So you finished your book. But nobody seems to be reading it. It’s not that your book isn’t good enough; it’s that your book isn’t visible enough. You have the writing skills, but may not have the marketing know-how. It’s okay, though. These days, online promotion can help get your book in front of readers. It can be a lot more convenient and more cost-effective than traditional advertising. If you’re not familiar with the modern, digital method of promoting a book, you can carry out the key steps detailed below to increase your book’s visibility (and sales!).
Keywords are vital in any online marketing campaign. If you’re not using the right words to talk about your book, you won’t get it in front of the right eyes. This can be useful if you run any advertising for your book on Google, Amazon, on Facebook. Knowing what keywords to use can even be useful for any blog posts or press you do. If you use the right keywords, you might rank on Google for the word and generate extra sales.
Start by making a list of all the words you can think of that someone else might use when looking for your book. These should be terms that generally describe your work. Leave out the very specific search terms you’re wishing for. Aside from the list of potential keywords, you should also take note of the search volume, competition level, and ad costs for every word.
A great place to go fishing for keywords is keywordtool.io. Another method is to ask your friends and acquaintances who read in the genre you write what keywords they would use to search for a book like yours.
Keep the list of keywords you’ve created handy. Any time you’re doing any marketing, especially marketing related to search or search ads, utilize the keywords. For example, if you found the phrase “young adult story with wizards” is a keyword that is popularly searched, but not competitive, you could test Google Ads on that keyword. You might mention the phrase in your interviews. Some of those press quotes just might rank on Google! You might write a blog post about why your book is such a great young adult story with wizards, and target the keyword for SEO.
Social Media and Email
Post about your book on your social media accounts to help make sure your contacts know about your work. Send emails to every address on your list, as well. You never know who among them might be interested in buying, reviewing, or recommending your book.
Composing and sending an email newsletter is also an effective way to market. The challenge with books is that once somebody puts down your book, you have no way to reach them again. With a newsletter, you have their email address. This means you can build your relationship with your readers and can market to them in the future, every time you have a new book released, or information you want to share.
Try offering a free chapter or a teaser story for newsletter subscribers to incentivize people to subscribe and update them on your journey regularly.
Writing several blog posts about your book will not cost you anything except your time. Aside from your book, you can also tell stories about how you deal with writer’s block and other challenges.
If you’re not keen on doing those things, or if you don’t have the time, you can pay someone else to do that for you. For a few hundred dollars, you can hire ghostwriters through sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
Guest Posts on Someone Else’s Blog
Guest-posting is another way of promoting your book and yourself as a writer. Thankfully, there are many online publishers and blogs with a subscriber base that accept guest post submissions.
You can write a post and pitch it to the said publishers and blogs. Another option is to go over your own blog, look for your most popular content, and then see if it can fit niche websites. If your submission is accepted, you can fill your author bio with a link to your website and your book’s sales page.
Nowadays, readers value book reviews more than an author’s star rating. These reviews may come from bloggers, Goodreads group members, and anyone who reads, for that matter.
You can first ask your family and friends to provide feedback about your book. You can also get paid reviewers to help create hype for your work. If you have an email list and several social media pages, you can announce giveaways in exchange for reviews. Be a little careful with this as some sites like Amazon prohibit “incentivized” reviews.
Giveaways and Discounts
Never discount the power of promoting free and inexpensive products. For many readers, it’s exciting to bump into books offered for free. You can set up your giveaway on Goodreads, on your social media pages, and on writing sites that allow such.
You can also offer discounts. Use a coupon site like RetailMeNot. Then, encourage your prospects to tap those coupons to purchase your book on your website.
Helping Other Writers
Be active in online communities for writers and readers, especially those pertinent to the same genre as your book. Wattpad and Commaful are some options to explore.
Then, buy your fellow writers’ books. Give positive comments about their works. Connect and communicate with them through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
Basically, show them that you care. Sooner or later, they may also return the gestures.
Tracking Your Successes and Failures
The best way to learn how to market a book online is to get out there and do it. Map out different promotion tactics. These could include working with bloggers, utilizing social media, setting up a landing page, or putting together a website that promotes your book.
Sure, there are some things you can only do when you have a larger budget. However, you can start small to get a feel for how running a campaign goes. Eventually, you can increase your budget as you get better and better at advertising and marketing.
Evaluate how your efforts went. Was there anything you wish you had done differently? Was there anything that worked particularly well? Spend some time analyzing the results of each strategy to determine what worked best for you.
Personally, I like to track my results in a spreadsheet. I make notes on every campaign or idea I try. I note the difficulty and ease of the campaign. I also note any costs associated with it. As numbers come through, I update a “sales” column to track how well the campaign is doing. Sometimes it’s impossible to attribute exactly where a sale comes from, so I use my best guess and round as needed. Pause campaigns that are not working, and invest more effort in ones that are.
Marketing is hard. There is no way around it, but there are many opportunities. It’s a critically important part of the process of being an author. With a little luck, creativity, and hard work, we’ll see you on the bestsellers list!
Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience, and has written on Wattpad, Commaful, Archive of Our Own, and Fanfiction.net.