Marketing for Authors in 10 Easy Steps
There is one thing for certain, authors play a vital role in a book’s sales success. Whether it is single authored, co-authored or edited, it’s a long writing process. During that process you become intimately familiar with the content and therefore uniquely qualified to know who and why people should want to read it. Working closely with your publisher on a marketing strategy is essential. Completing your publisher’s marketing questionnaire as fully as possible is important as this will form the basis of their marketing plan. In addition, there’s a lot that you can do to really create awareness.
Targeting your reader early is highly important. As you’ll remember from our proposal guidelines, good writing practice requires identifying your target reader. Considering your audience’s needs will determine your content, tone, style, wording and the frequency with which you define terminology. Visualizing your audience early can help you to decide what to write and avoid the risk of being generic and ineffective. Read our blog on creating a Reader Avatar. A term coined by us in 2016 that has been widely cited as a key method for your marketing strategy.
Reader hang outs have changed. Current surveys suggest that the online environment consists of 3 main trends: Search 97.9%, Social 97.8% and Video 92.3% (Ingram 2021). No surprise that this has increased over the last year with the pandemic but many are suggesting that this trend is likely to continue as books, like many other things, are easier to search for, find on social sites and read online. This is great news. Previously trying to get into high street bookstores was and still is a struggle. This isn’t the case for their online bookstore which has made getting your book stocked by them so much easier.
Step 1. Online bookstores
are always eager to sell your books. Plus, more than ever your target reader is likely to be hanging out here too. Online bookstores include the likes of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bertrams, Gardners and Waterstones. Independent Bookstores such as Powells have also gone online. Some of the bigger retailers like Amazon are starting to lose market share to other players such as Walmart and Target so always make sure that you or your publisher is listing your book in as many of these outlets as possible. We currently distribute to 40,000 retailers, libraries, schools and universities.
For more information see: www.howgatepublishing.com/distribution.
Don’t forget there are also the Online Libraries which include: Libby, OverDrive and Hoopla. Your authors could well be hanging out there too.
Step 2. The virtual you
is likely to be your biggest and easiest opportunity to personally create awareness of your new book, but also to increase visibility of you as an author. Having a good online presence will without a doubt increase your exposure tenfold. Just look at all the ‘influencers’ that wouldn’t be influencers without the utility of the internet.
Institutional websites are often out of date largely due to the difficulty of relying on the institutional IT department to update this for you. If this has been the case for you, why not create your own website. It can pretty much just be your CV online and there are a whole raft of free template website design companies on offer. We prefer Wix as personally we find them user friendly. Pick a pre-designed template and adjust it – it really is that easy.
This is marketing through expertise. Websites are a great opportunity to show off your expertise and highlight how you are uniquely qualified to write your book. Your pages can create what is often referred to as EAT: Expertise, Authority, Trust and generate more opportunities for people to find your book and to find you.
Step 3. Amazon
really is your friend especially if creating a website is not your thing. Amazon deserves its own paragraph because it is so useful for authors. We are going to be driving a lot of orders through to Amazon so this could be great promotion for your book and for you. Amazon author page is a public profile that increases your legitimacy as an author. It allows you to introduce yourself, provide updates such as events that you are talking at, it can drive traffic to your blogs, website or social media profiles, you can even add a book trailer with the help of video preview. Most importantly, it can showcase what else you have written providing more legitimacy for you as an author and additional marketing opportunities. Here’s a page from our author, Amit Gupta.
Consider also other places to provide author related content such as Goodreads, BookBub, Google Scholar and Academia plus specialist subject online communities such as PhilPeople.org designed for philosophers.
Step 4. Social media
can also do this so make sure to add your book to your social profiles. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the top runners here. Additional writing about your book is very interesting to anyone that is considering or is already following you. It’s worth reading up about the effectiveness of hashtags – they really do improve engagement with your target reader. Your posts should be meaningful to your audience and always include a link to purchase your book. Also, it’s worth considering following and/or taking part in key events/associations/professional groups to create awareness about your book to a specific audience. Engagement with other people’s posts is important. Most events will have their own follow hashtag. Don’t ever be afraid to sell your book so always make sure to add a link either to an online bookstore – not just Amazon but of course Amazon – and/or your publisher’s website. There are a variety of suites to help you manage your social media platforms if you find that managing them individually is time consuming. Hootsuite is an example.
Step 5. Blogs
are a great way to draw attention to yourself and to your new book. This is marketing through education. We suggest Defence-in-Depth, The Wavell Room and War on the Rocks as good places to start. Most platforms are looking for new material for their target audience. Another option is to set up your own blog. This can usually be done via your website host - if you have one - but there are also numerous providers available that are specific for blogging. Wordpress is commonly used but again you can also use Wix. Just write about what you are passionate about and remember that 77% of internet users read blogs (Optinmaster) so this is a great way to showcase your book and you.
Larger posts (1500-2000 words) tend to perform better than 500 words but if 500 words is all that you have time for, still blog. As a rule, blog titles should follow this formula: number/question + adjective + keyword + promise. See the title of this blog as an example. Always make your posts shareable by clearly adding share buttons. If you want to start a discussion, allow readers to comment on your blog. Don’t forget to share your blog on your social media pages.
Step 6. Podcasts
can be visual or if you prefer, purely audio. They can be interviews on well-known podcast platforms such as The Dead Prussian or simply you can make your own by reading your blog. Videos and Audio are increasingly popular and often perform much better.
Step 7. REVIEWS REVIEWS REVIEWS
are crucial and can influence the success of your book by 42% (Ingram 2021). It is essential to encourage anyone who has bought your book to post a review. If they have bought it on Amazon for example, their review - however short - will push your book up the ratings and very often reduce the price. If they bought your book on our website, they can also publish a review there. We are one of the few publishers that have this facility. A one-line review or a star rating is all that is needed here to increase your sales potential.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget about peer reviewed journals. These remain high priority for your career and research development so looking at journals with similar books to yours and contacting the journal with an offer to review is important. Online specialist audience platforms such as The Wavell Room will also review your book. An approach accompanied with a reviewer suggestion is always appreciated. Then there are the professionals such as Parameters, Survival, Soldier to name a few. Newspapers are a little hit and miss. If you manage to get your book reviewed by one of them there is usually a cascade effect and you are likely to appear in a number of them. However, unless you know an editor, we suggest you focus attention elsewhere.
Step 8. Your networks
have no doubt been developed alongside your research interests and are an important and often overlooked resource to tap in to. Your colleagues may also be writers themselves and will want to support you in creating awareness for your book. Their networks may well extend beyond yours so encourage them to share details of your book in return for sharing theirs. Professional associations will often have their own websites, reviewers, followers and are usually willing to share news of your book’s release with their membership. Some institutions have their own bookstore so sharing a flyer with the bookstore manager and encouraging them to stock a few copies of your book is a great idea. Some institutions also have a PR/Marketing department who will be very eager to share details of publications from their institution members.
Step 9. Events
such as conferences and professional meetings provide an ideal opprtunity to share your book flyer. Whether you are presenting or just attending, why not take some flyers and hand them out.
Step 10. Your e-mail signature block
can be more effective than you realise. A simple mention of your new book and, if possible, a link to buy it, is all that is needed here. Each time that you send a new e-mail, you are potentially creating awareness of your book.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog on author marketing. As we said earlier, author engagement in marketing really does make a significant difference to the success of your book. Please do check out our other blogs that are especially designed for authors.