Experts often say that book marketing gets easier the longer you do it – and this isn’t necessarily an untrue statement. But what if you’re just starting out? “How to Market Your First Book” was a post I found a while back and loved – it really hit all the high notes. But even the best posts about how to market your book often leave something out (I’ve been guilty of that myself) and with the ever-changing world of book publicity, things move quickly. So let’s dig into this topic and see what’s still relevant, what’s changed, and what you may want to do less of.
1. Creating Your Brand
This is the author’s first call to action in how to market a book, and I agree – absolutely. In fact I’ve written a bunch of posts on the importance of author brands. Starting there is smart, but your brand may evolve as your career evolves and, as you start to finalize book covers, etc. So my word of caution is that yes, absolutely figure out who you are but also know that this may evolve. The easiest way to determine your brand is asking yourself: what is your promise to your reader? Because regardless of what your book covers look like, this statement likely won’t change.
2. Create a Website
Absolutely this is important, and much like your brand this will evolve. I know my website certainly did! Though if you’re just starting out, building a website from scratch may seem daunting. Hiring the right website designer will greatly help you through this process.
If it’s not in your budget to hire someone before you sell a single book, there are a lot of great freebie website systems available now. But a word of caution: own your own domain so that later, when you have the money to do so, you can move the website with ease. Owning your own domain is important and, ideally, should reflect your branding. For example, if you’re a fiction author, you may get the URL: ChristinaGeorgeAuthor.com – or you could do JackSmithMysteries.com – if your book is non-fiction, consider branding your URL to your business or the key benefit your book will give the reader. For example: Speakandmakemillions.com is a big benefit statement if that aligns with what you’re doing. Or, poweryoga.com – you get the idea!
3. Create an Email List
Another solid plan, though I will say that I know it often feels counterintuitive to create an email list when no one knows about you. At first you’ll feel like the only people on your list is your Mother and maybe a few friends. Ideally that’ll change at some point and you want to be ready when it does!
One of the biggest reasons why I like email lists is because you own that list. Unlike followers on Facebook or Instagram, you can reach out to them anytime without having to worry if they see the post, scroll past it, or it gets lost in a reader’s busy social media feed.
4. Choose the Right Audience for Marketing
Personally, I would have moved this up to the #1 spot for how to market a book. Why? Because you can’t really decide on your brand without knowing your market; and I don’t mean your market “in general,” I mean your very specific market. Because 99.9% of readers won’t read anything that’s too general. I mean consider the last book you purchased. You likely got it because of a specific reason, or a specific sub-genre. Generalities will sink your marketing efforts, though it often feels like the broader you can go, the better served your campaign will be. This is never true. Trust me!
5. Reach out to Book Reviewers
Absolutely true! What the author leaves out are influencers – such as Bookstagrammers, TikTok influencers, and Booktubers. To be fair, some of these terms are fairly new to the marketplace, but the idea remains the same: go to where your readers are. Find your tribe, as it were. Sometimes they’re on Instagram, other times they might be on Facebook – or they could be really popular bloggers.
The term “book reviewers” is often a catch-all – so yes getting reader reviews is important and getting lots and lots of book reviewers is every author’s dream, but it’s not always possible. Influencers, so social media people who have large followings is a great way to get the word out there about your book. It’s not always going to net you an Amazon review, per se, but getting a nice mention or review on a blog, social media profile, or a Booktuber reviewing your book on YouTube is a great way to add to your visibility and sales momentum.
6. Choose the Right Book Cover
This goes without saying, though I probably would have bumped this up higher. Meaning, you really want to start on your book cover early. Why? Because it takes a lot of time! Going back and forth with the designer, finding other/similar covers you like is also important because going in with some “idea” of what you want will also greatly help the process along.
7. Offer your Book for Free on Amazon
This is one that I’m personally not a fan of. I think our days of free books have long since passed. I would, however, suggest doing a price discount for a day, or two on your eBook to help boost some exposure when first marketing your book.
8. Use Amazon Ads to Boost Your Sales
I love this, too – and for those of you who follow our blog and podcast you know that I’m a huge fan of Amazon ads, if they’re done correctly!
9. Use Facebook Marketing to Build Awareness
For my part, I would rather see this final bullet read: Use Social Media Marketing. Because not all of your readers may be on Facebook. When it comes to social media, in particular, you really want to go to where your readers are. Sometimes they’re on Twitter, for other authors Instagram might be a great hub. But keep in mind that social media raises awareness, which helps with book sales yes, but does social media sell books? Not always.
By the same token, most Facebook ads don’t sell books either. Why? Well it’s not because the ad platform is bad, but because the ads aren’t used in the right away. Meaning you’re just running an ad for the sake of running an ad. Instead, consider pushing readers to a special time sensitive discount promotion!
I loved this piece and I hope you enjoyed my take on these 9 tips on how to market your book!
If you want to read the original article on how to market a book, you can find it here.
I’d love to know what else has worked for you, please share them in the comments below!