So your book is printed and looks great. You've set up your distribution channels so your novel is available from Ingram and Baker and Taylor. However just because your book has been released and is available for purchase doesn't mean it will sell well - that part comes from Step 7 in the Publishing process: Promotion.
Book Promotion is something that all authors, whether traditionally or self-published have to work on. Many major publishing houses don't have Author Tour or Promotion Support and what they give outside of placement inside chain bookstores is very little. For self-published authors it boils down to hard work, focus and belief in your novel.
Money is the first thing you'll need to reconcile in your campaign. You have to decide how much you are willing to spend and whether or not you will get a solid enough Return on Investment to put up the promotional and marketing dollars. The point of promotion is the hope that your efforts will translate into sales. If you are spending advertising dollars and it's not translating into sales then it's probably wise NOT to spend the money.
So the first step in your marketing campaign is deciding how much you want to spend on promotion and marketing. Unless you have countless amounts of dollars in your bank account, I'd suggest starting off with a very small to moderate budget, I.E. $50 to $500. Most of the promotional strategies I'm about to share are affordable and many free.
Okay so you've figured out your start-up budget for promotion. The next step is structuring your promotional campaign. It's important to have a well-formed plan in place before launching your campaign as it will help you measure your success and have a better chance of reaching your sales goals. I suggest having two parallel campaigns: one for online sales and promotion and the other plan for how your will focus on gaining in-store sales.
Both of these plans such start with a Press Kit. I will be posted a more detailed entry about constructing a Press Kit. For now we'll keep it simple.
- Press Release: a one page summary release about what your book is about, who you are as an author, who is publishing it, and where and when it will be available for sale.
- Author Bio: A short half to one page biography about you as an author along with a few fun facts (i.e. what's your favorite song, favorite food, etc...) Don't get over detailed.
- Book Cover Photo, and a Book Trailer (if you have one)
- Book Facts: I.E. plot synopsis
- Any previous Press Clippings about your book you may have already garnered.
Online Promotion :
The World Wide Web has become a treasure trove of free and affordable options in book promotion. Many self-published have been able to be successful on online sales with Amazon or B&N.
Get a Website: The first step in your online promotional campaign is to set up a website. You don't have to spend a lot of money for a quality website. Many new website hosts have prefabricated templates and easy to use website design for any skill level, including those with little to no computer savvy. I suggest Hostbaby (primarily for singer-songwriters but works well for authors too) or GoDaddy. For "Burden of Proof" I use GoDaddy's Website Tonight Program. It costs $8.99 per month and includes hosting and an easy to use Website Design software. My domain name only costs $1.99 per year.
Social Networking: SN sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Goodreads, etc...offer a free and effective way to target readers and interact with those who enjoyed reading your book (s).
Facebook: Start a Fan Page for your book and invite all of your friends to join. For "Burden of Proof" I set up a Fan Page and then spent a $50 ad credit I received from Go Daddy to advertise the page. If you are going to invest in pay per click ads it worked very well as I received 30 new group members off of that ad campaign.
To entice more group members to join and in turn purchase my novel I have bi-monthly contests just for my Facebook page. These contests don't have to cost a lot of money or be complicated, but having giveaways is a reward for those who purchased your book. I opted to give away Season 7 of 24 on DVD as my novel is of a similar conspiracy plot. Other prizes I've seen authors give away include coffee mugs, book magnets, writing pads, etc...anything to get the reader more interested in joining in the Fan Page discussion.
Myspace: Myspace in my opinion can be a decent way to promote your book, but I think it's geared more towards musicians. I too am a songwriter and have had a lot of success with Myspace in promoting my songwriting, however it's not as user friendly as Facebook or GoodReads for accessing your target audience. Set-up a Myspace page, and keep it updated, but I wouldn't make this the flagship site of your online social networking campaign.
GoodReads: Goodreads is a great site for authors and readers. It allows for authors to create a page, maintain a blog, connect with Readers and offer book giveaways. This is a must for online promotion!
Amazon Author Page: If you have a book on Amazon you should sign up for an Amazon Author Page. It's free and connects to your book page(s). You can personalize with a bio, video and blog.
Book Tour: This is a website where authors can post tour dates for their book and look for possible signing venues. Book Tour will connect to your Amazon Author Page.
SPAN Net: Small Publishers of North America now offers a Social Networking site where authors and small publishers can post information about their books and create Apps. To join the site is free, however to become a full-fledged SPAN member it only costs $89. The fee is well worth it as you'll get a free membership to Prnewswire.com (usually $197 to join) and discounted rates for cataloging with Baker and Taylor.
Message Boards: Joining in Message Boards for books can really help boost your online presence and create buzz about your book. There are countless amounts of forums geared towards books of all genres with readers eager to find new books to read. There are certain dos and don'ts on these boards.
Offer interesting discussion about books (not just your own book) - the more quality posts you write about other fiction - the more of a presence you will have on the site, which will encourage fellow forum members to invest in your book. Post a plug about your book on the Author Forum or appropriate forum page. Be confidently humble. What does this mean? Well it means let readers know that your book is an enjoyable read and affordable, but don't be overly confident of use phrases such as "My book is the best book ever written, if you don't buy it you will cursed for life..."
For Kindle Books - you can post on Amazon's message boards, but I will warn you that many of the posters can get mean and if you post a shameless plug you might get deleted by Amazon. Just be cautious. Good alternatives are sites like Mobile Read or KindleBoards.
Pay Per Click Ads:
Many websites now offer affordable "Pay Per Click" Ad options, which means you are only charged for the ad when it is clicked, not simply based on the number of views of impressions. This can be an effective way to invest advertising dollars. The key to translating the ad clicks to sales is ensuring your ad is well-written and eye-catching and you product page looks professional. You also need to ensure that you pick the right sites to invest in. I think the best value for your money is Facebook Ads ( a little expensive, but effective), Google AdWords (Not as effective for my campaign, but if worded well can lead to a lot of sales), and GoodReads - this is a site tailored completely to readers, and the ads will target readers within your book's genre. You can set up the add to add the book "to-read" on GoodReads or purchase directly from Amazon.
Over all I would suggest investing small amounts in PPC ads at first to see what sites work and how effective the ads seem to be for your campaign. I limited my budget to $50 a month in Ads and sometimes don't invest nearly that much because the cost of $1.00 for a book Ad when I get a $3 royalty isn't great. It's an option you'll have to weigh and budget into your campaign.
PR Blast/News Media: Within your marketing campaign I suggest sending out a weekly email blast to news media such as Newspapers, Television Stations, Magazines, E-Zines, etc. I'll go into more detail about this in an upcoming post geared specifically to Press Releases and Press Kits.
That's all for now! Next time we'll examine Part II of the promotion campaign - targeting bookstores and print media.