I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Unless you’re really lucky and your publishing house is getting you booked on Oprah…the harder part of your job as an author is to promote your book (and ultimately your brand) and make some sales.
With millions of dollars, maybe you can get on the Oprah book club list, but most authors have a shoestring budget to market their book. I assume you already have your own website, Twitter, and Facebook fan page (If you don’t get those first!!). Assuming you’re already there – here are 10 cheap or free ways to market your book:
1. Use forums and include a link to your book in the signature line.
This one is sooo overlooked, but can have amazing results. Go to high traffic forums where participants would be interested in your work – for example, if your books on fishing, spend some time in the Field & Stream forums. If your book is sci-fi, check out sffworld.com.
Check out the forum rules first, but most forums allow and even encourage signature lines. Create a signature line with your name, website, and link to buy your book.You’ll get awesome, targeted exposure for your work…so don’t post anything spammy, have good answers and try to be helpful in the forum. Note: sometimes a lot of people will see your reply, sometimes just a handful. Experiment with time of day, being a quick responder, and different topics….
2. Build a mailing list.
This is a must if you’re planning on writing multiple books and are serious about boosting sales. Email is “push” communication where you are sending something to them. Your readers/fans don’t need to see the tweet or go to a website to find out you have a book coming out….
You’re able to build a relationship, send them information on releases, and get your important news in front of them.Imagine having 1000 people on your list (that already like you!) that you get to tell about your new release. If 100 of them buy it on release day from Amazon, it will bump you into the “bestseller” list in most categories which often makes more people see it and buy it!
My web host (Dreamhost) provides a free “announce list” with my web space – see if yours does too! However, I use Aweber (a paid service) because it can auto-send welcome messages and it’s just easier to make web forms and compose messages.
3. Syndicate your content.
Have a great blog post? You post it to a syndication site and other bloggers will post your article (including a link back to your blog!). It’s a double whammy of SEO goodness and free traffic all rolled into one. There are dozens of sites that you can syndicate content to…
I’m working on a post on why syndication is the bees knees (I’ll post a link here when it’s done), but for now just realize that if you syndicate some high quality blog posts, you’ll get some seriously killer targeted traffic and hopefully some more sales as more people read your blog.
4. Offer a link exchange to authors in your genre.
It’s a good idea to build relationships with other authors for many reasons – with joint promotion opportunities everywhere. Have you ever seen something like “blogroll” on someone else’s blog?Put a blogroll section on your blog and offer to add their blog link in exchange for them doing the same. They will get some of your traffic and you will get some of theirs!
5. Comment as your Facebook fan page.
You can switch to your fan page and then surf around Facebook. You can make comments on group pages and articles AS your fan page. Very few authors do this! If you write running books, comment on the Runner’s world feeds. It will help you get Facebook fans
6. Get it to go viral.
I actually hate the term “Viral Marketing” because it sounds like I’m going to have the flu for 2 weeks…but the definition is really clear: a guy got it from a friend whose sister in law got it from his room-mate in college who shared it with her work colleagues who saw it on a website that had it forwarded to them in a link that came from Twitter. Maybe MY definition isn’t so clear, but the point is that once the bit of content is out there, people are compelled to share it with their friends, family, and everyone they know. In turn, all of those people also share it in a similar way…and so it keeps going.
Think about the last time you shared something online and when something was shared with you. Was it an article about something you’re passionate about? A funny Super Bowl commercial? A video of a kitten in a box from your mother? A quiz to see how long you would survive the zombie apocalypse?
Now you know what you’re up against. This one takes a bit of creativity, but you’ll see the one thing these have in common is that they evoke an emotion. Cute, funny, romantic, and generally things that make you feel good often drive the most positive viral marketing for you. Generally the stronger the emotion, the more likely it will be shared. One warning though – stay away from the dark side – they do not have cookies and although it may be shared, you don’t want a negative emotion like hate associated with your brand.
7. Give them a taste for free.
No, not drugs, but your book. Have you wondered why Amazon and others let you “see inside” the book before you buy it? The data shows that if people can read a chapter or two they are more likely to buy the book! If you have a few short stories, a couple chapters of your book, or a sample of your work – get it out there!
Link it to your blog, make it easy to find, and get people reading it. I know a number of authors that go so far as to take a self published book that isn’t selling well, making it free, promoting it, and getting tons of sales on their other work from referral traffic from people who got the free book. Don’t be afraid to give this a try!
8. Never Give Up, Never Surrender.
OK, Galaxy Quest quotes aside, marketing your book is a long term endeavor. Over time, all of these activities add up and all work to promote your brand. It can sometimes feel like a struggle trying to find new readers when it seems like there is no time left after work, writing, and family.
Don’t get discouraged!
Just try to pick one thing to work on each week for promotion. You’ll be amazed at how much gets done in a year and your marketing machine will be ahead of the 95% of authors that leave it up to the publisher.