In this post, guest author Helene Cue covers eight of the most effective marketing strategies for self-publishing authors to help you finally get some results and grow your writing career.
If you want to become a successful self-published author, you need to have both a talent for writing as well as some practical marketing skills. You must know (or must learn) how to present your books to your audience in a way that makes them sit up and take notice.
Got the writing talent, but lack a background in marketing? No worries! If you genuinely want to become self-published, you can quickly learn basic marketing strategies and start using them to promote your work and your author brand.
Here are eight powerful marketing strategies you can start implementing today.
1 // Identify Your Ideal Reader
If you want to promote your book effectively, start with a clear understanding of who your target audience is.
Identifying your ideal reader is an essential step in developing a marketing plan. How do you describe your readers? Who are they?
Answer the following questions to define the demographics of your target audience:
- Where do your ideal readers work?
- How old are they?
- In what countries do they live?
- What languages do they speak?
- In what fields do they work?
- Are they married or single?
- Do they have kids or not?
- What is their income and/or education level?
Then, define the psychographics of your ideal readers. Analyze their attitudes, principles, beliefs, activities, and interests and describe their personality characteristics, lifestyle, and social class.
After you learn more about your ideal reader, you will get an idea of what marketing channels you should use and what content you should create. You will find the right approach to advertising your book and boost your marketing efforts.
2 // Build a Website
In 2020, every writer must have a professionally-designed website. So if you don’t have a website, you should put this at the top of your list. It will serve as a business card, a home base, and a free source of advertising.
When people discover a new product, they check the website of the manufacturer. When they see an ad for a new book, they tend to search for additional information about the writer online. If they find no information, they may doubt the credibility of the author.
So if you want to get noticed, design a visually appealing, SEO-optimized website to connect to your target audience. You can do it without any coding skills or big investments:
- Choose a website building platform. Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress are great free options to consider. (If you choose WordPress, I recommend using either Siteground or Bluehost for your web hosting platform. Both are affiliate links, and I am currently using Siteground to host this site.)
- Pick a website theme that appeals to both: you, as an author, and your readers.
- Create content for the “About Author” page. Choose your words carefully – your copy should showcase you and your author brand effectively.
- Optimize your content for SEO. Make sure that your copy contains relevant keywords such as your name, your book name, as well as niche-specific keywords (for instance, “fiction author”, “self-development books”, “horror novels”, etc.).
- Install Yoast SEO plugin and follow the directions given: write meta descriptions, title tags, and optimize other page elements.
- Upload your photo and add other visuals to your professional website to grab your visitors’ attention.
Does it sound like a super challenging task for you? Don’t panic. It is not as hard as it seems. Modern website building platforms, plugins, and tools have user-friendly, intuitive interfaces. It should be relatively easy for you to get up and running in no time.
Claris Wilson, a writer and editor from BestWritingAdvisor, gives a piece of advice:
Break down a big task “to build a website” into smaller tasks like “to choose a platform” and “pick a theme”. Set a goal to complete these tasks one by one within two weeks. It will allow you to design a website quickly without stressing out.
3 // Grow Your Influence on Social Media
If you want to connect with your readers, start by growing your social media presence.
You can continue to use your existing personal social media accounts to promote your work, but to build your author brand, it is important to create new accounts that reflect your brand and business identity.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be present on all existing social media platforms. In fact, you should focus your marketing efforts only on those networks that are popular among your readers.
For instance, if you write home décor books, you might want to grow your presence on Pinterest and Instagram. And if you write about politics, you would focus on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Many self-publishing authors don’t grow their social media presence simply because they don’t know what kinds of content to create. To engage your audience, you should develop and share the following types of content:
- Behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Show your followers different stages of the publishing process. Let them see your effort and the care you take to release a book that (hopefully!) makes your readers happy.
- How-to posts. Share useful writing tips to boost engagement.
- Short stories (for fiction writers). How have you come up with the protagonist’s name? Did you consider other story endings for your recently published book? Share your personal stories and other “insider” secrets to intrigue your readers.
- Interesting facts (for non-fiction writers). If you write books about weight loss, write a post about the health properties of a specific food or the benefits revealed in a new study. Such content will be useful and relevant to your target audience.
- Live streams on Facebook or Instagram. Discuss your published books and upcoming writing projects. Or, talk about the events that are currently taking place in your genre.
4 // Leverage User-Generated Content
User-generated content is any type of content that is created and put out by your readers and fans.
Positive and numerous reviews are vital, so encourage your readers to write book reviews and tag you on social media. Later, you will be able to analyze these reviews and choose the best one to share on your website.
Reader reviews can be more effective than paid ads. So encouraging honest reviews can help increase book sales.
Here are a few more examples of user-generated content (but use your imagination to think of additional ways to get readers involved):
- Ask readers to upload pictures of themselves reading your book, or taking “Instagram-worthy” pictures of your book in certain settings.
- Motivate readers to create content (pictures, videos) during certain parts of the buying journey (noting your book on their “must-read” list, seeing your book displayed at a bookstore, excitement or feeling of taking it out of the bag after purchasing, a cozy reading nook where they plan to enjoy your book).
- Encourage people to share their – or recreate your – beautiful experiences, physical spaces, and unboxing events.
- Ask readers to create artwork, images or videos in return for a prize.
If you want to boost your marketing efforts, create your own unique hashtag or a few hashtags, and ask your readers to use them. It will help you to monitor new reviews and build buzz for your book.
The best thing about user-generated content is that it allows you to build loyalty and grow the community. When you share your readers’ posts, you make them feel valued and important. This helps you connect to your audience on a deeper emotional level and motivate more readers to share their opinions and write positive reviews.
5 // Collaborate with Book Bloggers + Influencers
If you want more people to know about your book, consider getting help from book bloggers and influencers. They can present your book to your target audience and help you to make your first sales.
Who are the right influencers to reach out to? It depends on what type of books you write. If you’re a fiction writer, you should partner with book clubs, professional (editorial) reviewers, consumer (reader) reviewers, and so-called “book hobbyists”.
If you are a non-fiction writer, you should collaborate with influencers who create content for your niche and have at least 5K real followers. For instance, if you write books about abstract art, you could reach out to artists and art business influencers.
In 2020, “influencer marketing” is considered to be one of the most effective marketing tactics. So if you want to achieve fast marketing results, don’t hesitate to try it.
6 // Learn from Best Practices
Let’s face it. You are not the only self-publishing author out there. Competition is fierce, and many authors have already released their books – some successfully; some not so much.
Take a look at what they did and try to learn from their missteps and achievements. Did they collaborate with influencers, implement giveaways, or use lead magnets?
What marketing tactics or strategies helped them to accomplish their goals?
Have a look through this interview with Kimberley and illustrator Karen Ferreira, to get more information on best practices for marketing your work: Book Marketing 101: The Crucial Basics of Promoting Your Book.
7 // Design a Killer Book Cover
People always judge a book by its cover. So if you want people to reach for your book on a shelf and buy it, you must have a professional and compelling cover in place.
If you don’t have the graphic design skills required, get help from professionals. You can find and hire book cover designers on freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour.
Keep in mind that when you’re working on the design of your book cover, you should stick to genre expectations. For instance, if you write horror books, look at bestsellers to see commonalities in the design and font.
You may also want to do a little research on the must-have qualities of a book cover that sells. Many good books have gone unseen and unnoticed simply because of a poor or unprofessional cover.
8 // Write Guest Posts
Another way to get readers aware of your book is to start writing and submitting guest posts.
Find niche blogs that accept guest posts and reach out to them. Offer an interesting topic to cover that satisfies both the blog’s content requirements and your promotional objectives.
When writing a post, relevantly mention your book or your name and add a link to your website. Blog visitors may click this link and visit your website to learn more about you as an author and your book.
In such a way, you will drive traffic to your website and improve your ranking. Over time, this will increase the discoverability of your book and help you to drive sales.
Wrapping It Up
Thanks to new technologies, every writer who wishes to can become a self-published author and release their books without the need for agents and acquisitions editors.
And thanks to current marketing tactics, authors can strive to make his/her book a bestseller.
You now have the basics to start marketing your book, so begin by building a website and growing social media presence. Using these tips, one by one, will help you get your book in front of more readers.
And one beautiful day, you will achieve the success you have been dreaming about!
Helene Cue is a writer, editor, and proofreader. She knows how to write discussion in dissertation and how to craft social media posts that engage. She helps self-publishers to find their niche and achieve global fame.
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