Being a new author can be incredibly overwhelming. There is a HUGE amount of information out there when it comes to marketing.
There are many people out there who tout marketing formulas, and it feels as though if you try them and fail that’s your fault, not the formula’s. The truth is there is no ‘one way’ when it comes to book marketing. But there are some fundamentals that will stand all new authors in good stead.
1. Have a sense of who is going to read this book
Get an idea of who is going to read the book and love it. What kind of messages appeal to them? What other books do they read and where do they spend their time? Thinking about your reader will make your marketing easier.
A lot of authors are tempted to say that their book is for anyone who can read – it’s universal!
That may be. But you can’t reach everyone at once, so focusing on who you’re trying to speak to will save you huge amounts of time in the long run. It means your messaging will be clearer, your reviews will be better, and you’ll then have a better chance to reach that wider audience.
2. Focus on getting the basics nailed
A good cover, great blurb, and considered Amazon metadata, is all really important.
Covers that look unprofessional, or a blurb that focuses too heavily on exactly what happens when, rather than giving people a strong hook to grab on to, can really let a book down, even if the insides are magnificent.
Having a strong cover and some intriguing taglines also make talking about the book far easier. They will sell the book for you.
3. Set aside time for your marketing
You don’t need to set aside 15 hours a day for marketing your book (genuine advice I read recently). But you do need to decide how much time you want to dedicate to it, and try to do something most days.
The amount of time you put in to your marketing is likely to change depending on where you are in your publication schedule. But it’s worth doing something every day – even if it’s something small.
To begin with, you may want to put aside some time every day to write your marketing plan and a timeline of activity. Other daily activities could be sending emails out to potential reviewers and book bloggers or spending some time checking in on social media. If you decide to do advertising, check your ads and make sure they’re delivering you the results you are aiming for.
4. Spend some time or money on setting up a basic website
No, author websites don’t tend to get huge amounts of traffic.
Yes, they are still worth having.
Having a spot on the internet that you can call your own is really valuable. If someone searches for you online, it’s a place where they can find out more information.
You can use it as a space to gather together all of your books, share longform content about them, or gather them together into series order. You can host a blog to help improve the SEO of your website, as well as bringing in people who are searching for the things you blog about, rather than just people who are looking for you and your books. You can use it to host your mailing list sign up form (see point 5).
You don’t need to spend LOADS of time or money setting up your website, but do think about getting one set up. With so many Wordpress/Squarespace tutorials out there, it’s easier than you think.
5. Start a mailing list from day 1
If you’re building a website, you should consider adding a mailing list. Even if you only have two subscribers, it’s worth emailing those two people, because those two people could be two people who buy the book. Or two people who tell someone else about the book.
The people who sign up to your mailing list are likely to be your most committed followers, and unlike on social media, they are YOURS.
Having a mailing list gets you directly into the inbox of the people who most want to hear about (and spread the word about) your books. They are easy to set up, and the great thing about starting with no subscribers is that there are several platforms that you can sign up for that you won’t even need to pay for!
6. Get clear on what you are doing on social media
There are many ways to talk about your book that aren’t saying MY BOOK IS OUT BUY MY BOOK NOW MY BOOK IS OUT on repeat.
Thinking about why you’re on social media, who you’re talking to, and what you want to talk to them about, and putting together a content plan of some description will help you talk about your book more creatively, and will save you time in the long run.
7. Have fun!
Marketing can be daunting, but it can also be really fun, and really rewarding when you find out that a piece of activity you’ve shared has generated book sales. Plus you get to find out who your readers are!
As well as any content marketing and outreach you are doing, you might also decide to look into advertising. Amazon, Bookbub, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, TikTok – all offer some kind of low cost advertising programme that is reasonably easy to get running with.
Treat your marketing like an experiment. Pay attention to the things that work, but don’t be afraid to try new things and test out different approaches. Make it fun and interesting and you’re more likely to stick with it in the long term
Katie Sadler is a marketing consultant with over 12+ years experience in publishing marketing. She works with publishers, indie authors and trad authors to help them promote their work with confidence. If you’d like more help building your marketing plan, you can download her planning guide, 7 Steps to an Effective Online Content Plan here, or if you enjoyed this article, you can buy her a Ko-Fi here.