If there is anything I have learned in my many years of professional writing, it’s that a writer must also take the time to work as a marketer – even if he/she has hired a PR firm to handle book promotion. It doesn’t matter if your book has been out for ten years or won’t be out for another ten months, devoting even a few minutes to tell somebody about your work can do wonders for your career. With eBook publishing coming into its own – as evidenced by the boost in digital reader sales this past year – it’s important to get the buzz going about your digital titles so you can enjoy healthy sales.
Having spent about seven years in eBook publishing as a writer, editor, and publisher, I’ve asked numerous authors about their respective book promotion tactics. Their answers pretty much covered the spectrum: some would go all out in their campaigns with everything from trade ads to PPC, while others hardly did a thing and enjoyed decent sales. Still others invested a large amount of money to see little return, which proved frustrating for them. Over the years, I have learned luck plays a large role in the success of your book in addition to the quality of writing, the cover, and distribution. It only takes one reader to light that fire and spread the word of mouth campaign for you. Your job is to find that reader to make it happen.
Needle in a haystack, yes. You could start by asking friends and relatives to buy the book, and hope they pass along the information to friends. However, as an author your reach must expand beyond the familiar to touch those who actively seek new titles in your chosen genre. If your book is available for the Kindle, Nook, and other popular eBook readers you need to take advantage of the resources available to you. Here are just a few suggestions:
1) Start a blog. Well before your book has a publication date, you should have plans in place to promote it. This means working to establish a readership that becomes accustomed to your style. Not only should you have your website up and running before your book launch, but your blog posts should be active and engaging. Not every post needs to be about your book, either. Be yourself – talk about things that interest you and things that inspired characters or scenes in your story. Make sure the blog is readable on mobile devices and feed it into your social profiles. Speaking of…
2) Maintain an active social media presence. Get your Twitter handle and Facebook page set up. Connect the two, along with any other profiles you have (Tumblr, Youtube, etc.). You may have an aversion to such things, thinking that social media can take up too much of your time, but even a few minutes of updating your information and responding to people can make a difference in your sales. Also, you can integrate much of your social media so you don’t have to visit every single account to get the job done.
3) Guest blogs and blog tours. Book bloggers are quite important in marketing titles. Not only do bloggers review books and preview coming releases, but many are willing to host authors who volunteer to blog about their work or related topics. Look for bloggers with impressive followings who have the space to offer, and work out a strategy for a blog tour. Write an engaging piece and even offer a giveaway to a random reader who comments on the blog.
4) Hang out where the readers are. Involvement in sites like Goodreads, AReCafe, Library Thing and others that are geared toward books and readers are where you need to focus some part of your online marketing. Book social networks connect readers to authors, and many of these sites are willing to help authors promote their books. See what advertising and promotion opportunities await you.
Remember, every little bit you put on the Internet can become a search event in your favor. Start the buzz now and listen for the response.