If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. – Dad
So much information. So much advice. So so so so many options. And that’s just for places you can post cute pictures of your baby chickens.
When you start thinking of how to market your new book, that list grows with new options for where to post samples, new organizations that you might contact about speaking, new people who might recommend your book if you send them a free copy to review.
Honestly, marketing a book can be absolutely overwhelming. When I’m overwhelmed, I turn to HGTV and a big bag of Twizzlers. (But hopefully, you’re more balanced than I am.)
You will probably search the web for marketing ideas (These are solid and clear without being overwhelming.). Loving, well-intended friends will give you suggestions about who to contact (and if you’re lucky, they’ll also tell you how.). You will spend hours trying to figure out how to talk about your book on Facebook and Twitter without being annoying.
You may also make a list of all these ideas and find that really you need one of those Biblical scroll things that appear in cartoons and roll out across mountain ranges. The list will be that long.
We can’t do everything. It’s just not possible, even if we didn’t have other work and new books to write.
So we have to pick, but how do we wean it down? My recommendation is that you choose your marketing options with two things in mind:
- The most effective, far-reaching options.
- The stuff you’re good at.
I can’t really speak to where your strengths lie, of course, so I’ll just talk about the most effective, far-reaching things I’ve found in my experience these past few months.
1. Build Excitement – At the advice of Andy Traub, I set up an “insider’s list” of folks who told me that they would like to be included in the final plans for The Slaves Have Names. I solicited these folks from my email contacts and on social media. Then, I asked them for opinions about the book cover, marketing ideas, etc. For their help, I gave them a free PDF copy of the book (and then asked them to review it.) I found this group to be incredible not only for helping build excitement, which they did, but also for their support. Their wisdom help me refine my title, improve my cover, and just genuinely feel that people were in this journey with me.
2. Give Away Copies – Because one of the best ways to develop “fans” is to have them join your mailing list, I gave away PDF copies of the book to people who joined my mailing list. I had almost 100 people sign up, and almost all of them have stayed on my list afterwards. Plus, again, I asked them to review the book if they would.
3. Start a blog. If you are publishing at all, you need a website. (I know a great website company if you need a recommendation.) But beyond a simple website where people can find where to buy your book and learn about you, I recommend that you have a blog because it keeps your content fresh AND gives you a place to talk about your book without feeling like you are imposing. Your blog is YOUR space, and you can do what you want with it.
4. Think local. The places I see the most book are local stores and events. Some of those sales come from, what I call, the “I know your father and sang with your mother” phenomenon, which is not to be dismissed. But a lot of the sales come because people are proud of you as a local author. Ask local businesses if you can put up a few copies, offer to consign them there if that’s better for them. And if you are blessed to have a local bookstore, DEFINITELY ask if they will carry your book.
5. Get reviews. Nothing helps your book sales online more than a good review (or even a bad one if it makes people feel protective of you.) So ask the folks you know to read and review your book HONESTLY. You can suggest they put the review on Goodreads or Amazon or in a blurb on a sign at a local bookstore. For many reasons, reviews are crucial to sales – see more of what I wrote on the subject here – but people don’t necessarily know that. So ask for those reviews – be kind and gentle – but ask. Many people will oblige.
That’s my experience. Others may find social media crucial (and I certainly think it’s important), and some writers will recommend a book tour. But from this little farmstead, these are my best recommendations – focus your efforts and play to your strengths.
What book promotion ideas have you seen be successful? What questions do you have about promotion that I can ask more learned friends to answer?
On a side note, Chuck Wendig writes one of the best writing blogs around, and today his post “Ten Things I’d Like To Say to Young Writers” is particularly awesome. Be sure to check it out.