Let’s be honest: marketing is anything but simple, especially in today’s media-saturated world. There is a lot to do — from deciding how to price your book to creating a strong online presence — and there are so many different ways to do them.
For example, have you ever thought about whether you want to pay for Facebook ads or Amazon ads? Would you like to do an online or offline launch event (current circumstances aside)? Will you run a price promotion — and if so, at what price and for how long?
These concerns might sound overwhelming at first, but don’t be daunted — after all, you’ve managed to write a whole book, so you can handle pretty much anything! While there are detailed guides you can find on how to market your book, it might help to take it slow and look at a simple overview first — and that’s exactly what we’re going to do today. Here are the five basic steps you need to take in order to successfully promote your book.
Step 1: Know your audience
This is crucial to your marketing campaign. It’s the foundation for all of the decisions you’ll make to promote your book, because everything from here on out depends on attracting a specific group of readers who will love it.
You may be wondering why you’d want to limit your campaign to target a specific audience instead of pitching it to everyone. The answer is because it’s simply impossible to appeal to all kinds of people. You can’t expect sci-fi readers to take to the same message as romance readers — those two audiences require completely different approaches. So it’ll be much more efficient if you focus on your segment of the market.
In a way, choosing a genre for your book already got you halfway there. Just take it one step further by narrowing down your audience some more, which will serve to minimize the amount of competition you’ll have.
Say you’ve written a children’s book — is it a picture book or a chapter book? Is it targeted at elementary school students or tweens? Answering these questions will give you a clear image of the people who are potentially interested in your book.
Once you’ve figured out your target audience, do some research about them. Find out what works in that segment — what kind of book covers they’re drawn to, what events they like to attend, how they use social media, etc. All this information will determine what you’ll do throughout your marketing journey.
Step 2: Nail your Amazon page
The next step is to create your Amazon product page. In fact, you can’t just create a page, you must optimize it. Indeed, you may have chosen to self-publish on Amazon precisely because this online marketplace is one of the most popular platforms there is! Everyone buys everything from Amazon nowadays, so you’ll definitely want to increase your book’s exposure there.
How exactly can you do this? Well, your Amazon book page includes plenty of things that can appeal your book to likely buyers: keyword and category tags, a preview of your book, a book description, and a review section. You should aim to perfect all of these elements.
Setting your keywords and categories is quite straightforward. The next bit to look at is the preview, which includes the cover and the first few pages of your book. This will give the buyers their first impression of your work, so it’s thus important to have an amazing cover and flawless formatting.
As for writing a good Amazon book description, remember this structure: hook, blurb, and wrap-up. Amazon only displays the first line of your description before inserting a “Read more” button, so your first line should be potent enough to hook readers. The blurb should induce curiosity, while the wrap-up aims to nudge readers to purchase.
The last element is the review section, which you won’t have as much direct control over. Still, you can definitely shape. Encourage your readers to leave a review, either via social media or by including a little call to action at the end of your book.
Step 3: Build your online presence
Since you are probably selling your book online, it makes perfect sense to establish a good web presence. In fact, you probably already have a blog or website, and a public Facebook and/or Twitter account. These platforms represent your existing reach — they are where you have access to the people you can more or less count on to be your first readers.
If you’re already active on these, it’s not super important to create other social media accounts like Goodreads or Pinterest. Instead, focus on improving your interaction through existing channels. Let followers know about your book before the launch to create some anticipation. You may also send them chapter previews, or even offer them a free copy , in the hopes that they’ll give you some early reviews!
Don’t worry if you don’t have a public online presence yet. It’s never too late to start! You want to have the basics: a website that’s all about you and your work, and some kind of social media account, good ones being Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (if you enjoy taking photos).
If you want to give these new pages a boost, reach out to writing communities and author associations such as Pulpwood Queen Book Club. Other authors have followers who might be interested in your book, they collectively have plenty of experience to share, and they’re always happy to help fellow writers, often by providing you with beta readers or doing newsletter swaps with you.
Step 4: Pick your advertising tool
You can’t talk about marketing without mentioning advertising. Unless you‘re J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, you probably need to drum up some name recognition to sell books.
It’s important to be cost-effective and carefully consider which advertising platforms you want to invest in, whether that’s Amazon, Facebook, and Bookbub ads.
Since your book is sold on Amazon, it makes sense to advertise there. But you may want to expand your reach by using other advertising platforms as well. Facebook, for instance, is great for reaching specific audiences, since you can filter people by age, occupation, and even location. It’s also easy to identify them according to which authors’ profiles they like and what books they’ve read.
BookBub is also specific, but in a different sense. As a platform, it focuses a lot more on a literary audience than Facebook does. You’ll have to think about your books’ target audience to decide which platform to use.
For example, say you have written a meditation guidebook. Facebook might be better for your needs than Bookbub, because your book is not written for self-identified readers who devour every highbrow novel and buzzy biography. Instead, it targets anyone who desires to declutter their life and find serenity.
Step 5: Just keep swimming!
The final step is to persist. Book marketing is a long-term thing — you’re not just in it for the book launch.Your career as an author doesn’t (ideally) stop at just one book. You’ll be writing many more volumes and they will benefit from the brand name that you build for yourself.
So as long as you remain an author (unless you become a ghostwriter), you will always be marketing. Maintain your online presence even when you’re not actively promoting a book. And remember to keep interacting with your readers through discussion boards and online Q&As — you don’t want them to forget about you while you’re locked up in your writing crib working on your next book. Not to menton that, the more you do these things, the better of a marketer you’ll become!
So that’s it — book marketing boiled down to five simple steps! Use them as general guidelines for your project, and you’ll do just fine. Good luck!
Thao Nguyen is a writer at Reedsy, a platform that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. She enjoys writing non-fiction, especially the historical kind, and is delighted by the prospects that self-publishing provides for aspiring authors nowadays.
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