It’s a great time to be an author. There are more ways to publish a book than ever before and more ways to find and connect with your readers. More books mean more choices for readers, and that’s a great thing, too. But the low cost and ease with which books can now be published have also created a downside for authors. There is also more competition for readers’ dollars than ever before. That means you have to work harder to sell your book. Here are a few ideas to help you start selling more books today.
1. Develop a plan: Too many authors I know run helter-skelter when marketing their books. They start a blog, write for a few weeks, then lose interest and quit writing. They send a press release to a few media outlets then never follow up. They are asked to do a workshop by a local organization and get great feedback, but never send out requests to speak to other organizations – and then wonder why they never get another request to speak. Do any of these scenarios sound like you? Get out of the rut that this type of “start and stop” marketing has put you in, and develop a marketing plan for both you and your book.
2. Launch your book: How will you launch your book? With a public book signing? A great party for friends and family? A media tour? Start to plan your launch several months before the date of publication for your book. Consider partnering with a local business to host the launch. Book signings, book launch parties, seminars, workshops: use them all to promote your book.
3. Book reviews: Book reviews are an important marketing tool for every author. Today, blogs are the best place to find reviewers. There are dozens of book review sites online; there are well-known general sites such as Shelfari and genre-focused sites such as Gloomwing, which focuses on science fiction and fantasy, as well as sites for every genre you can mention. Look for bloggers who focus on your topic and send them copies of your book.
4. Radio and television interviews: There are literally thousands of radio shows on the air, and many run two to three hours, five nights a week – that’s a lot of air time to fill. Just as with book reviews, you can find radio shows to fit almost any niche market you can think of, and it is often the best way for beginners on the speaking circuit to gain name recognition outside their local area. There are fewer television stations with less time devoted to talk and information shows than radio. However, just because it is more difficult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Do some more research before you start. Don’t just send an e-mail to the host of a television show. Find out who on the staff actually chooses the guests, and direct your query to that person.
5. Use Social Media. Your personal Facebook page is where you share about you; you need a second Facebook page to promote your professional image, your book and your speaking engagements. Make sure your business Facebook page is business-like: friendly, but also be professional. Add a link to order page your book on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Occasionally tweet a reminder about how to order your book, but don’t forget the “social” in social networking. If all your posts are sales pitches, you will turn people off.
6. Work with schools: If you write for children, where is the best place to find your target market? Many schools bring writers in for workshops, writer-in-residence programs (yes, even elementary schools) and readings. Sometimes the writer is paid, other schools don’t have the money, but there are arts grants and state and regional programs financed by either the government or an arts council that will bring writers into schools.
7. Give a reading: Giving readings is one of the most important ways for fiction authors to market their work. It’s the most tangible sample of your work you can give to your readers. When you give a reading, you have the opportunity to read your work, answer questions about how you developed your plot and your characters, and give additional information to make the reader more interested in buying the book you are reading from, but your other works – written or not yet written – as well. Set up your own book tour by contacting libraries, arts organizations, cafes and coffee shops. Put your thinking cap on, and come up with a dozen or more sites you where can do readings within a few hours of your home.
8. Develop add-on products: Games, toys, CDs, t-shirts, mousepads, iPad cases…the list is endless. What add-on products can be offered with your book? The ultimate add-on, of course, is your second book! For fiction writers this is even more important than for nonfiction writers. If you are writing children’s books, it is absolutely essential. Everyone loves to read a book by an author they already know. They have a sense of familiarity; they know what they are going to get. Once you get readers to buy the first book, it is much easier to get them to buy the second…and the third…and…
9. Promote yourself to organizations: Make up a list of organizations you would like to speak in front of. Start local, move to regional, then go national. There are hundreds of thousands of chapter meetings, regional conferences and national conventions every year. At which ones would you like to speaker? Make a list and send out a press kit. A few hours of online research should garner some good leads.
10. The day you stop marketing your book is the day it stops selling: How do you measure success? Is it the number of books you’ve sold? A great review of your book? Being asked to give a speech about the subject of your book? Being able to put “author” on your bio? Having people tell you they were inspired by your book? Maybe it is all of these things. But they won’t happen if you don’t tell people about your book – and that means marketing. There is no “write it and they will come.” You must give your potential readers a roadmap to find it!