I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about the last post in Book Marketing Basics. Since it’s something that can be started very early (first in most cases), I wanted to explain how to use social media to your advantage. Also, I’ve received many comments asking how I configure my own social profiles so I’ll go ahead and start with basic ones everyone already knows about.
Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the most well-known social media networks there are. For this reason, we’ll start with them. Most people know how to set up the basic account with these two, so we’re going to focus on what specific content to put on them. When a new account is started, it’s pretty bare. It’s important to get a profile picture up as soon as possible for both. This is because a profile without a picture looks a bit suspicious. Having a picture will sort of put your fans’ minds at ease. It does not necessarily have to be a pic of you. Some authors like to show their newest published work instead. Or a concept worked up by an artist. I like both of these ideas, but know that most fans want to see their author at some point. You can always save a good photo of your work to be used as your banner or background.
Making friends and connecting is another very important step. From the beginning, you should tell everyone interested in your work to follow you on your social profiles. This will help keep them up to date and interacting with you. Next, invite them to invite their friends. Above all, though, be sure to keep your profile environment welcoming. You can do this by greeting new followers. Also, be sure to try to make it clear early how often you intend to interact with them (make posts, answer questions, chit-chat, etc.). One of the reason new authors lose fans is because they start by interacting a lot but then transition into going dark.
The last thing I’d like to leave you with is making more profiles other than Facebook and Twitter. Too often do new authors make these two profiles and then never branch out anywhere else. Like shown in the picture above, there are many different networks you can use to interact with your fan base.
There will be more on this subject soon.
Alright, before we get into this topic (which I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting), I want to remind everyone that this new blog is where I’ll be posting this series on how to market your books. If you’re looking for the other techniques (i.e plot structure, character building, tone, etc.), visit the main site you signed up for. I planned on moving everything to this new blog, but first, I’m going to try it out as a place to only discuss marketing.
How to Market Your Book
This is perhaps the most asked question in all publishing. As everyone knows, those big publishing houses used to market your book for you—once upon a time. While they still do for those of you who can get deals with them, even a traditionally published author must take the task upon themselves nowadays. Publishing houses focus much less on marketing than they used to and leave (demand even) the author to do it themselves—many houses don’t even take new clients unless they are already established. If you are independently published (I know most of you are. Or seek to be soon), you already knew this task was forthcoming.
Now let’s just get this out of the way: In today’s world, you HAVE to market yourself. And yes that means (eventually) getting in front of people and selling your book.
But that’s okay. I have a short list of techniques that can help start you up. And at the end, I’ll leave you with a few good resources to further your campaign.
Building a website: This one is probably pretty obvious. Do you know any author without a website? Chances are, no. Even yet-to-be-discovered authors usually begin by carving out their own little space online. See, the thing you have to understand about being an author is it’s actually a business. YOU are a business. And this is why your business needs to be anchored online. The advantage is it’s cheap and very accessible. Plus, believe it or not, you’ll cultivate a little entrepreneurial pride on the way. So I suggest you go online—perhaps Youtube—and look for a video about setting up a simple website. Like my own, you want to include your books, descriptions, events you’ve attended, and news about the present and future of your writing. You’ll also want to have links to social properties, which we’ll discuss later.
Optimizing your site: I wanted to put this in early because some of you might not understand it now. Not all the way, at least. When a new author thinks about building their website, they usually spend several hours on the technical logistics of what . . . ? That’s right. Getting it to look the way they want it to. And this is very important. However, you’ll probably find after a little while that not many people are visiting your site. And the reason for this is simple, yet almost always overlooked until after the site’s up. And the reason is . . . NO ONE CAN FIND IT! That’s right. Just like your new book itself, no one will find a new website until it gets marketed!
Now I know what you’re thinking: “What! I have to market my author site too!”
Well, don’t freak out yet. I’ll be going over a few techniques to help it get found. But one thing that you can do (or come back to when you read this again) is consider getting a web designer that understands SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s how sites get found in searches online. Basically, a web designer will configure your site in a way that makes it easy for search engines to find. From there, the search engines (like Google) move you up higher in the rankings for things like (new books out this month). As a matter of fact, one such web design firm you could try is one known as Move You Up Web Marketing. Follow the aforementioned link to view their site and various social properties.
Get on social media: This one’s another pretty obvious step. But you’d be surprised with how many authors skip or put this off for too long. People today expect that an author should be all over social media because many of the modern big names are—think J.K. Rowling. This gives you as an author a more human touch, allowing you to interact directly with interested fans. And fans LOVE this. You will too after a while. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Some of you are a little shy and don’t want the world seeing your posts and activities. Don’t worry, this fades faster than you think. And the joy of talking about your books with people who adore them will please you to no end.
Networks I recommend: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (you can show new photos of new books, concepts of books, and pics of events you’ve attended), Pinterest, and of course Goodreads if you don’t have one already.
Remember, this helps to get you out there. And fans love to be able to reach out to you regarding your latest literary adventure.
Running ads: This one works differently than you might think. Though it may not be a bad idea to take out a local ad in order to spread the word of your new book, authors can find loads of value in running online ads. Services like Facebook ads and Google Adwords have a small learning curve, easy to use interface, and have the ability to target people who are interested in exactly what your book’s about! Isn’t that something! No more cold pitches. You can show ads ONLY to people interested in Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance, or whatever your book’s about. Actually, on the subject of Facebook ads, I’ve found immense value in Mark Dawson’s series on Facebook ads for authors. Check it out once you’ve got your website up.
Getting reviews: Drum roll please! . . . Okay. Yes, perhaps the most coveted of all marketing techniques is getting reviews for your book. Easily said, not nearly as easily done. You would think that after writing your perfect novel that there’s no way it wouldn’t get a few reviews a month, right? Well . . . things are not as simple as that. Not usually. Most of you are going to at least publish on Amazon, and one of the things that help your book show up in listings is the number of reviews that you have. However, if there was one thing that every author I speak to agrees on, it’s that reviews are about the most important and most difficult thing to get.
Without going into too many details here, I’m going to give you a short list on how to get started.
— Offer free books
— Put a call to action at the end of your books (a simple request for the reader to leave a review)
— Offer more free books to those who leave reviews
— Join communities of book reviews and exchange reviews
— Get editorial reviews from reputable sources (if you can) like the New York Times, Kirkus, and others.
These 5 steps will help you market your book and jumpstart your career. I will be adding more to this series as time goes on (and my own writing permits). In the meantime, make sure to check out Mark Dawson’s lessons on Facebook ads. Also, read other blogs, watch vlogs (I recommend Self Publishing Podcast hosted by Johnny B Truant or anything by Joanna Penn host of The Creative Penn Youtube channel and website of the same name), and network with other authors.
Keep following those already successful. See you soon.