Self-publishing essentials with Ellie Marney: promo, marketing and all that jazz (part four)
We’ve reached the fourth instalment of this series on book promotion—and congratulations! You’ve done all the preparation for marketing your book! You’ve made a marketing plan, figured out the things about you as an author and your book as a product that will make an appealing package, and you’ve constructed your promo field kit (a website, a newsletter, a Facebook profile, a social media presence). Now the time has arrived to actually begin promoting! This article will help you get started, with a few suggestions for using your field kit tools.
First though, consider some important self-publishing variables that give you increased control. The main variable is quality—is your book the best it can be? Has it been properly edited, and attractively typeset and formatted? Does it have a great, professional-looking cover and a catchy description? Have you got your metadata sorted out to draw in readers? Make sure you have these things nailed down. Another variable is price—you have absolute control over pricing, which means you can be flexible. Switch it up, switch it down, put your book on sale for a limited time … play around with pricing and find the price point that works for you. You can also consider placement—where is your book selling? If you’re on Amazon, are you in Kindle Unlimited or are you free to go wide to sell on other platforms like iBooks and Nook and Kobo? Is your book only available in a digital format or are you distributing print editions into bookstores and libraries?
Once you’ve got these elements sorted out, it’s time to put your publicity plan into action.
Get started by making professional-looking graphics on Canva or Book Brush so you have some visual content for your blog, social media posts and website (you might even want to create a book trailer on Book Brush). Create social media headers to connect your social media presence to your book, and begin adding social media content about your title to your feeds. Remember to stagger your promotional posts (one in every five or so posts), so it’s not just a long string of promo. Set up your presence on Amazon Author Central and Goodreads (don’t forget to add your book there!) so people can find your work, and share these links in your posts, as well as links to your website and buy links.
Invite readers to your newsletter via your platforms and through links in your book’s backmatter, and then begin your newsletter by introducing yourself and your book to readers. Your newsletter should go out once a month, becoming more regular in the lead-up to a book release. If blogging is part of your strategy, get an introductory blog post up on your website. If you’re not sure what to put in your newsletter or what to blog about, try these ideas. Create bonus content and giveaways to attract reviewers and readers. Sign up for a Bookfunnel giveaway campaign to increase awareness of your book and gain newsletter subscribers.
Get posting on Facebook—interact with your friends, readers and audience members. Connect with other bloggers who have an audience that looks like your target audience, and start guest posting and sharing other peoples’ content if it’s adjacent to your interests. Prep advance reading copies for reviewers. Check blog and other review sites to find reviewers, and approach trade sites for reviews—maybe think about setting up a review team.
Connect with book clubs and libraries. Create a press release that you can send out to trade reviewers, bookstores and libraries. Think about doing some in-person promotion, such as an author talk at your local library or a school visit. Consider a book launch—it could be an online launch (most effective for ebook-only titles) or a party-style print launch.
Create a list or spreadsheet to keep track of what promotion you’re doing, and to help you work out what has been effective in engaging reader interest and increasing sales. Remember, if you write more than one book (which I recommend) you’ll be doing this again, so figure out what works. Now that you better understand your target audience, start thinking about paid promotion (advertising) and how it might fit into your overall strategy.
Above all, try to relax and enjoy the process. Don’t stress out about hollering into the void! Your intention with publicity is to create a community, connect with readers, fans, and others in the publishing and writing scene, and (along the way) set up a core group of people who enjoy your content and will support you by buying your book. It takes time and a lot of effort, so pace yourself and enjoy the ride.
If you’re after some other ideas for free promotion, check out this article from the Australian Writers’ Centre, or this one from Author Unlimited. Our final instalment in this series—coming soon—will be on paid promotion. See you then and good luck!
Ellie Marney is a teacher and hybrid YA author. She lives in Victoria with her family, and her most recent book series, Circus Hearts, was published in November 2018. Find her at www.elliemarney.com or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.