Self-marketing Made Easy in 15 Steps
By Fiona Ingram
For those aspiring POD (Print on Demand) or self-published authors who have read my article Self-Publishing Success, this is the follow-up to help you get your book out there and grab everyone’s attention.
If you thought writing and producing your book was difficult … actually, that was the easy part. However, once you’ve laid the groundwork for your author platform, it becomes easier with each book.
These days an author cannot just be an author. He or she has to be a product or a brand. Publishers are also more interested in someone who has more than just books to offer. Readers are greedy for information about the author, what inspires them, what new books are coming up, etc. Your marketing will incorporate your author platform. The author platform consists of: your book/s; your website; your author profile/bio; an e-zine or newsletter; a blog; a video interview (vlog); a podcast radio interview; a video preview on sites like YouTube; speaking engagements; articles you’ve written; articles about you.
There are so many Internet possibilities that I have included a list at the end to guide you to the best sites. From there, you’ll find even more links and options.
Your marketing steps will include a mixture of traditional and online marketing but the basic idea is this: Tell everyone you know about your book, and ask them to spread the word!
- Open Your Marketing Folder: Inserting plastic sleeves will protect your material. As you browse the web, save and print out anything to assist you. Divide your folder into sections such as: General, Contacts, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Newsletters, Press and Press Releases, Book Competitions, Book Review Services, Book Signings & Speaking Engagements, Online Marketing, Invoices (for tax purposes), and Publisher Communication (emails/contracts/info etc.). Start your research now and familiarize yourself with marketing possibilities.
- Press Kits & Releases: Once your book is ready for launching, your publisher should offer you a marketing program that includes creating press kits and releases, and sending these and review copies of your book to relevant media persons. I would advise purchasing a marketing program, preferably with your publisher, because most of the large self-publishing companies are knowledgeable regarding publicity, and the better their writers fare, the better they look. They can also usually get a (paid for) review with a top review journal such as Foreword Literary Review or Kirkus Review. There are many book-marketing companies out there to choose from, but ask for exact details of what they offer. You can also send out your own online press releases. Your press kit can include bookmarks, postcards, business cards, bumper stickers, fridge magnets, and if you can afford it, T-shirts, caps, embossed pens, in fact anything you can blazon with a logo or picture to reinforce your message. Don’t blow your budget on too much stuff. Start with the basics such as bookmarks and postcards, which will be included in a good marketing program from your publisher. You can get more creative later when you start earning money.
- Give Away Books: You will get your own promo copies, and you can purchase more at a reduced rate, so make the most of them. Some marketing experts advise aspiring authors to send out not ten, not twenty, not one hundred, but at least five hundred books. Sounds like a lot? It’s not. If you’re keen on finding a traditional publisher then create your press kit and take the plunge. Send to all the publishing companies that specialize in your genre, not forgetting the smaller ones. Big houses already have enough people knocking at the door. You may have to get a foot in the traditional door by starting small. Then decide who will review the book among your local press and magazines and send to those people. Depending on your reader target market, contact libraries, schools, local bookstores, book clubs, and reading groups and offer them a book. They will also be happy to review it. If it’s a non-fiction title, find an expert in the field to review the book. Most people are flattered and honored to be asked for their opinion. All book reviews should be included on your web site. Be generous with copies. People almost never throw away books. Somehow, somewhere, the right people will find you.
- Media Magic: If you have enrolled in a marketing program, while your publicist gets on with sending press releases out to large corporations, you can still help by tackling your local press, television, and radio stations. Many radio stations have a ‘book talk’ slot. Small regional or neighborhood presses are always looking for news so make your story newsworthy by adapting it to local interests, issues or events, or local groups/clubs. Hook up with your old high school or college and ask them to do a piece in their newsletter. Speak at functions, or events organized by charities, churches, women’s or business networking and similar groups. Ask everyone you know to come up with a marketing idea.
- Write Articles: Don’t say you have nothing to write about. You’re reading my article right now. If you think about your experiences, joys, lows, highs, rejections, and knowledge as a writer, that makes an article in itself. You can add these to your personal website, as well as your book website. Also, load them onto Google and sites that accept articles, such as Wikipedia, Squidoo, Digg, and other press sites.
- Website Wonder: A good website is a wonderful tool. From this launching pad, you can include all the other elements, such as listing where you are on social websites, what inspired you to write your book/s, info on your book and perhaps a first chapter, a picture of the cover, radio or video interviews, a book video, a contact email, or even your blog. Once you’re in cyberspace you’ll find that people will find you, and when they find you, they find your book. From here, you can launch your blog or fan club, set up your Twitter and other options, and link your social network sites, such as Facebook, Myspace, Squidoo, etc, back to this. You can also launch your website on many social sites simultaneously. You can put your profile, book cover, and details on author sites to showcase your work. These create coverage and alert the industry to your presence.
- Create An Online Press Room: Your website is your biggest asset in your author platform. You can put up information on your book and purchasing details, as well as your press release, your bio and a good pic, your reviews, and anything written about you and your book. When you reply to people, include your website in your signature so interested parties can track you back to your site, thus creating a good stream of traffic. Been interviewed on the radio or a local television station? Ask for a copy and put these up on your site as well. The more electronic information people have available for easy access, the better.
- Get Googled: Google is a fantastic tool. You can load your articles, get a Google Alert to notify you every time something comes up about you and your book, link other sites back to your own to increase your ratings and give you credibility, set up a Blogger alert, join Google’s Library page, keep track of your site’s performance with Google Analytics, and much more.
- Amazing Amazon: This is the largest book site around and you need to be on it. A good self-publishing company will put you up anyway, but make sure you pay for the Browse Option so that readers can read a few pages before buying. Amazon will also review your book if you approach them; you can also put up other reviews on your book. A good tip is to buy and review books similar to your own, review them, post the review and then link back to your own site. Don’t mess about here—it must be a genuine review. You can also use Amazon Associate, Amazon Friends & Favourites, and Amazon Connect.
- Online Book Tours: You can ‘chat’ to eager readers by going on a Virtual Book Tour. Virtual book tours are a promotional tool for authors to connect with readers via book blogs.Tours usually include a minimum number of tour stops over the course of one month on a variety of blogs. Authors on virtual tour can be featured on the company’s blog for an entire month. Some companies offer to feature on each tour stop a photo of the book, a review, links to the author’s website and blog, and will include your purchase information. Authors who interact with tour hosts and make themselves available for guest posting, interviews, Q&A sessions with blog commenters, and who respond to comments will have the greatest success from their tour. Many book tours have hosts with blogs that have a large number of daily hits, or a very specialized audience that relates well to the book on tour.
- Subscribe: Many book publishing and author marketing companies offer free newsletters, which are an incredible source of information as well as offering links to more sites. Check out their archived newsletters as well as subscribe. From these you’ll learn everything you need about publishing, getting your books into bookstores, approaching book dealers, getting book reviews, upcoming book competitions, blogging, online marketing, keywords for internet listing ... the list is endless.
- Podcasts and Online Interviews: Again, newsletters will provide you with links to radio interviews and teleseminars for ideas and information, or the opportunity to be interviewed. If you are not able to listen in at the specified time, most companies will kindly send you the link for later listening. You can make your own as well for marketing purposes. Go to: www.bookmkr.audioacrobat.com.
- Book Competitions: Why should you enter? It’s not so much about winning as being seen. Competitions broaden your author profile because people in the industry will read your book. Even if you don’t win, you may get a Best Runner-Up mention, and that’s the kind of detail you will put in your press release. You don’t have to be in print yet to enter some competitions.
- Say Thank You: It is important to thank people for their time and assistance if they’ve done a review, or printed an article or some news about you and your book. Take the time to handwrite and post a letter or card if you can. Otherwise, a polite email will be welcome. You’ll make a friend and cement the contact for your next book.
- Do Not Stop Marketing: Even when your book is out there and you’ve sent off your press releases, don’t stop spreading the word! Do something every day (either online or physical) to continue your marketing thrust. Remember—marketing doesn’t sell books … marketing gives you exposure and exposure sells books.
LIST OF SOME TOP SITES
Author Marketing Companies (most offer excellent newsletters)
Author Sites (load your author bio and book details)
Submit Articles & Press Releases
Book Reviews (get your book reviewed)
Other Social Network Sites
Fiona Ingram has just published her first children’s novel, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. She is a full-time author in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Fiona Ingram also offers in-depth courses in self-marketing and book promotion techniques. These courses are limited to South African writers although please feel free to contact Fiona for advice and tips.
Copyright 2009 Fiona Ingram