With more than 2.2 million books published each year, and about 300,000 of these published in the United States alone, it is imperative to craft a book marketing plan that will effectively promote your book – simply writing a good book is not enough anymore!
Explore our top book marketing plan suggestions below.
Know Your Budget
Determine how much money you’re willing to spend on executing your book marketing plan. Obviously, the more money you have, the more you can do. For instance, you’ll need money to host your own website, have the cover art or a trailer made, and to launch online and billboard ads.
You don’t need to wait until the book is finished: You can start promoting your book while it’s still in the writing or editing stages. It can take some time to generate traction, so the earlier you start, the better.
Build an Author Website
Build a website around your identity as an author rather than the book you’re writing. People are more likely to read your book if they feel like they know you as a person.
You can start the website even if you don’t have any published books yet. Share your thoughts, your process, and even some snippets of your writing. Ask for feedback.
Tips for building an author website
- Get a domain name.
- Follow the latest SEO techniques.
- Make it personal.
- Link to your social media accounts.
- Link to a page where readers can buy your books.
- When applicable, sell merchandise for your books.
- Give your audience a space to discuss your books and a method to contact you.
- Keep the design clean and simple.
Readers love seeing “behind the scenes”. A website can generate curiosity around your current work, and give your audience a platform to find and interact with you. It also helps you test the waters, see how people respond to your ideas with minimum financial risk.
Know Your Audience (And Where to Find Them)
If you think your book is “written for everyone”, this advice is for you. Knowing who your audience is can help you make better decisions, not just with promoting but even in the writing process. In fact (as any marketer will tell you), you’ll struggle to create an effective book marketing plan without knowing your target audience, because you won’t be able to craft messages that really resonate.
If you already have a book (or more) published, this should be easy enough. Search who is reading your book on social media, book reviewing websites, and even forums. Chances are, these are the same people who will be interested in your newer creation.
If this is your first book, look up the audience of similar titles. This could include books with a similar genre or topic.
To know your audience, determine their demographic characteristics (including age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) Find out where this demographic hangs out (whether in a physical location or a particular website), and devote your marketing plan to that place.
Additionally, think about who is buying the book, rather than who the book is for. For example, children’s books are meant for kids, but you need to build your marketing plan to target their parents.
Put Together a Mailing List
Offer something on your website in exchange for a subscription to an email newsletter. It could be a small book, access to a forum or early release material, or even a book or merchandise giveaway.
Once you get those email addresses, try to craft a newsletter that’s informative. It could simply be a way to notify your readers of new blog posts, events you’ll be attending (such as speaking events or book signings), release dates, or any updates to your website. Give them insider information and tips on something that’s interesting.
Newsletters are a good way to keep your name constantly on people’s minds. Don’t compromise your audience’s trust by sending them repetitive or irrelevant spam.
Use Social Media
Social media can make you seem more accessible and personable, which encourages people to buy your book. Your page is a place where you can make announcements, build a following, and let them discuss your work.
You don’t need to be on every platform. Focus on the platforms that your target audience may be using, and prioritize quality over quantity of posts.
Secure Book Endorsements
Be proactive in getting people interested in your book. If there’s another author (or expert) whose name would look great in your marketing campaign, you can reach out to them with a copy of your book and ask for an endorsement.
If it works, you may get exposure on their social media platforms, a quote to add to the cover, or even a foreword. You also can get multiple endorsements from different authors.
Make sure that you have the potential endorser’s personal contact information, and try to build a real connection with them. It may feel awkward reaching out to people in this way (especially if they’re famous), but if you’re genuinely interested in their work, they could be willing to return your enthusiasm. You never know until you try.
Early reviews can instill confidence and encourage people to read your book. However, don’t expect the reviews to keep rolling in out of nowhere. You have to do some work, at least in the beginning.
If you have a decent following on your personal website, social media, or mailing list, simply ask them to leave a review once the book is launched.
Look for the top book reviewers for your genre on platforms such as Amazon, Goodreads, or even YouTube. Offer to send them a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Most reviewers are avid readers and would be happy to review your book simply for getting a free copy.
You may have to contact a lot of people in this way. If you’re patient, you’ll get quite a few free promoting reviews. Be gracious and accept their opinion, even if it’s critical.
A great way to bolster your online presence is to write guest posts, especially for non-fiction writers.
Find websites, blogs, and online magazines that focus on a topic similar to the one your book is about. Check if they accept guest posts and whether they have any requirements. Write a good piece that will give them—and you—some traffic.
This step will get your name out there and attach it to the topic. Don’t forget to leave a link to your website at the end of the article.
If readers like your guest post, they’ll want to check your website and see what else you’ve written. It’s free publicity, and you may even get paid for it.
If you’re a fiction writer, you can try writing a short story (maybe one set in the same universe as your book), or you could write a how-to post for a writing website.
If you’re a fiction writer, hosting book readings for your upcoming novel is a great way to generate traction. For non-fiction writers, simply talk about your book’s topic to an audience. If they like what they hear, they’ll want to know more.
Your speaking gig doesn’t have to be in a formal setting. Start small; find a club, university, or local interest group that may be willing to have you as a speaker. Think about the places where your target audience may be found.
If book readings seem intimidating, consider a book signing. Contact local libraries, universities, bookstores, and book fairs. See if they can grant you a spot for promoting.
You could host a book signing event after the speaking gig, or even as a standalone event. The idea is to go out there and interact with your audience.
Unfortunately, people do judge a book by its cover. You can have one professionally made or do it yourself. Either way, make sure you understand what makes a good cover.
Look up the best-selling books in your genre. You’ll find that they have a pattern of color schemes and font choices. You want your book to fit in with the same pattern, yet have an extra something that will help it stand out for effective promoting.
The cover art and the title are your first impressions. Make them count.
Video is a popular medium nowadays. You can make blog posts for your website in a video format, which can make your website more personable.
Additionally, consider having a book trailer made, which is an increasingly common enhancement to regular book marketing plans. Book trailers are rare, so they can spike your readers’ curiosity. However, you have to be careful that it doesn’t treat your book like a film. The best trailers are entertaining and informative. They function as a shareable piece of media rather than a sales pitch.
Most importantly, they respect the medium of books (which has no sounds or images), in the sense that they don’t try to limit the reader’s imagination of what the characters or places may look like.
If you want to have a book trailer made, make sure that it can pay for itself in revenue. Successful book trailers are hard to pull off.
Building a successful book marketing plan may not be something you considered when you first started writing, but it’s important to get that readership! It can also be a lot of fun if you know what you’re doing.
What do you think of this list? Do you feel like you’re ready to let the world know about your book?
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.
Bethany McKay is a multiplatform writer, editor, and social media manager. She has more than a decade of newspaper experience and subsequent work in publishing, editing and organizing a variety of publications, such as reports, college textbooks, and science, law, and business books.