When you’re self-publishing, most people would agree that the hardest part of the process is getting people to notice your book. This is true for the most part because the market is constantly being flooded with new content, and your book may just be washed away in the flood.
The best course of action would be to hire a publicist to help you market your book, but if you’re on a budget, and if you’re generally social media savvy, you can get by without hiring a professional—though it’s not a guarantee of success. Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 strategies you can use to promote your book for free.
1. Create Great Content
The most important part of marketing your book is actually marketing your book. Crazy, right? Creating content that appropriately gets the message across to your readers is the main way to get people talking about your book. Some people choose to create book trailers; others create custom images or scenes from their book. The important part is to spark the conversation.
If you don’t have someone to work with to create this marketing buzz for you, look up examples of book advertisements that have worked for people in the past—and I don’t just mean those from successful authors whose name alone does most of the work. Know who you are and how you should build your reputation.
2. Know Your Audience
This one seems obvious, but the biggest mistake writers make is that they’re marketing to the wrong people. Who is your book for? Who will be reading it? If you know that, the next thing you have to figure out is where those people hang out. Whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, on other social media, or offline altogether, know where to focus your marketing the most, and capture their attention.
3. Adapt Your Message
As I mentioned above, different people will be on different platforms, and sometimes they’ll be on multiple. An important thing to remember is to adapt your marketing to those platforms. An advertisement on Instagram will be very different from the one you put on Twitter.
4. Offer Free Content
Another hurdle authors come across is that buyers are careful with their money. They might not be sure that your book is for them. In a brick-and-mortar bookstore, they can just flip through and see if the book is for them, but when shopping online, that’s not always possible. Be sure to allow people a “look inside” of your book so they can get a sense of your story and your writing style. For longtime fans, offer free content either on your website or through a mailing list to reward them for their loyalty—and keep them hyped if you’re continuing the series.
5. Show People Reading It
This is a no-brainer, but if people are reading and enjoying your book, you should show it! This step would take place after your book is released, and maybe even while you’re preparing to launch a sequel. Ask people to take pictures of themselves reading your book and posting it to their social media (with a shared tag of your choice).
6. Use the Power of the Hashtag
Putting a # in front of a word has so much power nowadays. It can get your book recognized, but only if you use it in an effective manner. As mentioned above, you can ask people to post pictures or messages to their own social media using a specific hashtag, but you can also do it yourself. Create a hashtag for your book title or with content important to your book. If it’s done well and often, it may just take you to the next level.
7. Start a Campaign
Using Instagram for a book launch campaign is a great way to interest people. The platform allows images, tags, live videos, stories, and comments, and is perfect for building a connection with your audience.
Remember not to spam the internet with only info from your book, but to balance the advertisements with equal parts entertainment and helpful information. How can you benefit your readers? You might want to share some fun facts from your book—things you discovered while researching. Maybe share some artwork from your book, content from books that are similar to yours, or even books that inspired you to become a writer in the first place. Give tips to young readers and writers—the possibilities are endless.
8. Social Media Contest
People like competition. A great way to reward Facebook (or other) followers is to enlist their help in exchange for free merchandise. Maybe the winner will get a free signed copy of your book. Maybe people who participate receive exclusive content, early content, or even merch like mugs or t-shirts. Keep your budget in mind, but people always love free stuff.
9. Make the Launch BIG
The launch of your book is the most important time for it. You’ll want it to be important, so booking a time in a local bookstore for a live event, or hosting an online event is the best way to do it. Click here to learn more about hosting an in-person book launch, and click here to learn more about hosting a virtual book launch.
If the book launch does well, you’ll have attention. A Launch Team (people who serve as ARC readers, but also people who help you prepare for your launch) are the best people to rely on, as they will help you share promotional material, help keep you focused and calm, and are guaranteed reviews for your book.
10. Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
This isn’t really a marketing tip, but it’s important all the same for rocketing your book into the spotlight. If you’re publishing on Amazon—through KDP or another site—you need to remember that Amazon is a search engine, not a bookstore. It promotes books that sell, so the better your book does, the higher it will be on the list when people search for tags related to it. Sales, Ratings, and Reviews work in tandem to determine your book’s ranking, so the more you have of each, the higher it will be.
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