So you’ve written a book and you want people to read it. Good! Join the club – there are a lot of us. In fact, it’s never been easier for authors to release a book, with plenty of options available – such as Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace – to help you to get your book on the market.
But that’s just half of the battle. Anyone can write and release a book, and so it means that plenty of people have done just that – there’s a lot of noise to cut through if you want people to enjoy your work. Now, the first thing to bear in mind is that other authors aren’t your competition – if anything, you’re your own competition, and you should strive to be the best version of you that you can be.
Working with other authors can actually be hugely beneficial – for example, you could consider interviewing an author with a similar readership to your own. Odds are, if you share that interview on social media, the author will share it as well, and that will help to introduce your work to potential new readers.
For all authors, it’s important to have a website. One of the biggest marketing trends at the moment is the trend of content marketing, which basically involves putting high quality information out there so that when people are searching for something, you’re there for them. Content marketing relies on people finding you, rather than traditional marketing – such as using billboards and magazine ads – which relies on interrupting someone to get a message across.
Writers have a natural advantage here, because the written word is one of the most powerful content creation tools out there. Combine it with a site like Canva, that allows you to create free graphics, and you’ve got yourself some visual content, which also works well – try creating quotes from your books, or testimonials and reviews from your readers.
Using social networking sites is a given, but don’t be too pushy – use them to develop new friendships and relationships, and try to obey an 80/10 rule. 80% of your posts should be based around engaging with people, whilst the remaining 20% should include a sales message.
That said, don’t be shy about the fact that you’re a writer. Consider reaching out to bloggers and reviewers and offering them a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Their opinions will help you to make sure that your future work is the best it can be, and they will also help to convince potential readers that your work is worth taking a look at. Even the odd negative review isn’t such a bad thing – they can actually help to convince people to make a purchase, because it makes the rest of the positive reviews look more genuine.
And take it offline, too. Consider getting flyers, banners and business cards, and contact local libraries and bookstores to see if they’ll stock your books. Ask about event opportunities too, and while you’re at it, consider hosting a physical launch party in a local venue.
In the end, an author has to be a marketer as well as a writer; otherwise, their books won’t sell, and they’ll miss out on opportunities that could change their career. But marketing involves a mix of disciplines and approaches, and the most effective marketing strategy is one that covers all sorts of things, from local press coverage to a regularly updated blog and a presence at events across the country.
The key is to measure the effects and to focus your efforts on the marketing activities that get results. You can use tools like Google Analytics and trackable links to measure the success of almost every part of your online strategy. Do so, and then follow up with the stuff that works and scrap the stuff that doesn’t.
Try new things. Take every opportunity that you get given. Say yes more. With a bit of luck, your book will be landing in the hands of readers in no time.
Dane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released in the summer of 2015.