Many authors write brilliant books but may then struggle to sell them. Are these books “not good enough” or “poorly written”? Usually, no. It’s simply bad marketing, rather than bad writing, that is the problem here. Marketing can make or break a novel.
Imagine two books; one is well written, with an engaging story and has a detailed, excellent marketing plan. The other book is also a brilliant story but has little to no marketing plan. The first book will sell much better because buyers know about it and have been hooked by the marketing. The second is at least as good in terms of content, but no-one knows it exists.
Without marketing to increase a book’s visibility, it is very unlikely that it will gain enough traction to sell well. Readers will have to actively seek it out for themselves or rely on word of mouth. This is rarely enough to make a book a bestseller!
So, what can you do to market your book? Well, the first thing to remember is the earlier, the better. Don’t wait until you’ve finished writing your novel – start now! We’ll go through some steps and strategies you can use to market your book. This blog will focus more on the online ways of marketing, with part two covering offline methods.
Plan Your Marketing
The first thing to do is create a plan for your marketing. You should start by establishing the absolute basics of your book – what it’s about, what genre it is and what reader group it’s aimed at. All of these things will form the basis of a targeted marketing strategy to ensure you are reaching the correct audience. Consider carefully what genre your book will be, as there are many subgenres and it will be easier for a reader to find exactly what they’re looking for if you have been specific about the category of your book.
It is important to have a set date to aim for in your plan, as this will help you focus on what needs to be done and give you a goal to work towards.
Once you have these basics, write a short (around 200 words) description of your book. You can use this to establish early on why your book is worth reading and try to hook readers in this way. Read blurbs and descriptions of your favourite books to find the sort of thing this usually involves.
Build an Online Presence
If you are self-publishing, you may not be able to easily compete with established, traditional publishers in many ways, but the internet is a fairly level playing field as far as this is concerned. An easy first step is to write your author bio. This should have around 200 words about who you are and what you are writing. You can include information about why you write, what you enjoy reading, what your hobbies are, etc.
Now that you have your author bio, you need somewhere to post it. A Facebook page can be a good start if you are familiar with this, but at some point, it is best to build a website. These can be very easily made from templates and can remain free on many plans. They may not have all the features but will still be serviceable for most needs. Research which platform is right for you or, alternatively, design your own website from scratch, or have someone do it for you. Remember that you will then need to factor domain costs into your budget.
Use Social Media
Social media is a good place to start building a fanbase. It is very easy for existing fans to point potential ones your way and it gives you the opportunity to interact with them on a more personal level. You can announce the date it will be released, as using social media is an excellent way to build hype before your book’s release date. Once it gets close to the date, you could maybe do a countdown, with snippets and teasers to get people interested!
You may well decide to use the different platforms in different ways to attract the most interest and fans possible. For example, Twitter is good for short extracts and updates on how the book and publishing are progressing, whereas you can put longer extracts on Facebook, possibly with some reviews if you have them. Remember to ask the reviewer before you do this. Instagram is an excellent place to post successive cover images for your book and you could even use a poll to find out what your fans like best!
It’s important to use social media with some restraint – no-one will be interested if you continually spam their feed! Only post things that are genuinely interesting and not too often. Depending on your exact audience, more than one post per day is probably reasonable, but one every ten minutes or so is not! This also depends on what platform you’re using, as places like Twitter are much more suited to frequent, short updates.
Start a Blog
Another way to build your online presence is to add a blog to your website. You should aim to update this regularly, at least every two weeks, more often if you can manage it. Aim to write blogs that would be useful or interesting to your readers. For example, if you are writing a non-fiction book, you can blog information about some of the subject matter. So, if you are writing a scientific book, aim to write blogs that concern your area of science.
This can also work with fiction books. For example, if you are writing a historical drama novel and carefully researched all of the background for your book, don’t let it go to waste after putting it in your book – use it to write a blog. This also has the effect of finding readers whose interests match your writing – perfect!
Whatever book you are writing, it is likely that you have research that you can repurpose for a blog. If not, or you don’t want to do this, blog about writing itself, giving tips that you have found worked for you. Alternatively, blog about your book. Maybe you have a sprawling dystopian world set up that readers would like to know more about, or you could just give extra information about the characters. You might even decide to write some short stories set in the same universe or that answer plot questions, which is a great way to keep the interest of fans!
If you are aiming to make your website easier to find, then you should try to keep your blogs at a higher word count and definitely post often. Search engines love new content and lots of it! Try for around 1000 words if you are aiming for exposure but the longer a blog is, the better, from the point of view of search engines. Don’t write just for the sake of it, however, as this is more likely to drive readers off if they can tell you’re not really engaged in the process.
There are many other ways of marketing that this blog doesn’t cover, so there will be another published soon focusing on offline ways to market your book. There are also some further marketing tips in my blog Cost-Effective Ways to Self-Publish Your Book. Good luck!
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