This week, I received an email from a beautiful woman asking me if I’d talk a bit about how to launch and market a book, and because I try to provide what is useful to the folks who give me a bit of their time, I’m writing that post today. I do need to begin by saying that marketing is not my focus professionally – although I do it for myself of course. A lot of other people have a lot more wisdom about how to sell books than I do, so if you’d like to read more deeply on that subject, I recommend:
- Kirsten Oliphant of Creative If Writing.
- Tim Grahl of BookLaunch.com
- Mark Dawson and James Blatch of The Self Publishing Formula
- Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral of the Sell More Books Show
I listen to the podcasts that every one of these folks do every week, and I learn so much in those few hours (usually in the car). Definitely check them out.
My launch strategy has gotten pared way down lately because I’m trying to write more quickly and publish more often. But basically, I do four things:
- Write and produce a high-quality book, which means I hire a cover designer and an editor to be sure my book looks good. In the future, should funds allow, I’ll also be hiring someone to write my back cover copy and some tag lines for ads. (More on ads below.)
- Publish my books wide, meaning I don’t publish only through Amazon, and I never put my books in KDP since I can’t then sell my ebooks elsewhere. I publish using KDP in both print and ebook on Amazon, and then I use Draft2Digital, Google Play, and PublishDrive to publish my ebooks everywhere else. I use IngramSpark to publish my print books everywhere else, including libraries. (There’s a lot that goes into how and why to publish wide or to stay exclusive with Amazon. If you’d like to know more about that specifically, comment below, and I’ll do a post about why I made that decision later this summer.)
- Gather a group of people to help me get the word out about my books. I do that mostly via Facebook because it’s easiest for me, but you can also do an email newsletter or some other means of regularly asking folks to share your book, read ARCS, give reviews, etc.
- Share my new book in my newsletters (I have two – one for writers and one for readers of magical realism and fantasy.) Some folks share multiple times, which is great, but my list doesn’t tolerate a lot of emails just about my stuff, so I do one email mostly about the book and then just include links to it in the emails to follow.
As you can see, a lot of my marketing is linked to the launch, and hopefully, my launch teams on Facebook (I have two: one for my fantasy/magical realism books and one for my forthcoming cozy mystery series) intrinsic retailer promotions including special promos I participate in my submitting my book at a special price, and newsletter keep books moving. But I know from experience that these things are not enough, so here are the four other things I do.
- I run ads. Right now, I’m running ads on BookBub and Amazon. I’m still learning, so I basically break even or lose a bit of cash as I learn, but I’m also selling a whole lot more books. So I’m hoping the income curve begin to climb as I get better and better.
- I take out newsletter promotions through services like BookRaid and Ereader News today. These sites will promote your book to their lists of readers for a fee.
- I do newsletter swaps with other readers in my genre. Through apps like StoryOrigin and BookFunnel, I offer one of my books for free in exchange for getting people’s email addresses. Then, I ask other writers to share that giveaway with their list, and I share theirs with mine. That way, we build our lists, and our readers get good, free books.
- Finally, I participate in genre-specific giveaways and low-cost group promotions. Using that same free book or a link to an inexpensive book (the first books in all my series are just $.99), I get on board with big promotions with other books in my genres, and those promotions garner me either more subscribers to my email list or sales of my books.
I could do a lot more things – get on podcasts to talk about my books, take out more ads (which I plan to do on FB as soon as I have time to refresh my knowledge of that ad platform), seek out print and online interviews about my books, etc. But right now, these are the things that give me the biggest bang for my buck and that fit into my available time.
Two Major Considerations for Every Writer
Two things, in my opinion, are key as you think about launching and marketing:
- What kind of time do you have available to launch and market? You need to have some time, but you also need to be honest about how much?
- What kind of budget do you have available? You need some, but you can also do a lot of marketing for little to no cost and grow that budget as you sell more books.
One other word of wisdom – there is a TON of advice out there about these things. Be wise who you listen to and keep your available time and budget in mind. You don’t want to go whole hog at this stuff out of the gate because it will drain you – energetically and financially. Take small steps. Plan for the long game. You don’t have to do it all now, and it would probably be wisest not to do it all now.
I so hope that’s helpful, but please, post comments and questions below, and I”ll do my best to answer them or point you to someone who can.