Your book should be available for pre-order four to six months before publication date. The best time to design and implement your marketing plan of action is before you even start writing your book. It takes time to build relationships, learn your reader’s wants and needs and develop a base of rabid fans that clamor for more. Grow your readership as you write your book, and when it’s time to launch your baby, you’ll already have an invested and eager audience waiting.
Create a brand
In writing, the author is the brand. And that means you. You need to present yourself in your communications with potential readers in a way you are comfortable with and which is related to the books you expect to be promoting. An important part of this is to know which genre you are working in. It’s invidious, I know, but received wisdom is that if you work in more than one genre, you probably need two different names and two different brands. When you are putting yourself out there and finding ways to talk about your book, don’t forget what your brand is – who you want people to see you as. Stay focused.
Creating an author platform is vital for a new author’s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the platform. You need to know what you are creating before you start!
Deciding On Your Brand
To decide on your brand, answer the following questions:
- How do you want to be known? What words do you want people to associate with you?
- What are your goals for the next 3 years? What words are associated with that?
- Will your books be in a particular genre?
- Who do you admire and want to emulate in writing and also as a brand? Find their websites and keep screen-prints of what you like and don’t like. Use them as a model (but obviously no plagiarism!)
- If you have a website already, enter it into Google Keyword tool. Are you happy with the keywords associated with your site? Do you need to change your focus?
- What images do you want associated with you and your brand?
You also need to know what you want for your future, because if you can’t see the brand extending over multiple books you have hard work ahead!
Build a website
Connect with Your Audience through Your Own Professional Website. I suggest WordPress.com where you can set up your website and blog together and affordably.
If you don’t yet have your own website, consider investing in one. This can be a powerful and very simple way for you to communicate with your readers and spread the word. But a great way of finding appropriate web designers is to visit the sites of other authors you admire in your category. You should be able to find their web designer’s name at the bottom of each page of the website.
Key ingredients for a successful website
- Title, publisher, ISBN, and in-store date.
- Link to your “Buy the Book” page.
This page will take readers to your product page on our key online retailers and should be live four to six months before your book’s publication date.
- Book trailer and any videos of you relating to your brand.
- Your author bio. Your readers really do want to know about you and will be thrilled to learn more.
- How they can reach you.
- You can set up a free email account with Gmail, Yahoo!, or Hotmail so that you can keep this email separate from your personal or business correspondence. This is a key opportunity to encourage feedback.
- An excerpt from your upcoming book. Note: Please remember to ask your editor for permission to post an excerpt.
- Ask if they’d like to be added to your mailing list.
- Blurbs and endorsements.
- Positive reviews.
- Jacket cover image.
- Author photo (a professional photo of you).
- Schedule of upcoming events.
A great Author website to look at for his branding is author Terry Brooks http://terrybrooks.net/
Start writing a blog
Become Part of the Conversation through Blogs
Participating on other’s blogs can be a very powerful tool for promotion and raising your profile. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Find Your Community: Use a blog search engine like Technorati to find blogs in your subject/area of expertise.
- Make Your Mark: Once you have identified those that feel relevant and compelling, become part of the conversation by commenting on a post that interests you and add something that readers of the blog might be interested to know.
- Let People Know Where You Are: Link to your blog or website if you’ve written something relevant to the conversation. If you are bringing something valuable to the debate, people will begin to follow you and will be more interested in what you publish.
If you’re passionate about your subject and are willing to write about it regularly (no less than three times per week), a blog can be a fantastic—and free—way of building an audience for both you and your work. You can start your blog with Blogger. It’s free, and sign-up is very simple. Below are the steps to help you get started:
- Set Up an Account: Visit the WordPress.com and set up a free account to create your blog.
- Give It a Name: Next, select a name for your blog—it should be short and easy to remember. We would suggest that you use your name so that the blog can expand to include future books you may publish.
- Write a Post: Once this is done, click “create post.” Type your entry just like you would an email. You can choose different fonts and sizes of text, or add pictures, lists, and links to websites.
- Preview and Publish: Click on the preview button to see if you like the way your entry looks. If not, you can edit it until you are satisfied. Once you are happy with the results, click “publish.”
Write in Blogging Style and Observe Blogging Etiquette
- Regularly Update: Update your blog frequently — three times a week is a minimum but set yourself a realistic schedule and stick to it.
- Keep It Short and Concise: Keep in mind that in the blogosphere, people have shorter attention spans than they do offline so you need to make your posts easily digestible and informative — 250 words can be enough.
- Make It Compelling: Strive to create blog copy that is compelling, interesting, and will invite further conversations. Stay on topic so that you don’t lose your audience.
- Engage: This is an opportunity to tell your readers what you’re writing about. Ask them what they’d like to hear more about. This kind of involvement will make them feel attached to you and your work, building an audience that will stay with you from book to book.
- Involve: Pose questions and comment on people’s comments. A blog is meant to be a community. Respond directly to people’s comments—either in the comments or in a new blog post. This will engage readers so they’ll come back more often.
- Give It Personality: Above all else, remember that your blog should be an extension of you—let people know who you are and your opinions should be reflected in your writing style
Target Your Audience and Build Upon It
- Spread the Word: Once you’ve been posting regularly for a couple of weeks, tell your friends, colleagues, and contacts about your blog and ask them to tell their friends, colleagues, and contacts. Send an email or newsletter to your email address book or database introducing the blog and linking to it.
- Utilise Your Sphere of Influence: Look around the Internet for related blogs, and read and post to them. Commenting and becoming part of the blog community will cause others visit your blog and do the same.
- Use Your Amazon Author Page: Once you begin blogging, be sure to sign up for Amazon’s Author Central. This is a program that will allow you to feed your blog directly onto your author page on Amazon.com—a very powerful way to share compelling content with possible customers.
Optimize Your Blog and Link Like Crazy!
- Use Search Engines: Add your blog to blog search engines like Technorati.com. There are dozens of blog search engines out there and more being added every day.
- Identify Clear Keywords: Create a good, concise description for your blog, as well as relevant keywords. Make your headlines snappy.
- Tag: This is easy to do on the “create post” page. Just enter the relevant keywords in the box separated by commas—this will make your blog easier to search.
- Link to Retailers: Use your custom “Buy the Book” landing page (www.wiley.com/buy/ISBN). The page should be live six months in advance of your book’s publication date.
- Social Networking: Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., to let others know what you’re blogging about and provide links back to your blog.
- RSS: Put a subscription icon on every page.
- Pictures: Use images whenever possible.
- Publicity: Let your publicist know which blogs you think would love to hear about your book. We will add them to our list for publicity and marketing outreach.
- Learn from Others: Take a look at your favorite writers’ blogs and emulate some of the techniques that make their postings great.
Use Social Networks to build community
Now it’s time to set your brand up on social networks. It is good to be working with the designer of your book cover who can also make you a book trailer, book teasers, posters, website and social banners, and book marks and business cards. These are all things that you will need in your networking. Teasers are wonderful because they provide an image with a snippet from your book that are consistent with your brand and draw attention. Teasers will help you to stand out in a sea of authors.
If you have branded yourself well, then creating blurbs to use in tweets should be a snap. I suggest you keep a word file for each social network and each type of interaction prewritten and ready to copy and paste in order to save yourself valuable time. Your social network is where your sales are. You should be marketing on your networks once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening nothing less than five days a week to see your sales keep climbing. This is work, so the better prepared you are, the happier you will be.
Social Sites that are a must
- WordPress.com Author Blog and website
Three articles a week relative to your brand on Monday, and Wednesday and either Sunday or Thursday. Save your best article for Wednesday as that will be your busiest day. Follow other blogs that are within your target audience and comment on their blogs and sometimes reblog relevant content on your blog. Do blog tours with a poster made from your designer and an article that will sell your book. Guest post on other blogs. Post your articles at 10:00am.
- LinkedIn Author Profile
Your articles will post to LinkedIn where you should join relevant groups to share your articles as well. You should connect with new people almost every day and have a prewritten “It’s great to connect” letter that promotes your book while still feeling personalized. Your articles will post at 10:00am. Be sure to stay active and comment within your groups.
- Personal Facebook: Steve Smith Author
This is more like a personal Facebook account and is important to have because it allows you to more easily connect with your audience and promote your work. Your articles will be shared here and in relevant groups that you join on Facebook that are consistent with your brand. You will market your book here as well and with some of the groups. Having an “it’s great to connect letter” premade that is personal and also promotes your book and your brand will save you time when making new connections and steering them toward a retail page of your book and to your blog. Your articles will post at 10:00am. Be sure to stay active and comment within your groups.
- Facebook Author Page: Steve Smith
This is your professional Facebook page where you announce events, publish articles, promote your work and grow a fan-base. It’s good to share memes that are relative to your brand on all of your social networks accept LinkedIn. Your articles will post at 10:00am. Be sure to stay active and comment within your groups.
- Twitter: Steve Smith Author
Twitter is your golden-child. Keep up with your twitter account, day and night. Your articles will post at 10:00am. Repost your articles at 2:00pm and 7:00pm and one more time if you can at 10:00pm. Be sure to stay active by sharing content of people who are active and share your content and comment often. Use hash tags relevant to your brand with every post you make. Be sure to share your own content after sharing others so that when people come to your page it’s your tweets they see and share. Pin your best and most important tweet to the top of your page. Know that when you exceed your followers in follows by about two hundred, twitter will not let you follow any more users until both sides balance out.
Send out a Friday tweet to your favorite followers thanking them. This is tagged FF. You can thank for retweets and favorites. You can share memes that are relative to your brand. This is a great place to share your teasers that have been made for you by your designer. You will need at least five one line sales pitches that you can tweet for your book with a picture of it and a link to Amazon to buy. You will want to keep these tweets within your top three so that they are the most retweeted.
I recommend that you do not validate your followers as it will drive them away, and respond to them personally for following you rather than having a service do it. Try to sell your entire brand on twitter through your personality and your tweets. Your followers want to know that you’re a real person.
- Google+ page: Steve Smith Author
Google+ is a fantastic marketing platform for authors and should be treated similar to twitter. Join groups that are relevant to your brand. Your articles will post at 10:00am and should be reshared at 7:00pm – both on your page and within groups, but not the same groups you posted to in the morning. Be active in your groups, commenting often. Market your book on your page and within certain groups, but do not spam the groups by marketing within them too often. Be sure to read the rules and regulations of the group when joining so you know how to use it for your marketing efforts.
Google+ is also a good place to get personal within the context of your brand and also share memes which are relative to your brand as well as share your teasers. Longer blurbs can be written and saved to your desktop for marketing purposes to market with pictures of your book. Share your articles with your public, your circles, and your extended circles and in groups. Share your marketing with the public two to three times a day as on twitter.
- Google+ Author Fan Page: Steve Smith
This should be treated just like your Facebook fan page.
- Goodreads Author Page
Goodreads can be set up to share your blog roll. This should be treated as a professional page and contain your author bio similar to Amazon. You will want recommendations posted here, on Amazon, on Google+ fan page, and on LinkedIn. This is a good thing to know for your beta readers who will be providing your first recommendations. Join groups and post and comment at least once a week. Have an “it’s great to connect” letter ready to send to new connections that will steer them to buy your book and follow your blog and other social networks.
- Amazon Author Page
Once you begin blogging, be sure to sign up for Amazon’s Author Central. This is a program that will allow you to feed your blog directly onto your author page on Amazon.com—a very powerful way to share compelling content with possible customers.
You can get huge hits on StumbleUpon, be sure to share your articles from your blogs into relevant lists that you create which support your brand.
You will want to create an author Pinterest site and create boards that will support your brand and bring pinners to your book and your site. You can create boards for memes, boards for characters, boards for blogs, videos, websites, videos, library shelves, book nooks, writing, etc. The point here is to have many boards to pin your articles, videos, and book to that will create purchases. Pinterest is good to post to just like twitter because it is a pin roll and posting three times daily gives you more chances of being noticed. Be sure to label your boards well and within your brand, also list what your board is about to drive traffic to them.
Keep to a schedule
These will be the sites you go to every morning afternoon and evening for your networking and marketing. It is a very good idea to make up a calendar to keep you on track and to save you as much time as possible.
Get Beta Readers for Insight
Now is a good time to get your beta readers to write those reviews. At least three months prior to publication, make a list of book bloggers and reviewers in your book’s genre, read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and start sending your manuscript out for early reviews. They should post to Amazon, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Google+ Fan Page. You should also make a copy of their review to share on your website testimonials page. You can use the best review as part of your back cover blurb on your book. Sometimes it is best to use a review of your editor here. Your cover designer should also write you a review as they will have read your book as well.
Your beta readers generally serve as a variety of critiquers that read your story and provide you with advice for editing purposes. Beta readers should be used in addition to an editor because editors will focus on things like grammar and spelling and story outline and flow, where beta readers can give you different viewpoints of particular parts of your book that could be changed or altered to be more appealing. Ask your beta readers, editor, and designer for a review before the launch of your book so they can have an impact on your sales.
You can pick up beta readers for free, but some are worth paying for. The following is a list of places to find reviewers and beta readers.
- Beta Readers & Critique Groups | World Literary Cafe
- Beta Readers’ Hub
- The Circle: for readers/beta readers/critiques/reviews/free …
- Beta Reader Group Group (4797 Members) – Goodreads
Book reviewers help spread the message about your book by publishing a review to their own network. But if you’re new to publishing, you have to figure out how to get those book reviews that can bring you more readers.
First, Get Your Kit Together
Before you go hunting for reviewers, make sure you’ve got the essentials you’ll need. At the minimum you should have:
- Complete PDF of your book. Either include the covers if you can, or have the cover available as a JPG
- Print copies and mailing supplies. If you’re publishing via print on demand, order in enough books to respond to reviewer requests.
- Press release about the launch of your book. Try to make it sound like a story you would read in the newspaper.
- Cover letter. This should be a brief introduction to you and your book, but keep it short.
- Photos of the book and author. You’ll need high- and low-resolution images if you’re approaching both print and online reviewers.
- Author bio. This is a good place to show your qualifications, particularly if you’re a nonfiction author.
How to Find Reviewers
There are literally thousands of book bloggers online, and most of them review books even though they aren’t paid. Nevertheless, many are thoughtful reviewers and good writers, and have a significant following.
There are also reviewers offering paid reviews. I avoid these, since there isn’t any good reason to pay for a review that I can think of. Some review services offer free reviews and another level of service if you pay. My opinion is that there are better ways to spend your money, and plenty of free reviewers, so at least when you start, explore those first.
Here are some places to look for reviews:
- One of the best new references to find reviewers online is the list put together by indie author Christy Pinheiro of Step-by-Step Self-Publishing.
- Midwest Book Review welcomes self-published books, and their website is a wealth of information on reviews.
- Indie Reader, a new website, invites authors to submit their books for review, and they have published over 150 reviews on their site already.
- Self-Publishing Review allows reviewers to post book reviews, and members (just an opt-in) can post to the site.
- Some of the online writer’s forums and community sites are great places to look for reviewers of online book publishing. Absolute Write is a favorite, but don’t overlook newer communities like the forums at Nathan Bransford’s site.
- Book Blogs, a site for book bloggers, has over 1,500 bloggers who say they review books. It’s a good place to explore.
- For print reviewers, consider the programs run by the Independent Book Publishers Association. These mailings of books for review go to over 3,000 newspaper and magazine editors and reviewers.
5 Key Tips for Getting Book Reviews
So you’ve got your materials together, you’ve got access to lots of reviewers, you’re ready to go. Here are my 5 best tips for getting book reviews:
- Pick the right reviewers. This is the single most important thing you can do to help your review program. Find out what kind of books the reviewer likes to review, and only select appropriate reviewers.
- Query the reviewers. Check each reviewer’s requirements. Some want you to just send the book, but many ask for a query. Some review e-books, many do not. Conforming to their requirements saves both of you time.
- Send the book. In your query make sure to offer both versions of the book, the PDF and the print copy, or both.
- Follow up. Don’t stalk or harass the reviewer, who is probably doing this in her spare time. But if you haven’t heard anything after a few weeks, follow up to see if they still intend to write the review.
- Thank the reviewer. It’s common courtesy, but it also shows you appreciate the time and effort someone else took to help bring your book to the attention of more people.
Book reviews can be very effective in spreading the word about a good book. Nothing sells books as well as word of mouth, and you can get people talking about your book if you can bring it to their notice. Book reviews will do that for you.
- Dan Poynter: advice for organizing your review mailings
- A useful article with lots of links by self-published author C. Patrick Schultze
Get an audience before the release
When you announce your newly-published book to the world, it would be nice if someone was there to hear you. So how many people read your blog? How many friends do you have on Twitter or Facebook? Are you using LinkedIn groups, Goodreads, Twitter? Unless you are being followed (friended, or whatever) by hundreds, if not thousands of people, you probably need to put some time into building up your profile on these sites. When you make that announcement, you will feel as if you are standing on the stage in an empty theatre, unless you’ve managed to drag a few people in off the streets first.
Know what you are going to say.
Marketing is about message. Your brand is part of it but the rest is all content. What is your book about? Who will it appeal to? What groups should be interested in it, discussing it, recommending it, and what will catch their attention? Work it all out, find the wording you need to convey the message succinctly and clearly, then, in everything you say, stay on that message. It’s probably not all that hard. You probably write the kind of books you also love to read. Mostly, your target audience is people rather like yourself. Take a while to understand what it is that attracts you to new, unknown writers in your genre and you are half-way there.
Talk to your readers and your potential readers. Talk about your book if they’re interested. Talk about the genre. Talk about writing and publishing. Talk about yourself. People are interested. It’s hard to grasp at first. You do interviews, you write blog pieces, you twitter about your life, your opinions, and your book, and you think, “What the hell is so fascinating about me? Aren’t people going to think I’m a complete ego-maniac?” Well, maybe some will, but an awful lot won’t. They have read your book and liked it and they’re curious about who wrote it, or why you wrote it, or how you wrote it. Even if they haven’t read the book, there are plenty of people with common interests – in the genre, or in writing – who see you as someone who has contributed, or has special knowledge of the journey. You could ignore them all, sit quietly at your desk and write your next book, but it is a deeper, richer experience for everybody – you included – if you engage with them.
Bring your book to life with a video and teasers
Have your cover designer create a video trailer for your book; it is a visual way to create excitement and anticipation. You can also have them make you several different book teasers that you can use in posts and tweets. Don’t forget to get your website banner and social network banners as well. A poster for a future book blogging tour and book signing should be in your plans. You’re an author now, so last but not least is a stack of business cards with your brand, your product, and your contact information. All of these services should be available from the same person who designs your cover and they will help you tremendously when it comes to book sales.
Time your release.
Time the announcement of your new book with an important, relevant news event, blockbuster movie or trade show.
Create a press release. A good press release will include the information needed for a reporter or blogger to understand the news value of your story. Make sure it’s clear what you are announcing, why the readers of the press release should care, and where they can get more info if they’re interested. Then submit your press release to free press release distribution sites.
Get media savvy. Develop a relationship with local media, including radio, newspaper and TV connections. Find an angle that hooks reporters and will benefit their readers or viewers. Pitch articles, interviews and relevant blog posts. Here’s an awesome post by Patrick Garmoe at Copyblogger to help you out: 109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media.
Start on your next book
It’s already time to start on your next book. Insert sample chapters from the next book in a series at the end of your current book to pull your readers in.
Obviously this won’t work for every author or book, but when possible, creating a series is a very powerful and effective way to develop a presence, gain reader loyalty and boost sales of earlier works with subsequent novels. For more on this, read Jonathan Gunson’s ‘Series’ – The Single Most Effective Career Strategy A Writer Can Employ.
Keep up your marketing efforts
With online sales and eBook editions, publicizing a book is not the one-shot event it used to be. Market dynamics have changed since the days when bricks and mortar book shops were all that there was and you had three to six weeks during which your book would be on the shelf before it was returned to make way for the new batch of hopefuls. Now your book will stay in online catalogues for as long as your publishing agreement lasts – and longer if you act to keep it there. You probably have a few months now, after the launch, while your book is fairly new, when you can actively promote it and try to keep people’s attention on it. Even beyond that point, you can run occasional refresher campaigns to lift its profile again. This is all good news for the writer. The bad news is that the marketing need never end!