Determining how you plan on marketing your book will depend on a variety of variables, including the time and energy you want to book into marketing and the money you want to spend. This step by step guide to book marketing is a great place to start.
But it’s important to remember there isn’t one way to go about effective book marketing, so don’t shy away from it entirely or you might be missing out on interested readers! This guide to book marketing will help you focus your efforts and determine which types of marketing to focus on.
Step by Step Guide to Book Marketing
Decide Your Target Audience
Before you start marketing your book you must determine your target audience. To successfully market your book, you’ll need to first determine who your target buyer is and where they typically hang out. Once you’ve narrowed down your audience, you can market with pinpoint accuracy.
An easy way to find your target audience is to create a list of comparable books and look at their reader’s personas. Do you consider your book adult, but most of the comparable books are young adult? Do you call your book a thriller, when its themes and motifs are more akin to the horror genre?
Because there are so many things to compare your book to, you want to determine the key components of your story—the main protagonist’s age, location, themes and subject matter, etc.—and find other books in the market that are comparable.
Connect with Your Target Audience
Once you’ve determined your target audience, you’ll probably have a general idea of where they hand out. Is the local library or social media the best place for you to focus your efforts? Or would a local meetup be more appropriate for your target demographic?
If you’re writing YA fiction, you might find your target audience on social media, like Instagram, Snapchat, or even YouTube. But if you’re writing adult fiction, you might find people on Facebook or Reddit more akin to your target demographic.
Nonfiction writers might seek out local meetups, keynote opportunities, or even conferences to get in front of their target audience.
Long story short, when you figure out where you can find your target audience, create your own channels and start connecting with them. You may consider starting small and building as you feel comfortable if you’re in unfamiliar territory.
Tell Them About Your Journey
Because unmarketing is the preferred method of marketing, you shouldn’t simply blast your book across the internet or conference or wherever it is your target demographic congregate.
Use those avenues to form bonds with your followers by engaging with them on a personal level. Offer advice when solicited and create a narrative that isn’t salesy and isn’t 100% focused on you or your book.
Do this every week through your connections. This engagement type of marketing isn’t something you often have to pay for and it is considerably more time-consuming than almost any other form of marketing, but it often offers the best results.
By creating real and tangible connections with your readers—or potential readers—you’re indirectly doing the best kind of self-promotion marketing you can.
Determine Your Monthly Marketing Budget
At the end of the day, almost everyone pays for ads. Whether it’s sponsoring a video or podcast episode, Facebook, Instagram, or Amazon ads, or simply to have a high-quality and beautiful book cover.
Wherever you’re spending your advertising dollars, it isn’t money you spend once. Marketing dollars are reoccurring and, except for book covers, should scale with your income. It is best to start small with $5 or $10 ad budgets—for book covers, it’ll be closer to $200-$500—until you figure out the advertising quirks of each platform.
Once you gain traction and start regularly selling every month, scale your marketing dollars with your income.
But how much should you spend? Aim to spend 10% or more of your income on book marketing. That means if you make $100, aim to put at least $10 back into your business. If you haven’t published your book yet, start squirreling away $5-$10 here and there for future use.
Marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s when you’re consistent with your micro-marketing that macro-marketing solidifies.
Prepare Your Cover Design, Book Pre-Order, Categories & Keywords
Book marketing usually follows this guideline:
Genre>Categories>Keywords>Book Cover>Book Description
With that being said, you want to understand every part of the process and how you’re inputting your book’s information. Categories and keywords are covered in a blog post I wrote about how to publish a book, but needless to say, it’s incredibly important to optimize these sections.
You should also use these categories and keywords on your book’s sales page to really drive everything home.
After that comes the book cover. You want a genre-relevant, intriguing book cover that speaks to your potential readers. People might say they don’t judge a book by its cover, but we should know by now that everyone does. Think about your own bookstore excursions. What book covers attract your eye and why?
Having these key pieces in place early will allow you to order proof copies and ready your book for pre-order, which is just another way to boost momentum on launch day.
Get Your Marketing Tools and Media Kit Together
When it comes to the actual marketing of your book, you’ll need more than one graphic. While you might not need a media kit for your first launch—unless you’re really hitting the ground running— at the very least, you’ll need a few graphics for ads.
These graphics can be used for your own book marketing calendar and/or added to your media kit.
Your book’s media kit should include your author bio and contact information, a tip sheet or “best practices”, press release statement, book synopsis, and 1-3 different marketing graphics to keep it simple and sweet, but add enough variety that not everybody’s post looks the same.
Reevaluate Every 90 Days
Like I mentioned earlier, book marketing isn’t a one and done task. And learning how to market a book isn’t either. It’s ever-evolving and something you’ll need to revisit at least once per quarter. In the beginning, you should reevaluate every week or every month.
When reevaluating your book marketing strategy, consider your vision and goals. Are you reaching or surpassing your goals? Or are you not anywhere near meeting them? Consider these goals and milestones when you’re reevaluating your book marketing efforts, and if you aren’t meeting your goals, speculate why.
- If you’re getting people to your sales page, but they aren’t purchasing your book, try changing your book description (least expensive) or book cover (most expensive).
- If you’re not making impressions or clicks with your paid advertising, try adding, changing, or narrowing your keywords.
Remember, your goals should start small and scale as the months pass and you continue to publish and sell more books.
Something to Remember: You Determine How Much Your Make
Money is many people’s main reasons to self-publish, and at the end of the day, as an indie author, you completely decide how much you make and how much you want to invest in your books.
An author who only publishes one book with lots of marketing effort will likely sell more than an author who publishes multiple books with zero effort put into marketing, which includes free things like social media, a website, and email marketing. It’s just too hard for readers to find authors these days.
Remember, marketing isn’t just how you sell books. It’s how you build connections and grow your audience, and this step by step guide to book marketing will help both your broad and focused book marketing efforts.