The big day has finally come. You’ve worked hard on your book for months, and maybe even years. Now it’s finally ready for the world to see. You hit publish and follow through with everything you know about how to market a book step by step. With any luck, hard work and a lot of support gets your book to bestseller status.
Then a few weeks goes by. Rankings drop considerably. Despite your best efforts, your book plummets down the lists like a stone.
How to Market a Book to Sell Copies
We’ve all been there—that point as a writer when we realize we have to do the other stuff—stuff that keeps us away from writing and creating. In fact, writing and crafting a book is only about half of the process. If you don’t spend 40-50% of your ongoing efforts on marketing, you reach a limited number of people. Your message will get lost in the massive swirl of information available out there.
You want to sell more books right? Marketing a book isn’t always a “natural” step for most authors. We are writers and creatives, not marketers and salespeople. But if you can combine writing and marketing, you’ll not only be able to write, but also to sell books. And marketing yourself is where it’s at.
8 Ways to Market Your Book Like a Pro
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a marketing guru or have a degree in digital marketing and social media mastery to get the word out about your brand. By following some basic steps, you’ll be marketing your books in no time.
1. Identify Your Audience
This is critical when it comes to marketing your book. If you don’t know who your audience is, you’ll end up marketing to anyone. In other words, you’ll be shouting out about your book in a noisy room and nobody will hear you. Write for a specific audience. To market your book effectively you have to know:
Who they are: Who is your ideal customer? What kind of information are they looking for? How do these people spend their time? Create a basic profile of what your reader looks like.
Where they are: Your audience is hanging out somewhere. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, they are communicating about the topic and niche your book is about. Find those people and you will be able to market your book.
What problems are they facing: It is really important to nail this one. Come up with 20-30 problems your target market is trying to solve. By providing a solution to these problems, you’ll zero in on the readers who are waiting for your bestseller to change their lives. Remember: somebody out there wants what you are offering; they just don’t know it yet!
Action Step: Create a reader’s avatar. This is a profile of what your average reader is like. Include things like gender, occupation, and problems and they are facing. Figure out what solutions you could deliver to help them. Then market specifically to those people.
2. Build Your Author Website
Can you imagine if you came home one day and your house was…missing? Well, that is what an author’s life can be like without a website to post fresh content. You’ll always be missing a home where you can park your books. Many authors think they don’t need a website because they can promote their books through social media or the author platform on Amazon.
Sorry, not exactly.
There is a huge difference. Having an author website is the difference between renting or buying a piece of property. When you rent, you are living in someone else’s space. It doesn’t belong to you and they can cancel your lease at any time.
Maintaining your own website on a hosted server with your domain name is the same as having that piece of real estate. You can customize your site your way, publish your own content, and you are always in complete control of how it looks and what gets published. When it comes to marketing your book, the sky’s the limit. You can:
- Publish your book’s landing page on your site.
- Post blogs about your upcoming book
- Create a countdown timer for the book’s release date.
- Set up an affiliate link to your Amazon page so you get commissions on book sales
- Include sample chapters from your book
- Link to video clips about the book on your website
- Communicate directly with your email subscribers about new releases or your current blog post
To set up your website and personal blog on a paid server, you can try Bluehost or Godaddy. For a domain name, check out name.com
3. Build Your Email List
There is a saying going around that says: “the money is in the list.” Why? It’s simple. A list of followers who are in love with your writing will be the first to line up when you have a new product to sell. These people are essentially your customers.
Your email list is yours. It doesn’t belong to Amazon or social media. You control what you want to say, how you say it, and when. Imagine if every time you had a new book ready to launch, hundreds or thousands of people were waiting for it so they could get it first.
If you are serious about promoting and marketing your current and all future books, building your list should be top priority. Nothing else comes close. Although building a list takes time, in the long run it is the easiest way to market. These are the true fans that will get the word out and be the first to leave verified reviews after buying your new release at the special price of 0.99. But that is just the beginning.
You can continue to build your list by including a reader magnet at the front and back of your book. Get people hooked on your brand and then keep them there by writing your next book, and then, including them in your next launch. As your book reaches more people, and you get more signups, your marketing capacity grows…exponentially.
Action Step: If you haven’t started on your list building, go to an email management system such as ConvertKit, Mailchimp or AWeber and sign up for an account. Then get building and start to funnel your fans into your books today.
4. Reach Out to Influencers
When it comes to book promoting, nothing can have a bigger impact on your book than influencers. What is an influencer? Influencers can be podcasters, bloggers, or authors with strong email lists. It’s someone with an established platform that can get you noticed if they notice you.
An influencer is someone who has a lot of promotional weight and can spread the word about your book to thousands of people with just a brief mention to their email list, on their blog, or by sharing on social media, for example. Influencers have a long reach. What you can do is identify the influencers in your niche and reach out to them. Tell them who you are and ask if they can help to promote your latest book.
Influencers can have a major impact on your exposure as an author, so try to set up interviews in your hometown or reach out to someone online and offer to do an interview so you can deliver value to their target audience.
Guest post blogging on an influencer’s is another way to market your book. For example, if you wrote a book on recipes for Italian food, you could try connecting with people in the Italian cooking niche. They may have a blog, podcast, or a webinar on which you want to appear.
Action Step: Identify at least one influencer in your market and reach out to that person. Tell them who you are and what you do. Get on their podcast or get interviewed. Exposure to fans in your niche will have a big influence on book sales.
5. Leverage Two Social Media Platforms
Social media is a powerful way to promote your book. We can engage with thousands of people just by hitting a few buttons. But with social media sites, the big scare is the amount of time we can get sucked into trying to do everything. If you try to connect with everyone, you’ll match up with nobody.
When promoting and marketing your book, you can’t be everywhere doing all things at once. That is why we recommend you choose two social media sites to work with, and post your content regularly to these two sites.
For example, you can have a YouTube channel and post weekly videos. After a few months you could build up a library of content, engage with new subscribers and even create a course out of your videos.
With Facebook, you can promote your book or blog using Facebook ads. You could also post popular quotes or snippets of material from your upcoming book.
With Twitter you can post multiple times a day with brief quotes or messages under 140 characters. Twitter has proven to be a powerful platform for authors when it comes time to promote and market a book.
We recommend choosing two social media platforms and focusing on consistent engagement. This will keep your book’s appearance fresh and invite new people in to check out your work.
Action Step: Choose two social media platforms and commit to publishing content regularly. If you only want to focus on one, master it and then move to another that is perfectly fine! It is better to do one thing and get it right then do two things poorly.
6. Plan Your Marketing Ahead
The best time to start marketing your book was six months ago. If you haven’t done that, the next best time for marketing your book is right now.
Many authors make the mistake of getting their book out there, doing a promo with their launch team and then start to work on a plan for marketing. The best thing you can do is have your marketing tools defined and ready to roll into action when they are needed.
Your marketing plan can include such things as:
- Having a series of blog posts scheduled to publish at regular intervals
- Interviews set up with influencers to talk about your book, either on the day of launch or just after
- A course based on the book set to launch at the same time as the book or soon after
- Giveaways through Goodreads that attract buyers to download your book by the thousands
- Daily blurbs posted on Facebook or Twitter. Remember: Engage where your fans are hanging out.
- Schedule a Bookbub promo (see next step)
Marketing takes planning, and you have to be strategic about it. This means building buzz early and keeping that buzz going for months up to and even after the launch. Continued marketing requires deeper tactics such as course building and consistently promoting through social media or Facebook ads, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
7. Get on Bookbub
Bookbub is the cream of the crop when it comes to promoting and marketing your book. In fact, you should submit your book for promotion as either free or for 99 cents right after your book launch.
Bookbub has a massive following and can get your book delivered to thousands of readers. It really is the “Big One” when it comes to book promotion. The cost isn’t cheap and can run you anywhere from $200 to $2,000 for a promo, depending on the genre, category, and the price of your book.
But is it worth it?
For example, if you are running a promo for 99 cents in general nonfiction, you could potentially sell, on average, 2,000 copies of your book. Not only will you make a profit, but this could bring in hundreds of subscribers and leads to your email list. From there you can upsell readers on your other books or even a course if you have one.
But on a side note, most authors get rejected the first time from Bookbub. If you do, just keep trying. Go here for Bookbub submission requirements. You can also check out the pricing here and submit your book here.
8. Write Another Book
Publishing another book is great for brand building. In fact, it’s much harder to market just one book unless it is a ground-breaking phenomenal masterpiece. Your book may be great, but you can compound that greatness by writing more books, preferably in a series.
With every new book you put out there you increase the chances of your work getting recognized by influencers and people online who are hanging out in all the places you can target for promotion and sharing.
Launching your book is only the beginning. The real work begins after the initial “bang” is over and you have to dig in deep to promote, engage, and provide solutions to readers’ problems. Remember: Marketing is about delivering a product [your book] to the right people [your audience] who need desperately what you have to offer [your solution].
Create this product for your readers, ship it to them and communicate in a way they understand—and you’ll become a great marketing guru as well as an amazing author.