Self-publishing has exploded in recent years. When you publish your book yourself, rather than through a traditional publisher, you retain your own creative vision. The world of publishing has never been so democratic!
Nevertheless, self-promotion is increasingly more important for the writer regardless of whether self-published or published through a traditional publisher. Book marketing, after all, may just seem like an intimidating buzzword. When you think of book marketing, you may think of huge, multifaceted campaigns that target tons of potential readers, and you may think that you don’t have the time or energy. As writers, many of us tend to be quiet and reserved, as well, which makes self-promotion seem difficult and perhaps even tacky.
Even if you recognize the importance of book marketing, you may be hesitant to begin. Taking the time to write a book is a large project by itself, and you may feel that it’s best for you to focus on the actual act of writing. While the writing should of course come first, selling your book will take some time and effort long before publication to successfully reach your audience.
In this post, I’ll discuss just a couple of small ways you can integrate book marketing into your writing schedule so that you can get more comfortable with your self-promotion.
Monitor the market
Readers can be finicky – how will you know if the market will respond to your work? Even if you know your manuscript is primed for success, how will you know how to present your book, what kind of cover to use, what kind of description will best pull readers in?
That’s where informing your book marketing with actual market research can be a tremendous help.
If you look at other books that are currently selling well in your genre, you can understand better how to position your own book for self-promotion. Take a critical eye to what you see: note what kinds of images are on the covers, how the books are described. This way, you’ll know what attracts readers when you consider your own strategies for book marketing.
If you want to learn a bit more about market monitoring, check out my previous blog post that goes into more detail.
Find a target audience
When you monitor your book’s market, you learn what strategies will work best for your own self-promotion. But at the heart of the market are the readers themselves!
It is common in the industry to think up a “proto-persona,” which is essentially an idealized version of the reader you think will be most attracted to your work. When you think about the best platforms and spaces for your book marketing, you can refer to this proto-persona.
To start, take a few minutes to write a profile of this proto-persona in as much detail as possible. What kind of education do they have? What are their interests? Where do they hang out, virtually or otherwise? The more specifics you have, the easier it will be to choose book marketing strategies that market directly to your reader.
When it comes to self-promotion, quality is infinitely more valuable than quantity, and so knowing your proto-persona well will help you know where your energy is best spent.
You can find more detailed information on describing your proto-persona here.
Manage a platform
Now that you’ve created a proto-persona, you can move on to the next step of book marketing: building an online platform for self-promotion where you can reach your audience. The mere mention of “social media” may make you frown, but you don’t have to launch an entire multi-platform PR campaign to get buzz for your book.
In fact, social media is only one facet of a successful platform. In terms of self-promotion to drive book sales, the most effective tools at your disposal will be your author website and mailing list.
When you create a mailing list, you are creating a direct way to engage with your readers. You can incentivize those who visit your website to sign up for your mailing list by offering something free upon sign-up: this could be a chapter of your work, for example. But always make sure that those who join your mailing list do so because they made that choice themselves, and include an easy way for people to unsubscribe.
There are also other important ways you can drive sales through Internet tools. Book marketing/advertising via services on Amazon, Facebook, and Bookbub can target readers specifically based on your proto-persona. Finding opportunities to engage in other online media, such as podcasts, online courses, and guest posts on blogs with an established following will also be key to successful self-promotion.
Social media engagement
In comparison to the methods mentioned above, social media is less of a sales tool and more of an engagement tool. In other words, social media should be a space where you motivate, inspire, and connect with a potential audience in order to increase their familiarity with you and your work.
There’s a lot of social media tricks to connect with new readers, some of which are listed here. But in general, barring specifics like hashtags or trending topics, you want to engage meaningfully with your audience. Being present online and fostering genuine connections will build the author-reader relationships that are most effective in book marketing. Post about things that matter to you, inform your audience about your work, engage with fellow writers and potential readers.
If you’re at a loss as to which social media platforms will be best for your own self-promotion, you should consider two people: your proto-persona, and yourself!
Where does your proto-persona spend time online? If your proto-persona is older, for example, Facebook may be the most reliable platform. But if you are targeting a younger audience, your book marketing may be most successful on a platform like Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok.
In any case, the best strategy is one that takes into account where you are comfortable online and where you may already have a following. It’s best to choose one platform and stick to it than to use several half-heartedly. Don’t reinvent the wheel: if you can target your audience from a platform you already have, consider launching your self-promotion work there.
I hope that the tips above have been useful for you. If you’re looking for coaching in book marketing, contact me for self-promotion solutions. I will be happy to support you along your journey.