Recently, I was chatting with several author friends of mine about how difficult it is to market your debut book. Eventually, you’ll gain experience about what works for you and what doesn’t. But before you have that experience, the sheer number of marketing possibilities available to you is overwhelming, and it’s easy to make mistakes along the way. So, I thought I’d compile a few marketing tips for debut authors (that might be helpful for authors after they’ve debuted as well). What should you focus on? What’s the most important thing to do for your book? What should you be doing pre- and post-release?
Here are my marketing tips for debut authors:
- Write the next book
You’ve probably heard this before, but the most important thing an author can do to promote their first book is write another book. It’s easy to get caught up in promotion and author events and not spend enough time writing that next work. If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: focus on the writing, first and foremost.
- Do what you’re comfortable with
Many debut authors feel pressured to do so many different things—be active on social media, do school visits, visit conferences, speak on panels, host signings, purchase swag, have giveaways, and so on. No one can do it all, and not every strategy will work for every author. So focus on what you feel most comfortable with, and don’t worry about the rest. If you love in-person events, then do that. If you’d prefer to be online, do that instead. There isn’t any one thing that works, so do what’s best for you.
- Set a realistic budget
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen debut authors make is spending too much money on promotion and not getting a return on that investment. Swag can be fun, but it can also get incredibly expensive. Be realistic about what you can do, set a budget, and stick to it. And don’t forget to factor in the cost of your time—your time has value too.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out
If you’re interested in doing something—say, an interview with local media, or a library/school visit—don’t be afraid to reach out to arrange it. It’s easy to feel self-conscious doing this, but don’t be ashamed of asking. Sending a simple, polite email explaining who you are and pitching your book can work wonders. (This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should spam anyone with “buy my book!” promotion. Be polite and professional.)
- Think exclusivity over price
When it comes to doing giveaways, I’ve found that the most effective ones are those that offer something exclusive and limited rather than something expensive. So a signed copy of your book, or something unique that readers get for preordering, is likely to draw more readers than a large/expensive prize.
- Pair cover reveals with a giveaway
It can be both fun and helpful to have a cover reveal post, either on your site or a popular book blog, in the months before the release. And pairing a cover reveal with a giveaway that rewards sharing the post is a great way to get additional exposure for the reveal. For example, having readers tweet the cover to be entered to win a signed book could be a fun way to get people to share it.
- Let it go
There’s always going to be more that you could be doing, and seeing other authors promote their books can make it feel as if you’re behind or not doing enough. But, realistically, there’s a limit to how much you can do (and sell) by yourself. After a certain point, you have to move on and focus on writing the next book, and let your readers do the rest.
What do you think? Have any questions or additional tips? Let me know in the comments!
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