Marketing a book effectively
- Don't be shy. Let your friends and colleagues know about a new book. I do a bi-monthly email to many people. These are not names I scooped from a Yahoo group or a blog post, these are people I know, mostly in person. Each email says if a recipient does not want to get more update emails, just say so. In the email I mention things such new books, a blog post they might like, and a recent success. Your friends will be your biggest fans, and they'll tell their friends about your books.
reviews. Potential buyers look at a book's ratings and reviews. There
are many sites that publish these, and you should ask local papers to
mention your book, even if they don't do reviews. Ask a few people you
know to write reviews of your books when they are first issued. Do NOT
go around saying, "I need some five-star reviews. Just read the synopsis
and you can say something good." This is unethical. If these are your
plans, please stop reading.
- Start a blog. No, not
because the entire world wants to read what you think. You should be so
lucky. A blog lets people find you, and it's a place where you can keep a
list of all your books or things such as samples of good book reviews.
Blogs are free and easy to set up. I use the Google-sponsored Blogspot
because I found it easier to set up than a Wordpress blog. Once you have
one, post regularly, and don't make every post self-promotion.
a web page. Use a web page only if you want to spend the time keeping
it updated. I have elaineorr.com, which I did myself. You can tell that I
did, and I may get a professional to start from scratch someday. Right
now, it meets my needs. Remember, there are fees to register your domain
and often fees to host a site. Blogs are free, and generally easier to
- Tweet. I delayed doing this and wish I had
not. You cannot document books sold as a result of your tweets because
you use many marketing techniques at once. However,
Tweet like a birdie.
- Use the correct link. If you tweet, or do anything else designed to reach markets in a country other than yours, make sure the book links provided go to sites where, for example, folks from the UK can purchase your books. They cannot buy them on Amazon.com, they have to use Amazon.co.uk. If you search for Amazon International Sites, you can get to an Amazon page that has flags for most countries in which they sell. Search for your book on each site and use that link as needed. You can then tweet to #kindleuk, #kindleaustralia, and the like. You can list international links on your blog.
- Use Kindle
Boards. Kindle Boards has forums and you can create a profile for each
book. Then use that page as a link for the book. It will be a
super-looking page and there will be flags for each Amazon site. Amazon
also permits links to other sellers on KB Boards' profile pages. (I did a post explaining how to use the KBoards.)
- Set up a Facebook fan page. If you don't know how, do a Yahoo or Google search about how to do it. My personal page is for friends, family, a few writers I've come to know even if not in person, people from my church... Get it? Personal. My posts are not public. A fan page can be public and deals only with your writing. If you give it a title such as Elaine Orr's Fiction Page, then when people look for things related to fiction, your page comes up. Don't post what you had for dinner. Stick with writing. Do a post if you write a book review, read something that might be helpful (such as this article), or are pleased with the new cover design an artist sent you.
- Do not do your own cover unless you are a graphic designer or expert hobbyist. Never. Ever. Do an online search for something like 'bad covers' or 'finding a good book cover artist.' You don't have to pay a lot for a cover. I even used Fivver for a couple of nonfiction books. Smashwords maintains a list of people who assist writers for a reasonable price. You buy cover artwork in a work-for-hire arrangement, which means it's yours to copyright with your book, and use for marketing. The one shown here is for Behind the Walls and is among my favorites.
- Join a Yahoo Group that deals with your genre or subject matter. I belong to Murder Must Advertise. Members of these groups share what they know and are often generous with ideas.
- If you enjoy social media,
set up a Pinterest account or use sites such as Tumblr. Some authors
post videos on sites such as You Tube. If you use the latter, don't do
it yourself. You can get recommendations from friends or people on
- Create an Amazon Author page. I know
of no other sales sites that let you do this. (Tell me if you do.) You
can modify a book's description, keep your bio updated, and provide your
thoughts on each book. Best of all, if you have books produced by a
publisher other than you, you can add them to your profile and include
more info than is in the book description on Amazon's page for the book
(which is only what the publisher put there).
- Use Goodreads and Shelfari. The latter lets you list characters, settings, and more for each book. Goodreads (which Amazon bought in 2013) is a world unto itself. Create an author profile and link it to your books. I now do a Goodreads giveaway for new paperback books, which draws a lot of attention. If you agree to send books to other countries, be aware you will pay international postage, which is not cheap.
- Here's a don't. Don't make your entire Internet presence relate to selling your books. If your writing features pets, go to some pet blogs and post comments. If a book features a realtor, ditto for those sites. I post to Twitter links to how-to blog posts I've done. Anytime I tweet I get at least one hundred views.
- What about KDP Select or Kindle Countdown? I make a good deal of money on Amazon. I'm a huge fan. Amazon also looks out for itself very well. For example, you cannot price a digital book lower on another site. You agree to this when you publish a book, and that's the policy whether you use an Amazon marketing program or not. If you sign up for a special marketing program, you cannot sell a digital book on another site for the ninety day period. You can use KDP Select, which lets you give away books for five days during that ninety-day period. The Countdown alternative (you cannot use both concurrently) lets you price a book very low for a period of time and then work the price back to its regular price. I've done both, and believe they are especially effective if you publish a series. For now, I keep a couple of books on KDP Select, and sell the rest at all sites. I make enough money elsewhere to want to keep the books available through all sellers.
- If you do special promotions, publicize them. It may seem that if you have a free book people will flock to it, but there are other authors doing the same thing. Readers are not likely to see your book unless you point them to it. One site (Book Marketing Tools) now gives you one place to link to sites to promote your free and discounted books. Some charge a fee and some do not. Other sites with multiple promotion links are Savvy Writers and ebooks' list of twenty-six sites, and a similar list from Galley Cat. You will find broken links, as not all promotion sites stay operational. There are also Facebook groups that let you promote. Bookmark every marketing site you find so you can go back to them.
- Publish a paperback. If you don't, what would
you show people when you give a talk or attend a writers' conference?
Create Space (an Amazon company) is truly simple, and they have help
available 24/7. I am about to use Lightning Source for additional
editions. Bookstores are sometimes more comfortable ordering from
Lightning Source, but there is a fee. Create Space is free and books
are listed on all major book retailers' web sites. Also, if you use KDP
Select, having a paperback on Barnes and Noble or iTunes lets readers
know there may be an ebook somewhere else.
- Set limits. Whatever you choose for Internet marketing, make a commitment not to do it more than a set amount of time each day. You could spend a morning going from link to link.
- Market everywhere. Jeffrey Marks has written Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel.
It deals with all aspects of marketing, including Internet. If you buy
one book, I suggest it be this one. You need to do press releases, visit
bookstores, and volunteer to give talks at the library or to groups
such as Lions or Rotary. Authors get used to marketing from their
chairs, and that is not enough.
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And what kind of marketer would I be if I didn't tell you where to buy my books? Here are links to my books on major sites.
www.smashwords.com/profile/view/elaineorr (all ebooks,