Marketing Your Self-Published Book to the General Public
Contrary to popular belief, marketing your self-published (or traditionally published) book does not have to be costly. It is all about building a platform and marketing to your list.
With the invention of the internet, social networking, websites, blogs and forums, advertising does not have to empty your wallet. If done correctly, you should be able to get away with spending very little money on your marketing. Your biggest expense will be your time, but even that will pay for itself in the long run.
Where Do I Start?
Getting started is often the hardest part.
If looking at the big picture, it is best to start your marketing efforts before your book is even ready for publication. Why, you ask?
It's simple - the more you promote your book before it is published, the better your chances of making sales within the first few days of release. Promoting a book before publication is basically the same as movie trailers being televised before the actual release date. By doing it this way, the movie companies are guaranteed to have ticket sales on opening night. It is no different than your book. Let others know it's in progress: blog about it, post to Facebook and Twitter (once every few days is sufficient, otherwise you're going to lose a few friends), and promote it on writing forums (some have a thread for just this purpose).
How often do you post on your blog?
I'm New to Blogging - What Do I Do?
One of the best things to do to start promoting your book is by blogging about it. If you do not already have a blog, now is the time to set one up. Free blogs are available at WordPress or Blogger (my personal favorite). It is simple to set up; just follow the step-by-step instructions and you will be on your way.
Keep in mind that even though you have a blog set up, traffic will not automatically swarm to it. You will have to let others know it exists by linking to it from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, using the signature feature in your emails, blog comments and forum posts and by simply posting on a regular basis.
When setting up your blog, it is important to be clear about its contents. I personally have one set up in the name of my book series, which showcases parts of my books as well as other information pertaining to the series. (I must admit I have been lax about posting lately.) I have included excerpts from my published book and also from my upcoming book(s). In addition to the excerpts, I have included tips, recipes and general chit-chat about the series.
Post at least three times a week, and include pictures whenever possible. This will help you get found by search engines, which will bring more traffic to your site. If you are having trouble thinking about what to blog about, send chapters of your book to others for reviews. Post the reviews on your blog (remember to give credit where credit is due) and encourage comments.
Blogging will soon open up some doors for you, especially if your niche (book) pertains to helping others. If your book is purely fiction, do not despair. It will attract readers as well; especially if it can keep them wanting more.
What About Facebook and Twitter?
A good percentage of the population has a Facebook account. Linking your blog posts to Facebook will drive traffic to your blog, and vice-versa. Adding a Fan Page pertaining to your book/blog will help keep your personal Facebook profile hidden from prying eyes while showcasing your upcoming (and existing) work.
Making regular posts on your fan page will help increase blog traffic and interest in your work. In order to get "likes" to your fan page, you could place an ad through Facebook Ads (cost varies) or encourage your friends to "share" your page with others. If they like what they see, they will like your page and you will gradually increase your fan base.
Keep your fan page posts related to your book(s) and you will be pleasantly surprised with increasing numbers. You could also encourage "likes" by holding a contest; everyone likes free stuff. "Share this page and enter to win a free copy of <book title>" is often enough to get people motivated to share your page. Be sure to keep a record of everyone who shares within your time period and when the contest is over, pick a name and post it on your page. I would suggest running the contest for no more than a week. Attention spans are short on Facebook, so keeping dates close is best. Or, you could say "Draw will be made when this page hits <X number> likes". Get creative, but always follow through on your promise of the prize. It could be anything you wish; even a copy of the e-book if you prefer.
Twitter followers have an even shorter attention span than Facebook followers, as the feed is much quicker (this of course depends on your list of followers, and how many people they follow). I personally have more interaction with Facebook followers than Twitter, but that is not the case for everyone. I do not spend much time on Twitter either, so that does contribute to the factors.
Linking the two accounts together is a good idea in many cases, especially if you are trying to build up a following before your book release. To do so, make the necessary changes in your settings on each platform (visit FAQs on each site to learn how to do this).
Building Your Platform
What Else Do I Need to Know?
No matter how you are published, let me stress it is up to you to do your marketing and networking. Traditional publishing companies may do a press release upon publication, but they will expect you to have done a lot of the leg work prior to release date.
It is not uncommon for a publishing company to ask a new author what type of platform they have before committing themselves to publish that particular book. if you are being asked that question and reply with a "what's a platform?" then chances are they will pass you by. If you can give them a definite answer by saying "Facebook fan page likes of 10,000" or something similar, then you have a better chance of being published traditionally.
As this Hub concentrates on self-publishing, it is even more important to have a solid platform. It is not easy for new authors to break into the book market (trust me on this one), so you have to work on not only your book, but your marketing tactics as well.
Do not market strictly online; take your book elsewhere as well. One of the best places to start is your local library. Set up a book signing date (make sure you have copies of your book available) and provide the library with details of your book and the amount of time you wish the event to go for. Ordering copies of your book via POD service will give you enough for your event, but not commit you to ordering hundreds. Speak to the librarian regarding a list of possible attendees; this way you will have a better idea of how many books to order for the event.
Approaching other libraries and book stores in your area is also recommended. Set up a schedule and aim for one stop per day. Small communities enjoy the publicity local talent provides, so don't be afraid to "toot your own horn".
Keeping Accurate Records is Vital for any Business
Persistence is Key
Self-published authors soon realize they have to wear many hats: writer, public relations manager, marketing expert, sales manager, book keeper and more. It is a lot of work, but if done correctly it may lead to a comfortable lifestyle. The best thing about being an author is you do not have to be tied to an office; you can work from anywhere your heart desires.
Keeping a marketing schedule and adding new books to your portfolio are two of the best things you can do for long-term success. Working hard initially may (note I say "may" as nothing is guaranteed, but don't let that stop you) provide you and your heirs with passive income for years to come. Is that not something to aim for?
On a final note: self-published authors may find themselves being approached by big name publishing companies if their books hit record sales. This is good for the publishing company as the author has already proven their capabilities at generating income and publicity. If this happens to you, congratulations on a job well done, but be sure to read the fine print before you sign any contracts.