I’m frequently asked at talks or conferences how best to promote a novel. Promoting, in my opinion, is different than selling. If done right, and done with consideration and collaboration, promotion does much more … and goes much further.
Promoting, to me, means:
- Establishing your author platform – Who knows you as an author? Who knows your novels? Where can they find them? Do you blog? Write for magazines? Tweet? What do those numbers look like? What is your reach? (More on platform & branding in my blog post on April 29, 2015!)
- Building your brand – Branding expert Marty Neumeier explains that brand is, “…a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” So, when readers finish your work, what kind of emotional response would you like them to have?
- Showing people who you are and what you care about
- Connecting with readers AND other authors
- Sharing your expertise and information
- Giving more than you receive
Promoting well is not a one-shot deal or a campaign that lasts a day or a few weeks. Promotion is hard work and can be a full-time job, in addition to writing (if you let it!). Promoting well is for a day-in, day-out effort for the long-term.
Here are my top ten ways to promote your novel well. These efforts are what have worked for me, after much trial and error, a few mistakes, and a lot of fun!
- Write – Do your homework. Write a Good Book. Edit. Proofread. Create a great cover and craft a compelling story summary and a fun author blurb.
- Distribute – Make your book available in as many places as possible: Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, ACX, etc. Give your readers as much opportunity as they can to find you!
- Socialize – There is no magic formula for social media, other than consistency and being consistently gracious and polite. My recommendation is to share interesting, useful information. Make it meaningful. Mix it up with some humor and praise for other authors. Also, as it can be overwhelming, master one social media tool well (say, Instagram) and then add another (Twitter). A good rule of thumb is to share other people’s work 80% of the time, share your work 20% of the time.
- Get Reviewed – Ask nicely for reviews (say please and thank you to these hard-working bloggers and reviewers) and if the friend who is writing is an author, offer to give a review in return. Be aware that some people will promise to review and won’t – hey, life happens! Always over-ask.
- Advertise – Again, you may get more than you receive, but you are raising awareness. Consider advertising on sites that won’t break the bank. Ereader News Today, Digital Book Today, Kindle Book Review, Free Booksy, FKBT, and Book Buzz, etc. are all good choices.
- Tour – Set up a blog tour, either by yourself, or with a blog tour company. I suggest getting your book on at least 20 blog sites over two months. In addition, tour locally. Visit local bookstores, ask if they will carry your book. Try to get a few authors together and sign books at a library or indie book store, if they are game! Indie bookstores typically take 45% commission, so be prepared for that! I’ve used Goddess Fish extensively. There are many other tour companies out there! Some that I have not used, but have been recommended include: AToMR Tours, Candace’s Book Promotion, Xpresso Book Tours (YA), Pump Up Your Book, PageCurl, Worldwind, and Loving the Book.
- Make Friends – Connect with other authors in person or on social media, especially those in your genre. Join a writers’ group. Participate in a book club. Attend indie bookstore events.
- Share – This is the time to be generous. Comment on other author’s blogs, comment on blogger’s posts, share Facebook posts, retweet on Twitter. Review other books on your own blog. Giveaway your paperbacks on Goodreads or LibraryThing. Hold a Rafflecopter contest on your blog! Pay it forward.
- Be an Expert – What is your book about? If it’s non-fiction, you have a built-in platform. If you write fiction, it can be a little more difficult to pinpoint theme or purpose. Is your novel about children? Is it set in a certain region of the country? Do you know tons about airplanes, antiques, animals, etc. (and you’ve covered that topic in one of your books)? Think about pitching local and regional magazines on a subject that you love!
- Be Free – Offer your book for free, even for just a few days. I would suggest doing that when you launch the book. If you have several books, or a series of novels, make one of them free permanently. It’s a lovely way to introduce readers to your books and writing style.
Here’s an excellent article on promotion and marketing I just discovered this week (see below). The information can be overwhelming, so take in a little at a time, or schedule out tasks to do once a week! It’s a marathon, not a race! (article: Book Marketing Buzz)
What are your favorite book promotion ideas or examples (as a reader or a writer)? I’d love to hear about them!