As featured on Kirkus Reviews
Marketing a newly published book is one of the most difficult tasks a writer takes on. Writers write—marketing is an entirely different animal, but it’s an animal that must be conquered if a writer is to succeed. How can you reach the masses? There are several strategies when it comes to book marketing, and I am a firm believer in long-term, constant exposure leading the path. If readers are not aware that your book exists, they cannot purchase it. The following suggestions, if done properly, will help your book find its wings.
Write a good book with relatable characters and a strong hook. Obvious, and important, but…we’ve all picked up bestsellers that were not necessarily well-written, yet something about them hooked enough readers to make them bestsellers. This phenomenon does happen, but you cannot and should not count on it. Write a damn good book, one that people can’t put down, and that you’ll be proud of.
Hire professional editors (developmental/structural and copy). Yes, editors are expensive. Yes, your fifth grade English teacher might be able to proofread your novel, but he/she probably isn’t experienced enough with professional novel development to give you solid advice on structure, pace, character development, etc. Even if it takes you months to save up enough money to hire a seasoned editor, it will be worth it. Go for experience, speak to references, and above all, read something the editor has edited before committing to hiring them.
Hire a cover artist. Covers sell. What makes you pick up a book? Surely the summary, which is facing the shelf on a bookstore wall, isn’t screaming out to you. Give your book the best cover you can afford. Make it appealing and relevant to your story.
Create an effective and branded online presence (which will/can/should become an active marketing tool). Authors need more than just a website or a blog. Authors need to be visible, offering more than just their books to their audience. Interesting, informative content is king. Your website and blog are key elements, but so are your social media accounts, and they each can feed one another and lead to converting curious readers into buyers.
Create a marketing plan BEFORE launching your book. There is no bigger mistake than rushing to publish your book and then trying to learn how to market it. Your book needs to be given a grand entrance into the mass of literary works. Build a marketing plan, plan an effective book launch, and prepare your book for success. The reason I created the educational arm of Fostering Success was to make marketing education easy to understand and affordable for all authors. Before you spend money in a haphazard way, learn what works, then plan your launch.
Join a supportive writing community and cross-promote with other authors. Working with a collaborative group extends your reach many times over, while offering the support you need. At the World Literary Café (WLC) we offer real programs that work for authors. Our highly effective Tweet Teams are just one example of successful cross-promotion—you’ll never have to tweet about your own book again. Programs to gain Facebook likes, Twitter followers, reviews, and blog tour connections, are just a few of the many benefits of WLC. Our private Facebook writer’s group allows literary discussions and support—a gathering of like-minded individuals helping each other to succeed.
Learn to market your own work. There is no magic bullet. Learn successful techniques for marketing that reach beyond social media, and remember that in order to see and maintain long-term sales, you need to understand marketing and how to do more than simply post your free book on Amazon and hope for sales to follow. Many readers never access social media. How are you reaching them? Consider contacting your local newspaper to run an article on your release. Throw your launch party at a chain restaurant and market your efforts nationwide. Consider your platform and using speaking engagements to reach more readers. There are many ways to succeed in reaching a wider audience.
Build relationships with readers. Selling anything is about building relationships—both online and offline. Bring bookmarks to share with others—connect face-to-face, extend an olive branch. Building relationships is key, so be genuine.
Build a platform that works for you (and brand it). The most difficult thing about platforms is that they are not tangible things you can buy or borrow. Your brand is how you package your services, product, platform—your platform is what you bring to the table. Whatever you choose as your platform, your presentation has to be professional, genuine, relatable to your readers, and packaged with your own recognizable brand.
Capture the right attitude to succeed. Marketing a book takes time, energy, desire, focus, and dedication. You have to be emotionally “on” at every marketing opportunity. Building a following and then ignoring it can hurt your reputation. Find your most comfortable “you” and that is the one you should put forth. Know your book is the best it can be and use that positive energy to get your book in the hands of readers.
There is too much to learn about marketing than can be achieved in a few articles. You must also understand about your book’s tags on Amazon, how to gain reviews, how to leverage your free days and your paid (or unpaid) promotions, how to use effective tweeting methods, how to build your platform, and much more. For this reason, I’ve created the self-guided courses available through Fostering Success. The knowledge learned, coupled with a strong, supportive literary community, can help your book find its wings.
Learn before you leap. You CAN do this!
Article written by Melissa Foster, New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author, founder of Fostering Success, World Literary Café, and The Women’s Nest. Melissa writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women's fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. Follow Melissa on Twitter @Melissa_Foster.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.