For many self-published writers, marketing is one of the most difficult parts of the publishing process. The incredible amount of time it takes is staggering, and the sheer number of marketing options available can be overwhelming. There are so many possibilities that I could never cover them all in one post. Instead, let’s take a look at some broad strategies. Of all the many marketing options out there, these methods are some of the most essential. Focusing on some of these options will go a long way towards helping your overall marketing efforts. Many of these suggestions may apply to traditionally published authors as well, but I’m focusing on tips for indie writers.
- Identify your audience
It’s important to focus your marketing efforts on the audience that will be most likely to read and enjoy your work. Of course you want your book to find as many readers as possible, but concentrating on your core audience first is essential to building a steady readership. For more on how to identify your audience, see this post.
- Increase your social media presence
With so many social media options out there, you can always do more to build your online presence. The most essential platforms for your marketing plan will likely be Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and your own website. Focus on increasing your presence in all of these areas; engage your audience and encourage reader interaction. If you’re already doing that, try expanding to new platforms. I’ve seen authors utilizing Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Snapchat to great effect, as well as many other social media sites. A word of caution here: Authenticity is important. Don’t spread yourself too thin or try to build a presence on a platform that you don’t enjoy using. Other users will be able to tell if you’re forcing it, and an infrequently-updated profile may be worse than no profile at all. But if you’re looking to expand your online marketing, give something new a try and figure out which sites work best for you and your brand.
- Discounts and giveaways
Offering limited discounts or giveaways on titles can be a great way to find new readers. For example, if Book 2 in a series is coming out, offer Book 1 at a steep discount right before the release to draw readers in (and include a teaser for Book 2 at the end). If you have the budget for it, consider using BookBub or similar sites to promote your sale. Another great promotional tool is a free giveaway. You can easily start a giveaway on Goodreads or LibraryThing, or host one on your own blog/site using Rafflecopter.
- A digital makeover
If your ebook has been out for awhile and isn’t seeing many sales, consider giving it an update. Take a close look at your cover, jacket copy, backmatter, and other promotional material and see if there’s anything that needs a fresh look. Changing the cover, for example, might be a good way to catch the eye of a new reader.
- Ebook bundles
On a similar note, consider repackaging your existing ebooks if possible. If you’ve just released the third book in a trilogy, for example, try bundling all three books together and selling them as a boxed set at a discount. Or, if you have a particularly long book, you might want to separate it into smaller parts and sell it as a series. (Just be sure not to confuse your existing readers if you choose to do this. Make it clear that this is a repackaging, not a new book.)
- Email newsletters
Many authors neglect to utilize an email newsletter when they first start publishing, but it can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Some readers might miss your updates about a new book on Twitter, but they’ll be sure to see it in their inbox. You can build and manage your lists fairly easily using services like MailChimp and Aweber, and you can include a simple sign-up option on your author website. The best newsletters are both fun and informative, with subscriber perks like extra giveaways or free books.
- Work with other authors
One of the most overlooked and most enjoyable marketing options is to support other authors! Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to network with other writers. Find people who write in your genre or have books coming out at the same time and figure out how you can support each other. Consider doing guest blog posts or interviews, or having anther writer host one of your giveaways. Recommend other authors’ books in your newsletter and on your social media accounts. Write reviews for others’ books. And if you’re fortunate enough to know any local writers in your area, set up joint events or signings together. The writing community is incredibly supportive, and everyone benefits by working together.
Remember that marketing your book doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Look at it as a celebration for the work that you’ve created and enjoy finding more people to share it with. If you’re having fun with your marketing and promotion, chances are your readers will have fun too—and they might even pick up your book.
What do you think? What are some of the marketing tips I missed? Are there any elements of marketing you struggle with? Let me know in the comments!
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