Larger books than this post have been written about effective book marketing strategies. But since I'm a brand and marketing consultant by profession, many believe I have some sort of mystic edge when it comes to promotion.
I don't. I just apply some common sense principles about "who is my audience?" and "who will care about this book?" and go from there.
The book world we all know is its own unique animal. Sort of like an ostrich, which seems to defy the laws of nature. Large publishers who spend thousands on a book can produce a bomb, while someone crafting a book at their kitchen table can become an eBook star overnight.
I've published two books: one was a business book with a small indie press. The other, Rebooting My Brain, launches in print on May 1. I self-published this second one for a variety of reasons after I learned some lessons with my first book. The biggest lesson is that it doesn't matter who publishes your book: you need to take responsibility for marketing it.
Why? One, many publishers won't pay for marketing, or in my opinion marketing that gets results. We have this image that they assign a publicist to you who is at your beck and call. Even friends who've had 6 figure book deals have to get creative and either do - or suggest - their own marketing.
Two, and I'm wearing my marketing hat here, many publishers don't have a clue. Their so-called "marketing support" consists of putting up a web page or sending out some Tweets. Their cover designs might suck. They forget the cardinal rule that if you build it, it doesn't mean they'll come. You have to DRIVE people to a site or the bookstore. They won't just magically show up. Don't believe me? Think about all the books you've never heard of...
I'm learning more all the time and don't even know it all, despite two books. But here are some tactics that worked for me:
1. Create a professional website and materials: I was able to get a professional and awesome looking website created for not a lot of money. You'll be making some investments in your book, and if your publisher doesn't provide an informational web page (or worse, theirs looks hideous) take it upon yourself to get it created WITH A PROFESSIONAL. Doesn't need to be fancy. It can be a Wordpress site like mine that is easy to maintain on your own and have 5 main tabs at least: About the Book, About the Author, Media, Reviews and Contact. And make sure purchase options are available on the home page and the About the Book Page, if not every page.
2. Create a media kit: The idea of this scares people. But all a Media Kit is, is a Zip file that includes a one- or two-pager about the book (abstract, author bio, where to find it, publish date, ISBN, reviews and contact info), the general book press release (even if you don't put it out over the wire, you should still have one) downloadable author photo, downloadable book cover image and any other photos or shots that add to the story. The goal is to give a reporter everything they need to craft and run a good story. Pretend you are a host or reporter and think about what they might ask you for. I also include: a page of book excerpts, suggested interview questions and possible news story angles they can use.
3. Target blogs: Now that you've done #1 and #2, you need to let people know they exist! We'd all love to be on Good Morning America, but the chances are slim. So start where you have odds of getting picked up. With my first book, I had great success with reaching out to small blog communities of faithful fans. Create a target list of 50 blogs that cover topics related to your book (your book should have 3 main themes or topics you can talk to). For example, for this latest book, my themes are: brain injury/medical information, inspiration for overcoming crisis and spirituality'love. I have a target list of blogs (and we're talking meaningful blogs, not ones that have 3 readers) under each topic. Then, I can pitch them in email to either interview me, review the book, or I can offer to write a guest post on the topic for their readers. Keep your pitches short and sweet, as people are busy. Bloggers love when you offer valuable content to their readers and that's one less post they need to write on their own!
4. Promote to your networks: This seems obvious, but make a list of every group, organization or affiliation you have and send them the press release or post a news item in the monthly newsletter about your book. Alumni clubs, professional organizations, social clubs, Meet Up groups, Facebook friends. You'd be surprised how often people skip this, as if they think it's easier to market to strangers! As a branding consultant and business owner, I belong to several women's business groups. I have posted in their newsletters, offered to write a blog post, or put a post up on their social media pages. You know more people than you think. And if they know you personally, they are a better audience for your book.
5. Create launch excitement: Try to offer a special promotion around your launch date. Can you give people freebies for purchasing? Can you plan a local launch party complete with cocktails, a reading and a book signing at a cool venue in your town? Can you put on a webcast Author Q&A for anyone who purchases the book? Get creative. I've seen great ideas out there and often emulate writers who are doing this right. For example, I organized a reading at a local book store that was super successful. And I'm offering a special promotion for my May 1 launch date: For anyone that buys the book from now through May 8, I'm offering free goodies if they email me the purchase receipt. You can check it out at www.rebootingmybrain.com/buzz-events and feel free to steal the idea!!
No matter if you're going the big publisher route or bootstrapping self publishing, you need to take responsibility for your book marketing. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BOOK AS MUCH AS YOU. If your publisher says they are "doing marketing for you" find out what they are doing, ask to meet with the PR or marketing team and brainstorm ideas, ensure you keep a task list and divide and conquer with their team. And if you're on your own, well, you're on your own. So prepare yourself with professional looking materials and then creatively get the word out.