These proven Internet marketing techniques help authors attract reviews and sales.
While there is a lot of value in self-publishing, there is also a lot that can go wrong if a writer takes the plunge unprepared.
Some self-publishing companies help with marketing. Most, unfortunately, do not. Without some guidance or marketing support, the sea of self-publishing can be a dangerous place, and even the best books can quickly drown under a wave of new releases.
To keep your book from becoming the next victim, here’s a list of five ways to get the Internet buzzing about your self-publishing.
1. Create and maintain a platform
You may hear the word “platform” used often in reference to creative people. It’s not just a word-it’s a tool.
Think of a platform as an online presence that you have created for yourself and that includes everything about you. It’s a hub of content, information and even sales potential for you as an author and creator.
All great platforms should have a website. And, with so many writers vying for attention online, you shouldn’t slouch over the design. Fortunately, sites like Wix and Squarespace make it easy to create a site using a “drop-and-drag” system. In other words, no coding is required.
However, amateurish website design can have a negative impact on sales, so if you don’t feel comfortable creating a clear, professional website, consider hiring a professional to create it. It may not be cheap, but your investment will pay off in the long run.
What else is included in the platform? Social media, for example. And people have different social media preferences, so you should go beyond Facebook and Twitter to make the best impression. Consider Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and Goodreads.
Finally, video is an increasingly popular platform component that you can’t afford to overlook. Create a YouTube channel to talk about your book, your life, or anything else that might interest readers.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your platform, you must create. Consistently releasing content – videos, posts, blogs and more – is the best way to become known online.
2. Run a social media campaign
Social media campaigns are a cost-effective way to get attention for your book both before and after its release.
Once you’ve built your platform, running a campaign is a good way to find new followers and readers.
Most social media sites provide the opportunity to target a specific audience with paid advertising. This is a luxury because it makes all those impressions more valuable than with other marketing channels. For example, advertising for a young adult novel won’t be successful in a print newspaper, but Facebook or Instagram will help you promote it to readers who are much more likely to accept it.
Pre-release campaigns are designed to create hype. Since your book isn’t out yet, the call to action should tell your audience where to learn more about the book and sign up for updates (hint: it’s your website). As for content, these ads are a great place to share summaries, images, and any early reviews you’ve received.
Post-book campaigns will function the same way, but the call to action will be to buy the book. To do this, share a link to the book page on Amazon (or your favorite distributor’s page), as well as your website.
3. Connect with online promoters
One of the best ways to build a large audience is to tap into someone else’s audience. That’s the logic behind trying to connect with online influencers.
Book reviewers and literary content creators are becoming increasingly popular with their videos, podcasts and blogs. And for the self-taught writer, the best thing about what they offer is the built-in audience.
In other words, if you manage to interview a book reviewer on YouTube, all of his or her subscribers will know about you. What’s more, if you leave a good impression, they’ll start following you, too. There’s a huge benefit to this.
Start by finding people online who review and discuss books or topics related to what you’re writing about. Next, remember that it should be a plus-minus relationship. If you get value from exposure, you must provide value to the influencer as well. Offer a free book, and if you can record an interview before release day, they will be interested in that as well. Hot, new releases drive engagement.
4. Well-placed giveaways and contests attract reviews
Customers can be picky. They may circle your book several times, wondering if it’s worth their time and money.
The best way to counter this is to accumulate positive reviews and give away copies. There are two types of reviews: buyer reviews and editorial reviews. Buyer reviews come from people who have bought and read the book, while editorial reviews come from experts who can be trusted.
Finding quality reviews can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, some sites are designed to help you easily get customer reviews. The first is Netgalley, which connects influential readers with books or books coming out soon. Many of these readers appreciate the opportunity to find out what’s coming next, so using Netgalley before your book release date will give you an even better chance of creating buzz and getting reviews and feedback on your work.
My other recommendation is a giveaway on Goodreads to spread the word about your book and earn quality reviews. It’s a simple process: just post your book on the site and claim your author profile. Then let the system know how many books you want to give away, choose the dates, and give a brief description. It’s a very simple and affordable process, and can even be done with advance reader copies (ARCs) to get reviews before the book is released.
5. Buying reviews and promotion
The idea of paying for editorial reviews and promotional placement may raise some doubts. Honestly, it probably should be – never do it without due diligence on the review. Also, never pay for Amazon customer reviews.
But also be aware that there are some quality paid review sites, such as Kirkus Indie and IndieReader. They provide honest editorial reviews of your book to a wide audience. Because these reviewers are trusted, a positive review on any of these sites can be an important step toward wider exposure.
In addition, some other sites offer paid book advertising in the form of published articles or emails. Forums such as BookGorilla and Booksends will promote your work to a subscriber list of readers looking for their next great book.
As you consider these options, remember that marketing your book will involve some trial and error. Some approaches won’t work. Some may work much better than you expect. In other words, there is no formula that guarantees success for every book because all books are different, but there are many proven methods that can lead to success.