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How To Market Your Book

Your book is finally done: written, edited (many times over), and published. Now what? There was a time when the traditional publisher would take the reins and lead the book (and its author) to success by arranging book tours: signings, readings, etc. Not so much anymore. You may think the hard part is over since the book is published. Actually, the hard part has only just begun: promoting your book.

There’s a lot of competition out there. With self-publishing taking the publishing world by storm, there are more books published now than ever before. That doesn’t mean all the published books are good. But they are published, sitting on bookshelves in stores and libraries. And, it’s competition. Not to mention that it’s easy enough for your book to get hidden between, or even behind, all those other new releases. So, how do you get the word out there and entice people to read your book? And, better yet, to purchase a copy?

The traditional form of instore book signings continues to be a popular means of book marketing. However, if you’re not already a big-name author, chances are you’ll sit in a bookstore for hours on the allotted time of a signing and not interact with a single person. I remember one such book signing I did in a big-name bookstore. I was set up at the front of the store with a nice table and lots of space. People walked into the store, gave a sideways glance at me, and moved on. The organizer promoted me on the PA system and even mentioned I’d be giving a reading. No one appeared for the reading. I think I sold one book that day. After, I looked at photos of my set-up. Right behind me was a large banner promoting the recent Harry Potter book. That must have been the reason people bothered to look my way. And, yes, you might suggest I should have stood up and greeted people at the door. Actually, I did try that and I think it scared them away. Some people are totally unapproachable, especially at events like this.

My second appearance at this same big-name bookstore had me located in the back corner of the store, with another author featured at the main entrance. I wasn’t happy with the location, but I actually did much better than the other author. I have discovered that book signings really don’t work for me, and they probably won’t work until I become a big name myself. Sad, but true.

Local publications are another good source of free promotion, that is if you can convince the editor to either have your book reviewed or feature you as a local author. I have had mixed success with this form of advertising, as print media is in many ways, sadly, a thing of the past. People looking for news items look at social media for the quick summaries of what’s happening and who’s who.

With little or no success with book signings, readings, and print media promotions, I’ve resorted to promoting myself online. I’ve turned to various social media platforms to advertise and promote my books and I have attracted attention from around the world, which is far better than I was doing at the local, big-name bookstores.

First and foremost, you need an author website. If you’re really tech-savvy, you can create one yourself, but I would suggest you look at various author sites to get an idea of what might work best for your books. You want something unique, catchy; something that defines you and your writing. I’m not very tech-savvy, so I hired someone to create my webpage and I resort to his expertise whenever I release a new book or I want something updated or changed. This is one of those expenses you will have to incur if you are unable to create your own webpage. It doesn’t have to be costly; shop around and see who offers the best price for what you want.

The other online platforms I use are Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Instagram. These allow writers to congregate with like minds, readers and writers, writers and writers, to share successes, publications, key advice and so much more. It’s a valuable tool to get noticed. Set up an author page on these platforms and list your publications, interact with others, answer questions, and, quite simply, make yourself heard and seen.

Once your name is circulating online, it’s amazing how many ways people can find you through various search engines. I also write short stories and articles for various online and print publications, each piece garnering some attention since it includes a short author bio with my webpage listed. Free advertising and I usually get paid for the story or the article. I also write book reviews for Readers Favorite and other online and print publications, all of which include both my name and something about me (usually including my webpage). It’s always good PR to be seen promoting someone else. Remember, what goes around, comes around: you do a good deed for someone else and it will return to your benefit (at least, in theory).

I have also done book blog tours with various bloggers. Yes, it costs, but it doesn’t have to be costly. And, they’re actually kind of fun.

Creating a book trailer and posting it on Youtube is another way to promote your book. If you’re tech-savvy, you can probably create your own. I prefer to leave this to the professionals. These book trailers can be both quirky and attractive:

There are also many book-related sites that help authors promote their books: some cost, others have a free option. I tend to lean towards the free option as often as I can. Here are a few platforms to consider:

There are many more to consider, some better than others. Remember to look for sites that complement the genre of your book.

Another option is to seek professional support. For one of my books, I hired a publicist to help promote it. She had me create a professional portfolio and send it to target media outlets (she provided a viable list). I lucked into several radio and television interviews, as well as a couple of podcasts. One of the radio hosts continued to support and promote me with each new book release until the show shut down. I had fun; enjoyed talking about my books. But it really didn’t create the buzz I’d hoped for. And it did nothing for my sales. However, I learned a lot about the business of publicity.

There are limitless ways of marketing nowadays. But the best marketing platform of all time has been, and always will be, word of mouth. Explore the possibilities: there is a lot to consider. Be creative and think outside the box. Promoting your book is more than just a little blurb in the local paper and a book signing at the nearest bookstore. Indeed, it’s more than just the book itself.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Emily-Jane Hills Orford