Yesterday I was invited by the Northwest Ohio Writers Forum to give a talk on book marketing. The event was held at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio, up near Toledo. Instead of the usual conference room, set up, well had a seat in the home’s library, leading to a discussion which was more conversational. The members who attended were engaged in the topic and asked great questions. I would like to thank Judy and the staff at the 577 Foundation for taking very good care of us.
James O. Barnes, owner of Loconeal Publishing was also on hand to keep me out of trouble. It worked. Barely.
For those of you who were not able to attend, here are my tips for book marketing. Keep in mind, they are not the end all be all of how to market a book.Yet if you follow these suggestions, you will be well on your way to becoming the New York Times bestseller you hope to be.
Social Networking, Social Networking, Social Networking
There are many things self published and small press authors can do to market their books, but the first step is social networking. Social networking includes blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and more sites than I have the time or desire to list.
I believe every author should have a blog. Will each blog post sell books? No. But having a blog, where you post at least once a week, does help you connect with readers. Posting once a week will also help increase your search engine results. You don’t have to post about your books in each post. Research shows it is better if most of the posts on your page are NOT about your book. Blogs give you a chance to show your personality. If possible, try and get your name as your web address. Mine is Tonyacree.com. I recommend using WordPress.com to create your blog. It is the easiest to use and set up. And it is free! (You can pay $99 for more freedom to change the looks of the page.) Blogger.com is another site you can use to create your blog.
If you currently have a Facebook page for personal use, make a separate author’s page. People who read your books might not want to read posts about your aunt Bernice and her newest apple pie recipe. I use my Facebook page to promote my events (using the Create an Event feature).
Twitter is great way to engage your fans in a conversation. One of the biggest hurdles in Twitter is how to obtain followers. NEVER pay for them. One way to gain new followers is find another author who writes in a similar genre and follow the people who are their followers. Most will follow you back. Also, research shows following thousands of people who are not likely to buy your books is pointless. For instance, if you write romance novel, there is little point in adding people who only read zombie novels. Unless you have a zombie romance, of course.
Goodreads is another way to connect with readers using giveaways. Keep in mind Goodreads members tend to be tougher reviewers than your average review. I carry a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Amazon. The same book on Goodreads carries a 3.9 rating.
The one drawback to social networking is the time involved. Social networking, not done properly, can consumer all of your free time. I recommend using programs which allow you to schedule your Tweets, Facebook and blog posts. I use Hootsuite. I can sit down on a Sunday afternoon and schedule all my social networking posts for the week. Bufferapp and Tweet Deck are two other options, among many. They will cost you a monthly fee for full use (Hootsuite charges me $9.99 a month) but they are worth the cost.
Amazon is the nine-hundred pound gorilla in the room. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are the largest book selling site in the universe. Amazon offers each author a personal webpage on their site called Author Central. You will find it at AuthorCentral.amazon.com You will need an Amazon account to claim your page. Author Central will allow you to post a biography, list your books and link to blog posts. Have fun with your bio and do not be afraid to show some personality. Claiming your author central page will allow readers to find all your books in one spot.
Amazon offers authors the chance to join KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing. I have mixed feelings about KDP. I have tried it both ways and I prefer NOT to use KDP. A year ago, my answer would have been different. But changes to Amazon’s algorithms dealing with free promotions, makes KDP less appealing. The advantage to KDP is the ability to run sales promotions inside the Amazon framework. Once you choose KDP, you are not allowed to have your eBook available anywhere else for 90 days. The great thing, if you try it and don’t like it, you can change your mind in a few months.
Now that you have started your social networking dominance, claimed your Amazon Author Central Page, you are ready for the next step. Promotion. If you use Kindle Direct, they offer the chance to run free or discounted prices for your books for a certain period of time. Even if you do not use Kindle Direct, you can lower your costs for a brief 99 cent sale, or free giveaway.
There are sites you can use to help promote your work. Several will do so for free, others charge for their services. The top pay sites, in my experience are:
Getting Bookbub to pick up your book can be tough, but if they do, you will sell a ton of books. EReaderNewsToday.com recently changed their pay model from a percentage of sales to a flat fee.
Both Bookbub and ENT will also run promotions for your free giveaways.
If you are running a free sale, I would suggests PixelOfInk.com. Goodreads is also a great site for book giveaways.
If you go to a book sale event, you will need something to hand out to the people who stop by your table, but do not buy a book. I use 4 x 6 post cards. It allows me to put the cover on one side, and book information on the other. If you go this route, make sure to include the book blurb, the ISBN number, and your website address on the backside. I also include a Q-code which will take people directly to my Amazon Central page. Google Q-code generator and there are plenty of free sites which will create one for you to download and include on your cards.
Many other authors use bookmarks, magnets and other items. I always get eBook sales post event because I hand out my cards. If you do not, you are missing out. Sites to use to create your cards or bookmarks:
There are more expensive options. I use banners. Mine are 80 inches tall and 33.5 inches wide. They run around 200 dollars. There are less expensive ones, but a great banner will bring in people from across the room. I use DiscountBanners.com You can also get them at places like FedEx Kinko’s, but I’m not as thrilled with the quality.
Everybody thinks of the Barnes and Noble book signing. And if your book is listed in their systems, then they will consider having you. Many authors attend conventions. But there are other places you can have signings. I have held signings at Starbucks, grocery stores with book sections and other no traditional places. Do not be afraid to ask. All they can do is tell you no.