If you have never done any type of marketing for your book, whether it is in the outline stage, first draft stage, or finished manuscript, here are several questions you might be asking yourself.
Should I have a website? Do I need one?
All authors need a website. Think about it. What do you usually do when you hear about something interesting and want to learn more?
Turn to Google.
And when people hear about you and your book and want to learn more, they will likely do the same.
Your website is typically the first place media, booksellers, readers and book reviewers will go to read and collect information about you and about your book.
It should be easy to navigate, have a clear message, clean layout, relevant information about yourself and your book, a link to your press kit, and an easy way for people to purchase your book.
How should I setup my author website?
There’s a phrase used in the start-up industry: Minimum viable product. It means what it says, what’s the minimum you need so people clearly “get it.”
We want to avoid cramming too much stuff on your site as we may run the risk of confusion, overwhelmed feelings and frustration from visitors.
Less is more. Simple is better.
At a minimum, an author website should include at least these pages and information:
- Homepage with a clear call to action and way to purchase your book.
- Author page about you, your career as an author.
- Press room (see assembling a press kit, below).
- A section for your blog, vlog or both.
- A way to capture email addresses from visitors.
- Event calendar indicating where you are having book signings and speaking engagements.
- A way for people to contact you.
- Social media icons that link to those accounts.
When it comes to choosing a domain name go with your name or a company name. I advise the authors I work with to not have a site dedicated to your book only because once the launch is over, what typically happens with the site is nothing.
Rather, have a site that is about you and or your business. Whether its speaking, coaching, trainings, consulting, you want a “home base” where people can find out everything they need to know about you, your business, and your book.
Here’s a nice, clean, concise example of speaker, coach and author, Cardiff Hall, who came out with “Tide Turners” in early 2017: http://cardiffdhall.com/
Update your website regularly with fresh content and posts as this will help with the search engine optimization.
What should go into my press kit?
A press kit is something you need before the launch of your book. It’s a necessary tool to help make the media’s job a little easier. And it helps ensure that your message is consistent form media outlet to media outlet.
Ideally, the press kit includes the following elements:
- Your bio that includes your qualifications for writing the book, information about your platform, and any publications you have previously written.
- A summary of your book.
- Why your message is important. This should include third-party data and statistics showing further proof why your message is important and why your book is needed.
- Topics and story ideas you can discuss in an interview or write as a contributor; include excerpts from your book that support these topics.
- Suggested interview questions.
- A clear and easy way to contact you.
- Professional headshot, book artwork, logos.
- Once you start getting media coverage, have a section that lists those media placements.
These are the basic elements. Be careful about bombarding people with too much information as to overwhelm and possibly confuse them.
A good rule of thumb is to keep it around 10 pages or less. Here are a few examples of authors who have done it right:
- Mary Valloni, author, Fundraising Freedom: http://www.maryvalloni.com/media
- Joanne Miller, author, Creating a Haven of Peace: http://joannefmiller.com/press/
What should I do with my press kit once I have it completed?
You may have noticed from the examples of Mary Valloni and Joanne Miller, they have a press section on their website dedicated to the media. This online media room is a place media often look to visit when coming to an author’s website.
You’ve made their job super easy by having a section dedicated to them where they can easily find everything they need to know to develop a story about you and your book.
With so many ways to gain awareness, how do I know which marketing communication activities to use?
It can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Something to keep in mind as you think about what activities to do: Just because a certain strategy or tactic worked for one author, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another. That’s why it’s important to go through the following steps to figure out what’s best for you and your book.
- Goals: Start out by asking what the final destination looks like? How does success look 12 months from now?
Start with the end in mind so you have direction on the strategy and activities to execute and help get you there
- Audience: It’s critical to have a deep understanding of your audience. Who are they, what are their challenges, what do they like, where do they hang out (online and in-person such as conferences and industry events), how do they get their information? Who would care most about your book and its message?
Another tip to consider doing is looking into identifying other books that are similar to yours, then check out the profiles of the main readers and buyers. Many insights can be gleaned from this exercise.
Brainstorm and compile a list of the types of people and groups of people who may be interested in your book’s content. If there’s 14, it’s not recommended to market to all 14. Rather, who are the most important to engage and serve? Ideally, pick one-to-three that make strategic sense.
For example, with me, I target authors and publishers. I could also target copy editors and book designers, but then my message and focus could get distorted. Not good. Plus, why put all that stress on myself?
You must know your target audience. When you begin to promote your book, it’s very easy to believe it will be of interest to everyone. However, to put yourself in a position for maximum success, take the keep-it-simple, less-is-more approach so you can maximize your resources toward the people who are most likely to buy and benefit from your book and your message.
- Message: Next, identify what makes your book special. What’s the main message or theme readers are going to walk away with?
For example, the main theme of Kary Oberbrunner’s new near-future fiction book, “Elixir Project,” addresses how our time and ideas are being hacked. What makes his book different, besides the idea of humans being hacked, is that he has created an entire online program with live master classes to help people become unhackable. The positive feedback on the private Elixir Project Facebook group is off-the-charts.
Kary has done a nice job of managing that message by following a simple message map format of: Problem, solution, benefit.
Problem: Our time and ideas are being hacked. People go from ideation to stagnation to frustration. Ideas aren’t becoming a reality. And he has data and statistics to back it up.
Solution: Go through the Elixir Project Experience to learn techniques on how to take your idea from ideation to implementation.
Benefit: More focus, less frustration, more productivity, ideas that get created and executed.
- Engagement: With a deeper understanding of your audience and message, now it’s time to identify the many ways you can connect and engage with them with more focus.
There’s a helpful tool called PESO that I often talk about that can help remove much of the anxiety you may be feeling when it comes to this step.
PESO is an acronym that stands for paid media, earned media, shared media, and owned media.
P – Paid media means we’re paying someone to get our message out. This could be Facebook ads, banner ads on targeted websites, pay-per-click to drive traffic to your website, sponsorships at conferences or events, or the traditional print ad in an industry trade journal.
Ad rates can vary so do the necessary research and ask relevant questions about demographics (is it you target audience), the rate of return, and length of a campaign, etc.
E – Earned media is what it says. We’re earning someone’s endorsement. This could be word-of-mouth; someone sharing your blog post with their networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms; and it can be you being interviewed on a podcast, for an industry journal or local media outlet.
Bottom line, you’re not paying anyone to endorse you or say great things about you and your book. They love you and your book so much that they want to share it with their audience, followers, and community.
S – Shared media is sharing our own content. For example, every time I post a blog or podcast episode I share it through my social media channels and send an email to my email subscribers who have indicated that they want to receive that type of content.
And staying in line with how I’m sharing my content, I also make it easy for others to share my content. You can do this by adding share buttons on your site. Here’s a way to get free share buttons through ShareThis.
O – Owned media is everything we own. If we create it, we own it. It’s our book, eBook, website, blog, podcast, and any other content we produce.
Following this PESO model, and with a deeper understanding of your audience, what are one-to-three activities in each of the four categories you should be doing to support your goals?
Taking some time to go through the above steps will simplify your process and activities. Instead of thinking you have to do 27 things, PESO enables you to see, from a very strategic level, the four-to-10 or so activities that make the most sense.
How does social media play into my book?
It’s absolutely necessary. Your readers are on social media so you need to be there too. It’s your job to figure out which ones they use then be active on those platforms.
Do what you have the capacity to do and leverage the many tools out there to help save time and streamline your activities. Hootsuite, Buffer and Meet Edgar are just a few tools to help you manage your social media efforts.
Not sure how to get started or gain more strategic direction? Here’s a helpful post from Hootsuite on building a social media plan and approach.
Social media can dramatically increase awareness about you and your book, help you build a following before the book launches, and even gain support from other authors who may tell their followers about your book.
When posting, tweeting, sharing, consider offering an occasional incentive for customers to review your book or even a chapter, and get comfortable about chatting with people about yourself and your book.
Remember, it’s important to have great content that is engaging, interesting, and informative. Today, social media marketing alone can be an important infrastructure for your book’s success.
Here are a few additional things to think about:
- Images: Research shows that tweets with images are retweeted more often. Ask members of your launch team to post and share pictures from book signings and events. Be sure you are checking image sizes for each different platform. The easiest to share across platforms are square images.
- #Hashtags: Use them before a phrase or even a word. If you are using more than one word hashtags string all of the words together in a phrase like this example: #readmybook. Your content will be more searchable for those words and phrases on social networks, which can result in more followers, likes and retweets by the right quality people. They can widen your audience since they can be carried over multiple social media platforms.
- Persistence: Repeat things often and don’t give up too fast. Instead of simply tweeting something once. Try writing it several ways then schedule them to go out over the next several weeks.
- Promotions: Focus more on promoting your content and building relationships, and less on selling. Tweeting out, “Buy my book,” is going to turn people off.
Instead, use social media to drive people to your site and other content such as an eBook where they can learn more about you and your book, and ultimately make the decision on their own on whether they want to buy your book without you telling them in a Tweet.
- Content is king: The more relevant content you provide on your site, the better your site will rank. And the more often you share that content, the easier it will be for people to find you and you book.
Content marketing and social media go together. Repurpose the content you have already written. For example, maybe you’ve written a blog post offering the top 7 things you need to know about sailing. You can then record a podcast, a video and an eBook on the same topic and share it through your various social channels.
Bottom line: Give your followers and readers real value, don’t just sell to them.
- Engagements: Do more than share, engage. Run a survey. Ask questions. More engagement means more opportunity for people to see and share your content.
How do I know if crowdfunding is for me? Which crowdfunding platform should I use?
Crowdfunding essentially means using the crowd to gather support for your project – your book. It isn’t just a strategy to sell books. It’s also a strategy to help get your book idea launched, funded, and supporters onboard.
Plus, going through the process of preparing for and launching a campaign the right way, in essence, forces you to get your marketing strategy in place, e.g., goals, plan, message, social media, content, etc.
A main reason to do a crowdfunding campaign is to quickly validate if your book has legs before it’s even written. Based on the reaction and support of your campaign, you’ll know after about 30 days whether you need to dump it, adjust it or continue to pursue it.
If you continue to pursue it, it probably means you gained a lot of support and funds from people who believe in your book and want to see it get written. Huge confidence booster.
I’d rather know after 30 days as opposed to investing 12 months then learning that not many people are interested.
Regarding which platform to use, you can check out one of these three sites: Kickstarter.com, Indiegogo.com, or Publishizer.com. They all have their unique differences and benefits so be sure and understand which is best for you and your book.
What additional questions do you have about book marketing?
For additional tips and advice on book marketing and getting publicity for your book, download my free resource guide by clicking here.