Hello, everyone! Today I wanted to discuss some marketing strategies and ideas with you guys. This post is probably going to be more geared toward writers that are looking to self-pub or have already self-published a novel or two, but I hope that no matter what publishing path you’re looking at, you’ll be able to take some of these strategies into consideration!
I’ve said before that the marketing world is constantly changing. With the advancement of technology and new social media apps, it is harder than ever to create marketing strategies that work. If you’re going to go into the self-pub business, you have to be willing to keep up at a quick pace and learn something new each year.
There are hundreds of thousands of marketing strategies, tips, and ideas out there. There are hundreds of thousands of resources at your disposal – seminars, webinars, conferences, college degrees, internships, books, e-books, workbooks, blogs, YouTube tutorials, skillshare.com, Master Classes, and so much more. You’d think that with all of these resources out there, it’d be easy to navigate and even succeed at marketing, but the truth is it’s hard. I’ve had the experience of trying out marketing techniques that don’t work well for me, but they work well for authors that I follow, authors that I know, and they may very well have worked for a business with a multi-million dollar franchise. You constantly have to evaluate what is or isn’t working for you and then adapt, no matter whether it’s working for another person or not.
That being said, I’m going to share with you a lot of the marketing tips and strategies that I have been able to employ or that I have read about. Some of these have worked for me, and some of them haven’t. Some of the ones that haven’t worked for me have worked wonders for other people. Again, it’s all relative.
- Marketing Strategy #1: If you’re just starting out on social media, don’t make an account on every single platform there is (SnapChat, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, website, etc). Eventually you will want to have a presence on most social media platforms, but for those just starting out, maintaining a presence on every single platform while still writing or trying to work on other strategies can be overwhelming. Often times authors that do this will end up having a great presence on one or two social media sites, and then they’ll half-ass it on everything else since they feel like they don’t have the time. My suggestion is to start out with two or three, and you can work your way up from there. My initial three were: Instagram, Facebook, my website.
- Marketing Strategy #2: Whatever two or three platforms you do decide to start off with, maintain a presence there. Readers and writers alike are looking for engagement. They prefer quality over quantity. They want you to post frequently and be interactive. Some people take this as posting every single day, sometimes even multiple times a day. Right now, I only post three times a week, although I am active and liking and commenting on photos every day, and I make use of the IG and FB stories.
- Marketing Strategy #3: Consider creating a newsletter. Newsletters are one of those iffy things where you hear from one author that she doesn’t have a lot of signups for it, but then you hear from another author that he has hundreds of newsletter followers. Since you never truly know what you’re going to get, it’s up to you. However, I would highly encourage creating one. I send monthly newsletters out to those that have signed up for it. You don’t have to do monthly – you can do bimonthly, quarterly, or even just when you have exciting news to share (like Leigh Bardugo does with her’s). What you put in your newsletter is also up to you. I followed a bunch of author newsletters to see what they included before creating mine. In mine, I share a general life update, a writing update, and those that follow my newsletter get secret writing goodies and perks and info about my latest books. I’d also like to note here, though, that some authors consider a newsletter to be the biggest marketing tool for an indie author besides word of mouth. It may be iffy for certain authors, but at least take that into consideration.
- Marketing Strategy #4: Consider creating a blog. Blogs are iffy as well, and there are a lot of authors that choose not to blog just because they don’t have the time or they don’t know what to write about. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to start a blog or not, but then I realized that by doing so, I could be putting more of my writing online and engaging other potential readers. I write book reviews on my blog, and every third post, I’ll have a post where I just chat about whatever I feel like. One of these third posts was about my favorite coffee drinks and suggestions for people going to Starbucks; another was on my miscarriage story and what I learned from it. You don’t have to copy my layout by any means; there are millions of ways to blog and you should have your own voice by doing so.
- Marketing Strategy #5: Ask your relatives and close friends to share any novel/writing related news you may have via social media. Not all of your relatives or friends may comply by any means, but if you have a new book releasing soon, having friends and family spread the word could help you get more views, more engagement, and usually more books sold.
- Marketing Strategy #6: Have a pre-order system. For Smoke and Mirrors, I offered paperback pre-orders at a discounted rate to close family, friends, and family friends. For Je Te Veux, I listed the e-book in an early bird sale at a discounted rate. In my experience, both e-book and paperback pre-orders have been successful.
- Marketing Strategy #7: If you’re going to be releasing a novel soon, utilize a countdown. I actually had a ton of fun with this, and it hyped up my readers all the more!
- Marketing Strategy #8: After your book releases, have a Facebook launch party. I was super duper nervous going into my Facebook party because not only is there a lot that goes into it, but it was the first one I had ever done. It turned out to be a HUGE success! I had more people participate than originally signed up. There was a ton of engagement, and my readers and participants had a blast. I also enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. There were times I thought I would be overwhelmed or stressed about responding to all the questions and comments, but it wasn’t super overwhelming at all. Since I had so much success with it and I know of a lot of other authors that utilize Facebook parties and have success with them, I plan on doing more in the future.
- Marketing Strategy #9: Getting people to review your book is hard, and that’s just the truth. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if any self-pub author really knows why. Some people just act like they’d rather have their left thumb gnawed off by a bear than write a review that would take them anywhere from one to five minutes. But if you’re self-pub, reviews are life. They give you visibility and credibility. I have tried multiple strategies for getting reviews. If I know of the person on social media, I’ll reach out to them privately and ask for a review, or I’ll post generally about it in my newsletter or on social media. Some authors include a page at the end of their book asking for reviews. If you’re hosting a giveaway for your book, one of the requirements could be that the winner has to give an honest review. A fantastic idea that I heard from one author is that when her book came out, she posted on social media about giving away free e-book copies in exchange for reviews. This worked wonders for her, and I plan on using the same idea in the near future for my own books.
- Marketing Strategy #10: Utilize Giveaways for your book. Giveaways are so easy to do on social media, notoriously on Instagram and Facebook. Normally giveaways gain more followers, and thus potential readers, and there’s always a lot of excitement that comes with giving away a copy of your “baby” to someone. There are also Amazon and Goodreads giveaways that you can host for your book, but you’d need to do your research on them. I haven’t ever used those two platforms for giveaways since I get such an overwhelming response on social media, but some authors do prefer those two platforms.
- Marketing Strategy #11: Facebook and Amazon ads. I’ll be honest, I have never used these, and the self-pub authors that I do know of that have used these haven’t gotten a super great response. However, people are saying that Facebook and Amazon ads are the ads of the future, so it’s best to figure them out sooner rather than later. There are plenty of people that they work for, or they wouldn’t still be around.
- Marketing Strategy #12: Read books. Read blog posts. Listen to podcasts. Ask other authors questions about how they go about their marketing. Go to writing and publishing conferences. Yes, while the amount of resources available to you about marketing is immense, it also means that you can turn just about anywhere for help. A lot of marketing strategies that I’ve learned, and thus utilized, I learned by reading, going to conferences, or asking questions. Keep learning.
- Marketing Strategy #13: indiebound.org is a great website that provides a list of indie-friendly bookstores in every state. I’ve been able to use this list to contact various bookstores to see if I can get my book in store, and/or come in for a signing. Utilize this for sure!
There are hundreds of other marketing strategies I could go into, but I’ll just keep it to the thirteen. I’m still learning. There are still loads of books I have yet to read, loads of things I have yet to learn. But I’m going to keep pushing forward, even when marketing sometimes makes me want to chuck my laptop across the room. If you keep on keeping on, learning whenever you get the chance to, you will succeed.
One final thought: be patient. One of the worst mistakes you can make when marketing yourself is to try a strategy or five and expect results instantaneously. Getting the results you want will take time. If I had expected results immediately when I self-published Smoke and Mirrors, I would have ultimately given up out of disappointment. Be patient.
Is there anything else you’d add? Any questions? What are some of your marketing strategies/tips/ideas?