When you decide to self-publish a book, you are signing up for all the duties a traditional publisher would typically take on. That means you not only have to write a great book but you also take on the job of marketing it. Where do you begin? You construct a book marketing strategy and forge ahead step by step! Here are a few key elements for a good book marketing strategy.
Book marketing and promotion provide the most traction for your book, but most self-published authors and small independent publishers do not have large budgets to pay for extravagant book marketing campaigns. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable and effective methods for getting the word out that help strengthen your author platform to sell more books. The below book marketing strategies for self-published authors represent a high-level look at various traditional and digital book marketing strategies.
Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)
Advance review copies also called advance reader copies, or ARCs for short, are bound and/or electronic copies of your completed book. You'll want to send these to booksellers, book reviewers and to people you'd like to endorse your book. You can also bring them with you to readings or other events you plan for the purpose of promoting your book pre-publication. ARCs help build buzz for your upcoming release and help you gain blurbs to put on the cover of your finished book and in your book metadata. The key here is establishing that initial connection.
Tip sheets should be included with any ARCs you send or hand out. What's a tip sheet? The tip sheet is one page that contains all the relevant sales information about your book, such as the ISBN, publisher/distributor, book length, publication date, and book description. Lend credibility to your work by crafting a comprehensive, readable tip sheet that sells your book at a high level.
One question you’ll want to answer when promoting your book to retailers is: What makes my book worth a seller’s while? Retailers want to know how you can help them make money. Learn your market. Understand what fans of your genre are looking for, and play on those elements. Most importantly, have a plan in place and time your launch so it coincides with trade and retail calendars. But keep in mind; the bookseller isn’t going to market your book for you; that’s your job.
Your author website is the go-to online space where readers can find out more about you and your work. Your author website should be the home base that links all your other social media accounts, news about your book, tour schedule (if relevant), and links to book reviews, etc. If you don't want to build your own website, you can hire someone to do the building for you using a platform that makes it easy for you to edit and add to the site without outside assistance.
Don't just have one; add to it consistently and frequently. Adding a blog to your author website keeps your readers interested in you and your work, and keeps your content fresh. You can even install a plug-in that automatically sends your posts to social media outlets like Facebook.
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads
Facebook, Twitter, an Amazon Author Page, and Goodreads are social media marketing outlets where you should have a presence as an author. You might even want to upload videos. The more hits and likes you garner across the internet, the more your book will get noticed. An online presence is crucial to increasing your book sales and is a strong addition to any book marketing strategy.
Book publicity makes a big difference for self-published authors since typically it's reserved for traditionally published books. Even if you are an introvert, you may want to consider getting publicity for your book. TV, radio, and good-old-fashioned print reviews and interviews are valuable components of a successful book marketing strategy. If you really want to make the most of conventional media, hire a professional with an established network of industry pros. You may also plan to have author events, such as signings and/or talks at bookstores, other retailers, book clubs, writing groups, and events hosted by professional organizations. A blog tour is another great way to interact with fans and potential new readers, gain a following, and promote your work.
Making a Connection
Good book marketing builds an attractive author brand. An attractive author brand leads to a healthy author platform capable of converting a one-time buyer into a fan for life. Rather than being “salesy” your book marketing should help foster relationships—with readers and booksellers. Though your goal is to sell more books, the story your marketing tells should be informative, engaging, and accurately positioned according to your style and genre.
There are tons of ways you can market your book and build interest. It’s important to take the time to get to know the buying habits of readers in your genre and create messaging that is relatable. A balanced mix of traditional and online tactics is a good place to start. You’ll often find many of these tactics overlap.
How you market your book isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to successful self-publishing, but good book marketing is how readers will learn about you and your book.
The most important thing about a book marketing strategy is to have one. It might seem overwhelming in the beginning, but taking the first step is the hardest part. Consider hiring a professional for those areas of your plan that you don't feel qualified to complete. And take advantage of available free resources like IngramSpark's free online publishing courses, where you'll find much more information on tactics that will help support your book marketing strategy.