In a previous post, I discussed how to pre-market your book and create buzz. Many writers are tentative about this process: how can I market a book that doesn’t exist yet?
Oh, but you can, and today I’m going to share with you:
- Specific, practical ways to do exactly that,
- When to start,
- The approximate time each task will take (this varies widely depending on the person and how obsessive you are, so you do you).
- What I won’t cover (I’m not going to go over the basics of social media). For that, you can purchase my BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, peruse my site for specific articles, or google stuff.
I am linking to several ‘how-to’ articles so it’s on you to click on them, read them, and do the work. *This is by no means a complete list, and focuses more on the marketing to-do’s, than the publishing and book creationary to-do’s.
**I do include a few affiliate links in this post.
Creating Buzz While You Are Writing Your Book
I don’t know about you, but I don’t churn books out every three months. It typically takes me about a year, sometimes two. This is the perfect time to do the following:
- Build relationships with readers on social media. This means interact, ask questions, strategically follow readers (not only other writers). Time: Realistically, plan to spend 30–60 minutes daily. Maybe 2 hours if you get sucked into the rabbit hole of politics (I recommend you do not, purely from a focus perspective but of course, you do you).
- Share visual quotes of your work on social media. No graphic design experience needed. (I’ve been using PromoRepublic because they have ready-made backgrounds and it’s stupid easy. If I can do it, anyone can do it.). Time: 5–10 minutes daily.
- *Note: When you do this, don’t ‘tag’ people you don’t know or if you do, do it judiciously with people you’ve built solid relationships with only — otherwise you are spamming, aka annoying potential readers and supporters of your work.
- Schedule in articles of interest, quotes, visuals (as mentioned above), and other relevant content (Hootsuite, Buffer, or PromoRepublic are all viable options with free trials). Even the paid options for a single author are affordable and a tax deduction. Time: 15–20 minutes daily.
- Build your email subscriber list. You don’t have to do anything with it yet; just start collecting names via free Mailchimp or some other service. Time:15 minutes to set up on your website and/or Facebook page. Note: This subscriber list will become your newsletter list in the future.
- Blog two to four times a month. If you don’t already have your own website, you need one (that’s a whole other conversation). You need to blog to start showing Google fresh content, create a name, visibility, and personal branding. Time: 60 minutes per blog to write and optimize. This also helps make your site attractive to other high-profile influencers and their readers. Note: If you choose to blog on Medium or Huffington, this won’t apply.
- Connect with book bloggers (look at the free BookBloggerList.com for bloggers in your genre) and start interacting with them. Read their blog posts, social media feeds, etc. Again, creating relationships with book bloggers is super important prior to your book release.
- Join author groups and create relationships with like-minded authors. This will be important come launch time for guest blog posts.
- Join social media groups (non-author based) to connect with readers, reviewers, and book bloggers.
Total time: 2–3 hours/week.
I guarantee that those 30–60 minutes daily you say you don’t possibly have to spend on marketing, you are probably spending fooling around on Facebook or arguing with political trolls on Twitter. I know because I get notifications from authors asking ‘Why isn’t my book selling?’ or ‘How do I use Twitter?’ If they did the work, they’d know, and they’d be doing it already.
Creating Buzz Three to Six Months Before Book Release
Now is the time to do the following:
- Create your book marketing plan. There are entire books written on this and I don’t have time to review that here. In fact, my own book, the BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge, breaks up book marketing into one month of daily assignments so it’s not so overwhelming. There’s no easy button here, but it’s not brain surgery. It’s work. Do it.
- Connect with those readers you’ve built relationships with and ask if they’re interested in being beta and ARC readers for you. Start sending out chapters to beta-readers for feedback.
- Start booking guest blogs on high-profile author sites and invite them to guest blog on your site
- Plan your promotional strategy: giveaways, contests, free promotions (if you choose that route)
- Plan a virtual book blog tour (my opinion and experience only: book blog tours rarely sell books, however, they are helpful for visibility and networking).
- Plan a virtual Facebook Release party (great for interaction, not necessarily for ‘selling’ books)
- Attend Twitter chats (or create your own!) relevant to your genre/interests; great for building connections
- Start sending out newsletters with exclusive snippets and teasers. It’s okay if you change course along the way — share your publishing journey in a personal way with people who are interested.
- Continue blogging consistently and participating in regular memes like #MondayBlogs.
- Prep your PR (decide how you want to announce your book release — press release, social media only, etc)
- Order your marketing swag (e.g., bookmarks, postcards, business cards, etc.).
Total time: 1–3 hours/week.
Above all, keep in mind: we brand the author, not the book. Your author platform and social media need to reflect you, the author. If you only talk about your book constantly, people will think you’re a robot. We are three-dimensional humans with lives. As my son used to say, “Be a people.”
If you find yourself resistant to spending this time on yourself and your author platform and pre-marketing, ask yourself: why? Do you want to be that author who spend days, months, years, decades in some cases, who releases their book to rave reviews but no sales? Because it happens. Every day. And it’s crushing. Dream crushing. Soul crushing.
I pick authors up from their puddles, dust them off, and help them better prepare for their next release. I implore you: do the work now. You are worth it.
If you are truly dedicated to writing, one book won’t make or break you. And with the advent of digital, there’s no true ‘shelf-life’ of a book. Keep writing.
Creating Buzz The Month Before
If you haven’t already done so:
- Commit to pre-selling your book on Amazon. Once you commit, you are stuck with your release date (or they ban you from any further pre-sells for one year), so be 100% sure you will make that release date.
- How to generate pre-sell buzz? A great way to get people to sign up for your pre-order: offer incentives like bonus PDFs, free chapters to other books, or exclusive access to a webinar (if a business book).
- Create all your graphic headers with your cover art and place on social media. Be sure all your headers, bios, and avatars are consistent with your website.
- If you have a book trailer, share it now.
- Send out ARCs (advance reader copies) with a CTA (call to action) — when the book is published, ask reviewers to please review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, BookBub, etc. Note: Early reviewers can leave reviews on Goodreads, BookBub, and NetGalley (if your book is on there) long before release. They can also feature your book in a blog post.
- Start sending out ARCs to the book bloggers you selected from the BookBloggerList (mentioned above). Understand they can take up to six months to review your book (if they get to it at all).
- Book your free/discount days. Most sites need a few weeks notice. I’ve used the BookMarketingTools eBook submission tool (it’s $29) with good success. Fill out one form, click a few buttons, and you’ve submitted to over 30+ sites — one and done. If you don’t want to pay the $30 bucks to save you hours of time, do them all manually. Your call. (Tip: this tool also links to many other sites you connect to the day of your free/discount promo. Helpful.)
Total Time: 1–3 hours/week.
Creating Buzz the Week Before
- Reconnect with your ARC readers and remind them that your book releases in a week. Kindly ask them if they will be able to review your book upon release.
- Plan to give away anywhere from 50–200 ARCs to reviewers, book bloggers, and press. This is standard. Get over worrying about lost sales. The point is to get people talking up your book!
- Write your blog posts in advance for your blog tour (if you go that route), guests posts, or for your own blog.
- Write a good four to six weeks of your own blog posts on your branded topics (not only about your book release). Hold them in a draft and release one weekly. Share widely.
- Connect with local libraries, media, and bookstores about signings and interviews. Some sites are more open than others, and many book up in advance. You’ll likely not be able to book until you have a book in hand, but you never know. Take a chance.
- Ensure that all your social media bios are updated, go through your followers and filter out inactives, no-follow backs, and fakes.
- Submit your book to any review sites that will take books prior to release. These are called ‘pre-publication book reviews.’
Total Time: 2–3 hours/week.
Creating Buzz on Release Date and The Week After
Rather than rehash all of the above, you basically need to go through ALL OF THE ABOVE as well as:
- Drop your press release
- Pay for advertising on your release day (or longer, based on your budget) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and perhaps, Pinterest (depending on your demographic). Here’s a great basic guide from Hootsuite.
- Draw on your relationships with your readers, book bloggers, reviewers, and fans (all those relationships you’ve built over this past year), and ask them to tweet and post about your book but here’s Tip #1 — are you paying attention? — provide them with pre-made tweets and posts so all they have to do is copy/paste them. Tip #2: include your own Twitter handle when providing tweets for someone else to share (writers forget to do this).
Example: Broken Places by @RachelintheOC available now on #Amazon! https://geni.us/BrokenPlacesE #AwardWinning #Memoir
- Do not, I repeat, do not randomly autoDM or PM or message people you do not know to purchase your book on social media. Every person in the social media world is not your ideal reader. #TruthBomb. Turn off any automated messages of this sort now and interact live — and by interact live, I don’t mean spam your book link as a welcome.
- Manage your expectations. Shocking, I know: your book may be the most important achievement in your life thus far, but it’s not at the top of the priority list for anyone else. Harassing, haranguing, and generally being a pain in the ass to people about reading and reviewing your book is annoying and rude. Chill.
- Want to be a New York Times Bestseller? Join the club. It CAN happen, though it’s extremely rare for an indie with zero representation (aka, an agent) to make that list the first time out. Or the tenth. Overnight success typically means an author has been writing and releasing books for years — you just haven’t heard of them until now.
- That said, aim for the top! Your book needs to be AbFab. If it’s not, go back to the beginning because none of this matters if your book isn’t amazing.
- Be an adult. You will get bad reviews. People will hate your book. Some people are just plain mean and even crazy. They will hate you because oh, I don’t know, you have red hair and they disagreed with one of your tweets that one time. They won’t even read your books let alone purchase them, and will still give them one-stars. Amazon allows that, so we must get over it. The system is what the system is, so move on.
Set Realistic Sales Goals
If you aren’t marketing your book actively, interacting with readers, book bloggers, book reviewers, have no email marketing in place, haven’t built up your social media, aren’t blogging, haven’t optimized your posts and website, have no online presence, haven’t established your personal brand, pay for zero advertising…you get the gist — set low sales goals.
Which is what most authors do — nothing — yet still expect to sell a ton of books and sit on Oprah’s couch. With their first book and zero marketing.
Kinda crazy, right?
Setting realistic goals can help minimize overwhelm and frustration. A few ideas for newbie authors (regardless of how you are published):
- Set a goal for the number of book sales per month — a realistic, REACHABLE number…say, a minimum 10 sales per month for the first three months. If that seems unreachable after the first month, reassess.
- Keep track of your marketing efforts; determine what works and what doesn’t, then revise your marketing plan for the next three months.
- Other goals might be to get 2–3 new reviews per month,
- Submit to 1–2 promo sites (or awards) a month…etc.
- Every 1–3 months, check out your marketing plan, update your goals, adjust your numbers as necessary.
- If your book simply is not selling, and the reviews are poor, consider pulling your book. Make it better.
- Previously published authors with a backlist can aim a little higher, as they already have a fan base.
- The point is to set goals that you can reach, so you can make progress. Do something.
This is a pretty exhaustive post but again, it’s by no means the ‘be all and end all’ answer to everything because it’s on you to do the work (or hire someone to do it for you), and results vary by writer, market, reviews, genre, demographic, budget, author interaction…the list is endless.
Write because you love it and because you have a story to tell. Market because you want people to find your book and read it. Interact with readers because you’re human.
You got this.
Connect with Rachel on her business site at BadRedheadMedia.com, Twitter @BadRedheadMedia, Instagram, Facebook, and join her free weekly #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday 6 pm pst/9 pm est (just use the hashtag to join).
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