Marketing Your Book

Many aspiring writers and new authors believe that after a manuscript (MS) has been accepted by a publishing company for publication, or after the author has chosen to self-publish that the book simply becomes a bestseller overnight all on its own. After all, if a publisher has chosen to publish it then the book is certain to attract an audience without any effort on the author’s behalf right? Um, no. Wrong.

What many authors have to learn how to do is to become entrepreneurs and not just through sitting at a computer and typing to their hearts’ content. Marketing a book requires a great deal of effort on the part of the author. Very few publishing companies invest their own finances or time in promoting their author’s work. It sounds strange since the book becomes a financial risk for the publisher as soon as it is accepted for publication yet that is the way it works. Either the author becomes involved in marketing or the book doesn’t see a bookstore shelf or likely make many sales.

If author success is measured by sales then I’m not writing this from the perspective of a successful author, merely a published author. I have recently had my second MS accepted for publication by the same publisher who produced my first book. Lovely. I was excited to hear the news. Thinking back on the abysmal sales of my first book I decided the same fate would befall this novel as well but I shrugged and figured “at least I’m published”. However things have changed in the past week or so.

I’ve decided I’m not content merely to allow my print on demand novel to float about in a major bookstore’s cyber-inventory yet never see it on the actual shelf. My book is good. This I know since nearly every publisher I queried about it wanted to see it and some outright offered to publish it. I’ve probably got a good story here then but I still know it won’t do me or my publisher any good if I don’t market, market, market my brains out so that is what I’ve decided to do. Hopefully through my efforts I will achieve a modicum of success at least. Certainly I can’t do any worse than with the first book my publisher released! To that end I’ve compiled a list of the steps I am taking to market my book. Hopefully you will find something helpful in here too.

Create a website. They are absolutely free nowadays yet they are still beautiful and very professional-looking. I sat down two nights ago and tentatively began building a site using a software company’s pre-formatted templates and a whole lot of patience. Bingo! I have a beautiful site that advertises me, my writing history and my two books with my current publisher. I must say it looks terrific. If you intend to create a site make sure you include your email and links to your blogs and any social media where you are a member.

Of course having mentioned social media you are already a member of the more well known commercial sites right? If not get enrolled and start marketing your book! Don’t use a “hard sell” however. People hate that. Just mention on your profile that you are published or are in the process of getting published and you hope people will check out your book.

Learn the art of social media. There are lots of free sites that have advice about how to message people and what to post. Offer links to other aspiring or published writers that include publishing sites, author sites, online literary journals, etc.

Keep an eye on your local authors’ community. Attend book readings and signings. Join book readings and bring copies of your book to sell and autograph.

Unless you are quite affluent you probably don’t have the money to go on actual book tours (of course you should go on them if you do). Set up a virtual book tour through your website or through an author’s club. They’re cheap. You schedule the time and date that you will be online so people can virtually “attend” your readings and you can also do virtual signings.

Virtual signings are cool. Most people do them through their own website. You need a webcam, a shopping cart embedded into your website for readers to purchase your book, a stack of your books and a pen. That’s it. Advertise on your site when you will be doing a virtual signing. People can communicate with you via chat. They will tell you who’s name to write the book to and then can you sign it and hold it up at the camera for the reader to see.

Do actual book signings and readings at local bookstores. If you are lucky enough to get picked up by a commercial publisher that distributes your books to a particular bookstore then that’s where you will do your signings. If you are a self-published author you have a bigger challenge in front of you. First you must convince the owner/manager of a bookstore to set up a signing for you. Then you have to convince them to keep your extra copies on their shelves when your signing is over. Not easy to do but if you are polite and persistent it can be done.

Ask local newspapers to print a review of your book at least 3 – 4 weeks before it is released. However you should contact the newspapers and tell them you are seeking a book review at least a couple of months before the book comes off the press to give them time to assign the book to one of their reviewers.

Blog, blog, blog about your book or yourself every day on your site or your separate blog. Also blog about your experiences marketing your book and anything else that is relevant.

Use your own word of mouth and do so unabashedly! Tell everyone you know about your upcoming book. If you have complimentary copies give them out only to one or two family members. Send the rest to the newspapers and online entertainment sites that have offered to review your book.

Best of luck!

By Suzana