Self Promotion... the Art of Getting Noticed - Part 1
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Having been around the publishing industry for a little while now and attended talks and panels with industry professionals, I occasionally get asked for advice about how to get a book read by more people.
So, I have some advice, but I have split it into a few articles as the draft ended up a long to be a single article.
Part 1 - Promoting online
Part 2 - Promote in print or in person
Part 3 - Be a better writer
Part 4 - Get your writing out there
My advice, it comes with the caveat that there is no right answer in publishing and book promotion, there is no magic bullet, it is mostly a combination of luck, trends in book marketing and the personal taste of a variety of industry professionals. Although it does obviously help if your writing quality is high and you have written a good book, but just being a good writer is not necessarily enough. Having said all that, you can increase your chances of being lucky in a combination of ways.
You may read this and wonder whether all this effort is worth it, it does not guarantee you a published book, let alone a best seller. You can always find a successful author that does not have a social media presence or a website, so you may question if you really need to do any of these things. And really nobody can answer that, is it possible to be successful without these... yes, are you guaranteed success... no... but if you want to do all you can to be the most successful writer you can be these are my suggestions.
This is primarily aimed at #NewWriters but could be a reminder or checklist for others too.
Part 1 - Promote Online
1. Social Media and Websites
What is your, and your book's, internet profile?
If I google your name or your book title what do I get?
Do you have a smart website with your author profile, book blurb and links to where it can be purchased?
Do you have a blog on your website and is it updated regularly?
Do you have an author page on Facebook and an account on Twitter?
Would you consider other social media such as Pinterest, Tumbler or Instagram?
My view is that a website, Facebook page and Twitter account are a minimum standard. However it is better not to have a social media account or blog than to have one which hasn't been updated for years. Ensure you use all the sections available, e.g. the about section on Facebook is an opportunity to sell your ideas and books. Use a good picture of yourself, even if if you are self conscious about this. You want people to feel like you are someone they want to know, that they want to enter your imaginary world... Use book covers and other related art for cover pics, but not profile pics. Public posts on the internet need to be something that you would be happy for a publisher or employer to read, be positive and upbeat about your projects, you are trying to promote them to others. If you are down on your project then don't expect others to have faith in them. This is not something that comes naturally to a lot of British people, and particularly introverted authors, but modesty does not sell.
On Twitter in particular, get involved in conversations about books, look for trending hashtags to increase your posts visibility and chances of being retweeted. Don't just talk about your own work, tweet to your favourite authors, talk about writing generally, get involved in existing conversations, follow others and use things like #FollowFriday (#FF) to promote other and hope they return the favour.
I am aware of one author who tweeted a whole fictional narrative over many, many tweets which resulted in him becoming a published author, but I'm pretty sure that's an exception rather than a rule...
Look for book related groups on Facebook, join them and get in the conversations. (More info in this in the organisations section.)
2. UK Organisations
These are useful for contacts and advice, the first two at least have Facebook groups as well as other online information.
3. Blog Tours
Blog tours are the online version of a book tour. Instead of physically travelling to different places a number of articles and reviews are strategically planned to be published on set days of your "tour". These can be hosted by a variety of blogs and other similar sites. Content can include a "guest post" from the author, a review of the book being launched or an interview between the blogger and the authors. Content for each blog needs to be unique from other site on the tour or readers and blogger are likely to lose interest. A graphic with the dates and URL can be easily shared on social media and blogs to increase the viral marketing. By sharing across the bloggers social media network as well as your own and your publishers you can increase the visibility.
Bloggers will not necessarily insist on being paid, but a copy of the book would be needed if you would like a review. Prizes or giveaways are always appreciated and can increase traffic.
Whether these show a direct increase of sales is of course debatable. You can pay various organisations or individuals to put together your tour, but it is something that you can do for yourself.
It is worth noting, that due to the magic of the internet, you could "tour" another country, most of the information can be put together in advance although answering comments on the blog itself once the post has gone up might be tricky if you don't speak the language. However this might really help to get your name known if you have sold (or want to sell) translation or publishing rights abroad.
4. Online Book Clubs
There are a couple of different models of online book club.
Firstly Book clubs that are an individual or group making a recommendation via a media feed which they discuss and recommend to their listeners / readers / viewers. The most well known of these include Richard and Judy's book club and Oprah's book club, but also include regular magazine columns, websites, blogs and podcasts. Some of these perhaps blur the boundaries between online book clubs and review sites.
Secondly book clubs are really just mailing lists where recommendations for books are sent to individuals, they might have committed to buying a minimum number, usually at a discounted cost, or they might be under no obligation to buy.
If your novel is recommended or looked at by one of these then this could result in additional sales, depending on the reach of the individual club. A quick search online produces a number of results of each of these.
You could Investigate Bookbub, it is complicated and costs money upfront but if your book is selected can bring great returns.
5. Online Adverts
Adverts can be controversial, we see them everywhere, but they are not always welcome.
Most social media platforms allow adverts or sponsored posts and you may want to think about whether these are worthwhile for you.
I am aware of projects that have seen good returns from Facebook Ads, but I also know they had large budgets and could afford to risk higher investment, I don't know if it scales downwards for those with smaller budgets that might be reasonab for a self published book.
6. Discounts and special offers
Amazon and other sites give you the option of temporary promotional periods on ebooks, which if combined with other marketing opportunities can create interest. Perhaps if you have a series of books you might consider having the first one free or at a discount while launching a later novel.
7. Press Releases
If you are with a traditional publisher they may do this for you, but even as a self published author they is no reason why you should not do this. Consider if there are genre related magazines that might be interested or local newspapers. As these are generally sent electronically it does no harm to try. If someone gets back to you, then developing this relationship can be beneficial.
Article continues in:
Part 2 - Promote in Print or in person
Also leave me a comment below if you find this useful or have something to add.