Author Marketing, an introduction
You think you’ve done the hard part by writing, editing and completing a book. Blood sweat and tears have gone into it and you should be proud. But, now comes the next step, author marketing.
There is a vast amount of information out there when it comes to book marketing and it can easily become overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there!
In this article, I break it down into easy actionable steps designed to get your book out worldwide and achieve best seller status.
- Research your genre
- Develop an online presence
- Create a press pack
- Design a cover that looks good in thumbnail
- Run targeted ads on social media
- Create a mailing list
- Network with other authors in your niche
Research your genre
It makes perfect sense to start here, as knowing your genre in depth and in turn your audience is critical to the success of your books. Most prolific readers of a specific genre know exactly what they want from their books. From the style of cover, to the composition of characters, plot lines and tropes included.
Spend the time to do the research and it’ll help your author marketing massively in the long term. You’ll be able to create content that is targeted effectively towards your audience.
In order to create marketing content that attracts reader of your genre you now have to know your reader inside out. The best way to do this is to develop a reader profile or avatar. Ask the following questions and you’ll gain a good insight into who your readers are and what makes them tick
- Where do they live?
- What’s their age/ gender?
- What do they do for work?
- Why do they read this genre?
- What do they gain from it?
- How many books do they read?
- How fast do they read?
- Where do they hang out?
- How do they like to communicate?
- What kind of content do they consume?
Once you’ve established answers to all these questions you should have a solid understanding of who your readers are. Pop them all on a blank page, give your reader a name and stick this above your desk. (You can even draw a picture of them if it helps). Now every time you make some marketing content, refer back to your avatar and ask yourself.. Would my reader enjoy this?
Unless you’re inventing a whole new genre and revolutionising the writing industry you’re going to have competition, and lots of it. At the last count Amazon has 33 million titles to choose from.
Don’t panic though, you can use this to your advantage. Research similar authors, analyse the content they’re creating. See what works and what doesn’t on their social media accounts. Have they got a blog or a mailing list? What’s their website like?
This can work as an amazing inspiration and give you some great ideas you can put your own spin on.
Develop an online presence
Sadly books won’t sell themselves so in order to get that elusive best seller tag creating an online presence can help generate a buzz about you and your writing.
In the modern age most people are online and is someone is interested in buying your books chances are they’ll want to find out more about you.
Try and start this as early as possible, don’t wait until release date to suddenly start trying to market your book. Create some social media profiles, select a couple you’re comfortable with, build a website and start documenting your journey.
As a reader it can be fascinating to see behind the scenes of a writers life. The trials and tribulations you go through, the ups and downs can really help people relate to you.
If you’re starting from scratch this is a perfect opportunity to ensure your profiles all have the same username. This makes it easier for people to search for you, makes your brand consistent and helps google to group your content together.
Once you’re established, google yourself and see what pops up, this should serve as a good indicator of your online presence. Try googling Andy Slinger and you’ll see what a strong presence looks like.
Other ways to build your authority are through writing blog posts around your genre, articles for other websites and being interviewed on podcasts and even on YouTube. There are loads of reviewers and bloggers out there who will be more than willing to interview you.
And remember author marketing is a marathon not a sprint.
Create an author marketing press pack
I would say a Press pack or media kit is one of the most under utilised tools an author can use.
Simply put a press pack is a document that contains everything you need to market your book; A bio, photos, videos and contact details. Alongside your blurb, book details, a press release and commonly asked questions and answers.
I’ll be releasing a guide to press packs soon to walk you through all the steps to creating one to industry standard so look out.
Once you have created one you can use this to approach the media, local papers, radio or even the national press. It makes you look really professional and makes journalists lives easy. I’ve had articles written about me where they have taken the info straight from my media pack and put it straight to print.
You can add this to your website as a downloadable link and also send it to your fans to help spread the word.
Design a cover that looks good in thumbnail
You’re going to struggle to sell a book without an extraordinary cover and especially one that doesn’t stand out in thumbnail size on sites like Amazon.
Your cover needs to be specific to the genre you write in. Here’s where you really need to do your research. You should check all the best selling books in your niche and see what they have in common. You’ll find there is a lot more than you first thought.
Readers subconsciously identify with books covers that include certain characteristics and in turn it makes them much more likely to click on your book title when they’re scouring Amazon.
Take the best selling author Mark Dawson for example. He writes in the thriller genre and his books have regularly been seen in the number one spot on Amazon. What do you notice about the covers?
Pretty much every cover features the silhouette of a person stood on a road with a atmospheric moody background. Featuring a strong bold title which takes up a good proportion of the image.
This is no coincidence…
Look at other books in the genre and you’ll find loads more examples of this kind of book cover. Take comparable author Lee Child and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
The similarities are striking and this happens throughout all genres. Once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it.
Once you have a good idea of the style of cover you want for your book then it’s really advisable to find a professional to design it. You’re going to have to spend some money here but it needn’t break the bank. There are some incredible book cover designers who are reasonably priced out there.
Alternatively there are plenty of sites where you can choose from premade covers. You find a design you like, pay a fee, add your book title, name, blurb and hey presto you have your book cover. There are even websites where you can find premade covers for free although the quality can be questionable.
Before you rush to find a premade cover though I would question the old adage “Never judge a book by it’s cover, ” because everybody does!
Run targeted ads on social media
With a ridiculous amount of daily social media users daily, running ads through social media is an essential author marketing strategy which allows you to get your books directly in front of a very targeted audience.
Remember your reader profile?
Well it’ll come in extremely useful here, allowing you to save so much time and money.
Social media companies like Facebook, TikTok, Linked in and Twitter have vast amounts of data on their users. This means you can be very specific with who you show your ads to.
For example, you could run an Instagram ad targeting women aged 40 – 60, who have an interest in reading romance novels and have liked one of your posts within the last week. Mind blowing stuff!
This can allow you to advertise to an already ‘warm’ audience who are much more likely to click on your ad.
You can also be clever and target readers who have an interest in other authors of your genre. The opportunities are endless.
Learning the platforms
You’ll have to spend some time here learning the different ad platforms, I recommend Facebook to begin with. But, even with a basic knowledge you can have great success running ads.
I’d strongly suggest doing a course or two to help you on your way. It’ll reap rewards long term and help you climb the book selling rankings.
In addition to social media ads, if you’re selling on Amazon then it makes sense to learn how to advertise on there too.
You can even watch my YouTube series Amazon Ads for Authors here too.
Create an author marketing mailing list
If you want to guarantee long term success as an author then you’ll have to build a mailing list.
This gives you a fantastic opportunity to give your fans bonus content and a more personal approach to your communication. Enabling you to build relationships with your readers and the ability to promote your books straight into their inbox.
As a writer there is no better way to communicate with your fans.
In order to set up an author marketing newsletter you’ll have to use an email provider. Sending emails through Gmail or Hotmail won’t cut it.
My personal choice is Mailerlite but there are loads more options out there. Using a platform such as this will ensure your subscribers data is secure (GDPR compliant). It also allows you to create sign up forms, automate a sequence of emails when your readers sign up and schedule emails on demand.
To effectively market a book it’s estimated your readers will need to come into contact with you on at least 7 different occasions. Email marketing is a perfect way to do so and enables you to build trust with your readers.
The key to a successful mailing list is to provide more value than promotions. So the more you can give away to your readers (deleted chapters, character profiles, short stories) the more engaged an audience you’ll have and the more likely they are to buy from you in the future.
Plus an email list is an asset you own. If your social media profiles got deleted tomorrow you’d still always have your subscribers.
For a more comprehensive deep dive into Email Marketing be sure to read this article.
Network with other authors in your niche
Often overlooked is the power of collaboration. There are some amazing people out there in the author space. Many of which have built up social media followings, mailing lists and have their own great connections.
Focus on building relationships within this incredible community. Not only will you gain unparalleled support but also friends for life.
Here I would add, you should give before you ask. Review their books, offer them content relevant to their audience, shout out their social media profiles. Offer value, build trust without expectations.
If you do this well enough it will be reciprocated. Help each other to grow, show support and amazing things will happen.
Conclusion – Author Marketing
Author marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re looking to market a best selling book and create a sustainable business you have to build it over time.
Create a comprehensive plan which covers all these 7 strategies and break it down. You can’t do everything at once, so don’t try to.
Break down your strategy into monthly, then weekly blocks with your end goal in mind.
That way it won’t be so overwhelming to you and you’ll be able to monitor your progress.
Be sure to monitor your progress every three months. Celebrate what has worked, reproduce great marketing ideas and don’t be hard on yourself if something completely flops.
You have to fail in order to succeed.