22 Jan Marketing for Self-Published Authors
I’m often asked the explain the difference between Marketing and Publicity. I was once given a simple definition that’s stuck with me:
MARKETING – any coverage of your book that you pay for.
PUBLICITY – any coverage of your book that’s free.
To be successful, you need to do both and have them work together where possible. This post is about marketing but if you want to learn about publicity, read this one.
Create a Marketing Plan and Set A Budget
For a self-publisher, spending money on marketing is hard. It can feel like throwing good money after bad. But it’s important to be strategic about getting your book in front of its intended audience. The best advice I can offer is to create a plan and a budget and stick to it.
Strategic, targeted help with marketing can be hard for self-published authors to come by, but it can be found.
A good marketing plan will identify the target audience, understand where they can be found online and in ‘real life’, and put together tangible ideas for reaching them.
The thoughts and ideas below are necessarily general, because I don’t know about your book yet. Every book is different and needs to have an individual sales and marketing plan.
Online Marketing Basics for Self-Published Authors
As a blanket statement, I think self-published authors need to have a website. It need only be simple: 4-5 pages is fine. A typical author website might contain information ‘About the Author’, ‘About the Book’, Shop, Blog, and Contact Details. Here are a couple of simple sites we created for our authors.
Behind the scenes, a website should contain simple plug ins that allow the author to maximise the site for search engine optimisation (we use Yoast, but there are plenty of them), track visitors (we use Google Analytics for WordPress), enable interested readers to subscribe to the site (we use Mail Chimp) and an e-commerce functionality to sell books (we use Woo Commerce).
I like to think of a website as the shop front, and the blog as the wares in that shop. Basically, your website is a static site, whereas your blog is dynamic. It will be regularly updated and posts will be pushed out to social media sites, generating likes and shares and comments, and boosting your ranking on the search engines. That’s the theory, anyway. It can seem like hard work, but anything is better than nothing, so just make a start and do what you can.
If all that online stuff has made your head want to explode, don’t worry, there are some simple and good old-fashioned things you can do too.
Marketing Tools for Self-Published Authors
Consider what kind of materials you are most likely to use and what you are going to do with them. It can be really effective to have flyers in local bookstores, or other retail outlets, or place them on local noticeboards. Some options are posters, postcards, flyers, business cards, bookmarks. Keep this within your budget and plan.
Yes, it’s a marketing tool. In fact, it’s probably your Number 1 marketing tool. Make sure it’s eye catching, appropriate and professionally-designed. Also, ensure it works as a thumbnail for online readers, if that’s part of your audience.
This is your back cover copy. Make sure it’s attention-grabbing, well written and professionally presented (no spelling or grammatical errors).
Your pitch is a tool too. It’s the words you use when you talk about your book to everyone you meet, including media. You need to be able to summarise it in a sentence and it needs to be attention grabbing. For non-fiction, pitch the topic of the book. For fiction, pitch the story of the author – why is he or she interesting.
Hold a Book Launch
Traditionally a costly exercise, they don’t need to be. Consider holding your launch in a bookshop, this works well for both parties. See it as a party for friends and family as well as a professional event – invite media and people in your field. Try to get local media to cover it. For further tips on how to run a successful book launch, read this post.
Run events, such as readings or talks at book groups, or a workshop that relate to your topic.
Competitions and Giveaways
You can run competitions on social media or with your local paper.
Give books away in exchange for coverage or ratings. For the online audience, you can’t beat getting reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Goodreads does a book giveaway, which is a great start.
Building a partnership with an organisation in your field can yield excellent results in terms of reaching your audience. You might consider doing this before you publish, so you can offer the potential for inclusion in the book itself. Post publication, you can still work with relevant organisations on promotional ideas, for example on a competition or giveaway for their readers.
Consider if some targeted online or hard copy advertising would work for your product. Google and Facebook also offer very strategic opportunities for marketing.