One of the hardest parts about being a writer is promoting yourself and your book. A few decades ago, that wasn’t a problem. You sent out query letters, landed an agent or a publisher and they looked after promotions. If you were lucky, you’d also get a nice advance to keep you going as you wrote your next book.
That’s no longer the case. Today’s agents and publishers want to know your marketing plan before they sign you. Here are some basic tips you can employ to help promote yourself and your book.
1. Create a Budget
First things first, look at your finances and see how much wiggle room you have in your budget for promotion. Aim to set aside a minimum of $500 to get things moving. You’ll need this for website URL purchase, hosting and building of an author website.
You may also need money for postage (sending out copies of your book), bookmarks, and other giveaways. Some private bookstores will highlight your book for a fee—factor that in as well.
2. Get Reviews
Reviews are a great way to help promote your book. Reviews can be posted on online platforms like Kobo or Amazon, and you can use them on your book cover, as well as in promotional material.
One easy way to get reviews is to find beta readers before your book is published. They’ll give you great feedback and may save you some heartache by pointing out what revisions need to be made.
3. Make Use of Press Releases
Send out a press release to your local newspapers, magazines, television news programs, and radio stations.
A press release is a 1-2 page document that tells these media outlets about your book. It doesn't outline or summarize your entire story. Instead, it illustrates how the material in your book will connect to a particular group of people (your target market).
The idea is to give journalists a clear hook or catchy headline that will catch the attention of readers. It's up to you to find that angle.
If you're in Canada, consider also sending your press release to the University of Toronto Press, Quill and Quire Magazine. And if you're on the West coast, consider sending it to BCBookWorld in British Columbia.
4. Utilize Marketing Materials
Here are some ideas of materials you may want to make use of/create:
An author website
Goodreads account for reviews and author info
Author bio on Amazon/Kobo
YouTube video of you reading an excerpt from your book
TikTok video, short clips announcing your book
Facebook author page linked to your personal page
Instagram account for posting book cover and author photos at book signings
LinkedIn account, to help promote your book
Pinterest account for any images, including book cover, that may appeal to your future readers
Launch parties, which could be held in conjunction with a fundraiser to attract more attendees
If self-publishing, create a sell sheet for your book, including the ISBN, number of pages, wholesale and retail pricing and size. Also, ask your printer for any “overs” of covers. You can use them as displays.
5. Employ Competitive Pricing
This only applies to self-publishing; however, it is important. This also goes back to budgeting for the book in general. If it costs you $8 to print each book, plus your editing and layout costs, find a figure that will help you get close to breaking even.
First books usually cost much more than subsequent books, because you, as a writer, have gotten better so there is less editing to do.
In general, new authors eBooks sell for around $2.99 each. Paperbacks range from $15.99 to $25.99 depending on country sold in, number of pages, and popularity of the genre.
6. Consider Online eBook Sellers
There are several outlets online to help sell your book. Make sure you read the fine print on all of these sites with regards to exclusivity. Note that it is recommended to not pay for any major services until you have at least three books completed. Once a reader discovers you, they’ll want to read more of your work. It’s at that point that it makes sense to spend more on marketing.
7. Write a Synopsis
This is the second hardest thing to write, according to most of the authors I’ve worked with. Summarizing their baby in 50-100 words is difficult.
Get your synopsis done as early as possible as this is the blurb you will use for promoting your book while it’s in progress, as well as what goes on the back cover and in the info section to entice readers to buy your book.
It also goes on your website with links that point to where to buy the book.
8. Write an Author Bio
I’ve yet to meet a writer who likes to write about themselves. Be objective as possible and list things you yourself would like to know about an author.When did you start writing? Why? Do you have a unique story? What do you like doing for fun?
These types of things draw the reader in. It lets them get to know you a bit better, which in turn will help them decide if they want to read your book.
9. Word of Mouth
Last, but not least, never underestimate the power of word of mouth. In this day and age, word of mouth means more than someone telling another about your book. It involves your online community sharing your status updates, photos, etc. Stay active online to keep the interest alive, and your book sales will increase.
Want advanced tips for boosting creative confidence, reducing distractions, and overcoming writer's block?Book a 1-on-1 consultation with Writing Coach Lyndsay Carder.
About the Author
Darcy Nybo is a writing coach, writing instructor, newspaper, magazine and book editor. She has also written four children’s books, two short story collections and a novel. You can find her online here.