Thanks to the ease of access afforded by the Internet, many authors, novelists and writers are taking to self-publishing, which allows their offerings to see the light of day even without the backing of a publishing house or a large marketing budget.
In fact, the days of authors crying over a stack of rejection letters are almost over, as the general consensus seems to be “why do we even need their approval, anyway?”
Traditionally, publishers offer their support to authors whose books will appeal to a large audience, but self-publishing allows everyone with literary aspirations to find their own section of the market. Of course, that involves a certain amount of promotion, or in this scenario, self-promotion!
Self-Promotion is a Crucial Part of Self-Publishing
If you’re looking to achieve any kind of success, it’s not enough to just write and publish a book or line of books. As a self-published writer, you need to treat your books as a business venture, putting time and effort into their promotion. The good news is that there are a number of marketing techniques that you can apply, especially with simple online tools.
Before you can decide on a marketing strategy, however, it’s essential to ask yourself some basic questions, the answers to which will help you plan a strategy that meets your promotion needs and goals.
Here’s a list of 30 questions that you absolutely must ask yourself while you’re considering different options:
Who Are You Trying to Reach?
- What is your target market and the kind of audience you want to reach as an author?
- What is the age group of readers who are likely to buy your book?
- Do you understand what kind of marketing strategy will appeal to them the most?
- Have you considered where they might prefer to shop, i.e. online or offline, at a large chain of bookstores or smaller ones, etc.?
- Have you created a database of potential and/or existing readers of your work?
- Have you analyzed their preferences, what they like to read, trends within their areas of interest, etc.?
Once you have a clear idea about who you’re trying to reach as an author, you can create marketing plans that will specifically target those readers. This approach offers dual benefits – you spend less on advertisements and strategies that try to grab a larger audience (which may or may not actually be interested in your offerings), and you build a dedicated reader base that is likely to actually love your work (and possibly even promote it to their own friends and fellow book lovers).
Have You Understood the Competition?
- Which other authors are competing for the same target market as you?
- What are their marketing and promotional activities like, and where do they sell their books?
- Are their book covers designed to grab attention, with high-quality images and backgrounds?
- How are their books presented? Is it in a manner that suits the genre?
Understanding your competition allows you to market your writing more efficiently, as well as figure out how best to stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing that people respond to as quickly as a unique marketing angle that appeals to their own preferences in a creative manner. At the same time, looking at other authors’ marketing strategies could also give you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Have You Created a Profile and Identity?
- Are you represented with an author page on websites like Goodreads and Amazon?
- Do you have an active social presence with author and/or book pages on Twitter and Facebook?
- Have you created a professional, genre-appropriate and interesting author bio (with funny tidbits/personal details that will engage readers)
- Does it include a professional-quality picture (instead of a candid “selfie”)?
- Is your bio consistent everywhere it appears, with the same profile photo?
Let’s be very clear about this – today, you don’t actually exist until you have an online presence in addition to a physical one. Most readers (and consumers in any sector, really) will spend a lot of time browsing recommendations by other readers, exploring author profiles (preferably detailed and professional-sounding ones) and are also likely to follow their favorite authors online (for news about their lives, new offerings, awards and more).
Do You Have a Line or Series of Work that Identifies You?
- Have you written more than one book (like most successful authors)?
- If not, how soon can you start writing another?
- Can your current book be turned into a series?
- Does the genre you write in allow you to explore multiple book lines or series?
Multiple books and series of books are a great way to establish your presence as an author, as well as your perceived credibility. Just like successful clothing designers, for instance, you have to keep the existing interest in your work alive, by offering fresh and relevant material that your readers can enjoy.
Do You Have Existing Forms of Support?
- Have you joined a writer’s support group where you can get help with promotion or ideas?
- Have you participated in online discussions and social media pages on marketing ideas?
- Do you have colleagues, friends or family members who write, and if so, do they focus on a similar genre?
- Do you have active support from friends and family on marketing your books and ideas?
Building an active support base is one of the best ways to ensure that you have help with any venture. Your friends, family, colleagues and peers can not only offer backup while you get your book off the ground, but some of them might also be able to offer a fresh perspective or new ideas for your marketing plan.
Have You Considered Possible Marketing Ideas and Promotion Activities?
- How much time can you devote to marketing and promoting your book/s?
- Have you created a solid plan that will let you reach your target audience?
- Do you have any way to align your book’s topic with discussions on social media, reader’s forums, etc.?
- How often do you check for and study comments on blog posts, forum discussions or your author pages?
- Have you sent copies of your book to bloggers and other authors in the same genre for a review?
- Do you have an active and regularly updated blog, website and social media account?
- Have you included reviews from readers on these pages/links to reviews of your book on their websites?
If you want to grab the attention of prospective readers and keep it, the Internet is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Like we discussed above, your author profile and social media pages will help you engage readers, but getting experts or well-established fellow writers to review your book will also improve your credibility and grant you more exposure.
The questions we’ve listed here will help you decide how extensive your marketing plan should be, and will also give you some ideas on how best to promote your book. If you haven’t already started on the process, it’s time to get cracking!
Jason Walberg is Marketing Director at Power To Be Found, a Phoenix based Digital Marketing Agency. He is responsible for coordinating and implementing SEO & SMO strategies for clients. He is goal oriented, possess exceptional attention to detail, and has outstanding interpersonal skills. He received his Master’s in Education Technology from Pepperdine University after getting his undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.