How does it feel to be a new author? You’ve spent hours, energy, and brain power getting your book written and polished. Congratulations!
While it is important to produce a well-written book that resonates with your audience, your work isn’t quite done once you’ve put your pen down. Marketing your work is equally important if you want your book to be read by a wider audience than just family and close friends.
As a new author, it is up to you to market and promote your eBook. Just in case you think you are at a disadvantage, think again. Even longtime authors must promote their books.
Once upon a time in the publishing industry, publishers used to promote authors and their work. Today, most publishing houses publish and distribute books but don’t market and promote them like they used to. It’s up to the author to do that legwork.
What does marketing a book entail?
Typically, marketing is a mix of activities that help promote and sell a product or service. The four Ps of marketing include product, price, place, and promotion. In this article, we concentrate on the fourth P: promotion.
Promotion normally includes advertising, direct marketing, email marketing, and public relations among other things. While some of these require an outlay of funds, there are many ways to promote your eBook for absolutely zero money.
Let’s talk about some of these free marketing strategies. They can be broken down into two main areas: pre- and post-publication of your book.
There are some important things to consider before your book is done and published, whether it is in digital or print format. Some of these things include the following.
- Identify your audience: To say that you are going to market to everyone is unrealistic. By identifying your book's best audience, you can pinpoint your marketing strategy to reach them. For instance, a self-help book for those in perimenopause is a very specific target audience of women between the ages of 35 and 65 to which you are writing and marketing.
- Choose titles carefully: Before you slap a title on your book and call it good, think about what you are doing. Titles are much like news headlines. They either entice you to want to read more or they don’t register and you scroll on by. Free tools like ViralML’s Analyze Your Next Title can help you get an outside opinion on how to name your book.
- Consider cover art: Like a catchy title, the captivating cover art is also a hook to draw a potential reader in. Certain colors, shapes, and images will catch a buyer's attention while others will turn them away.
- Create a blog: There are many resources for starting a blog for free. A blog is a great way for your audience to connect with you and experience your writing before your book is published. It’s also another tool with which you can promote your upcoming book and collect email addresses. You can also get help writing high-quality, SEO-optimized blog posts.
Once your book is published and available for purchase, it’s go time! You will want to concentrate your efforts on publicity, promotions, and public relations. What does this look like?
- Publicity is making people aware that your book is available. Traditional publicity modes included press releases, book signings, and speaking engagements. Today, this can be done online through social media announcements, online bookseller author programs, and guest appearances on podcasts.
- Promotions are specific ways to build excitement and positive buzz around your book. In the past, this may have included sales promotions, multi-city book tours, and editorial reviews. Now, this can also be done through online contests and giveaways, guest blog posts, and peer reviews on bookseller sites.
- Public relations are all about a positive public persona and overall image. This can be moderated by an agent or public relations firm. But now in the age of social media platforms and online presence, authors can experience contact and interaction with their readers.
Do you have to be good at all of these things to market your book? Not necessarily. Think about what you are able and willing to do (or learn to do) and list those. For the things that you don’t want to do, you can always farm these out to someone willing to help you, either for free or for a small fee.
Free eBook Promotion Hacks
Now for the good stuff! Let’s talk about some eBook promotion strategies that won’t cost you a thing other than time and energy. Remember promoting your book requires just as much work as writing it, but the rewards are public awareness and excitement, good reviews, increased book sales, and an engaged audience that loves your work.
There is some overlap in each of these categories, but they all work towards the same goal: successfully marketing your book.
Building awareness includes publicizing not only your book but also you as an author. To do this, include these free publicity tools.
- Connect and collaborate with other authors in your niche: By joining forces with other authors, you can build an awareness of yourself and your book. Many authors are willing to share about new and up-and-coming authors with their audience base.
- Identify and pitch to podcasts: Search out podcasts that cover books or the topic you are writing about. Once you have identified several podcasts, reach out to them and volunteer to be a guest on their program so you can talk about your area of specialty or niche.
- Set up an author account on bookselling sites: Online book retailers like Amazon, Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo have author accounts where potential readers can learn more about you and your work.
- Start an author account on Goodreads: This site is devoted to book recommendations and has 125 million participants. People who love to read come here for book suggestions and to connect with readers all around the world. Set up your author account so people can find and recommend your book to others.
To generate curiosity, excitement, and some buzzworthy interest in your book, consider employing these ideas.
- Connect with top reviewers: Search out and approach top Amazon reviewers to read and review your book. You will want to find the ones that read books in your niche. They post their reviews on Amazon. Once your book is live and available for purchase, it is helpful to have several good reviews already posted. We all love to read the recommendations of others and use those recommendations to influence our purchases.
- Reach out to bloggers: Many bloggers read and recommend books to their audience and subscribers. Find those who blog about your niche and offer them the opportunity to read and review your book, even before it goes live for purchase.
- Offer pre-order discounts: If you have a newsletter or email list, send out a pre-order discount to those readers. It is also smart to offer pre-order discounts on web-based book retailers like Apple Books and Kobo where your pre-order sales will not only count towards immediate ranking but also ranking on your official book launch day. A positive double whammy! You can also offer a pre-order discount on Amazon, but it may need to be exclusive to Amazon only, depending on their guidelines.
- Conduct online contests and giveaways: Everyone likes something for free, right? Build some excitement by offering a few free copies of your book through a contest or giveaway promotion on your blog, website, or social media platforms. Ask the recipients for a review, a post, or a photo of themselves with your book that you can use to further promote your book.
Like it or not, once you become an author you now have a brand and public persona. You can use this to your advantage by engaging with your audience to build a community of loyal readers. Some public relations ideas include the following points.
- Create a Facebook page: By putting together a public Facebook page or group, you can attract a following of interested people. It is helpful to join other relevant Facebook groups, too, such as those of authors in your niche or the topic that you have written about. For instance, if you’ve written a book about weightlifting for women over 50, you could join Facebook pages dedicated to women weightlifters, senior exercise, or wellness in aging.
- Signup for a Pinterest business account: It’s free and Pinterest is unique in that it provides targeted traffic to your account. If you are on Pinterest, you are already familiar with this. The site knows what you have previously searched for and recommends similar things. For your Pinterest account, create several boards that relate to your book, your blog, and the topics you have written about. These boards should include 10 or more pins to look interesting enough to click on.
- Make a video: Using multimedia tools like videos is a great way to solidify your public image. So much more can be communicated to your target audience through image and sound. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be of good quality that is visually clear and easy to hear. Once you create this video, you can post it on multiple sites including your blog, social media, and YouTube channel.
- Use consistent images: Whether you take a selfie or have a talented friend take your author photo, choose one image, and use it consistently across all platforms of communication. You want to be instantly recognizable and not have your potential reader second-guess if this is the same person when they toggle between your Facebook page, blog, and Instagram. The same goes for any logo, book cover, or branding items you use.
Engaging With Your Audience
In our connected online world, it is easier than ever to communicate with people. While authors of the bygone days had limited contact with their readers, authors today have immediate access to their audience. The most popular way to engage with your readers? Social media.
As an author, particularly a new author, you will want to go all-out on social media platforms. People will get a chance to know more about your book and about you as an author. Plus, social media is available all day, every day, and can be easily updated with a single post.
Because you are building relationships and growing an online community, pay attention to these tips on how to successfully engage with people on social media.
- Ask questions: Start conversations with people on social media by asking questions, sharing your thoughts on a hot topic, and prompting others to share their views.
- Be you: People can spot insincerity and masking, so be sure to be your fabulous self when interacting with people online.
- Employ hashtags: People discover your content with the help of hashtags. Use appropriate hashtags that go hand-in-hand with your book topic.
- Respond to comments: When someone leaves a comment on your post, respond to it promptly. This shows that you are interested in what they have to say. Unkind and trollish comments warrant no response from you. Ignore those!
- Share user-generated content: When someone shares a post or photo about your book, be sure to thank them for it, and re-share it on your social media channels.
Engaging with your audience on social media is all about building community, so dedicate some time to nurture those relationships over time.
Social Media Platforms
You can interact with readers on the following platforms.
- Facebook: This is one of the most effective platforms for promoting your book and connecting with a community. By joining reader groups, topic-specific groups, and author groups, you can interact with like-minded people and promote your book. You can also start your own Facebook page or group dedicated to your work. Be careful not to be that person who overpromotes themselves.
- Instagram: Setting up a creator account or personal account identifying yourself as an author is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, website, or Amazon page. Use relevant hashtags, stories, and reels to attract interest.
- LinkedIn: Make an account as an author and connect to others in your niche.
- Pinterest: Putting together boards that highlight your book and the topics it covers is a great way to gain attention. Pinterest users love to save and pin things of interest, so be sure your boards are eye-catching and communicate your brand as an author.
- Twitter: It's all about pithy sayings on Twitter, but it can also be a fun place to connect with people. You can share snippets of your work or videos that tell more about it.
- YouTube: Creating a YouTube channel takes a little bit of time and learning, but you can connect with your audience and other potential readers differently. Shooting a video of yourself talking about your book, a montage of images that communicate the mood or scenes from your book, and readers' reaction to your book are all ways to engage in a long-form format.
Marketing your book is key to starting your journey as a successful new author. Taking the time to employ free eBook promotion strategies and hacks don't take away from your bottom line but will most certainly add to it.