When authors write a book, what is the goal? To sell copies, to create a reader base, to retire from their day job and become full time writers – career goals can vary, but the answer to finding long-term success as an author remains the same: market your book.
A lot of the time, authors think writing the book is enough. It is, of course, a crucial part of being a successful writer, but writing a book and launching it into the world isn’t enough to get the book in front of its target audience to sell copies.
I am not discrediting all the work that goes into getting your book published, whether self publishing, traditionally publishing, or indie publishing. It is a long, tedious, process that takes a lot of work and good writing.
However, not marketing your book is like tripping at the finish line, and you’ll be doing yourself and your book a huge disservice without marketing!
So, what is book marketing?
The point of book marketing is to create awareness among booksellers and consumers for a specific book. The long-term goal of marketing is to generate book sales, but how do we get there?
When looking at famous authors with strong readerships, what do they all have in common?
They follow well-researched marketing strategies that help get their book to the ideal audience. Having a well-written book is important, but a book’s success is also dependent on making sure the right people are reading it.
First, identify your genre and target audience.
An important pillar to being a great writer is also being a reader. If you want to write thriller books, but never read that genre, how will you know what your fanbase is interested in reading? How will you know what book is missing from the millions? It is important to know the nuances of your genre, as well as the other authors who write what you write.
Along with identifying your genre comes identifying your target audience. If you write thrillers, go see who authors in your genre are following and who follows them on social media. That is a great way to start finding your audience members and engaging with them!
Build relationships with authors and readers.
Once you’ve established your niche in the world of books and readers, start interacting with the people who appreciate what you appreciate! Message the authors you followed on social media, and start networking with them. Consider collaborating with authors. This could be as simple as a social media post about them and their book, or a joint book giveaway.
A 2017 study from Digital Book World said that 95 percent of books were sold by word of mouth. Readers talk to other readers! There are so many books I would have never known about if I didn’t hear about them on Bookstagram or Booktok. If you want to be part of the conversation, interact with your readers. Send select readers with large engagements a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review or post about your book. This is a great way to start garnering attention for your book, as well as a loyal fanbase!
Get active on social media.
Trust me, I know social media can seem like a daunting place. It’s one of the biggest concerns and questions I get from the authors I work with.
There are so many directions you can go with social media, but if the idea of getting started is overwhelming you, start small. Start with the platform that feels easiest to you, whether that’s Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter!
The idea is to make sure readers can find you, see who you are and what you write, and to stay updated on your books! It’s also the perfect place to find readers and authors to interact with.
Again, if we’re starting small, there’s no need to come out the gate posting 3 times a day. Start with two posts a week, and plan them out ahead of time. Sit down one day of the week for a few hours, plan two posts, schedule them out, follow new accounts, engage with users, and be done for the week. As you get more comfortable with it, you can add in more posts, more engagement, and more platforms!
Run Facebook ads.
There are so many strategies just through Facebook advertising you can get started with, but again, it makes sense to just start small!
If you’re new to social media, specifically to Facebook and/or Instagram, you can run Facebook Page Like ads. This is a great way to gain more followers on your social media platforms. When you create a Facebook ad, as long as your Instagram is linked to your Facebook, the ads will also go to your account on Instagram.
You can also run Sales ads, which will redirect users to your book on your website, Bookshop, Amazon, anywhere you choose! People will be able to see your ad, interact with it, and immediately buy your book.
Utilize Amazon author central.
Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world, and has completely changed nearly everything about the way we market and publish books. Having an Amazon Author Central account is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as an author.
There are multiple ways to utilize it, and the most important is to optimize your author page. Make sure you have an updated profile picture, bio, social media and website links, and that all of your books can be found under your author page.
You can also update your book’s categories on Amazon. This means you can change the categories your book falls in. For example, if you write thriller books and your book is in the thriller category, that’s great. But that category is so broad and encompasses every single thriller book on Amazon, so being more niche benefits the book. For example: thriller books with women sleuth leads.
The benefit of having niche categories is that it gives your book a better chance of hitting number one in that category on Amazon, which is another great marketing tool you can use if you do hit number one, or even if you hit the top 100 list in a category.
Run Amazon ads.
Amazon ads are another useful strategy to get your book out there. Advertising on Amazon is done through keyword targeting, using keywords that you personally choose. For example, again if you write thriller books, you can use “thriller books” as a keyword, and your book will pop up as a sponsored option when people search for thriller books on Amazon. This is a broad category, so it makes sense to be quite niche when it comes to choosing your keywords as well.
Amazon lets you update and trade out keywords as much as you need to until you find the ones that are targeting the right audience to sell your book.
Making videos is a fun marketing strategy that is blowing up in 2022. This doesn’t mean you have to be active on TikTok, posting videos every day, but we cannot deny the huge reader base that interacts with video content. Videos are a huge way to get engagement, and you can also post them on any social media platforms, not just TikTok.
There are also a lot of authors out there who have book trailers, but in today’s day in age, it seems to make more sense to make a personalized video. That can be anything from behind the scenes of your writing process, a book aesthetic video, a video of you unboxing your books, a tour of your writing desk, you thanking your readers, whatever feels natural to you!
As you can see with all of the above marketing strategies, you just have to start small. Nobody is expecting you to do every single tip above, to have 100k followers on social media overnight, or to sell 500k copies of your book in a week. However, these strategies are all a great way to build up your author brand, books, and audience to get where you want to be as an author.
If you strategically look at where you feel you need growth as an author and start there, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come in a matter of months, even if that growth is just selling 10 more copies of your book, or gaining 100 Instagram followers! All of it builds on itself, so take it one step at a time and remember to enjoy the journey of gaining readers for your books.