Marketing a Book for Rewarding Reader Engagement

by | Mar 12, 2019 | Book Marketing Basics

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Marketing a book is hard work, but the efforts seem fruitless when you don’t get positive feedback in the form of reader engagement.

Engagement should always be the goal, no matter what strategies you’re using to market your book. And don’t start them until you’ve fully fleshed out what you aim to achieve. And no, “sales” isn’t allowed here, we’re authors, we all want to sell books – you’ll get much farther and see a lot more success if you pull “sales” off the goals table.

Real goals, goals that focus on reader engagement aren’t only more lucrative, they’re more rewarding psychologically, and they’ll push you to keep going.

So I’ve created a short list of ideas for improving how you market your book.

I challenge you to try just one of these per month! I know you can do that. If your first reaction was that you have no time, I bet there’s a book promotion strategy you’re currently using that isn’t doing much for you. Be brave enough to stop doing what isn’t working to try something new.

Run a Fun Q&A Contest

Marketing a book means pulling fans into your world. Running a Q&A contest is a fun way to get them involved and get some insight into what they find most interesting or fascinating about you and your work.

Consider it a great way to increase reader engagement while also getting some free market research!

Ask fans to submit questions, either by email, on social, using a special hashtag, there are lots of options. Having them use a contact form on your website is a great way to build your mailing list at the same time.

Select a set number of questions at regular intervals, maybe it’s weekly if you have enough fans, or monthly if you’re super busy—but try to do it consistently so people have something to look forward to.

Then answer the chosen questions as part of your newsletter, on social or in video, which I’ll discuss below!

Create More Video

I can’t say it enough, the future of book promotion is video. Why? Because video is super personal and it’s something very unique to you and your brand.

With statistics like, “one-third of online activity is spent watching video,” it’s undeniably a powerful way to boost reader engagement.

I have lots of ideas for video in another post, included in the Resources and Free Downloads section at the end of this piece, but this also plays off the Q&A recommendation above.

Answering fan questions in video format skyrockets your relatability!

Ask for Fans’ Opinions

This doesn’t have to be about your book, but I’d recommend a mix of book-related and just general fun or interesting trivia or topics.

It’s especially fun to create polls around cover designs you’re considering, minor character names, even your lead’s loveable furry companion!

Give fans a chance to weigh in and you’ll for sure see reader engagement expand.

And when it comes to non-book topics, just keep in mind who your readers are and what other interests they likely share outside of your genre. Doing your due diligence by completing a recent reader profile will help tremendously in this area. You can download my free brainstorm in the Resources and Free Downloads section at the end.

Let Fans Tell the Story

Ask fans to create offshoot ideas for you and send their pitches for upcoming books! Offer to add the winning ideas in the acknowledgments.

You can also ask fans to create fun and exciting alternative endings, because let’s be honest, we can’t make everyone happy and it’s really exciting to see how some fans would have wrapped up their favorite stories.

Marketing a book should also inspire you, and that inspiration comes much easier with quality reader engagement like this!

Invite Fans to Submit Images

The truth is you probably have some pretty creative fans—paint, pencil, marker, digital, and beyond.

Asking fans to submit images is a great way to increase engagement and tap into their mindset.

You can also let fans make celebrity and actor recommendations for your characters for the big screen version of your book!

Just be sure, like with all the fan-inspired content, you have a plan for praising those that participate. Give them love on social, share in your newsletter, in a blog post, people love to be recognized for their uniqueness and hard work.

Share Limited Time Discounts

Running discounts is a great way to get books in more hands, and a cornerstone for marketing your book.

But you can take this up a notch by updating the back matter of your book to make it that much easier for them to leave a review as soon as they’re done, join your mailing list, download a free preview of another title, and more.

I’ve written a piece on updating your back matter that I encourage you to read, find it in the Resources and Free Downloads section.

Start a Trivia Contest

Trivia contests are a really fun way to increase reader engagement with dedicated fans. A lot of time we get tunnel vision on creating new fans and forget to do special things for the ones that have been with us the longest.

Set up trivia questions pertaining to titles you’ve already released and have gift cards or something ready for those who get a perfect score.

If you’re a whiz at creating sections on your website this is a super cool option, an interactive quiz, otherwise consider listing the trivia contest in your newsletter so they only have to hit “reply” on your email to participate. Make it easy.

Design an Exciting Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are like trivia on adrenaline. And they take it a step further and are a great way to introduce your fans to everything you have going online, and when you’re marketing a book, killing two birds with one stone is always a winner with me.

So design scavenger challenges around identifying things on your social accounts, on your website, in your books, in your last newsletter. Yeah, this is a lot harder for fans so start small with things that are public access like social accounts, and progress to trickier ones.

Start Building Your Super Fan Group!

Oh I love me some super fans! It’s an author’s dream come true to have a tribe of such dedicated fans, just the thought of it warms my heart.

We have a great DIY style Super Fan group outline and checklist that we provide our clients who are a good fit for this strategy, and by good fit I mean they’re already established enough to have access to at least a small handful of return readers.

Because really that’s all it takes to get started.

The bonus with Super Fans is that you’re not only getting their reader engagement, they’re generating engagement with their activities as well–which is priceless. Because 95% of books are read and purchased by word of mouth recommendation.

I’ve written about Super Fans previously, you’ll also find that article just below!

Resources and Free Downloads

How to Easily Create Video Content

Why Video Content is Your Friend

Reader Profile Brainstorm (Free Download)

Developing Your Back Matter

Street Teams and Super Fans

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