The last keystrokes have been hit and your new book is finished! Your book is out of your hands and into the hands of a capable copy editor. Is it time to hit the beach? Time for a writing sabbatical?
Now the really hard work gets started! Now it’s time to market your book. I’ve compiled a checklist of 20 tips for you, you the effective author who understands that sharing your hard work with the world requires marketing. Work through the list point by point and then go back to the beginning and start again.
Did you place an order for copies of your book for your own use? Having stock on hand is essential for getting the word out about your new book. I suggest that authors purchase 40 to 80 copies right away. You’ll want to inscribe these books and send them first to the people who helped you get this far in your book writing. Send copies to everyone who contributed to your book, perhaps writing a Foreword, Preface or Introduction. Those people are sure to help share the news of your book. Who are the “influencers” in your world? Make sure you let them know that they are receiving one of the first copies and that you really need their help. Friends are happy to help—you often just need to ask.
Promotional items? Have you ordered cards with your book cover art, the name of your book and your website or blog address? These are great, inexpensive item to hand out to friends and family—so they too can help share your good news. Many formats are available. You could order business cards, postcards or bookmarks that allow you to include a description of your book and the full cover art. Table-top, retractable signs are also valuable visual draws, if you are appearing at a booth or table to sell and sign books. Websites like VistaPrint.com offer many formats of promotional items. Also, be on the lookout for something clever you could give away that ties in with your book. Use your imagination and then get the name of your book printed on the item to hand out to potential book buyers.
Have you joined Goodreads.com and are you listed as an author? Is your book listed? Have you joined some of their groups where you might interact with readers who would enjoy your book? 85 million registered members are there waiting to hear from you and to hear about your new book. Remember that Goodreads now is owned by Amazon and your efforts within Goodreads make easy connections with Amazon content.
Have you started an email list to track people who have read your book or who might be interested in hearing from you about your writing? Using this email list to publicize your book events is a great way to spread your news and to deputize the folks on the list as book ambassadors. As your book launches, you may hear from a tidal wave of contacts. If you are not carefully keeping track of their names and email addresses, you may find yourself within a couple of months unable to reach out to that eager audience.
Have you looked for bloggers or podcasters who might want to interview you about your book? These folks schedule several weeks or months ahead of time, so as soon as you have an advanced reader copy of your book—start contacting these folks so that you can get on their schedule. Websites like www.HelpAReporterOut.com, which I wrote about a few weeks ago will help you find these resources. If you already are a fan of appropriate blogs or podcasts—reach out right away. Working out the details for an appearance can take a while.
Assume a reader has just finished reading an advance copy of your book and they LOVED it! Do they know how to communicate with you? Can they find out if you are writing another book? Is your author website or your blog listed with your book? If not, run and shoot an email to your publisher and have them add that important information right now!
Have you written thank you notes to all of the people who helped you get your book published? Did your next door neighbor proofread your manuscript? Did a local librarian help you with historical research? A hand-written thank you note, along with an inscribed copy of your book will not only be seen as courteous, it will also provide you with an ally who is sure to talk proudly to their friends and relatives about your book. Heck, they might even volunteer to proofread your next manuscript!
Have you started a file to keep track of the things that have worked really well or the mistakes you’ve made that you don’t want to repeat the next time around? How about creating an errata file—and sharing it with your publisher? An errata file is a list of corrections or revisions that you’d like to make in the next edition. Dmitri Barvinok, Front Edge Publishing’s Director of Production addressed errata in a recent blog post.
Does the reader know how grateful you would be for a positive on-line review of your book? Did you include an “ask for a review page” in the back of your book? Remember that you must follow Amazon’s review policies or you will run into trouble with Amazon down the line. Yes, you can give someone a free copy of your book to encourage them to review it in an honest way. But, no, you cannot give away a free book in exchange for a 5-star review. David Crumm wrote about the Amazon rules concerning the very valuable process of encouraging reviews.
Have you reached out to your local newspapers, television and radio shows? Local authors are a special interest story that local media generally like to publish. In your part of the country, you may find that a major metropolitan daily newspaper or the top drive-time radio show may turn down your offer for news coverage. If so, contact more regionally focused weekly newspapers as well as community or public radio stations.
Does your alumni magazine know that you wrote a book? Major universities now may boast more than 500,000 members in their alumni associations—so their alumni magazines and newsletters place a high bar on what news items they will accept. Nevertheless, take a shot at it. Publishing a book often is considered newsworthy. Are you an alumni or member of other organizations, beyond colleges or universities? What publications do they produce?
Have you updated your bio in all of the places it appears? Make sure to mention that you are now an author, and include the name of your book, in all the places people commonly look for such information. Don’t forget LinkedIn, your email signature, all of your social media profiles. If you can add a link to your book’s Amazon page, that makes ordering a copy even easier for your friends.
As I explained in an earlier column, set up a Google Alert for your name and one for the name of your book. If your book is on a particular subject, set up a Google Alert for the subject as well. Whenever you get a hit on one of those alerts, if it’s about you or your book, keep a record of it. Copy and paste the reference and copy the link of where it appears on the internet. If someone wrote about your book, reach out and thank them and then shout out the article, tagging the author and the source each time. If the Google Alert is about your book’s topic, consider whether or not the media source might like to hear from you for a follow-up article. Let them know that YOU are the expert on that subject. If they show any interest, send them a copy of your book and a copy of your press materials.
Have you scheduled a book premier party? Many authors approach their publication date with scenes of book launches from old TV shows and movies in mind. Once upon a time, major publishers paid to host such events. Today, the Big Five still do that for a tiny handful of best-selling stars. However, the vast majority of authors organize their own events with friends. The photo at the top of today’s column—that huge event for Col. Clifford Worthy—was organized entirely by his friends, his fellow West Point alumni and his family. So, don’t wait. Plan for your launch way before the publication date! Ask some friends if they would host an evening where your book is available and you can encourage those in attendance to help you spread the news about your new book. Better yet, find a local venue—perhaps a nonprofit, a congregation or a club—that might host your launch. You’ll benefit by that group’s eagerness to spread the news that they hosted your debut.
Have you visited your local public library? Have you asked if you can do a book reading there? Libraries are always looking for programs that will draw a crowd of their patrons—especially free programs. Is the topic of your book one that would draw a nice audience to the library? Prepare a program and then offer it to your local libraries. If the first library you approach declines your offer, talk to a librarian about what might make your presentation more appealing. Then, try another library. We have found nationwide that librarians’ responses to such offers range from a ban on all local author events in some towns—to a warm welcome in others.
Are there book clubs in your area who would love to have a local author pay them a visit? Ask around, even if the local groups don’t read your book, they might like to have you come in to discuss your writing process and the process of getting the book published. Of course you’ll come armed with handouts about your book to pass out to those who are interested. Perhaps you could have a random drawing for a complimentary autographed copy of your book.
Video is the latest and greatest thing to happen to book marketing. Thanks to straight-forward programs like Lumen5, which I wrote about in this February blog post, it’s now pretty easy to produce your own book promotion video and post it on social media. Make sure you include Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.
Create a hashtag for your book. A hashtag is metadata that flows across social media sites to help people find messages about a specific subject or theme. Hashtags can contain letters, digits or underscores. The hashtag for you book may just be the title: #ThisIsTheTitleofMyBook or it may be your name and the word book: #JoeBlowBook. Use this hashtag every time you post about your book and encourage others to use it too.
Keep an eye out for book awards programs in which your book might successfully compete. David Crumm wrote about book awards last August, as the first part of a 3 part series on book awards. So once you read the first blog post, make sure you read the second and the third blogs that immediately follow. If you win a book award, make sure your publisher can add the award to the cover of your book and to your book’s description on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Make sure you include the book award in all of your biographies, and email signature on line. Here at Front Edge Publishing our fast and flexible publishing tools allow us to easily add a book award to a book’s cover.
Take advantage of advertising opportunities. Contemplate where you will get the best bang for your dollar and spend wisely. Facebook offers inexpensive advertisements by boosting a post and allows you to choose your audience through demographics. Goodreads allows authors to host book giveaways that will certainly draw an eager audience to your book. Google advertising also allows you to promote your book and you will only pay for the ad when a customer clicks on the advertisement.