The world of publishing and promoting a book has changed in immeasurable ways over the last few years. It has never been as easy and affordable to self-publish a book as today, but it also comes with new challenges. Promoting your book is no longer solely the publisher’s job; you must be actively involved. So, let’s look at how you can promote your book.
The crucial first step to promoting your book is to brand it properly, then establish yourself as an expert. Once you’ve done that, you can use social media, podcasts, vlogs, and guest-writing opportunities to promote your book online. Networking with influential people can also help a lot.
Promoting your book involves looking less at what you’re saying and more at what people want to read or know. It’s an outward-facing process, finding out what people want and then using your book to give it to them. There are many steps to follow, split up into three sections, but if you follow them carefully and persistently, your book will practically sell itself.
Determine The Target Market For Promoting Your Book
Before you start thinking about how to promote your book, you need to understand who you’re selling your book to. Your book is there to fulfill a particular need or answer a specific question. Who are the people that will be asking that question or have that need?
At this point, it’s easy to answer the question with “everyone,” and that may very well be the case. But you have to start thinking more specifically. The specifics aren’t carved in stone, and as your marketing expands, other people will start reading it, but you need a springboard for your book promotion campaign.
For example, the publishers initially marketed the Harry Potter series as children’s books. The book covers, descriptions, and even the language were focused on children. And yet, within a few years, more than 50% of Harry Potter readers were adults, so much so that the publishers released the books with different covers for adults and children.
You need to identify the most likely niche for your book. Is it fiction aimed at the young adult market? Is it non-fiction that’s of particular interest to those in a specific field of study? Ask yourself which readers you want to read your book first. That’s your target market, and you should focus all your promotional efforts on appealing to that group.
The Branding Of Your Book
The world of books is cluttered, even more so since self-publishing became so easy. In earlier years, the title of a book drew enough attention to tell a reader if it was of interest to them.
Some modern book titles tell little, if anything, about the book’s contents. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever before to spend time on your book’s branding and to ensure that it caters to your target market.
Here are some specific areas to focus on.
The Book’s Cover
Creating stunning cover art is difficult. Very few writers have artistic skills, too, and yet, if your cover art isn’t striking enough, people will simply brush it away. If you have to, try and get someone to assist you with the cover design. But whatever you do, keep the following in mind when designing the cover:
- Appeal to your target audience. Look at the other books they are interested in and get inspiration from those book covers.
- Convey the core message of your book. Is it a romance novel? The cliché “loving couple over a red background” book cover conveys the message. Young adult fantasy fiction? A dark background with artistic impressions of the main characters is the go-to. Non-fiction? Cover art inspired by your subject matter is usually adequate.
- Take time to find the perfect balance between the cover text font and the artwork perfect. Experienced graphic designers are usually great at finding that sweet spot where everything is just the right size and in the correct positions.
A Gripping Description
The book’s cover and title will draw people’s attention, but the next thing they will look at is the description. Some authors claim you should spend more time writing the description than the book itself, as it is often the determining factor if someone will buy it. You need to wordsmith these paragraphs to perfection.
The description will go on the back of a printed copy of your book, but it will also go on Amazon and other websites that sell hard copies or eBook versions. If people are drawn in by the cover art and gripped by the title, the next thing they usually read is the description.
That’s why this is so important. It’s often the last opportunity to convince potential readers they want to buy your book. So, with that in mind, think about this when you write the description:
- What should people get from reading your book? Excitement, knowledge, or a few hours of relaxing distraction? As mentioned earlier, think about the need you want to fill or the question you want to answer. Convey that message in your description.
- Don’t answer the question or fulfill the need in your description. You should gently tease it but not blatantly answer it.
- Keep your target audience in mind and write it in a clear language they will understand.
- Don’t use slang or jargon that people don’t know yet. For example, if you wrote a high fantasy fiction novel with new types of creatures, describe the creature rather than using a name nobody knows yet. You want people to understand what they’re reading without buying a dictionary.
- Entice your future readers. The description should leave them wanting more, craving an answer to the burning questions they might not have known they have.
You may ask what this has to do with promoting your book. Remember that your book cover and description will be a core part of your promotional activities. Besides, no matter how hard you promote it, your sales will be mediocre at best if the book doesn’t meet these criteria.
Your Author Profile
Your book’s branding is about telling someone why they should read it by explaining what they will gain from reading it. However, in a world that might contain hundreds of similar books, potential readers also want to know why they should choose your book over another, which has to do with your author profile or your personal brand.
Your profile allows you to tell potential readers who you are and what qualifies you to write the book. This is particularly important in the case of non-fiction, where your credentials and life experiences could establish you as an expert on the topic. Here are a few ways to do this.
Your Author Bio
Your bio as an author is vital. It will often appear in the book itself, but Amazon and other websites also use the bio to tell your potential readers who you are.
There are very few guidelines for a bio for new authors, especially if you’re a fiction writer. You can share something about yourself that people will find interesting, some information that can make them associate with you on some level.
Non-fiction authors have a more difficult task, though. You must sell yourself as the expert you are. The cliché “lives in New York with three cats and a goldfish named Guppy” doesn’t quite cut it in this scenario.
You have to tell your readers why they should listen to you. What do you have that gives you the right to talk to them about the subject? Sharing your qualifications and experience is valuable in this case, but don’t make it a resumé. It should be short enough for a quick read but still enjoyable.
While on the topic, a photo is also an excellent tool you can include with your bio, as it can make promoting your book much easier. People have an easier time trusting you if they can see that there’s a real person behind the book. Make the photo fit the image you’re trying to portray. Don’t write about quantum physics with a beach photo beside your bio.
Get An Author’s Website
People will want to know more about you and get information about other books you’ve written, and they will search the web to get to it. So, sooner rather than later, you should get a website dedicated to you as an author.
The website can be small and straightforward, but you should think about a few points as you build it:
- Include your bio but expand on it. People should learn more about you than what they already knew from your bio in a book or on another website.
- Share information about all the books you’ve written. You may also include details about other projects you’re working on, like a podcast, YouTube channel, or blog.
- You can add your social media links to this website if you wish. This helps to grow your following, making book promotion much easier in the future.
- Add a mailing list sign-up. That way, you can easily let your readers know when you publish your next book.
- Make the website professional. This means you should register a domain name rather than using something like “authorname.otherwebsite.com.” It’s also worth it to spend a few dollars on proper web development so that the site creates a good impression if you don’t have the necessary web design knowledge yourself.
- Build a website for future you. This might be your first book, but you will be stuck with the website after you’ve written 20 books. So, develop the website with the future in mind and ensure that it can take you where you want to be a few years from now, not where you currently are.
Create Author Profiles On Other Websites
Many websites are dedicated to reading and discussing books, and two of the most famous examples are Goodreads and Amazon Author Central. You should create your author profile on both of these websites and any others you can find as soon as possible.
Promote Your Book Using Your Social Media And Networks
Most people already have a sizeable following on social media. Your followers could consist mainly of friends and family, but they are often a solid start for a promotional campaign. So, take the time to create a series of social media posts to promote your book, with links to where people can buy it.
It also helps if you spend more time targeting the social networks your target market spends the most time on. For example, Facebook is most popular with middle-aged and older people, while teenagers and young adults spend most of their time on other networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok.
You can also contact your friends and family and ask them to share your posts with their followers. Not everyone will do it; it’s nothing personal, so don’t judge them for that, but a few will do it, and you will get some traction from that added exposure.
Another point worth mentioning with social media is your email signature. If you add your book to your signature with a link to where people can find it, it’s incredible how many people will follow the link and perhaps even buy it. Just ensure that you may legally do so if you’re using a company email address.
Get As Many Book Reviews As Possible
People are hesitant to buy books from online marketplaces like Amazon if they don’t have reviews. You should try to get as many reviews on your book within the first few weeks as possible, preferably twenty or more.
Book reviews add credibility to your book and you as an author. This is particularly important if it’s your first book and you’re still relatively unknown.
Your friends and family can help with this. Amazon indicates if a review was written by someone who bought the book, so handing out free copies isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing. You can also sell your book at a massive discount for the first few weeks to try and get as many sales and reviews as possible before returning to the full price.
Create Other Platforms To Promote Your Book
Many authors create other channels and avenues to promote their books online. For example, British author Arran Lomas has a successful YouTube channel called Thoughty2 with over 4 million subscribers and a successful podcast. These platforms make it incredibly easy to promote his book to people who already follow him and like what he says.
This is great if you already have a good following, but what if you don’t? It’s a good idea to start with such a platform since it will help you promote more books in the future, but there are some things you can do in the interim to target other people’s audiences.
Get Help From Content Creators To Help You Promote Your Book
There’s a good chance that someone will have a podcast or YouTube channel that deals with the subject matter of your book that will already have a solid subscriber base. Such content creators are always looking for additional content to add to their channels, so reaching out to some of them might be worthwhile.
Some content creators may want to interview you on their channels, while others may prefer to review your book. Whichever option they choose, it’s an excellent way to promote your book and bring it to the attention of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people in one go.
There’s also the option of a sponsorship. This might cost you a few dollars, but most content creators are looking for people and companies to sponsor their videos or podcasts in exchange for an explicit mention in the next episode and a link to your book for their followers. If you have some money to push toward a sponsorship, that could help you a lot.
Become A Guest Writer
The internet age offers authors another great way to gain exposure by becoming guest writers for online channels.
Many blogs, news sites, and content portals are looking for writers to submit articles and posts that their readers may find interesting. Most also publish the writer’s bio somewhere in the post with links to the writer’s website.
If you can reach out to such websites, especially ones that focus on the same subject as your book, this could be a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure and find a platform to promote your book. There are two particular advantages to this:
- There’s no limit to the amount of content you can write. The web is an unlimited space that can expand almost infinitely, so there will always be space to add your thoughts and ideas to the mix.
- You can establish yourself as an expert with little effort. If someone finds your book through a link in an article you wrote, they already know that you understand the subject matter, and they like the way you write, so you’ve already conquered two significant challenges toward gaining credibility.
- It creates the impression that your peers recognize you. The fact that a well-known, established news website will trust you to write for them will subconsciously trigger a trust response in your readers.
- Adding a link to your author’s website to your bio on these posts will get people to go there and see your book. The more posts you do this on, the more you will passively promote your book.
Promote Your Book In Online Forums
Forums are fantastic websites where people can post questions or points, and others can discuss them. They are generally topic-specific and attract people who are interested in that subject. This means you can find a forum specializing in the subject matter of your book and promote it there.
Handle forums with care, though. They are generally strictly moderated with clear rules and don’t take kindly to people just being on there to promote their products or services.
The best way to use a forum to promote your book is a passive approach. You can write a user bio with a signature when you sign up. Signatures appear under all your posts, so put a link to your book in your signature with an invite for people to check it out. Then get involved, answer questions, participate in discussions, and be as lovely and helpful as possible.
This approach will quickly give you a reputation on the forum, and many people will see your signature with the small promo of your book. If they like how you act on the forum and enjoy your perspective on the subject, they will be tempted to look at your book to find out more.
Network To Promote Your Book
One of the most excellent marketing tools, in general, is word of mouth. People would rather trust a recommendation of a particular book from a close friend or relative than a million-dollar marketing campaign. The same is true when a trusted person gives a recommendation, whether you’ve met them in person or not.
This also applies to promoting a book. The more people you can tell about it, the more exposure you will get. Here are some ways to promote your book through in-person networking:
- Find out if there’s a book club in your area, especially if the club members fit your target market. Then ask if you can have an opportunity to talk to them during one of their meetings. Prepare a short talk to tell them about your book and discuss the subject matter with them. Don’t make the speech sound like a sales pitch; ask for their honest opinions.
- Network with other authors who write books within your book’s subject field. Some of them may already have a large following, and if you can impress those authors with your knowledge and perspective, they are likely to recommend your book to their readers and followers, too. At the very least, they can give you some advice to further your career.
- If it fits within your subject matter or type of book, mainly non-fiction, offer to present a free seminar on your topic. Book a small venue and advertise the workshop in local newspapers. You will be surprised how many people will show up if it’s a topic that’s important to them. Then you can use the opportunity to promote your book.
Use Paid Platforms To Promote Your Book
There are many websites and platforms that you can use to promote your book. Most of them have highly customizable targeting systems so you can target the advertising to your chosen target market. Some options include:
- Google Ads. You can use Google Ads to target people in particular age groups and with specific interests to show different ads. You pay a fee for every person who clicks through to your book’s promotion page or for every thousand people who see the ad.
- Social media ads. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have ad platforms you can pay to show ads that promote your book to people within your target market.
- Specialized book promotion websites. Services like BookBub, BookSends, and ManyBooks offer to promote your book to the right people for a price. The prices differ depending on the exposure you want, but getting a publishing deal through these services is not impossible, so it’s worth the expense.
If you have a publisher, they will handle most of the promotional work, but you can always do more if you stick to their guidelines. If you’re self-publishing, you need all the assistance you can get to promote your book. These tips and steps are proven to work, and if you follow them closely, you can get your name and book out there and establish your career in writing.