This is an excerpt from Karen Hodges Miller’s new book, How to Sell Your Book Today: Focus Your Book Marketing for the New Digital Economy. The book is now available on Amazon.com as both an e-book and paperback.
Before you can effectively market your book, you need a plan. Without one, your marketing will feel helter-skelter, and probably bring you very few positive results. Start by thinking creatively about how to market your book using both digital and in-person marketing. Everything from tweeting and blogging to good old-fashioned networking should be considered. One author I know recently sold 200 books in the first 10 days after publication using only word of mouth marketing and networking in her community. Another sold over three hundred books in the first three months with an email newsletter campaign. With a good plan you can do this, and more, too.
Here is a sample marketing plan to get you started. Use a separate sheet of paper to write down the suggestions that you think will work for you, and add additional ideas of your own.
These strategies don’t necessarily focus on e-marketing but are tried and true marketing techniques all authors should consider.
- Send news releases to local, regional, and national publications about your book.
- Send copies of your book to book review websites.
- Have a party. Invite your friends, family, and business associates, and announce it to the press, too.
- Develop add-on products that sell your book. If you’re a fiction writer, for instance, can your book be adapted for a computer game? Can you sell t-shirts, jewelry, mugs, etc.?
- These days most books are not sold in traditional bookstores. Make a list of gift shops and boutiques selling items related to your book.
These techniques focus on e-marketing. They are discussed in more detail in How to Sell Your Book Today.
- Kindle countdown deal.
- E-book promotion sites.
- Use Facebook and other social media sites to tell friends and followers about your book.
- Place a book trailer on YouTube and other internet sites to advertise your book.
- Blog and tweet about your area of expertise.
Now, using these ideas in the two sections above, create your own marketing plan. You don’t have to do them all—pick a few that are right for you and your book. At the end of the article is an exercise to help you create your own plan.
Create a Budget
Once you’ve decided on how to market your book, ask yourself which portions of your plan you can do yourself and which will need the help of a book publicist, marketer, or social media expert. Sure, you can probably write a news release that will get you into the local paper, but if your goal is to get an interview on a national news show, you will need help getting there. You may be active with YouTube, but can you create your own, professional-looking book trailer?
No one starts out with an interview in The Wall Street Journal or on a national talk show. Get your feet wet with local marketing, then regional marketing, then go for the national audience.
Set up a timeline and a budget and be realistic about it. Marketing costs money, but it can pay for itself in increased sales of your book and increased recognition of you as an expert in your field.
Pandemic Sales Trends
Some new trends in book buying have emerged since the pandemic began that authors and readers should know. The following statistics come from Ingram Content Group, the largest book distributor in the world.
- Books, music, and videos saw some of the largest increases in online sales of any category of products.
- In May 2020 book, music, and video sales increased 62 percent over May 2019.
- In 2020 book sales were the highest they have been in 15 years with 627 million units sold.
- This 627 million units sold includes 133 million e-books.
- While paper books still sell significantly more units than e books, e-book sales grew by approximately 45 million units.
The most significant finding is that 48 percent of shoppers say they will continue to buy online after the pandemic and social distancing have ended. This finding means that the pandemic marketing strategies you learn now will continue to be valuable for years to come.
Sample Marketing Plan
Here’s a sample marketing activity for you to study. Use this as a guide to create your own marketing plan.
Marketing Activity: Send out books to 10 Instagram Book Bloggers. (Instagram bloggers usually prefer a paper copy of the book so they can add photos to their reviews.)
To spread the word about the book; it can also increase internet mentions of the book and improve search engine optimization (SEO).
- Search on the internet for bloggers who write about books in your genre. Look for the most popular bloggers with the largest following.
- Carefully check the bloggers’ guidelines and follow them. Send an email asking if they are interested in reviewing your book.
- Once you have an affirmative reply, promptly send the book along with any other information they request such as a bio or a jpeg of yourself.
- $45.00 ($3.50 author cost for your book plus shipping to you from your printer/distributor)
- $10.00 for padded envelopes to mail books
- $15.00 for book rate postage to mail books
Follow-Up: Check with bloggers one week after mailing to confirm they have received their books.