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How to Market Your Book: 5 Non-Scary Steps for Internet Marketing Virgins
If you've just published your first book, congratulations! It's an incredible accomplishment.
You see your book displayed on Amazon, Kindle and even Barnes & Noble. Wow! You gently stroke the pages, endlessly re-reading the paragraphs you've crafted with so much love and attention. You're intoxicated with that new book smell. You poured your heart and soul into this book, and it shows. Now you can comfortably rest on your laurels, right?
Wrong. Gone are the times when writing was all that was required of writers, and publishers took care of the rest. Now that most publishers are basically glorified printers, the task of marketing and selling the book is largely the author's responsibility.
Did I hear terrified gasps? Don't panic. You can do this. Here's how.
Step 1: Build Your Following
You're going to need a loyal following who's interested in what you're selling. If that sounds like it's easier said than done, it is. It won't happen overnight (unless your book is a sudden runaway success) but it is doable.
First, create a website for your book, or at least a Facebook page. Then find and follow people in your niche. We're talking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and whatever other social media outlet you can stand to keep up with. Conservatively speaking 20-40% of them will follow you back. After that, the recipe is simple: share, share, share.
Step 2: Treat Your Followers as People
Don't you hate it when you're on vacation in a foreign country, and everyone treats you like a walking wallet? Same principle here: beware of over-self-promotion, that turns people off. This may sound like a contradiction to Step 1, but it's more of a clarification. You don't want to come off as too commercial.
Share interesting quotes and pictures along with your promotional book posts. Share some personal stuff. Use humor. Respond to people's messages and comments. Another good practice is to share someone else's content/post before sharing your own. Basically, pay it forward.
Step 3: Enlist Your Friends and Family in Your Book Promotion
Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of this step. I'd rather ask strangers to buy my book than people I actually know and talk to regularly. Why? Unless all your friends and relatives are super supportive generous people, this step is an emotional minefield.
Because guess what? You're going to find out who your real friends are and who's been playing that role rather convincingly, but actually doesn't give a crap. Or who's been saying "Congrats!!!" publicly but secretly feeling jealous. Or who thinks that your writing career is ridiculous, and you should get a regular 9-5 job and "grow up".
However, you need all the help you can get, especially if it's your first publication. I recommend sending out an email blast to everyone in your close circle. Make it funny and lighthearted. Ask to buy your book and if it's not too much trouble, to review it, too. Don't worry, it's not "fake reviews," all writers do that. Encourage them to spread the word, too.
Step 4: Keep Things Exciting
Like marriage, your book promotion will be "hot and heavy" in the beginning, followed by a disturbing loss of interest. To keep it relevant and exciting, you need to spice it up once in a while, and I'm not talking strap-on.
Keep updating your website/Facebook page. Send out monthly newsletters. Run promotions. Say, on a certain day you can buy the book for 20% off. Or first 50 buyers get an autographed copy (doesn't work for eBooks). Or if you buy a print book, you'll get a Kindle version half-off. Create merchandise related to your book. Host contests. You get the idea.
Step 5: Don't Be Shy. You Do Have Real Value to Offer Others.
Generally speaking, writers are a weird crowd. Part nocturnal, part schizophrenic, part alcoholic, part priest/ess, part confessor. We all had to battle serious self-doubts and fears about our writing, and it's still a daily struggle. We call it "writer's block". Am I good enough? Will people like what I write? What if I fail?
If deep down you believe that you have nothing of value to offer, your marketing efforts will only go so far. On the other hand, people who are confident in their product are more convincing and more likely to market successfully.
So above all, believe in yourself, and in the book you've written. This step can help you achieve more success than all marketing tools combined.
Consider this an example of Internet marketing...Here is the book I co-authored. Check it out!
Of course, there's much more to marketing a book than these 5 steps. But it's a good start, especially if every time you hear the word "marketing," your soul dies a little. Good luck. I hope you find the success you so deserve.
© 2015 Lana Laxmi