Marketing is one of the most challenging aspects of being an author because promotion doesn’t always feel natural.
It can be hard to put ourselves and our books out there.
Here are some tips and resources for becoming more comfortable with this area of the business
and approaching interactions with readers with an open mindset.
Marketing & Promotion Best Practices
If one thing is certain, there are a lot of books out there. This may cause us to think that finding our audience will be impossible, but if we’re willing to work hard to raise awareness of our stories, we’ll find our readers. This requires strategy, stepping outside our comfort zone, and, most of all, examining what makes our book special so we zero in on our target audience. This way, our messages, branding, and books have the best chance of catching the attention of the people most likely to be interested in what we write.
Whether in person or online, we want to respect potential readers by not blasting them with buy-my-book promotion tactics. Instead, we should think about interactions as conversations where we have an opportunity to find out more about the reader, their interests, and bond with them over the love of books. When we focus on relationship-building, not dollar signs, people become more curious and open to discuss what we do, what we create, and maybe how we create it. The best part is we don’t have to be savvy salespeople… we just need to be ourselves.
Find out more about this F.A.R. (Focus, Authenticity, Relationships) Marketing Method here.
Want to take a free course on marketing to cover the basics? Try this one.
Build Your Platform & Find Your Audience
Even before you have a book in hand, you want to start thinking about creating an online presence, because your target audience could be anywhere in the world. Going to where our readers are will help them discover you far more easily than hoping they will come to you, especially when you’re starting out. Social media can be a fun and effective way to connect with potential readers.
You don’t need to be in a million places, just where you have the best chance of finding and meeting readers. Depending on what you write, places like Twitter or TikTok, a forum or Facebook group can be a great way to promote your stories. Spending time thinking about who your audience is and where they hang out online is a great way to point your efforts in the direction that will help you the most.
Another important action is to build a website. This way, as you meet people who are interested in what you do, you’ll have somewhere to send them. On your website they can find out more about you, sign up for a newsletter, find out about events you will be at, and when your next book will be out. As an author you should be searchable, so having a website, a few social touchpoints, and links to your books and where readers can purchase them are all important.
Building an online presence takes time. This isn’t a set it and forget it activity. A person will want to actively nurture connections with readers, other writers, and influencers. If your goal is to build a career as a writer, this is a necessary objective in order to give yourself the best chance of connecting with readers who will love what you write. Your online presence can help you keep your readers interested as they await your next great novel. If they are unable to see what is going on in your life, the less the chance you have of pulling them in to read your next story.
The following is a list of resources that can assist you in making this critical step happen.
People often like to support their community and its people. As an author, you’ll want to take advantage of local events that can put you in touch with possible readers.
This is where knowing your audience becomes so important. If you are a picture book author selling books at a child-friendly event, you’re more likely to find your ideal audience than you would be if you write adult science fiction or memoir. It’s about finding the right opportunities to meet readers. Your time is precious. If an event isn’t the best fit, you can invest that time into other things that will help you in your career, including writing the next book.
Another way to leverage local is to think about media that might help you raise your visibility as an author. Are there newspapers and magazines you can access regionally looking for stories to feature about local authors? Press and radio stations typically are community minded, and often share local art and culture information with their audiences. When you have a book releasing, this might be a good place to start to raise your profile as a local author. You could also issue a press release to notify local news outlets, investigate possible talk shows, radio segments and local magazines that might be interested in interviewing a local author, and more.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Hosting events and speaking at conferences can put you in touch with potential readers. Renting spaces at markets (if it is a good fit) and book fairs are essential. Book signings, readings at local bookstores, and networking events could be meaningful toward marketing efforts. If there’s a shop or event that ties into topics and themes in your book, consider reaching out to see if they’ll allow you to sell your book. Their audience may also be your audience. The personal touch can bring in more readers as the people you talk to tell their friends what they have read (e.g., more sales).
Whenever you are doing outreach, whether it’s to a local bookseller, a lifestyle reporter at a newspaper, or another influencer, think about how you can help them do their job or serve their customers better, not what they can do for you. If you pitch a collaboration, be ready to frame how you can help them, and why this collaboration might benefit them. When you make the focus on the other person, you’ll get a better reception, and a better chance at a yes
Marketing for Introverts
FWG Favorite Tools & More
Publisher Rocket (Keyword tool)
Buffer (social media scheduler)
Wide for the Win (Great source of info!)