I hate to shatter your fantasy (and my own :(), but there is no magic formula, no one way to ensure you will sell tons of books. However, there are some ways to get yourself and your book out there, to gain exposure, make friends, and use your precious time wisely.
Marketing can be stressful and frustrating, but don’t let it drive you nuts.
Take a deep breath, decide on a strategy, and make it happen.
Here are some suggestions, tips, and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
- Do not spend so much time on marketing that you ignore your writing. The best way to gain exposure is to keep publishing new books. Trust me, you can do both. Decide on how much time you would like to devote to marketing, my suggestion is perhaps 15 minutes per day, and use ONLY that amount of time.
- Do not put your eggs in too many baskets. Between Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, google plus, tsu, pinterest, linkedin, tumblr, etc, etc, you could go insane. Choose two or three of these and focus on only those. Let the others go. Facebook, I believe, is the most popular way for readers to find books, so you might want to make sure that is one of the avenues you choose.
- Do not constantly toot your own horn. Cross-promo with other authors is a great way to spread the word about your work, without being too ‘in your face.’ Team up with a group of authors and find ways to promote for one another. You want to also interact and play the role of readers in addition to that of author. I created a Yahoo loop called ‘Authors Helping Authors’ where we have an organized method of promoting one another’s work. If you are interested in checking it out, go here: (The only requirement to join is that you’re a published author, whether it’s traditional, self-pubbed, mid-list epub, etc)
- Newsletters – This is a fantastic method for engaging with readers on a regular basis, but sometimes, it can be too much for one author. I teamed up with three other authors and we have a combined newsletter we send out monthly. We offer a monthly contest where readers can win a $25 gift card.
- Offer something – Readers love getting stuff for free, whether it’s a book, a gift card, swag, etc. They also love the opportunity to help authors name characters, etc.
- It’s not all about the books – You’re not promoting your books, you’re promoting yourself. Share things with readers such as your writing process, where you got ideas for your books, your personal life (although, not too personal, you don’t want to scare them off ;)), etc.
- Even the big guns have to promo – Don’t expect your publisher to do all the promo for you. In today’s world, authors are expected, and with many publishers, required to do a certain amount of marketing. Publishing is a business, and you must approach it with a business mentality–that you will work hard to put out the best product you can, and to let consumers know where to find your product. I heard NYT Best-Selling author, Eloisa James, give a talk, and she said that she is 50% author and 50% businesswoman, and that she knows she must work to promote herself and her work. If even SHE thinks it’s necessary, guess what? It’s necessary.
- Give away samples, but not too much – I see blog posts and Facebook posts with lengthy excerpts that are often, quite frankly, a bit tedious. Tease your readers with snippets of your work and make them want more. People are in a huge rush these days and they do not want to get involved in reading lengthy posts. We actually have a great FB group where you can post samples of your work. Here is the link if you want to check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/610037685802608/
- Be consistent – One of the most important factors of promo is consistency. If you start a weekly blog, or a weekly Facebook game, post, etc, be sure to post something each week. Bi-weekly is fine too, but whichever you choose, make sure you don’t skip. Readers who follow you will lose interest if you don’t deliver as promised.
- An excellent way to market is to focus on something other than the actual book. For example, choose a non-fiction element from your story and spotlight that. Is your character a deep-sea diver? A stamp-collector? A knitter? A race car driver? Blog about those aspects, find other blogs or message boards devoted to those topics and join in, first as just a commenter/participant, then, as time goes by, you can slip in a mention that you’re an author who wrote a book about such and such.
- Choose a few of your favorite authors who write in your genre and who have active blogs. Follow those blogs and begin interacting. You will meet readers who, if they like that author’s work, might like yours.
- Hire someone to help you. An Author Assistant can be a valuable asset in helping you with promotion. Many of them are reasonable and you can set up a budget amount and ask them to only work for you a certain amount of time per month. This is supposed to be a good site to find an assistant: http://authors-assistant-agency.com/
See…nothing to it!
Your Amazon link might not work in other countries, but here is a site where you can, for free, get a ‘universal’ Amazon link that works for everything:
Use Twitter wisely – Engage with others, RT and reply to their tweets, become involved in ‘trending’ hashtags that interest you. It’s best not to use any more than two hashtags per tweet, because it can look like spam if you do. Balance your tweets about your books with social tweets and with tweets about other books.
Some great resources for writers and some sites I’ve found that, while they cost a little money and have certain requirements, I did find a boost in sales using them:
Robin Reads http://robinreads.com/author-signup/
Kindle Books and tips http://fkbt.com/for-authors/
Ereader News http://ereadernewstoday.com/
I’m sure you’ve all heard of Book Bub – It’s costly and difficult to get accepted, but worth it. https://www.bookbub.com/home/overview.php
Places I’ve heard were good but haven’t used them:
Here is a list of several sites:
Final advice, do not sink a ton of money into promotion, but try to invest in places that will give you some kind of return. Such as, perhaps an author assistant is a better investment than paying to have your book promoted?
Please feel free to share info about promo you’ve found that works for you, and what doesn’t. All comments/questions are welcome!
16 responses to “Attention Authors: Yes, You HAVE to Promo, and Here are a Dozen Tips…”
What a great, comprehensive list! My one comment would be to only guest blog if you like blogging. It takes a ton of time to come up with individual posts, and most of the tour stop sites do nothing to promote the authors visiting. Unless you can get featured on some of the big, well-followed blogs, that time is probably better spent elsewhere.
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Excellent point, Jannine. I hate to say it, but I have never found blog tours beneficial. I agree, time is better spent elsewhere, and if you like to blog, I think the best thing to do is to regularly post on your own blog and invite guests, and work to spread the word about them. You’d be surprised at the kind of following you can gain. And, you don’t have to just blog about books/writing. I like to blog about, as you know, Elvis each week, and other things that interest me. Very good idea, if you can get on well-followed blogs, that might be worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by!
THANKS, ALICIA. It’sgood to see this all in one place and a good reminder that we can’t do everything.
You are very welcome. Thanks for stopping by. That’s right, it’s not only impossible, if you ever want to write again, but it’s unwise to try to do everything. 🙂
Good advice. I will definitely be checking out some of these sources. BTW, I’ve gained a few readers via Pinterest. I have romance book boards, non-romance book boards, blog boards, book trailer boards, antique boards, household tip boards, restaurant boards, and travel boards that have all gained followers.
Thank you. I hope you find something useful. You know, I’ve heard how great Pinterest is, and I think it’s fun, but it’s not something I’ve focused on very strongly. I probably should…thanks for the tip!
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Great tips. Thanks so much, Alicia!
I’m going to share this right now! 😉
You are so welcome…thank you for sharing!
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Excellent suggestions – most of which newbie authors (like me) don’t know. Now I understand the reason for my current state of insanity – social media overload. Time to back-off. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Alicia, great advice and what you said is so true. I need to get back into promo work, as much as I hated doing it, but I can’t until after I get moved and settled in my new place. Thanks for the post.
Helpful post, Alicia. I like the idea of limiting electronic promos to 3 or so good ones and I think guest-blogging is awesome. Thanks for the useful and practical tips.
Terrific pointers! Thank you for sharing.
Great advice, Alicia.
Thank you, Alicia! This is great information and very handy to have all in one place.
Excellent promotional roundup and great list of helpful sites, too!
Great post! I agree with consistency