Marketing Your Book: Best Practices for Authors
Too often we see authors fail to market their book after finishing a manuscript. Marketing and promotion is a critical piece of the overall sales plan for your book. Whether it is with the support of a publisher/agent or whether you are marketing on your own efforts, authors must invest additional time and energy in promoting their book alongside those who are helping them. In this article, I will overview basic practices in marketing your book, including questions to ask your marketing team, advice for how to handle marketing on your own, and how to make this essential piece of your book project fun and manageable. I will share with you the basics of social media marketing, teach you how to write a simple press release, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions when it comes to marketing your book.
It is important to establish who is on your marketing team. Are you going this alone or do you have others who are helping? If you have help, it is wise to set up a team call to establish roles and timelines for marketing expectations and sales.
If you have a publisher or agent and are unclear of your marketing plan, here are some questions you can ask them:
· What is our plan and timeline for marketing?
· Who will own the social media accounts associated with my book?
· Will you be sending a press release on my behalf? If so, when and to how many contacts?
· Will you be scheduling signing events on my behalf or is that my responsibility?
· What are some examples of marketing plans on other books you have published?
Other tips for working with a publisher or agent on marketing:
· Establish your availability for signing events – can you travel? If so, how far and where would you like to go?
· Share credible sources and contacts such as book stores you frequent, opportunities to speak at various panels you may know about, or any personal media connections that could host you on their segment/show.
· Establish who is managing information about you on their website.
· Be flexible and come to the table with teamwork mentality. Remember, everyone has the common goal of selling books but you are the most invested on the project.
Social Media Promotion 101
Social media plays a key role in promoting your book. Here are some basic tips to kickstart your social media efforts:
· Make sure you have social media set up for your book's facebook page, your author facebook page, your author instagram, and your author twitter handle. It is never too soon to set these up, but do not market your launch date too soon.
· Once you have confirmed your launch date with your publisher, you may wish to begin presales at a discounted rate for a limited time 1-2 months in advance of your launch date. Promoting too early can hurt sales.
· Generate interest on social media accounts by following leaders in your genre or field of expertise, as well as local news/radio stations. Get on their radar by commenting, liking, sharing and engaging with them on social media accounts including facebook, twitter and Instagram.
· Make sure your social media accounts are active with interesting posts:
Writing a Press Release: The Basics
Having a one-page press release is a great tool to have in your marketing toolkit. The press release should contain:
· Title of the book
· Author name
· Short book description (200 words or less) + front cover image
· Short author bio and contact info (50 words or less) + author photo
· Something significant about the release: Are you having a signing event to launch the book? If so, indicate what time and where. Is there something in the current news that relates to your book? If so, include this information.
· Include where people can buy the book: your website? Amazon? Specific local book stores?
What to include on your website:
Every author should have an author website. Some authors will be able to create and manage their own websites for free online, others will want to hire someone to build and manage their website.
Regardless of who is managing your website, the first step is to buy your domain name. It is best to use your author name as your domain name with a dot com as an ending. For example: www.tiffanyharelik.com is a good domain name for the author Tiffany Harelik. Readers can easily find this in a google search. It is not necessary to add other words unless you have a very common name. For example, an author named John Smith may want to purchase a more identifiable domain such as JohnSmithAuthor.com. You can safely purchase a domain name through sites such as GoDaddy.
Next, spend some time writing out the content that you want to go on your website. Look at other authors that you respect as a model for what to include on your own website. What message do you want to convey to your readers? What problem are you solving for them? What can your book do to help them?
Here are some examples of items to include in your navigation bar at the top of the home page:
· About the author: On this page, write a short 3 sentence bio and include your author photo. This is a short, catchy, informal bio to give readers a way to identify with you and connect with who you are. Below that, include a longer Media Bio. This can be used when anyone in the media is writing about you or featuring you. It’s an easy way to direct more traffic to your website while offering needed content for people to showcase who you are professionally.
· Shop: On this page, set up a place for readers to buy your books directly from you. Be sure to read my article on how to budget your book business to help you get your financials set up properly. If you do not want to be responsible for selling and shipping your books (which means you’ll be paying sales taxes on goods sold), I recommend you at least put a list of retailers on this page so buyers can know where to purchase your book.
· Blog or Articles: On this page, share your recent articles or blog posts.
· Reviews: On this page, share positive reviews of your book.
· Events: On this page, list your upcoming signing events.
Start an email list:
Your website is a great place to gather email addresses, which are critical if you are going to implement any type of email marketing campaign. I recommend signing up for a free MailChimp account. MailChimp is compatible with numerous website platforms. This means you (or your developers) can easily add a ‘sign up for my newsletter’ button on any page on your website.
· Spend some time writing and editing monthly newsletters that you can preschedule to go out at certain dates and times.
· Market presales or discounts/savings to your newsletter list.
· Make them feel that they are part of something special by being on your list by giving them exclusive information.
· Be consistent with your messaging across all platforms (newsletter, website, and social media accounts).
More ideas for marketing materials:
· Make bookmarks to promote your book and include your website.
· Make handouts, recipe cards, or discount cards to hand out.
· Make business cards that contain your website or contact info so readers know where to buy your book, and how to get in touch with you.