Robin Cutler [00:00:09] Hi everyone. Welcome to Go Publish Yourself, an IngramSpark Podcast. This episode is sponsored by Small Press Network, a representative body for small and independent publishers in Australia. Small Press Network works to ensure the continued viability of the independent publishing sector as a vital component of Australian literary culture. Hi everyone, I'm Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark.
Justine Bylo [00:00:37] I'm Justine Bylo, the Author Acquisitions Manager. Hi, Robin.
Robin Cutler [00:00:40] Hey, Justine. Today is one of our favorite topics and one that I know is a favorite of all of our listeners, is on how an author really makes their book discoverable online. How do you actually get promotion of your book online? We're going to dig into some topics like author website, advertising, social marketing, author events and book reviews. Let's take it away here, Justine.
Justine Bylo [00:01:11] I have to say that when I'm out on the road all year, marketing your book is probably the second biggest question that I get from authors, and understandably so. It's a huge part of making your book successful and I understand why authors want to know more about it.
Robin Cutler [00:01:34] The number one rule, as I understand it, is that an author needs to understand their audience. Figuring out who exactly your book is for and how best can they reach that audience.
Justine Bylo [00:01:47] This is a big one. I'm going to be a little harsh here, but we always say that, "Everyone is not your audience."
Robin Cutler [00:01:55] Yes, it's not the world.
Justine Bylo [00:01:58] You have to really figure out who your people are. That can be a little tough to do and it might take some tweaking and time. Figuring out who your readers are is absolutely pivotal. It could be moms of a certain age. It could be young adults ages 14 to 17. You have to figure out who those people are and then be able to market to that audience. It's not everyone because marketing to everyone is incredibly daunting and will not get you very far, unfortunately.
Robin Cutler [00:02:36] That process of discovering and figuring out your audience, actually should start when you're writing the book.
Justine Bylo [00:02:45] Oh, yeah.
Robin Cutler [00:02:45] Don't you think?
Justine Bylo [00:02:45] Totally, because you have to start thinking about your book marketing even when you're writing and as you're starting your publishing journey. You have to have those plans ready to go. You're all probably wondering, so how do I find my people? I suggest that you think about your genre and who reads your genre and what makes your book special? Who's your protagonist? Who would your protagonist speak to? Does your book take place in a certain city? Who resides in that city? Start thinking holistically about who your story could resonate with and then go from there.
Robin Cutler [00:03:33] What about a website? Most of our really successful authors that are using IngramSpark, have their own website where they're promoting their own book. Let's talk a little bit about the importance of a website.
Justine Bylo [00:03:50] Having a website is really important because it's kind of your calling card. We live in the digital age and the first thing someone's going to do is Google you. Just having a book page up on Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes & Noble or one of those is not going to be enough. You need a site where your readers can get to know you a little bit better. Having that is very, very important and having it branded specifically to your author brand is also very important. I know a ton of authors are not very tech-savvy, but there are many ways that they have made it incredibly easy for you to make author websites. They don't have to be anything fancy, but it does help you get your face out there and is your calling card. We even have some of those places on our Experts page, right, Robin?
Robin Cutler [00:04:47] Yeah, we have Pub Site, which is one of our recommended resources for an author to actually create their website. What I love about Pub Site is that it is author-centric and also book-centric, where some of the author tools and places you can go for a website are a lot more generic. The other thing about websites, and you alluded to this, Justine, is, making sure it's tied to your author brand, your author name, rather than thinking about setting up a separate site for each of your books, which is kind of a no-no.
Justine Bylo [00:05:30] Yeah, don't do that. That's just so much work.
Robin Cutler [00:05:34] Because you want to tie it all together and as you start and create your website, you would have maybe a separate page for each of your books that are all there in this one place.
Justine Bylo [00:05:48] Exactly. If you don't know where to start, just go online and look at one of your favorite author's websites and start Googling those authors that you know and love and get some ideas for how you would want your site to look.
Robin Cutler [00:06:02] Okay, so let's move on to advertising. Where do you recommend authors and the authors that you work with that get the most traction, as far as advertising their books?
Justine Bylo [00:06:17] That's such a hard one because I really do believe it's genre specific. You have to know, again, this goes back to where your readers are. You have to know where they hang out, so that you know where to advertise to them. For instance, your readers could be huge Facebook users and so then you would advertise on Facebook or Google could be the right advertising avenue for you or Goodreads or--
Robin Cutler [00:06:47] Amazon.
Justine Bylo [00:06:49] Or Amazon, exactly. You have to know where your authors are in order to target them successfully. I wouldn't say, throw a ton of money at it immediately. That would be not a very good thing. I would say, start slow, see what works, and then build campaigns around what has worked for you and what hasn't.
Robin Cutler [00:07:13] It's fairly easy to do these days. A Facebook ad, and an Amazon ad, is fairly easy to set up yourself these days and I agree with you, Justine. Start small. If you make a little money, reinvest that back into a bigger campaign the next time and just keep starting to work through a lot of that. One thing I will recommend, I know Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn, and also Mark Dawson, has some different educational programs about how authors advertise in social media, and I suggest that you visit both of their sites.
Justine Bylo [00:08:02] Also, I would be remiss if I didn't talk about advertising to retailers, because it's one thing to advertise to your readers, but you also have to advertise to the retailers that are actually selling your book. I do think it's important to set aside a little bit of money to actually talk to those independent bookstores, and we've talked about this on the podcast before, making those relationships. But then, setting aside a little bit of money to be able to print a copy of your book for them, because that goes a long way. It shows that you actually care about them and, things of that nature. Think about that, as well.
Robin Cutler [00:08:46] What about Twitter? Nobody sells books on Twitter, do they?
Justine Bylo [00:08:50] Twitter's mainly a chance for your readers to get to know you. I believe that it is an important social media site for authors. But it's not so much advertising, as it is just community--
Robin Cutler [00:09:01] Awareness.
Justine Bylo [00:09:03] Engagement.
Robin Cutler [00:09:03] Yeah, I agree with that. Okay, so let's talk about author events, whether it is a cyber tour or something brick and mortar, like bookstore tour or other speaking events. How important is that?
Justine Bylo [00:09:20] If you are really targeting brick and mortar bookstores, I do believe it's important. Again, you have to set aside money for events like this because, totally being up front, you may see some returns from those events, so you have to be prepared for those returns. You have to set aside money for travel to those events, and there's other costs involved. However, they can be really successful because you're making those connections with independent booksellers and you're meeting your readers which goes such a long way because, it's one thing to interact over social media, but it's a totally other thing to actually meet your readers. They get so excited. I do think they're totally worth it, but you have to be very smart about where you choose to do them and how often you choose to do them. Do your research and know your connections and know where your readers are and then make a plan around it.
Robin Cutler [00:10:28] Where I live in New Mexico, we just have a few booksellers in our area and, what I've noticed is, our local grocery store now is hosting--
Justine Bylo [00:10:38] What?
Robin Cutler [00:10:40] author signings and doing a lot of that with independent authors and I love that.
Justine Bylo [00:10:48] That's amazing.
Robin Cutler [00:10:48] I know. It's the Triangle Grocery in Cedar Crest, New Mexico if you're ever around there.
Justine Bylo [00:10:55] Wow.
Robin Cutler [00:10:58] They do a lot of author events. It's not just booksellers. The other thing is to think about libraries. Libraries are always looking for speakers. You should definitely reach out to your local librarians and see if your book and your topic of expertise can fit in to some of the programming that they do at libraries.
Justine Bylo [00:11:21] Yeah, absolutely. Librarians are deeply wonderful people. I still talk to my local librarian from childhood. There's great word-of-mouth amongst the librarians, so showing them some love is a wonderful thing.
Robin Cutler [00:11:43] Okay, so let's finish this up with, one of the most effective book promotion opportunities and that's through the book review sort of media. Let's talk a little bit about what an author needs to know about getting their book out there for review. There's they need to know, how to submit ahead of publication.
Justine Bylo [00:12:08] Yes, you usually have to submit ahead of publication and all of the review sites have guidelines on their websites, so please go check them out way ahead of time, probably when you're finishing up the book, so that you know when those deadlines are and that you know what each review site is looking for in a submission for review. It's kind of like agents. They have very specific guidelines. Please go look at what they want in a submission. Also, review sites are really, or review outlets, are really great for library sales because, for librarians, it really helps them justify the purchase for their budget. Having that clout is a really great thing.
Robin Cutler [00:13:01] If you do get good reviews and especially pre-publication, although they're not always pre-publication, there are, especially blog reviewers that will review following publication, but make sure, if you do get a review, you go back, you update your metadata on your book. If you're using IngramSpark or whatever platform you're using, make sure you update your metadata with that review information because that helps to, as Justine was saying, helps to get that information out in the marketplace as well. That's really important.
Justine Bylo [00:13:42] Not only blogs too, but even local newspapers and things of the nature too. Anything to get the word out there about your book.
Robin Cutler [00:13:51] Well thanks, Justine, this was a really good session. We covered most of the different aspects and channels that authors can use to promote their own work.
Justine Bylo [00:14:03] Thanks Robin. This was really great and there's so much more information on our Academy and also in our blog about marketing too, so please go check out all of that great information that we have for you about marketing. There's so much to learn.
Robin Cutler [00:14:19] Thanks so much, everyone, for listening to Go Publish Yourself. We hope these episodes inspire you on your publishing journey. If you would like to hear more, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. If you're ready to publish today, please visit the IngramSpark website. For even more tips on publishing like a pro, check out our weekly blog and free online self-publishing courses available in the IngramSpark Academy. Talk to you soon!