Once you’ve got the manuscript to the best shape it can be and you’ve formatted and prepared the book, then you have to make sure people know about it. The marketing of books is really about connecting people with a reading experience they will love.
You’ve got to convince people to give your book a chance and you’ve got to hope that you’ve targeted your message to the right people who are the ones who will most love your book. No book is right for everyone!
Some of these are things that I am already doing for our books and some are new things that I’m going to try on future books.
There are some promotional techniques that never go out of style in book publishing; things like sending out review copies and trying to get the media interested in author interviews and mentions of the book. Then there are new techniques that are growing around the new world of ebook publishing. Those methods and ideas change rapidly and the landscape is always shifting. I find it fun and interesting to keep up with developments.
To learn traditional promotion and marketing techniques I read books about book selling (so meta!) and to learn new ideas I read a lot of author blogs and writer forums.
As I read, I add notes to my master promotional spreadsheet (each individual book gets its own document listing all the promotional ideas I have for that particular title). The beauty with ebook marketing is, of course, that they don’t lose their shelf space so I can always try new things out with them. So this following list is ever evolving and growing…
6 to 9 months from publication date
–> sell to book clubs, reading groups, and catalogs
4 to 6 months from pub date
–> send out print ARCs (Advanced Reader/Review Copies) to reviewers
* Library Journal
* Book List
* Publisher’s Weekly
* Foreward Magazine
* Midwest Book Review
* The Romantic Times
* New York Book Review
* Rowse Reviews
–> Upload to NetGalley for reviews
–> Mail copies to people you’d like to get blurb/endorsements from
–> Visit local bookstores or call indie bookstores to pitch the book, maybe arrange a book signing
–> Get in touch with the buyers for chain bookstores and other retail stores that sell books (consider hiring a sales rep to include your books in their catalog)
2 to 3 months from pub date
–> Prepare a press release and research where to send it to try to get media attention
–> Contact magazines about publishing excerpts (include a suggested excerpt)
–> Book Sense endorsement???
–> Check into requirements for local newspapers and magazine’s book review sections
–> Mail fliers or postcards to libraries and bookstores
–> Hire a blog book tour company to set up a blog tour
1 Month from pub date
–> Get set up to take pre-orders (it looks like Amazon might be allowing this now, will have to look into)
–> Send out press release
–> Make arrangements for a launch party
–> Email newsletter
–> Offer review copies to book bloggers not on the tour (at least fifty)
–> Have the launch party
–> Announce book availability on Facebook, Twitter, Message Boards, LinkedIn, Pinterest (make sure you post in message boards where author promotion is allowed and make sure that your forum signature has a teaser and a link for your book).
–> Spread around info about the blog tour
–> Add book to relevant lists on Goodreads
–> Do a giveaway of one paper copy on Goodreads
–> Send book to relevant contests
–> Think about what organizations, charities, or news stories might be relevant to the plot in the book and try to arrange to promote with them
–> Submit to Facebook groups for both readers and themes of the book
–> Tweet good sentences from the book with #novelines
–> Update website’s press kit with all buy links, reviews, media, images, etc. Include an excerpt of the first chapter so people can see if they like the writing.
–> Create a video for Youtube, either a trailer or an author interview or something else creative
–> Share new reviews and blog posts that review the book
–> Create a page for the book at third party sites like Squidoo or Hubpages
* Some people gather a “launch team” and offer special incentives for people who buy in the first week or for people who are willing to promote the book to their friends and networks
* We’ve experimented with some ebook giveaways. It can be great for visibility to discount or make your book free and advertise the sale. I don’t like to do that too often, though!
* If you are the author or you know the author is willing, there’s lots of additional things that authors can do, such as blogging about their craft, having their own twitter, doing Q&As, speaking at panels at conventions, do guest posts on book blogs.
* Research places to advertise that are relevant to the book and consider classified sections
Some great people to follow for ideas on indie book promotion:
- David Gaughran
- Joanna Penn
- J. A. Konrath
- Catherine Ryan Howard
- Lindsay Buroker
- Kristen Lamb
- Jane Friedman
- Smashwords Blog
Since the landscape is changing so quickly it’s great to read about the things other people are trying and the results they’re getting. You don’t have to try to get all the data and do all the experimenting yourself!
And in the end, publish the next book. Promote the next thing and don’t get too hung up on pushing the hec out of one single title. Each title in your catalog will help promote the others. Readers who enjoy what you offer will come back again and again. Give them something new as often as you can!