When it comes to figuring out how to market a book leading up a launch – there are a lot of different philosophies out there (and some conflicting advice).
Just know that not every approach may work for your unique author platform, because not all reader markets are created equal.
But there are strategies that should be included in every campaign. So let’s get started!
Identify Your Target Reader Audience
I get it, you’re probably thinking “Yes, Penny, I know this.” But do you, really? Are you sure you’re targeting the right readers for your book? Because one of the #1 reasons authors fail at figuring out how to market a book is because they’re targeting the wrong group of readers.
We get very close to our projects, and in so doing, we become a little enamored with the idea of who might read our work. Targeting the wrong readers not only costs you valuable time but also money.
So how can you be sure you’re going after the right readers?
The first suggestion is to read. Read books in your target demographic. Why? Because a lot of authors are unclear about who their reader is. Reading books that you believe serve your target reader can be eye-opening.
Second, if you’re sure who your reader is but you aren’t sure how to find them, do some sleuthing. Success leaves clues. Begin by Googling other, similar authors in your genre and let their path inspire you and spark some ideas. I’m not at all suggesting that you copy them, just review where they’re at in social, what their readers seem to be responding to, and then create your own, unique reader path.
Build an Author Platform
Let me say right up front: an author platform takes time. But you should start on this before you launch your book.
I refer a lot to brand marketing in my talks, books, and blog posts and I do this because it’s a big, and often overlooked opportunity to start building your exposure online and crafting your platform.
The idea is to establish an online presence through a dedicated author website. Showcase your writing style, share updates on your book launch (or upcoming book release), and engage with readers through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok or Goodreads.
And remember, you don’t have to be on every social media platform. Be everywhere that matters.
Tap Into Your Contacts List
Now is a great time to start sifting through people you know, who may be able to write you an advanced blurb, share the book with their readers or in their newsletter or blog, or just post an early review on Amazon.
Learning how to market a book must always start close to you, and branch out from there.
Host a Virtual Book Launch Event
While I know that many of us got zoomed-out in 2020, it’s still a fantastic way to connect with your audience. And to boost your pre-order sales, offer a free invitation to your online book launch event to anyone who bought an early copy of your book! Just have them forward their Amazon purchase receipt and add them to your list!
During the session, you can connect with your readers, read your favorite excerpts from your book and explain why they mean so much to you, answer questions, and engage them in discussions related to your writing process, themes, and inspirations.
Leverage Social Media Marketing
Regardless of which social media site, or sites, you opt to be on, you should use the platform(s) to help expand your book reach. Share teasers, quotes, behind-the-scenes insights, and engaging content related to your book and writing journey. Encourage user-generated content and interact with your audience regularly.
Collaborate with Book Influencers
Identify influential book bloggers, booktubers, or bookstagrammers who have a significant following in your genre. Collaborate with them to feature your book, write reviews, or participate in author interviews. Their endorsement and recommendations can help expand your book’s reach.
Reach Out to Local Media
I personally love working with local media and I’m always surprised at how few authors actually do this! Contact local newspapers, magazines, radio stations, or podcasts to feature your book and interview you as a local author. Share your story, discuss the themes in your book, and highlight any unique aspects that make your work stand out.
Local media coverage is a fantastic way to dig into your local community, build readers, and perhaps create some local buzz that will last a lot longer than online features that come and go.
Explore Paid Advertising Options but be Cautious
As many of you know I’m a huge fan of Amazon ads, but when it comes to getting your book out there, I would tread carefully with social media ads and skip Google ads altogether.
If you’re deciding on how to market a book to support your business, then Google ads absolutely work, but for many authors that’s not always the case. The reason I say to tread carefully with ads is that a lot of authors think that ads are “set it and forget it” which isn’t at all true.
Even with Amazon ads this isn’t accurate. You can run ads off of Amazon but your ad needs to have a very strong call to action (also referred to as a CTA) because you lose 20% of your consumers with every click you ask them to make. So when you’re running ads outside of Amazon, be mindful of ad copy, demographics, and your offer.
Engage with Book Clubs and Online Communities
Connect with book clubs, both local and online, that align with your book’s genre. Offer to participate in discussions, provide author Q&A sessions, or offer signed copies as prizes. Engaging with readers and book communities can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations. And here’s a pro-tip: including book club questions in your print book, especially, can really ingratiate you to libraries.
Don’t forget Video
Video is one of the best ways to engage readers, and I don’t mean a book trailer, but instead great video content served up on a regular basis. Do check-ins with fans while you’re writing, take videos doing non-author things like tending to your garden or fishing on the weekend. Video is much more intimate than any other kind of content, which means the impact it makes is much great.
Book publicity feels like work, and I get it – it is work. But it doesn’t have to be confusing.
The idea is to find a set of strategies and be consistent. New things pop up all the time and it’s easy to get distracted, but I promise, if you know what your reader wants, and you give them more of what they want, they will indeed beat a path to your door.
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