I just finished up an amazing social media marketing course for entrepreneurs that really helped me sketch out the things I want to do with Lopt & Cropt (stay tuned! lots coming down the pipeline shortly), but also gave me a new perspective on author and book promotion. So many great books are buried on Amazon where they never get seen – but why put in all that work into writing and crafting and editing a book if it’s just going to languish without being given a fighting chance? You can’t just release your book and hope for the best – I mean, you could, and that’s your choice, but unless you get spectacularly lucky and some huge influencer picks up your book and tells people about it, that’s not going to be enough, especially for self-publishers. You have to make your work discoverable, and that’s where marketing and promotion – long before and long after the book is published – come into play.
So here are three ways to promote your books:
1) A website with a blog
Yep, it’s unavoidable. You need them. Get a domain name with your name if at all possible or with a way to identify you as the author Jane Doe. The website is a place where you can park all the information people need to know: who you are, what you do, where to find your books, how to get in touch with you to rave about how your book changed their life (hey, it happens). I’ve loved working with Squarespace for my site – it’s really easy to use – but I also know lots of people happy on Wordpress. (Honestly, I chose between them by picking my favorite template. Very scientific, I know, but both will essentially do the same thing.)
Your site is most important as a direct way to get to your blog. And I can hear you now: “UGH, a blog? Really, Sarah? Must I?” And yes, you must. The website on its own is great, but it’s pretty static; most of that content won’t change very often. A blog, though, is dynamic when you’re updating it regularly. I won’t get into the whole deal with SEO – hell, I don’t even understand the whole deal with SEO – but if you’re constantly adding words to your site, there’s more for Google (and other search engines, but let’s be real: Google) to find when people are searching for something that may help them discover you.
And I know that a blog is a lot to keep up with and it’s another thing on your plate and it can be so hard to come up with ideas for it and write. But here’s where you have an incredible advantage: blogging is just storytelling. You’re already a storyteller. So tell stories. About yourself, about your writing process, about your life, about your book. There will be days when you’ll be wracking your brains trying to figure out what to write about, but rely on the talent that you already have.
2) Social media
You can have some fun with these. Post articles or silly GIFs, chat with new friends or fans or fellow writers, and promote your own work. As with the blog, you have to be consistent here and be present and regular with your posting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be every single day, but often enough that you create the expectation that you’re going to be there.
Which platform should you be on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr? It depends where you think most of your potential readers are. Are they mostly on Facebook sharing pictures of their families? Are they younger and Snapchatting away? And what are you most comfortable with? Maybe you have Facebook and know how to use it, but Instagram seems like a foreign country. Focus on one or two and start putting content out there to attract an audience. You might want to start new professional/business accounts on each platform to keep your personal life separate from what Author You will be sharing with the world. But your call!
3) Raving fans
You need 1) and 2) before you can get 3). Your hardcore fans will be the people who read your books, but also follow your blog and your social media to know more about you and what you’re working on next. They’re loyal and enthusiastic and willing to sing your praises all over their own social media and tweet out about your new book or a great sale or other things that will help promote you to other people. These are great people to have in your corner. But you’ve gotta find them and get them on board first, and you lay the groundwork for that with your web presence and your social media.
Whether you’re with a publisher or self-publishing your books, you have to be the engine running your promo machine and you’ve gotta keep running it long after the book comes out so you can stay in their minds for the next time you have something to promote. Make no mistake, you’re now in the business of You the Writer.