So, you’ve written a book. Now you’re holding a copy in your hands. But you want others to be holding it in theirs, too. That means, in the bluntest of terms, you need promote your self-published book. You need to sell people on it. Without driving them crazy.
Easier said than done.
Promoting your self-published book takes time, effort, and resources. And if you’re not a natural entrepreneur, it can be easy to fall into cliche behavior that will ultimately turn off your potential readers. Here are 8 ways you can promote yours without being pushy, cringe-y, or flat-out annoying.
Build a social media presence.
To introduce your book to the world, you’ll need to go where the people are. Today, that’s social media. If you don’t already have an author page, consider setting up one and inviting friends to like it. If you’d rather use your personal page to promote your book, that’s fine, too. Don’t overload your followers with endless blasts of sales pitches for your book. You want to engage people as well as sell to them, and you do that by focusing more on engagement. The rule of thumb is about 1 promotional post per 8 personal posts. Around your book release time, that number will naturally change. And, remember to engage kindly with people who comment on your book posts.
Create a website.
This doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. If you’re not adept at website creation, you can hire someone to create a basic website that will educate guests about your book and about you. If you have no experience setting up a website, you have a couple of choices. First, hire a designer. Then you provide the content and the designer makes it look nice and function well. Or, there are basic site-creation tools available through web hosting companies such as GoDaddy.com. Your site should be where you direct people who are interested in learning more about you and your book. Don’t go so low budget that your site actually takes away credibility from your work; in that case it’s better to have nothing at all.
Ask for honest reviews.
No matter where readers buy your book, they can always leave a review for other potential readers to see. Whether reviews are left on your social media page, website, Goodreads, or Amazon, reader reactions (even the not-so-great ones) give your book visibility and credibility. Some authors provide copies to readers for free and simply ask for an honest review. (Don’t ask for a good review based on giving away a free product; that’s unethical and can ruin a good relationship.) If a reader compliments your book, ask that person to take a couple minutes and write a brief review. You can also use these comments from readers in a multitude of ways for promotional purposes.
Create a newsletter.
Many authors of multiple books write a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter to keep readers engaged and to announce new projects. If you plan to write more than one book, strongly consider this approach to connecting with readers and building reader loyalty. Don’t produce another novel here; a brief, one-page email with updates, a note from you, and maybe an excerpt or hint about what you’re working on next is just enough to keep readers wanting more.
Blogging or doing blog tours (where you guest-post on another writer’s blog) are great ways to get out into the world of readers and promote to a wider audience. This is a symbiotic relationship, so be sure you invite other writers to guest blog on your blog as well. During your book release time, you’ll want to engage with as many new readers as possible. Tapping into another writer’s audience is a great way to do this. Don’t worry about competing with other writers; the more you support one another, the more everyone wins.
Speak to promote.
Whether it’s at the local library, bookstore, or live streaming on your Facebook feed, speaking about your topic helps establish you as a subject-matter expert and will invite in new readers. Consider choosing one narrow topic from your book and diving in deep on it. An insider tip: If you’re not comfortable speaking behind a podium, consider teaming up with other authors to do a panel or Q&A-based conversation. This takes some of the pressure off you, allows you to still talk about your book, and is more likely to pull more attendance or viewers. Don’t agree to a speaking gig without outlining, practicing, and watching other speakers first. Find tips on public speaking here.
Attend conferences and network.
Conferences can be some of the most fruitful selling places for your book simply because you have a like-minded audience actively looking for resources. In this setting, it’s perfectly normal to approach window-shoppers and talk about your book. You’ll sell lots of copies and also get to meet some truly interesting people. And while you’re at it, network with other authors. You can definitely help each other. Don’t be overly pushy. Conference attendees are used to having lots of sellers vying for their attention; they’ll be more likely engage with you if they don’t sense you’re waiting like a cougar to pounce.
Finally, realize your friends and family aren’t your target audience.
Yes, you’ll have a handful of relatives and friends who’ll lay down cash for your book. But the harsh (and often surprising) reality for most authors is that most don’t sell a lot of books to friends and family, regardless of how supportive they’ve been throughout the process. In fact, most family and friends of authors never actually read their books. This might sting a little, but it’s reality, and maybe not an altogether bad one. Your target audience isn’t your friends and family—it’s people who need to hear your message. Don’t waste your time nursing hurt feelings or wheedling for family members to purchase boxes of books…move on to the audience you truly want to reach.