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January 29, 2015

Book Marketing 101

by Donna Huber

I've seen several posts on Facebook where first time authors have asked about marketing their books. I haven't had the time to answer any of the authors, but I thought a quick overview of first steps in marketing a book would be useful. I must tell you though, marketing takes time and you just as you had to put time in learning your writing craft, there is a learning curve with marketing. There is no magic bullet, just hard work.

Create Word of Mouth Buzz

The success of a book is dependent on word of mouth, regardless of the publishing route. General readers discover new books based on recommendations. What book are their friends talking about?

Every aspect of your marketing should be focused on creating word of mouth buzz.

Get Social

Our circle of friends has expanded beyond the ones we see in real life. It also includes people we've met and connected with online. Social media has also made it easier for people to talk about their favorite books. Before you even publish your first book, you should have a social media presence - Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. You don't have to be every where, but be some places.

The first rule you should follow is BE SOCIAL. Be real, be a person, make friends. Talk about your favorite books, what you are watching on TV, parenting, etc. Build a repertoire with your followers and they will be more willing to listen when you publish your book.

When you are ready to starting marketing, provide your friends with graphics and teasers to share. Cover reveals and emotion-evoking quotes are examples of shareable content to start generating word of mouth buzz.

A word about quotes... Readers like to connect with the characters. Pick teasers that allow readers to connect with the character. Often you want them to think "I want to be that character. I've been there. I want a character like that in my life". If you write romance, you might want to choose teasers that make readers want to fan themselves. Horror writers - choose quotes that will send a chill down their spine.

If you are blogging, you can share larger excerpts to whole chapters to build interest in your book and to give readers something to talk about. Consider ending the post on a cliff hanger.

Reviews

You will want reviews for your book. Objective reviews are important. So you will need to ask more than just family and close friends to write reviews. The friends you make online may be good candidates. But also reach out to bloggers. You may get wrapped up in wanting a lot of Amazon reviews, but don't discount the power of bloggers. A mistake I see many authors making is contacting me (and I assume they are doing it to other bloggers) and asking me to write an Amazon review (the pitch doesn't even mention my blog). I spend a lot of time on my blog. I have put a lot of work into building a readership. It is more likely that readers will find my review here, than they will on your book page at Amazon. If readers don't know your book exist then they aren't searching Amazon for it and therefore won't see my review. However, if I post my review here, people are regularly visiting my page. They have signed up to get notified of new posts.

I automatically delete any review pitch that only ask for an Amazon review. You should be thrilled to get a review posted on a blog regardless if the blogger decided to also post on Amazon.

Generate Publicity

The third aspect of marketing of creating word of mouth buzz is generate publicity for your book. You may do this through interviews and articles. Again bloggers can assist you with this by featuring you on their blog. But don't over look magazines and news outlets. If you are a children's or YA author, check into local family magazines for possible article submissions or an interview. Depending on the size of town you live in, you may have access to a local news station or morning show (radio or television). Having a media kit will be helpful in making these pitches.

There are a number of award programs that your book could be eligible for. Keep in mind that not all rewards are created equal and there is usually an entry fee.

Events

Events can be a great way of creating buzz and getting people talking about your book. These events can be in person or online. Book signings and festivals are good ways to interact with fans. You can also check with local school and civic organizations to be a guest speaker. If you are a non-fiction writer (and in some cases even fiction writers) look into joining the speaker circuit. Even making yourself available to book clubs can help (get familar with Skype so you can virtually visit clubs that are too far for traveling).

Online events can range from Facebook parties or blog tours. With online events, you want to make sure you have a lot of shareable content for fans to post on their Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds.


I tried to provide an overview so that you have a starting point for creating your marketing plan. The specifics are up to you and should be tailored to your genre and personality. If you need more information about any of these, I have written separate posts (probably multiple posts) on these topics. I highly recommend you going through the Tips category to more how-tos. But also do your own research. There is plenty of info out there about marketing books.

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