Book marketing: What it is, and why it is never done

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.

Make videos!

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!

Start small.

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.

Book industry reviews: what are they, and why are they useful?

Great authors are great readers, and as a reader, there are several sources you might turn to in order to discover new books: trusted newspapers like The New York Times, book bloggers, social media hubs like Goodreads and Instagram, or your local bookstore or library.

But have you ever wondered how booksellers and librarians find out about upcoming book releases, or how publishing professionals keep up to date with emerging authors and industry trends?

Typically, these industry leaders and tastemakers will turn to trade publications such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal for book news and reviews. If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of these esteemed publications, then you’re in the right place! This article will explore how you can get a book review in a trade publication, thereby connecting you with booksellers, librarians, and other bookish professionals across the country.

What is an “industry review”?

An industry review is a term for a book review that is featured in a trade publication reaching publishing professionals, booksellers, and/or librarians directly. Here are some of the most common trade publications:

As an author, why do I want an industry review?

First and foremost, a positive review with a longstanding, reputable industry publication will help lend your book credibility. These reviews hold a lot of weight to those in the industry, and a starred review or favorable blurb can go a long way.

It will also help get your book in front of booksellers and librarians – and since both groups have major purchasing power, it’s not a bad idea to get on their radar.

How can I get an industry review?

Most trade publications require a formal submission, which includes sending copies of a book at least 4-6 months in advance of publication day. Often, your publisher or publicist will handle the submission process for you, using an ARC. (Not sure what an ARC is? Learn more here).

Not every submission will lead to a review, but if a book is accepted, the review will typically be published in advance of release day.

I’m an indie author. Can I still submit my book for an industry review?

The short answer is yes! Indie authors often face a lot of hurdles getting their books in front of literary tastemakers like bookstore owners and librarians, and industry reviews can be a great way to help bridge the gap.

Indie authors often have two options when it comes time to submit for a review: a free option and a paid option.

Traditional submissions, while free, are not guaranteed to return a review. And they are typically much stricter as far as the timeline is concerned. If you or your publisher won’t have access to ARCs 4 to 6 months in advance of pub day, then you may not be eligible for a free review submission.

In order to provide more flexibility for indie authors and small publishers, many industry publications have a paid model for submissions that allows you to submit for a review on your own timeline. For a fee, you are guaranteed to receive an unbiased review, typically within 4-8 weeks of your submission.

One question I get a lot from authors is whether paid reviews are taken seriously. Because paid review services do not guarantee a positive outcome, they are seen as legitimate by book industry members as long as they come from a reputable source like Kirkus, Foreword or Publishers Weekly.

Which publications have paid review options?

While there are countless paid book review opportunities out there, only a handful hold genuine credibility and name-recognition within the industry. We typically recommend paid reviews with these trusted publications:

Although it’s not necessary, you can certainly submit for paid reviews with multiple publications if your budget allows.

And if you’re unsure about a certain paid opportunity that you’ve found, do some research before rolling the dice. Look up the publications’ social media accounts and see what their follower counts and engagement rate are. Check out some sample book reviews on their website, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from past customers. If things seem at all suspect, definitely hold off. And, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

I’ve got my review back – what do I do now?

Hooray! The hard part (waiting) is over. You should now scan your review for any potential blurbs that you might want to use in promotional materials.

Once you’ve found your money quote, you can make the most of it by:

  • Getting it printed on the final version of your book. Your publisher might want to add this to your front or back cover, or an inside praise page, if your timeline allows for it.
  • Adding it to the Editorial Reviews section of your Amazon listing.
  • Sharing it on social media, and adding it to social media banners.
  • Adding it to your website.
  • Including it on printed promo materials such as a press release, bookmarks, or postcards.

While industry reviews are invaluable for their ability to connect your book directly with industry insiders before your publication date, they also have many long-term benefits. Positive blurbs from these reviews can be used in promotional materials for years to come!

audience and readers

Tips for building your author community

When writing a book and getting it out into the world, authors are often most focused on finding their audience and readers – rightfully so! But it’s quite important to also find your fellow writers and network with authors who can provide you with support throughout your incredible journey – and who you, too, can support!

Writing can be isolating work, and authors often find themselves without a community. If you are looking to establish yourself and build relationships with other authors, here are some tips!

Look at commonly used author hashtags on social media to find fellow writers.

Be sure to try looking at #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram or #authorsofbooktok #writersofbooktok on TikTok, etc. Check out some videos and see if there are any authors that have similar genres or personalities as you – they might just become your new friend!

Join debut groups.

These groups are great for new authors! You can find them on social media or simply by searching #2022debuts and similar hashtags depending on your pub date! If you are someone who published during the pandemic, it might help to go through #2020debuts to see what that experience was like for other first-time authors.

Connect with authors you admire.

The writers that you connect with don’t always have to be on the same publishing journey as you. Maybe you connect with someone who’s far more established, or maybe they knocked their debut out of the park and you’d love to know how. It never hurts to drop a line to the authors you’re reading that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and seeing if they might want to mentor you. At the least, they’ll be flattered you thought of them!

Go to local author events.

Be sure to check out your local indie bookstores and the events they have going on. It’s a great place to meet fellow readers, writers, and of course, the author being featured! Get there a bit early, chat up the people in line to get their book signed – you never know who you might meet.

Attend writer’s workshops.

Just as important as being at a book expo is attending writer’s workshops. While the focus is always your craft, brand, and of course, your writing, everyone else in attendance is looking at theirs. It’s great to connect with and empathize with one another. While you workshop your writing, you’ll be able to learn from the other brilliant writers who have gathered there – and they might just learn something from you!

What is an ARC and why is it important for publicity

What is an ARC?

An ARC, or advanced reader copy, is a version of a book–either in digital or print format–that is made available to select readers before the official publication date.

Is there a difference between an ARC and a galley?

It depends on who you ask! Some will tell you the terms are synonymous, whereas others will note slight differences between the two. For some, the term galley more accurately refers to an earlier proof, which isn’t as far along in the proofreading and copyediting process. They instead use the phrase bound galley to signify a version is more polished than a traditional galley. In this case, bound galley and ARC both refer to the same thing: a near-final version of the book that will be shared with a wider audience ahead of publication.

Who gets to see an ARC?

ARCs may pass through many hands, but they are primarily shared with reviewers, tastemakers, and media professionals with the hopes of building buzz for the author and their new release.

So, how are ARCs used in publicity?

ARCs are traditionally used to:

  • Get blurbs. You can share your ARC with authors and experts who have agreed to provide a blurb. These blurbs can then be printed on the cover or interior of your book.
  • Submit for industry reviews. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Foreword, Shelf Awareness, and other popular industry publications will review books prior to release day. Many of these groups require 3-4 months lead time, so the earlier you can send a copy their way, the better!
  • Secure reviews from readers, bloggers, and influencers. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and book blogs each house unique avid reader communities. Always check to see if the contact you are reaching out to has review guidelines posted, and follow their requested procedures. And keep in mind that most of these reviewers work for free. If they do agree to review your book, be sure to show your gratitude for their time and energy!
  • Coordinate media placement and interviews. Local newspapers, radio stations and podcasters are also great targets for ARC-sharing. If you share a book with them ahead of your release, they may be able to fit you in for an interview or feature surrounding pub day.
  • Enter awards contests. Some literary awards programs accept ARCs, while others only accept final copies. The benefit to using ARCs when you can is that you’ll receive your results earlier, and can promote award wins as soon as possible.
  • Notify booksellers and librarians. If you’re hoping to book an event or to place your title on local shelves, you’ll want to share an ARC with nearby bookstores and libraries. After previewing the advanced copy, these tastemakers may be more likely to pre-order your book and/or set up an event with you.

Will flaws in my ARC negatively affect the response I get from awards committees, reviewers, influencers and booksellers?

Reviewers, influencers and industry professionals are used to working with advanced copies, and they are attuned to the fact that typos and formatting errors will likely be reworked before publication date. These small flaws rarely affect how a reviewer will receive your book.

That said, it’s always best to check guidelines prior to submitting a review request or award entry. If the individual or organization only accepts final copies, you would want to wait until after publication date to complete your request.

Is it safe to share digital ARCs?

Sharing digital ARCs, or eARCs, is typically safe if you are sending an attachment to a trusted contact. If you are worried about sending attachments, you can set up a privacy-protected listing for your ebook on NetGalley. Or, your publisher or publicist may set this up on your behalf.

NetGalley is home to over 400,000 users–mainly reviewers, booksellers, librarians and educators–who are looking to stay up-to-date on new book releases. Listing your book on the site helps to expand exposure, increase reader reviews, and can potentially lead to pre-orders.

Get sharing!

ARCs are a very valuable tool in book promotion. Creating a plan for how to use your ARCs will help boost exposure for your new release and will set you on a path to success!

amazon book

How to make your Amazon page pop

It’s key to list your book on multiple platforms such as Indiebound, Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books, but we cannot deny the importance of optimizing your book’s presence on the largest bookselling site in the world: Amazon. If you’ve ever wondered about specific ways to make your book stand out among the millions of books listed on Amazon, we’ve got you covered with a list of tips to make your page look optimized and professional!

Book Description

Your book description (after the book cover) is one of the first things people will see when looking at your book on Amazon, so here are some ways to make it pop.

  • Make the first sentence of your description a quick, catchy blurb of your book, and put it in bold!
    • Christopher Parker has a great example of this, with his short but gripping description of the book right off the bat, front and center.
    • You can then go into a more detailed description of your book, after initially catching their attention with the first sentence!
  • Add quotes to the end of your book’s description to give readers a taste of what is to come if they read the book!

Editorial Reviews

The Editorial Reviews section on your book’s Amazon page highlights reviews, usually from non-customers, such as other authors, media outlets, bloggers, or experts in the field (like an industry publication). However, if you don’t have as many reviews from that kind of outlet, you can start out by adding reviews you’ve received from Amazon, Goodreads, or NetGalley!

Some examples of Books Forward authors that have Amazon pages with Editorial Reviews:

As you can see on Christopher Parker’s listing, he uses quotes from other authors, Kirkus, and bloggers. And Kelle Z. Riley used reviews from readers on Amazon and NetGalley! Either way is beneficial. As the editorial review section is more eye-catching and closer to the top of the Amazon page, readers don’t have to scroll all the way down to Customer Reviews to see what readers are thinking of the book.

Editorial Reviews highlight some of the most positive reviews of your book, as well as aspects of the content that maybe weren’t covered in the book’s description.

About The Author

Adding information and editing your About The Author section gives readers more context into who YOU are!

You can customize your Author page in your Amazon Author Central account. Even if you only have one book, it is important to set up your author page because it adds your author bio and headshot to each individual book’s Amazon page. This gives readers more information on who you are and how to keep up to date with your author endeavors!

Here are some examples of authors who have great Author pages and About The Author sections for reference:

As you can see on all of those author pages, each of them has all of their books listed, their author bios, their author headshots, and other places you can find them (websites or social media accounts).

Benefits of editing your About The Author section:

  • Would you rather purchase from somebody who has a profile picture, references, and a decent description, or would you rather purchase from an empty profile with just a photo of the object for sale? When authors do not have a profile picture or even a description, readers are less inclined to trust that it’s a reliable source.
  • It drives sales of your book and other works if you have them. If you are an author with multiple books, having all of them linked in one section under the author makes it much easier for the reader to not only buy your books but just to find your books in general!
  • It helps readers keep up with you. You can link to your website and social media accounts so that readers can follow along with you! Readers are less inclined to stay up to date with you via Amazon, so linking to where they can get updates more often can be really helpful to building and keeping a fanbase growing.

A+ Content

Have you noticed the brand-themed graphics that some authors have on their book’s Amazon page under the From The Publisher section?

Here are a few examples from some authors we work with:

Amazon recently made A+ Content available to indie published authors, and you just have to be approved through Amazon as a professional seller who owns your book’s brand. Once you are approved, you are able to add A+ Content to products that are part of your approved brand catalog!

The next step after approval: design some graphics!

  • Once you are in the A+ Content design section of Amazon after approval, you’ll be redirected to an area where you choose the image sizes you’d like to add to your book’s page.
  • Using the measurement and graphic sizes you choose, you can then go to Canva, or any other design program, to create your own graphics. The most important part about the graphics is making sure the colors and fonts match the theme of your book.
  • You can then pull quotes you’ve received – whether it’s reviews from authors in your genre or industry publications like Kirkus or Booklife – as the text on your graphics. As you can see from the examples above, both authors stuck to the brand of their book for their graphics and pulled quotes that highlight the content of their books.
  • Avoid using the term “Goodreads reviewer” or “Amazon reviewer” because odds are that Amazon will not approve this graphic.
  • Another idea for graphics is your author photo and bio, which you can see J. Elle did for both of her books.

It can take up to seven days for Amazon to approve your A+ Content!

  • Benefits for A+ Content, other than more brand cohesiveness and professionalism:
  • Describe your book by including opinions from readers who grasped aspects of the book that the book’s description may not relay.
  • Use enhanced images and text placements to catch the reader’s eye and attention.
    Can result in higher conversion rates, increased traffic and increased sales when used effectively!

With these tips in mind, you can get to work on creating a fun, inviting and optimized book page on Amazon!

BookBub

Tips and tricks for authors using BookBub

Whether you’re a new author or one who’s been around the block, the name BookBub has most likely come across your desk. “Well… what is it? Another website? Another login? Another password to remember?!” Oof, we know. There are a few… but don’t miss out on this one!

We here at Books Forward are big fans of BookBub and all the opportunities their services can provide. BookBub is one of the top tier bargain e-book newsletters, with one of the largest networks reaching millions of email subscribers everyday. Authors can advertise their discounted e-books and reach millions of readers who are willing to download cheaper books and try out new authors. In what BookBub calls their “Featured Deal” service, authors have seen their books hit #1 on Amazon. It also helps build numbers of reviews and rankings, and authors have seen downloads in the thousands.

Now despite all the amazing results and testimonials, BookBub isn’t necessarily your golden ticket to the bestseller lists, but can certainly help you build your readership! Here are a few of our tips to get started.

Create a profile: Having a presence on BookBub can help optimize your search engine results. Make sure to update your display picture, biography and even list some of your recommended reads. This is a great way to connect with your peers and to even see where you could advertise your book. (For example: if an author has a large amount of followers on BookBub and their readers would most likely vibe with your book, think about tapping into that network!) We recommend adding new books to your list, every other week or so.

BookBub Ads: BookBub allows you to target other authors on the platform (which is where the last tip can come in handy!) You can create ads by using the system’s templates or design your own. We recommend exploring your genre and targeting similar authors listed in that category.

Featured Deals: Featured deals are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. But you do have to be patient! Featured Deals don’t happen right away and can take time and persistence. They can be pricey depending on the genre and the regions — if you get a deal within the U.S., expect to pay more. However, the payoff is worth it. Be considerate of the genre you are submitting in and don’t hesitate to try different genres and price points. Be sure to fill out the comment section with any accolades or awards the book has received! Once your feature deal is live, don’t be shy to advertise on other platforms — you can use this promotion to create some really great momentum.

Overall, the most important lesson to learn with BookBub (and book marketing in general!) is the more you put, in the more you’ll get back. If you decide to apply yourself to the BookBub platform, be sure to use it consistently — optimize your profile, try using ads and submit frequently to Featured Deals, and it will be worth the effort in the end! Every reader counts and BookBub is a great place to meet more.

publication day

What happens AFTER my book launches?

Authors jump through countless hoops leading up to their publication day. In fact, a massive part of publicity work is typically done before a book is even available for sale. Authors are encouraged to create a website, grow their social media following, send ARCs out for early reviews, set up pre-order campaigns, and coordinate a launch event, all before their book has hit shelves. So, when publication day finally arrives, many authors breathe a sigh of relief. You can kick back, relax, and celebrate all you’ve accomplished. As you should!

Then, after all the party hats are packed away, confusion — maybe even panic —sets in. No one told you how to continue supporting your book after publication day. What can you do to keep the momentum going?

Below are eight tips for what you can do after your book launch. And, if you are working with a professional publicity or marketing agency, they may be able to take some of these tasks off your plate. Ask them how they can support you post-launch!

Keep Posting on Social Media

  • Stay active! It’s important to keep up a consistent posting schedule so that your name stays on reader’s radars, especially when in-between book releases. If you’re worried about time-management, or feel as though you don’t have enough content ideas to fill out 3 posts per week, you can certainly post less frequently, as long as you stay consistent.
  • Share the positive reviews you’ve received. Remember to thank the bloggers and influencers who reviewed your book and posted about it on social media. This group is the backbone of book publicity, and most of the work they do is for free!
  • Host a post-pub day giveaway! Perhaps you have extra swag, bookplates, or signed copies sitting around? Time to clean up, and draw attention back to your new release.
  • Keep celebrating! Your book is in its infancy, and many good things are still to come. Did you hit number one in your category on Amazon? Has your book won a literary award? Will there be a limited-time sale? Is your publisher planning to release the book in new formats, such as paperback or audiobook? Keep sharing the good news!

Advance Your Skills on Your Social Accounts Website, and Newsletter

  • Branch out and learn new skills! The digital realm is complex and always evolving. Each year, there are brand new resources that authors can use to their advantage. Keep abreast of trends, and get inspired by how other authors are adapting and promoting their work online. Here are a few tools that are popular now:
  • Create a content calendar. This will allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance, saving you time and effort throughout the week.
  • Learn how to use Pinned Tweets on Twitter. A Pinned Tweet stays at the top of your page, so it should contain the most important information you’re trying to communicate — i.e. all the key information about your book and where/how to order a copy!
  • Learn how to use LinkTree and add it to your social media profiles. LinkTree helps you keep all your links in one place. You can add purchase links for your book to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a follower to buy your book. The fewer steps involved, the more likely it is that a reader will complete their purchase!
  • Create a TikTok account. TikTok hosts a vibrant community of readers — largely young adults — who are looking to connect over new books. If you are in the YA genre, this is definitely something you should explore!
  • Update your website and social media headers. After publication day, be sure to update your banners with language such as “on sale now” or “available everywhere!”
  • Set up an email newsletter for fans to subscribe to. You should incentivize sign-ups by giving away something for free. A sample of the book (a few chapters long) often works well.

Mobilize Your Personal Network

  • Ask friends, family, and fans to share reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Ask your network to request a copy of your book from their local library or indie bookstore. The higher the demand is for your book, the more likely it is that these professsionals will order copies in bulk.

Set Up Meet and Greets with Tastemakers

  • Approach booksellers about stocking your book. Bring your book and a copy of your press kit with you, and ask the bookseller for just a few minutes of their time. Give them your quick elevator pitch, and let them know why their customers would be interested in your book. If the store doesn’t agree to order copies right away, that’s OK. Continue supporting their store, and show them that you are serious about a mutual partnership.
  • Get in touch with libraries too! If you are stopping by in person, bring your book and a copy of your press kit. If you are not able to visit, consider mailing out postcards with information on your new release. Let the library know that you are interested in partnering with them, and helping them get more patrons through their doors.

Connect with Other Authors for Dual Promos

  • Partner up with another author for a dual event or panel. Having two authors for an event essentially doubles the audience size, which can make dual events very appealing to bookstores and libraries!
  • Set up a double giveaway. Offer your book along with a friend’s book for a dual giveaway on social media to increase awareness and participation!
  • Set up an IG or FB Live where you two chat, or agree to an interview hosted by a third party.
  • Try a newsletter feature swap! If you both have email newsletters, you can each promote the other’s book to help grow your audience and readership.

Pitch Yourself as an Expert

  • Author-focused media — online, print, radio or TV opportunities that may require you to speak on your expertise — can be set up months or even years after your book’s release. Especially if you are a nonfiction author, or an expert in your field, the media will be interested in what you have to say. So, consider pitching yourself as an expert to journalists and local TV programs!
  • Keep up to date with conferences and festivals, and apply to the ones that interest you. Many events are always looking for expert speakers!

Write Guest Articles

  • Guest articles are beneficial for author branding and are an effective way to keep your name in front of potential readers, especially while in between book releases. For a full list of tips on writing guest articles, check out our previous article here.

Consider an Ad Campaign

  • Digital marketing campaigns can start anytime and do not need to be tied to your publication date. Here are a few options you might consider:
  • Run ads in reader newsletters surrounding a special price drop on your ebook. If you’re going to be running a sale, you’ll want lots of readers to know about it. These ads help to boost exposure to tens of thousands of dedicated readers and tend to be very effective at increasing sales!
  • Plan seasonal ads. Are the holidays coming up? Run an ad campaign surrounding the season in order to take advantage of the festive gift giving. Or, if your book is addressing a serious topic such as Breast Cancer Awareness, consider running ads surrounding the related awareness month to boost exposure and draw attention to a good cause.
  • Check out marketing opportunities with your local bookseller association. If you want to reach booksellers directly, you can purchase an ad in a newsletter that will reach hundreds of indie booksellers in your local region.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies for building your author brand and growing your readership while you’re in between book releases. Take stock of which strategies play to your strengths and pair well with your book’s genre, and follow that path!

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Links used: https://booksforward.com/tips-for-writing-great-guest-articles/

A Writer’s Guide to Goodreads

Readers and authors alike flock to Goodreads to find new books, enter giveaways, rate books, write reviews, and monitor stats of the unending sea of books that can be found online. So, what are the key things to keep in mind as a writer who wants their book to gain traction on Goodreads? We’ve put together a list of tips that can be helpful for first time authors breaking into this site.

  1. Use The Site
    This may seem obvious, but the most important part of entering a new digital space is understanding how it works. Participate as a reader and look at other author pages to build an idea of what your page might look like. Rate and review books, enter some giveaways to see how they work, check out the array of lists readers can vote books onto, and join the community. Integrating yourself first allows you to not only understand the site, but also understand the kinds of people who use it.
  2. Build Your Author Profile
    Create an author profile page that gives all the information you want to share with your readers to make finding you and your book easier. Include a short bio, a professional headshot, the genres you write in, and links to any website or social media accounts you have. You want them to be able to follow you easily across the web for updated book information so be sure to use links that are updated.
  3. Optimize and Claim Your Book Page
    In order for people to find your book, you will need to input its information. Be sure to include a good quality cover photo, an optimized description, and updated metadata like ISBN, publishing information, and price. Then you will need to claim the book as your own from your author profile so that it is connected to your account. If you are interested in what we can help with on the Goodreads optimization side, let us know, and we can tell you what we’ve done for our previous authors.
  4. Set Up a Giveaway
    One of the best ways to get your book in front of more readers on Goodreads is to offer a giveaway. You are able to list both print and online giveaways and you can set the number of copies you are willing to give. The great thing about giveaways is that whoever enters the giveaway keeps the book in their “want to read” list whether they win or not. This means that your book will be on their mind for future book purchases they will make, and it shows up in their friends’ feeds. It’s great exposure and can really help you gain interest.
  5. Add Your Book to Lists
    Goodreads has hundreds of lists that you can vote your book onto. Some fairly generic like “100 Must Read Books” and others that are hyper specific like “Fictitious Shipwrecks.” The more people that vote for the book on these lists, the higher they move and the more visibility your book has. Doing a mix of both broader and more specific lists is the best way to approach this aspect of Goodreads. Get your friends and family to help you raise your ranking and post about them on your socials to get readers involved.
  6. Engage with Readers
    Goodreads is a social platform so don’t forget to be social! Respond to positive reviews or post them on your other socials. Host Author Q&As on your Goodreads profile to answer questions about your writing process or your characters. Continue to use the site as a reader as well to stay current on what books and authors are popular at the moment. Social channels are always changing so staying up to date is your best chance for success!

 

Tips for building mood boards and create brand aesthetics

A big part of author branding is making sure your personal social media and blogging efforts follow a particular theme, or have a certain aesthetic that associates your book with something that readers will notice and in turn, associate with you!

As a blogger myself, my aesthetic has often been described as colorful and coffee-obsessed. I almost always include a coffee mug and some sort of hot beverage in my photos, and I allow my photos to be bright, often including plants and greenery. I’ve had so many readers send me coffee-related posts and gifs from other bloggers, which warms my heart, knowing that they have gleaned something about me and thought of me in context with something I love.

Below, you’ll find tips and tricks for creating your own aesthetic, and opportunities to work on your brand!

Express Yourself

This sounds like it should be obvious, but I have a lot of authors that ask about sharing too much of their personality on social media, wondering if their platform should be book-specific. To that I say, sort of. Of course, we want the book to be present, you are an author! But if there are other things you enjoy, hobbies, professions, etc. – post those things too! They make you unique, and they might attract non-traditional readers who connect with something other than books, and that can open you up to a completely different audience! Don’t be afraid to show YOU without the pen in hand!

Be Consistent

Consistency is KEY, especially in a visual sense. It’s important for readers to see recurring patterns in your posts. For me, it’s the greenery. When friends come over, they always remark that they’ve seen my plants in all of my photos, and are often so excited to see “where the magic happens”. I’ve had friends gift me plants because they know that’s something I really enjoy from how often they appear in my photos. You want your readers to get to know you in that way, and also to create that association for them, so that when they see something that reminds them of you, they are reminded of your books and have the desire to continue reading throughout your career!

Add in a Pop of Color

One of the easiest and most essential pieces of author branding comes down to color, and ensuring that you are using the same colors across your multiple platforms. It comes back to the idea of consistency, but it can be helpful when readers are seeing you in different places that they have an association with! Select colors that resonate with you or are featured on your book cover, and be sure to use those same shades and colors for your website and social media alike!

Presets

In the world of Instagram, presets are quite popular. Presets are essentially filters that you can add to each and every photo you take to ensure that they have a similar aesthetic and appear related and consistent. This can be a simple way to ensure your photos are consistent and appear clean to viewers. The only downside to presets is that you often have to pay for them. They aren’t entirely too expensive, but it is something to consider!

Have Fun

None of this matters if you can’t have a bit of fun with it! Social media and branding, while a great way to connect with your audience, are still personal platforms where you are meant to be yourself. If your creative outlet looks different, allow for it to look different! You know yourself and your brand better than anyone! Don’t be afraid to try something outside of the box, especially if that means you’re going to find enjoyment!

12 Tips for Writing Impactful Guest Articles

Today, we’re back again to discuss everyone’s favorite tool for author branding: guest articles! While each individual publication or blog will have its own set of rules you’ll need to follow, these general guidelines are designed to help you get started.

Side note: if you’re wondering what exactly guest articles are and why they’re worth your time, check out my previous article here. Then, return back to this page and read up on these specific writing tips.

Exclusivity matters

Most outlets want first-publication rights for an article — they’re looking for content that was written exclusively for them. This means that the article you submit should not have previously appeared anywhere else, in print or online. Once it’s published, you’re free to link to it on your website and social media pages.

Tailor Your Topic

Before you begin writing, brainstorm topic ideas that both fit within your realm of expertise and meet the expectations and interests of the publication you’ll be pitching.

Ask yourself: Who is going to read this article, and what are they interested in? What is a timely, relevant topic that I can write about? What qualifications do I have that make me an authority on this topic? What makes my perspective unique, something that no one else seems to be saying right now?

If your topic is unique, timely and tailored to both your expertise and the reader’s interests, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Self-promotion is not always your friend

This is incredibly important. While it’s our job at Books Forward to promote you and your book, it’s not the job of an editor. Their job is to provide meaningful content to their readers. Guest articles and op-eds are meant to position you as an expert, give your name exposure and cement your brand. If an editor feels like you’re blatantly selling a product, it will likely turn them off.

That said, book bloggers are a different breed. They may not mind helping you promote your book via a guest article, because their audience is primarily interested in learning about authors and the books they write. They want to hear about a character’s development, the setting, your insights into your chosen genre, your experience as a writer and how this book came to be.

Keep and eye on word count

Most media outlets and blogs will provide a word count, so try your best to stick to it. Editors and bloggers know their readers better than anyone else, so that’s why they provide specific word count guidelines. If they don’t specify how long your article should be, take a look at other guest articles they’ve published in the past.

Cut the jargon

Write as if you’re having a conversation with someone. Write in terms that readers will understand and identify with. If the subject you’re writing on is complicated, give examples or explain the concept in detail. If people can’t interpret what they’re reading, they’ll move on without a second thought.

Craft a catchy but informative headline

The editor may or may not use what you suggest depending on their needs — SEO, anyone? — but it makes their lives easier if you give them a title to start with.

Tips and lists

People love “quick hit” information that they can apply to their own lives. If you can, provide some tips related to your topic or an easy-to-read bulleted list of takeaways.

Back up your claims

If there are statistics, case studies or real life examples that support your opinions, consider including them in your article. It will lend you credibility and readers will be more likely to trust what you have to say.

Provide links

If you’re referring to a specific news article, organization or anything that has a website associated with it, provide a link. This helps with website hits and can get more eyes on your piece!

Include a bio

Write a 2-3 sentence third-person bio to plug into the bottom of your article. This should at least include your name, expertise, your book title with the publication date, where you live and your website. If you’re sending along a headshot, make sure to include photo credits as well.

Prepare to make changes

If the editor or blogger looks over your article and asks you to make edits, be flexible and accommodating to their requests. It’s great news that they want to work with you on your piece! Let them know that you’re willing to meet them in the middle in order to provide the best article for their readership.

Show some love

After your piece is published, be sure to share it with your readers! This not only shows the publication or blog that you appreciate them for hosting your article but also helps your article get more attention.

With these tips in mind, you’re on your way to creating impactful guest articles. Double check that your article draft complies with the specifications outlined by the individual publication or blog you plan on pitching, and you’ll be all set!