suitable for digital and print. You can request this from your formatter or printer in several size formats.
• An author biography of 100-150 words. The main purpose of the biography is to tell a reader why you are uniquely qualified to have written this particular book.
• A profile photo, preferably a head shot by a professional photographer or a talented amateur.
- Cultivate book reviews
You need to start requesting these early so as soon as you have an edited manuscript start sending out PDFs with a synopsis, the first few chapters and the table of contents. Wherever possible, approach professionals in a related field to the book’s subject, other authors and known publishing industry professionals.
For non-fiction ask websites, e-zines and magazines in your field to review your book.
If you are going to promote your book on Amazon, then you will need at least 20 reviews. Contact everyone you know and ask each of them if they would give your book an honest review.
Send a copy to the mainstream media, along with your press kit, for inclusion in their book reviews. You may even score an interview for a feature article.
- Public speaking engagements
Volunteer to be a guest speaker at events, meetings and other gatherings. Prepare a 30 minute presentation, allowing for time for questions. Be sure to have your books for sale at the event.
- Promotional videos
These can be done as author interviews, snippets of your speaking engagements or even movie-style trailers, depending on your audience. Post these on you website as well as the popular video sites like YouTube, Vimeo etc.
- Map your campaign
Your marketing campaign needs to be mapped out, with key dates and activities laid out so you know what to do when, starting well before you publish and up to 12 months following your launch.
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Our guest blogger this month is Fiona Cole. Fiona is the owner of BigWords, a business communications and content marketing specialist business who works with small to medium businesses in New Zealand. She is also the founder of indie publishing label, BigWords-Books, helping emerging Kiwi writers to self-publish to bookstore standards. For more information about any of the areas of marketing mentioned in the above blog article or to discuss self-publishing, contact Fiona here