Marketing is perhaps the most desired and dreaded skill among debut authors一one that’s essential to a book’s commercial success, but can be difficult to learn and execute.
Whether you’re self-publishing or working with a publishing company, to reach a wide audience you will need to learn a few marketing strategies. Not only that, you’ll have to find what works for your book and target market—and that takes time.
To help you speed things up a little, this article will delve into 5 marketing tips you can use to help you better market your book.
1) Pick a professional cover
The cover of your book plays a huge role in marketing your book successfully. It’s the first thing people see about your book on Amazon, bookstores, social media banners, and everywhere else you’re going to place it.
A professionally designed cover makes the reader curious to have a look at the synopsis or flip open the book itself.
Besides being intriguing, a good cover should be readable and pertinent to the theme and genre of your book.
For example, if you’re writing non-fiction, a minimal design that spotlights the title and subtitle can be a good idea, whereas, if you’re writing fantasy, the cover should showcase details of the world the reader is about to step into, whether it is through images of the settings, important symbols, or characters themselves.
Publishers have a team of artists who will work on every title to make sure they get the right appearance. If you’re self-publishing, you might want to learn about book cover design and hire a professional to work with you on your cover.
2) Build an email list
As a debut author,you'll rapidly learn that you don’t have enough time to grow and maintain an online presence across all channels. The key is to pick and choose what you want to use, and one asset that is absolutely worth growing is an email list.
Unlike social profiles, which can be subject to algorithms and censorship, a newsletter is a direct channel of communication with your audience that you own and control.
It’s an intimate medium where you can build trust and connection over time.
If you’re starting out, you can grow your list of readers by creating a “reader magnet,” a free resource they can download if they join the list.
The resource should be valuable to your audience, so perhaps the first chapter of your new book, a short story that you’ve never shared before, or even a useful document like a self-publishing checklist for other debut authors.
(Authors can be fantastic and supportive readers because they understand your writerly struggles, so be open to marketing to them, too!)
Once you start growing your email list, aim to communicate regularly with your readers一ideally one to four times per month一and always try to provide value by sharing your thoughts or insights from the writing process.
It takes time to organically grow an audience of engaged readers, but in the long-term it pays off both on a personal level一as you’ll make new friends and connections一and financially, since you can drum up excitement and sell your books directly to your most passionate fans.
If you treat your readers as close friends and give more than you ask for, your email list will soon become your greatest marketing asset!
3) Assemble a Street Team
Readers' reviews vet the book quality for potential buyers and they’re a key element to successfullymarketing your book. This is evermore important with online shopping, when users don’t browse shelves with little preconceived notions of the book, but get plenty of recommendations from platforms like Amazon and BookBub.
The best way to get book reviews before release day is to assemble a Street Team, a group of supporters that will give you feedback and review the book before the launch, and then help you promote it once it’s out.
To assemble a team of readers who can spread the word about your book, ask your close friends and family members, newsletters readers, or go wider by posting about it on social media and online communities who read your genre.
In order to safeguard your precious (and fragile) early-stage work, be selective about who you let in by ensuring they intentionally want to help you. When you manage to put together a group of 10-15 people, invite them to a private Facebook group, Slack, Discord, or any other community platform.
Your Street Team is already a special group—they get advanced reading copies (ARCs) before the world gets to see your book. But if you want to further show your appreciation, you can build your team earlier and treat them like your beta readers and even patrons.
Include them in the writing process by sharing character arcs or provisional outlines, asking for early feedback, and sharing some “behind the scenes” moments. If you do it right, your Street Team will not only help you promote your book, but will also keep you accountable throughout the writing process.
When the book is ready for distribution, send them an ebook or paperback copy and ask for an honest review. Finally, ask your team to share their reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other retailers in order to build momentum during your book launch.
And, of course, whether the launch is successful or not, don’t forget to reward and celebrate them as much as possible. (Sharing early news about sequels and involving them in the process for future books is definitely an option!)
4) Optimize your Amazon book page
Amazon is most likely where you will make most of your book sales, so as a debut author you should learn the tricks ofAmazon self-publishing.
Since Amazon promotes books that sell, you should optimize your Amazon book page to generate as many conversions as possible when people land on it. If your book converts well Amazon will start to recommend it to “the right readers,” doing the marketing for you!
Besides having a great book cover, the most important thing to optimize your book page is the description. If you check some books on Amazon you’ll see that the first sentence is usually a great review that leverages social proof and makes the user click to ‘Read more’ of the description itself.
If you’re writing fiction, you should then have a snappy blurb that teases interesting characters or conflicts. For non-fiction books, make sure to point out a few powerful questions that you’re answering in the book.
Moreover, when you upload your book through Kindle Direct Publishing make sure to pick the right categories and keywords by mixing general topics (i.e.Romance) with niche ones (i.e.New Adult & College) to maximize your discoverability.
Finally, remember that Amazon gives you more visibility in the first month after release day, so make sure you optimize your book page before the launch!
5) Submit your book on BookBub
BookBub is a daily newsletter that sends book deals to millions of readers, featuring books from both indie authors and traditionally published ones. If you have some budget to invest in marketing, it’s one of your best bets to make it count!
If you manage to get Featured Deal, you can substantially drive sales, grow your reader base, and improve your sales rank on retailing platforms like Amazon or Kobo. However, since there are so many positive effects, most authors will submit their books toBookBub, meaning it’s increasingly difficult to secure a spot.
To maximize your chances of success, give your book a professional cover that fits into your category’s trend, a great blurb, and a competitive number of reviews. It also helps to make the book available for purchase worldwide, especially if you want an international deal.
Do not lose hope if your book is not accepted the first time, you can always apply again or submit other books later on. There are also less competitive options to market your work on BookBub, like the weeklyNew Releases for Less newsletter, BookBub Ads, or creating your author profile where people can follow you and receive email notifications about your new books.
If you’re really out of luck, you can always try other book discovery services likeBook Raid orThe Fussy Librarian.
It can be scary to enter the world of marketing as a debut author, but worry not: if you follow these 5 tips and continue to learn as you apply new marketing strategies, you will be able to promote your book much more effectively and enjoy some well-deserved literary success!