Successful marketing for authors
More and more bloggers are getting approached about books deals… and why not? They already write and photograph almost every day, they are already authors,have a built-in audience; Publishers are finally figuring it out! In today’s day and age though, with shrinking budgets, authors are expected to do most of their own promoting and marketing. If you are self-published, or have an e-book all of the marketing rests on their shoulders. Marketing for authors isn’t always the easiest either, especially if you don’t have an literary agent or previous experience (And, while you don’t necessarily need an agent, things might change (I’ve reached that point where I am ready to start the search for one.).
However, if you are a new author, where do you even start your marketing? I have gotten so many phone calls and e-mails from friends who are writing their first book, that I thought I would answer many of the same questions, that I also had when I started and had no clue what I was doing. I also have some tidbits to share with you now that I’m a year out. So here are my secrets. 🙂
My publishing house was so impressed by my marketing of Creatively Christmas,
they actually wanted to know what I did. It sold out so quickly in pre-sales, and went right into a second printing. It was a lot of it was hard work, but much of it was just knowing what to do at the right time. I’ve learned everything I have about marketing in the “blogger school of life,” with the last 8 years of blogging and having to self-promote constantly and find a way to promote my brand.
It’s a pretty awesome feeling to see the hard work of effective marketing pay off.
The book is a month away from release.
1.If you have a blog, social media(Instagram, twitter,etc). or Facebook , and you have your release date, you should already have been driving pre-sales to Amazon or any other on-lines sales place, Amazon is the most common.Make sure you are promoting through your Amazon affiliate link
(if you are in a state that allows it), and that you are using that link in your promotion and on your blog. (Make sure you also sign up for Amazon Author Central to help track sales.)
(If your book has sold on pre-sales make sure to ask how fast the turn around is for the next printing!)
2.Arrange a blog book tour. Sometimes your publisher will help with you with it, but this is the time to call in all of your favors to any friend you’ve helped promote in the past! Your publisher may let you send out unlimited digital copies, or a limited number of hard copies. That should be in your contract. Line up about 10 friends and two weeks and have someone post about it each day. This is most important in the first month after the books release to get the hype and sales up.
3.Start arranging book signings. Your book will never be as popular is it is now, fresh off the press, neither will your enthusiasm.Start calling local books stores and boutiques. Make sure to schedule ( in about a 2-3 hour block of time) the first signing for a few weeks after your release date. Many books are sent to China to be published and you don’t want to be stuck with signings and no books if there is a delay! Many times the shop will offer to get the books, but you will make more per book if you sell them yourself. That’s is something you will have to decide for yourself.At larger venues, your publisher or agent may need to facilitate the signings. This is normally great to line up with a ladies night out or girls night out shopping weekend like many downtown’s have.
4. Schedule your book release/launch party. This is a way to celebrate and really announce the excitement and accomplishment of your book. This is on your dime, so you might want to get creative, even getting local food resources to donate or have sponsors. I’ve even seen people also host them at stores like Madewell or Anthropologie. This can also be a smaller venue at your home, but part of the reason is to sell books, so a public place is better.
Also, let some one else handle the money for the sales of your book at the signing and make sure you’re set up to accept credit cards.
5. Print your marketing materials. I used Word and Vistaprint to print book posters for shops, business cards and over-sized post cards. Be shameless. You can also create these materials on Picmonkey. Make sure to put a picture of your book on everything and where to find it.
6. Sign up for HARO. It stand for help a reporter out. Once you’ve written a book, especially non-fiction, you are considered an “expert” in that field. HARO is a great way to find media outlets and magazines to get published in. Most magazines work 4-6 months out so if you have a Halloween book then start looking to promote roughly in March.
7. Make a promotional video like my friend Courtney did for her fictional book,Paper Hearts
(which I love by the way!) People really respond to video. Make it work for you!
My books is out, now what?
7. Send out marketing postcards. I sent over-sized postcards to every small boutique and bookshop I could find. While it sounds old fashioned, however, e-mails get deleted without even being opened, but everyone looks at their mail briefly.
8. Look around your local papers for author events. Our library hosts author nights, so do many other venues. Sign up. Get out there.Meet people.
9.Keep promoting on social media and even after the hype has died out. While you don’t want people to get tired of it, it’s worth mentioning a few times a month in an organic way. Share your book signings and venues as well on SM.
10. If you have a DIY book, host classes, speaking engagements and DIY’s inspired by your book. People love to learn new things, and many times just want to meet you.
11. If you have a fictional book, host a get together or party some where public based on something from your book and do an author reading.For instance, If you wrote a book set in France, host a french themed party with yummy treats. Give it a little twist.
12. Find out how much of your book (percentage wise) you are allowed to share on-line and then share it. At a book store, you crack the cover to see what’s inside , your reader will want to as well.
13. Set up a small booth at a Flea market/craft show/farmer’s market and talk to people. You may not sell a ton of books, but the idea is to get your name and your brand out there.
14. Donate a signed copy your book to local libraries. People will see it and you get your own call number. It’s kind of cool, like way cool to see that number.
No one needs to know how the book got there, just that it’s there.
15. Make sure your Amazon description truly reflects what your books is about. If you feel it’s not on target, your readers will feel mislead. It’s okay to change it later too.
16. Work that newsletter and mailing list and have a sign up for one at Every. Single. Event. If you don’t have one, get on it!!!! Every month send put something related to your book, even if it’s just a blurb or a tag at the bottom.
17. Contact you own local media outlets including local radio. You would be amazed how news stations are always looking for content in a quick craft or DIY segment.
My book’s been out for a while, now what?
To determine base sales,estimate at least 3% of your blog readers will by your book. So at 80,000- 100,000 unique views a month (blog) you should able to sell 1,500 to 3,000 books. After that, it’s all about the marketing. If you’ve reached base sales (or hopefully blown them out of the water!), and need a boost, it’s time to find a way to get your books back in the spotlight.
1.The idea is to stay current. You may start thinking about writing a new book, but make sure you are still promoting your old book.How can you tie your book into what you are doing now? Maybe sell something on-line based on the book.
2. Hashtag the heck out of it. And not just the title. Facebook, twitter, IG, On your posts. Make sure you hashtag the searchable subject as well. This also goes for fiction. When someone shares your hashtag, make sure you share that!
3. Ask other authors to do cross- promotion. I am a big believer in supporting each other in life in general. It takes nothing from you to promote another author and to have them promote you. Reach out to authors in a similar genre, but not the same topic and do social media promotion for each other. But, approach this carefully. Don’t just send all of your stuff and expect them to do it. Build a rapport and a relationship with them and send it out and personally ask each person. A blanket e-mail with a BCC of “hello dear friend” is one of the worst things you can do.
4. Search out a sponsor you can partner with for cross-promotion. For example, if your book is a cookbook is there a food company you can partner with?
5. On that above note, it’s so tempting to go for the big fish, but a smaller,local company who also wants cross-promotion might be more accessible and more enthusiastic to work with you and promote. A good marketing relationship can speak for itself. Even if your book isn’t specifically about something, maybe there is something mentioned in your book you can riff off of? If you have a cook book, maybe you can partner with a local small-batch company.
6. Think about the next thing. I know you’ve just finished ,and you are freaking exhausted!! But, you are only as current as your next thing. If you are working on building a brand, how can you expand? Does your publisher have ties to the gift market? Do you have a cute children’s book that you can have pajamas made from? There are more ways to make money off of your book than just the words and pictures, how are your going to grow next?!!
7. Dream big! This is just the beginning! You did it, and you should be so proud. Now go market and sell those books!
Speaking of marketing, here’s where you can get a copy of mine!!!
Lots of great tips here, Jen! I haven’t written a book (yet), and don’t know if I ever will, but your tips get my wheels turning about how I can promote my blog brand and products. Thanks!
Great tips Jen. I hadn’t thought of the postcards to stores but will do that! !
These are great tips I can’t wait to try. What advice would you give new authors with limited blogging experience about how to “widen the circle” of blogging friends who might be willing to help promote a book? What is the best way to approach a great blogger with a request to review your book?
It’s all about building relationships and staying in the loop. One way is to start commenting on blogs and instagram with the same mindset and make connections so there is a relationship established.
This is so helpful! I just bookmarked this poast…my first book is coming out with Cedar Fort in April!
Your book is gorgeous! Congratulations on your success with it!
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