Marketing is hard, especially if it isn’t your specialty or passion. But here are eight things you can do to promote your book that you don’t need a marketing expert to pull off.
1. Social Media Reviews
If you are on Instagram or Facebook, try to find reviewers who enjoy your genre. Follow them for a while and see how they write reviews. How many followers do they have? Will they do free reviews? Take the time to comment on many of their posts before you ask for anything. Once you have established a relationship with them, you should feel comfortable offering them a free book in exchange for a review. Do this with a message, not a post to their page. Make sure you track who you have asked and follow up with a thank you after they post.
2. Organizational Tie
What organizations would benefit from your book? If the book is nonfiction, this may be easier than a fiction story, but don’t discount the ties created in fiction. If someone in your book has a disease or condition, there is probably a support organization. If you are willing to offer a portion of proceeds to that organization, you may get their help with getting your title in front of their audience. They may have conferences you can attend or sponsor. If you are writing fantasy or sci-fi, you can bet there are many festivals you can tap into. Does your story have a military spin or character? Try talking at VFWs, AmVets, or Wounded Warriors. There are over 7,000 U.S.-based nonprofits helping veterans and military families.
Entering contests can be a hit-or-miss venture with a price tag associated in many cases. Choose wisely. Start researching well before your book is complete. How much advertising do they do for you? Is the cost reasonable? Reasonable is relative to your budget but judge it based on what you will get in exchange for your money. Are they offering reviews? Feedback? Is it a well-known contest? Will readers recognize the name of the contest? Those might be worth more. If you are first starting out, you might not want the bigger contests.
Don’t hesitate to donate a copy of your book. Many nonprofits have auctions to raise money for their cause. Give them a book and a stack of small flyers and/or business cards explaining where to buy more. As your book is sitting on the table to be bid on, your flyers should also be displayed so people can take one whether or not they win. Many places also do an online auction so your website should be linked from their site. Donating to a library is okay, but you don’t get as much advertising as you would from some other venues.
If you have a picture book, find places where you can read to small children where PARENTS or guardians are involved. Going into a classroom to read may be fun, but the parents with the pocketbooks won’t know how much their child enjoyed your book unless they are there as well. If adults are in attendance, they can get a signed copy and a picture of their child with the author for the scrapbook.
6. Festivals and Fairs
Book festivals are good, but you will be with all your competition. Think outside the box. Try craft fairs, farmers’ markets and school festivals where you will be the only bookseller.
7. Host an Event
Do you have an event you can tie to your book? If I’m teaching a class about publishing, I can work the price of the book into the class fee and provide them with a “free” copy of The Road to Publishing. For a children’s book, maybe you can have a tea party (for a fee), and every child goes home with a book. A young adult book? What about partnering with a high school key club or a church youth group?
8. Discount Series
Do you have a series? Discount the price if they buy all. If you are at an event, package them with a ribbon. It’s amazing what a difference the suggestion of a “package” makes. When they ask how much your books are, always give both prices. For example, books are $8.99 each, but if you buy all five, they are only $40. “Only” is the key word.
There are many more ideas at your fingertips just by searching the internet. Read other blogs and jot down ideas. Pick a few that will work for you and focus on those. You don’t have to do them all! Don’t overwhelm yourself so that you don’t want to do anything. Pace yourself. Create a marketing plan and stick to it. You can add things as you find yourself with extra time.