Congratulations on writing a book! Only a select few aspiring authors get started writing a book, much less finish it! You’ve undoubtedly invested enormous amounts of time, focus and love into your book. Now that it’s done, the work of promoting it begins. Here are some ideas and resources to help you do that.
NOTE: You’ll find sharing icons to share this post on social media sites at the very end of this post, right above the comments. Thank you!
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK AND BUILD YOUR BRAND
The first thing you need to do is build a platform, which essentially means expanding your online presence in ways that help you reach people and make them aware of who you are and what you have to offer.
A platform is now a make-or-break factor for publishers considering a book proposal. Authors today are expected to perform the majority of the marketing and promotion for their books. As Jim Levine of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency noted in a Wall Street Journal article called The Death of the Slush Pile, “These days, you need to deliver not just the manuscript but the audience. More and more, the mantra in publishing is ‘Ask not what your publisher can do for you, ask what you can do for your publisher.'” This is a challenge I heartily embrace. Promoting my books is a joy—it’s all about synergy, building awareness and building relationships.
Before we go any further, there’s a vitally important question you must keep in mind no matter how you’re planning to promote your book: Why should anyone care? You might be the most adorable person who’s ever walked the earth, but that doesn’t mean that people are going to buy your book. Click here to read “What Makes You So Special? The Magic to Selling Books” by Kristen Lamb.
For more information on platform building, check out the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers.
If you’re an eBook type of guy or gal, then you may opt for Go Global: Building An International Author Platform that Sells by Barb Drozdowich.
Here’s a great article by Kimberley Grabas of YourWriterPlatform.com titled “101 Quick Actions You Can Take Today to Build the Writer Platform of Your Dreams.”
As Kimberley writes: “The most important aspect to building an author platform is understanding that it’s about engagement; about connecting and interacting with people who are aligned with your message and affected by your story. . . . Establishing and maintaining a link to your potential ‘tribe’ is both the challenge and the reward of building your writer platform.”
Kimberley explains here how a Gravatar (globally recognized avatar) can help you build your writer platform.
The foundation of an effective platform is a blog. A blog is the linchpin around which every other component of your platform revolves. The more valuable the content on your blog, the more apt a reader will be to visit repeatedly and eventually become aware of and buy your books.
When you post something of great value on your blog, send out an e-mail alert to your list and watch the hits on your site jump. Some visitors will in turn feature your post on their sites and link back to you, which brings in their readers, who then see your other content and become your regular readers. Visitors may also notify their e-mail lists about a post that they particularly like. Every positive comment from a third party adds that much more value to your brand. (Lacking clarity about what your brand is? Read “4 Branding Tips for Nonfiction Writers and Authors” by Inspiration to Creation Coach Nina Amir.)
Liberally sprinkle your blog posts with links to other sites, which increases relevance, which in turn improves your positioning within search engines. Remember that BLOG is now considered an acronym for Better Listings On Google!
Also, be sure to list relevant tags (keywords that help describe the content of your post and help it to be found again by browsing or searching) in your posts to attract traffic from search engines.
For two good articles on keyword tips, click here and here. Plus, Ruth Harris‘ article, “How to Make the Bestseller Lists: Why Categories and Keywords Matter . . . and How to Use Them Effectively,” includes links to a bunch of articles by keyword gurus.
My blog has garnered more than 2.3 million hits since its inception. My average number of views continues to rise as I create more content and build my online presence. Many people subscribe to my blog and tell me that it’s a destination site for them for positive thinking and inspiration.
• Inspiring, uplifting stories that I hear about, read about or experience myself on topics ranging from kindness, forgiveness and parenting to surviving WWII concentration camps and overcoming severe physical challenges
• Essays, many of which are my own thoughts on life and spirituality, but I also repost and comment on impressive essays by others
• Posts featuring the work and my interviews with people I admire like Caroline Myss, Wayne Dyer, Larry Dossey, Jim MacLaren and Charice Pempengco.
• My own life experiences that are either inspiring, instructive, informative or humorous
• Extraordinary artists and exceptional video performances by musicians and talented contestants on TV talent shows
• Feel-good stories about baseball (I’m a lifelong fan)
• Audio and video interviews with prominent and/or interesting people who can add value to people’s lives. When possible, I like to conduct these interviews via Skype video and record them with Call Recorder). The folks I’ve interviewed include New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova (Still Alice), Lori Schneider (the first person with MS to scale the highest mountain peak on all seven continents), Nathaniel Branden (author of twenty books on the psychology of self-esteem and romantic love) and Ibrahim Jaffe (founder of the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism). These interviews attract new visitors to my blog who are then exposed to my books. I also post these interviews on YouTube, thus reaching an even greater audience.
HELPFUL HINT: Make it as easy as possible for readers to find your past posts. Using the Categories option to organize posts by topic just lumps all them all together in a big unwieldy mess. Instead, create Index Pages like this one, which allows you to elegantly present your past posts on a particular topic in an engaging, user-friendly way.
Oh, and make sure you’re not using any images on your blog illegally.
Kimberley Grabas shows you step by step with tons of screenshots and details how to set up a WordPress blog quickly—and why you should choose a self-hosted site (WordPress.org) rather than a free-hosted site (WordPress.com).
To make your blog as functional as possible, read “The WordPress Plug-ins I Can’t Live Without” by Jane Friedman.
BONUS: Jane e-mailed me to make sure that people check out the great plug-ins recommended by her readers in the comments after this post. Thanks, Jane!
Here are four image-related WordPress plug-ins plus helpful instructions for working with images (including resizing and cropping) within WordPress.
For info about another great WordPress plug-in, read “How To Sell Downloads From Your Website” by Russell Phillips.
For tips on blogging, check out the Lorelle on WordPress blog.
Here are two more great sites for info and guidance on blogging:
Click here to visit Copyblogger.com
Click here to visit ProBlogger.net
HOW TO BUILD YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE
Of course, a blog is no substitute for an author website dedicated to your book, which includes your blog. Click here to read Part One of “The Ultimate Guide to What Every Author Website Needs” by author Patrick Samphire. Click here to read Part Two.
Another essential component of your platform is building an e-mail list. As you connect with people through your blog and on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, you can ask, “May I add you to my e-mail list for occasional updates on my blog and books?” Manual, one-on-one inquiries are great but it’s also important to automate your website to collect e-mails from people who are visiting your site. Offering a free gift (like an eBook or a sample chapter from your book) or useful information to visitors if they sign up is an effective incentive. As Joanna Penn notes in “How Authors And Writers Can Build An Email List For Marketing“:
You offer something of value for free [related to your book] in exchange for an email address. You can set up auto-responders which are automatic emails that go out directing the person to more useful information. This is permission marketing. You have given something to the person and in exchange asked permission to send them more useful information.
Be sure to check out Kimberley Grabas‘ three-part series on Email List Building:
IMPORTANT: Never hard-sell your books. By driving traffic to my blog, people can’t help but notice that I have books for sale. Letting them discover this on their own is far more powerful than me hitting them over the head with it.
To further build your brand by establishing yourself as an expert and gaining ever greater exposure, consider Joel Friedlander‘s article, “How Self-Publishers Can Sell More Books with Article Marketing.”
Be sure to include information about your book (complete with links) at the bottom of every e-mail you send (see my “e-mail signature” below) and the bottom of every blog post. Look at the bottom of this blog post and you’ll see information and videos about my books.
For every tip you learn about book promotion, there are a dozen more yet to learn. Not every idea will be a good fit for you and your book. How do you zero in on the most effective strategies? Blogger and author Chris McMullen suggests conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the promotion ideas that appeal to you. Chris writes:
Even if the marketing technique is free, it still costs time. Time is money. You don’t want to spend several hours per week doing marketing work that yields very little in return. So you must factor both money and time into the costs.
Benefits very often aren’t measured in immediate sales. Marketing that helps new members of your target audience discover your book or which improves or furthers your branding efforts has value, too. Some sales from continued branding efforts may not come for months.
There are also other possible costs (besides money and time) and benefits (besides sales, discovery, and branding).
SUBSCRIBE TO BOOK MARKETING BLOGS
The more you study book promotion and expose yourself to fresh ideas, the better off you’ll be. Here are some blogs to start with:
• Build Book Buzz by Sandra Beckwith, an award-winning publicity veteran and author of two publicity books. Sign up to get access to tons of downloadable reports like “Virtual Book Tour Basics” and “Beyond the Press Release: 10 Exciting Book Buzz Ideas That Will Take You to the Top.” Use the same link to subscribe to Sandra’s free “Build Book Buzz” newsletter, which is delivered to your e-mail inbox every two weeks.
• The Creative Penn: Thoughts on Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing by Joanna Penn. A site for people interested in writing, publishing of all kinds and internet marketing/promotion for their books (in print/eBook or audio format). Click here for Joanna’s list of helpful resources, including the free Author 2.0 Blueprint: 58 pages on writing, publishing and book marketing
• Book Promotion Blog by Stacey Miller, founder of S.J. Miller Communications, a book promotion firm specializing in developing winning media strategies for authors.
• Your Writer Platform by Kimberley Grabas specializes in, you guessed it, helping authors build strong, successful platforms.
• Wise Ink, a creative publishing agency dedicated to improving the quality of self-published books and the reputation of the self-publishing industry.
• The Savvy Book Marketer. Through her years of publishing experience and degree in marketing, Dana Lynn Smith helps authors learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, training programs, one-on-one coaching services, blog and newsletter.
• BookBuzzr provides practical advice on book promotion and marketing, and builds widgets, tools and technologies to help you market your book like a pro.
• Let’s Get Visible: How to Get Noticed and Sell More Books by David Gaughran, an Irish writer living in London.
• Molly Greene: Writer, who blogs about indie author issues and what she’s learned during the self-publishing process.
• BookMarketingBuzzBlog. A blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from Brian Feinblum, a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
• Independent Book Marketing Group (IBMG), a blog written by authors and marketing professionals who are dedicated to helping authors sell more books.
• The BookBaby Blog: How to Write, Self-Publish and Market Your Own Book.
NOTE: A few days after my post on book promotion was published, BookBaby featured it on their own blog. How cool is that?
It’s also helpful to comment on other blogs, making sure to list your own blog‘s URL at the bottom of each comment, thereby driving more traffic to your blog. However, these comments need to be relevant and add value to the blogs you’re leaving them on; otherwise they will be ignored as spam-like efforts from self-centered promoters. Click here to read “The Ultimate Guide to Leaving Comments on Blogs” by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net.
You can find blogs in your genre through Google Blogs.
Get involved in FORUMS and DISCUSSION GROUPS too. The more interaction you have on these sites, the more exposure you get for your books and your brand. Get started by typing in “(YOUR KEYWORDS) + forum” into a search engine or go straight to:
Click here to search Google Groups.
Click here to search Yahoo Groups.
Speaking of Google, check out these 3 Reasons Why Authors Need Google+ by Chris Robley of BookBaby and How to Build an Author Platform on Google+ by Tony Riches.
WIN AN AWARD? START SPREADING THE NEWS!
I was very pleased when my book, Through God’s Eyes, won first place at the San Diego Book Awards in June 2013.
In this post about book awards, blogger Sandra Beckwith writes:
It’s not enough to win an award, though. You have to make sure the book-buying world knows that your book is an award-winner because, let’s be honest, an award lends a certain cache and credibility to your book.
Sandra offers twelve ways to share the news of your award in ways that build awareness of your book and your brand.
LAUNCH A CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular and effective way to raise funds online and bankroll your dream. You start by setting a funding goal and deadline. If people like your project, they can pledge money to support it.
Many authors turn to crowdfunding to raise money for publishing expenses. For instance, Kim Hruba, author of the novel, Elevator Girl, noted on her campaign page on the crowdfunding site, Pubslush, that donations would pay for “publishing consulting, editing, proofreading, e-book design & distribution, cover design, interior design & typeset, printing, and distribution consulting.” Kim also viewed her campaign as a great way to pre-sell copies of her book while building anticipation of its upcoming release.
I took a different approach with my crowdfunding campaign. Click here to see it. (Yes, the campaign is still live and accepting donations.) I was able to pay for all the initial costs of producing Through God’s Eyes, but that didn’t leave me anything for distribution, promotion and publicity. I’m doing what I can to promote my book with the tactics and strategies outlined in this post, which have worked pretty well. But I need to take it to the next level by designing a dedicated website, contracting with a distribution company and hopefully hiring a savvy book publicist.
Here’s what my campaign video looks like:
Before launching a crowdfunding campaign, here are some things to keep in mind:
• A good length for a campaign appears to be thirty to forty days. Anything longer than that and you’ll be flirting with campaign fatigue, both for you and your network.
• Take the time to craft and polish your first communication with potential supporters. You’ll only get one chance to make a great first impression and engage them so that they’ll want to contribute.
• Strategize how to reach people and get the word out. Will you be sending e-mails, posting on Facebook and Twitter? All that and more? Get your game plan in place down to the smallest detail.
• Most donations come at the beginning and near the end (assuming you have an end date), so it’s important to send out periodic updates to your network. Prepare these updates in advance so they’re tight, concise and impactful.
• If your launch starts off slow, do not get discouraged; it may take a few updates before you gain traction. Once your campaign gets going, you may find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster. Every e-mail alert about a new donation delivers a lightning bolt of joy, which may be offset by long stretches of no activity in which you start questioning whether anyone knows or cares that you’re alive. Ultimately, you’ll find that the best part of your campaign is not the money you receive, but the tangible expression of friendship and support behind it that’s so important. As the donations start rolling in, you will feel cocooned in love and encouragement from people you hadn’t expected to hear from, which makes their support all the more gratifying.
• Depending on the crowdfunding platform you use, you will either have an “all or nothing” campaign in which you only get the money donated if your goal is met, or a “keep it all” campaign in which you keep every dollar donated regardless of whether your goal is met. (Some platforms have a minimum funding requirement, while others do not.) The theory behind the “all or nothing” campaign (see stats under the Kickstarter paragraph below) is that people will be more likely to donate when the deadline draws near so you can reach your goal. Perhaps, but I prefer to strip out the stress and anxiety, which is why I chose the “keep it all” campaign. That said, I can appreciate the logic behind both campaigns. As Indiegogo explains it on their site: You can choose Flexible Funding to keep all the money that you raise, which is great for projects that will benefit from any amount. Or, you can choose Fixed Funding to only collect funds if you meet your goal, which is great for projects that can only continue if they raise a minimum amount.
• Start with a video that explains what you’re asking for and why. Keep it short: three minutes tops. You need to walk a fine line between letting people know what your book is about while keeping a tight focus on why they should care about supporting you. Here’s how beginners can make a great crowdfunding video. Get creatively inspired by watching Indiegogo’s “Top 12 Pitch Videos of 2012.”
• I recommend using a Q&A format for the written appeal below the video for quick and easy reading and comprehension. For example, here are some questions that I answer in my crowdfunding campaign:
• Why should I care about this campaign?
• Everyone thinks their book is a masterpiece. Why should I put my trust in you?
• Do I get a free gift for making a donation?
• Is this a good book to give as a gift?
• What exactly are you going to spend the money on?
• Why don’t you just pay for publicity yourself?
• Why do you think these publicity efforts will make an impact?
• As long as you are raising funds, consider partnering with a charity and contributing a certain percentage of the funds you raise to it. Doing so can broaden the appeal of your campaign while raising money for a worthy cause. In the Google Hangout video directly below, author Kim Hruba contributed a portion of the funds she raised to Freedom From Hunger, a nonprofit that offers micro-loans to women entrepreneurs in the twenty-four most poverty-stricken countries in the world.
• I recommend sending both your video and written appeal out (separately or together) to a “focus group” comprised of people in your network who will give you honest feedback on what doesn’t work. I did this and got very helpful comments back that led to some major revisions. I can’t emphasize this enough: Put in the time and effort to get it right the first time.
• Tell people why they should care about your campaign. It’s not about you, it’s about them—mainly the benefits (tangible or otherwise) they receive from contributing to your cause.
• Provide an itemized list of how you’re going to spend the money. If people see that you’re transparent and you have legitimate expenses, they’ll be more likely to support you.
Click here to read “11 Tips for Crowdfunding: How to Raise Money From Strangers” by Rich Brooks in SocialMediaExaminer.com.
Click here to read “The 7 Deadly Sins of Crowd Funding” on Sponsume.com, a crowdfunding platform for artistic and entrepreneurial projects.
Click here to read tips from Indiegogo’s CEO on how to succeed in crowdfunding.
For more insights into crowdfunding, here is a sixty-two-minute Google Hangout session on the topic featuring:
• Kim Hruba, author of Elevator Girl.
• Amy Quale, founder of Wise Ink Publishing, a creative publishing agency that helps self-published authors produce quality content and succeed in the marketplace.
• Amanda Barbara, vice president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform for books only.
Here are eight Google Hangout videos about different aspects of crowdfunding from Indiegogo that range from seventeen to thirty-nine minutes each.
The Tax Implications of Crowdfunding
It’s a rare campaign that doesn’t offer perks. Mine is one of them. Why? The one-word explanation is: taxes. At first, I had planned a whole schedule of books and other items to give away for various levels of donations. Then I confirmed with the IRS that if I offer perks, the donations I receive are taxable; if I don’t offer perks, the donations are not taxable. Whoa. That could mean a difference of thousands of dollars! Granted, all the donations I receive will be spent on promotion costs, so all the income would be offset dollar for dollar by deductible expenses. But if that income was not taxable, that would allow me to devote an additional 30 to 40 percent to promotion efforts instead of watching that money swirl down the drain of taxes and fulfillment costs.
When I make a donation to a crowdfunding campaign, I want 100 percent of my donation to go to the person or cause I’m supporting; I don’t want a third of it to eventually go to the IRS. Yes, I’m taking a big risk by going perk-free, but my hope is that people who are willing to support me will do so without needing to get something tangible in return. Also, unlike most authors who look to crowdfunding to pre-sell as many books as possible, most of the people who I hope will support me already have my book. So by “thinking outside the books” and not offering perks, I’ll be able to make the donations I receive go much, much further.
Click here to read Kickstarter’s guide to the tax implications of crowdfunding.
One more note about the tax consequences of crowdfunding: The IRS told me that if someone donates $500 and I give them a $25 book as a perk, the entire $500 is taxable. A CPA I discussed this with told me I could argue that such an “all or nothing” position is unreasonable and that it may be worth challenging the IRS on this point by taking the position that only $25 of the $500 donation would be taxable with the other $475 not being taxable. Perhaps. But I’d rather not take on Goliath if I don’t have to; I’m not that skilled with a slingshot. Another point: No one I spoke to at the IRS had even heard of crowdfunding, so you can expect that some new rules will be coming down from on high in the next year or two as the IRS gets a clue and starts licking their chops over this new source of tax revenue.
One more complicating factor is the ever-expanding international reach of crowdfunding. It’s my understanding that funds donated from non-U.S. contributors are treated differently by the IRS. Better ask your accountant for details.
Choose the Platform and Program That’s Right for You
Here are four popular crowdfunding sites. New crowdfunding sites seem to pop up every day. Keep in mind that the vast majority of donations will come from people you know, so the platform you choose doesn’t matter as much as you may think it would. What matters most is that your network of supporters has the right link to click on. Click on the name of each crowdfunding site below to learn about that particular site’s rules of engagement.
GoFundMe bills itself as “the #1 crowdfunding website in the world for personal causes and life-events.”
Categories of Projects: Most people use GoFundMe to raise money for themselves, a friend or loved one during life’s important moments. However, any type of legitimate campaign (like books) is acceptable.
Type of Campaigns: GoFundMe offers “all or nothing crowdfunding campaigns,” “charity fundraising campaigns” and “personal donation campaigns” in which you have immediate access to every dollar raised with no minimum requirements.
Extras: Customer service answers your e-mails within five minutes. Yep, you heard that right. I tried it: they do. Here’s an interview with founder Brad Damphousse.
Donations Accepted After Campaign Ends? WIth a “personal donation campaign,” there are no deadlines or time limits. Your campaign will remain live until you choose to stop donations or remove the page altogether. An “all or nothing” campaign will allow you to continue receiving donations but only if you reach your goal.
Platform Fee: 5 percent plus a payment processing fee of about 3 percent.
Kickstarter has done a masterful job of owning the crowdfunding space in many consumers’ minds.
Categories of Projects: Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology and Theater.
Type of Campaigns: Kickstarter only offers “all or nothing” campaigns; if you don’t reach your goal, you get nothing. However, of the projects that have reached 20 percent of their funding goal, 81 percent were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60 percent of their funding goal, 98 percent were successfully funded. Projects either make their goal or find little support. There’s little in-between.
Extras: If Kickstarter features your campaign, you could experience a nice jump in donations. Here’s an interview with cofounder Perry Chen.
Donations Accepted After Campaign Ends? No
Platform Fee: 5 percent plus a payment processing fee of 3 to 5 percent.
Indiegogo describes itself as a merit-based platform. They state: “The most active campaigns will be featured on our homepage, browse-by-category pages, blog, newsletter and social media platforms. We don’t choose the campaigns that are featured; they’re selected based on our algorithm, called the gogofactor. The campaigns with the highest gogofactor earn featured spots.”
Categories of Projects: Fixed Funding or Flexible Funding.
Type of Campaigns: Any valid campaign is fair game.
Extras: Indiegogo was a crowdfunding pioneer. Here’s an interview with cofounder Danae Ringelmann.
Donations Accepted After Campaign Ends? No.
Platform Fee: 4 percent if you meet your goal; 9 percent if you do not meet your goal, plus a payment processing fee of 2 to 3 percent.
The primary theme of Pubslush is “giving.” They state: “Pubslush is entirely about giving: giving an opportunity to authors, giving a voice to readers, and giving books to children without access to literature.” With every book sold through Pubslush, they donate a book to a child in need.
Categories of Projects: Books only.
Type of Campaigns: In addition to a fundraising goal, authors set a minimum funding requirement of at least $500. Authors keep whatever they raise after they hit their minimum goal.
Extras: Pubslush, which has been called “the Kickstarter of books,” considers itself “a community of socially conscious literary tastemakers—a global book club with a cause.” Pubslush believes that readers want to be involved in the discovery process for new authors. Here’s an interview with founder Jesse Potash.
Donations Accepted After Campaign Ends? No
Platform Fee: 4 percent plus a payment processing fee of 3.5 percent.
The Art of Asking
Oh, one more thing. The thought of launching a crowdfunding campaign initially made me uncomfortable. I mean, asking people for money feels a bit like begging. Then a friend directed me to this TED talk by alt-rocker Amanda Palmer entitled “The Art of Asking.” Palmer explains how she came to the realization that asking people for money to support creative projects was a win-win for everybody. I like what she has to say and decided to follow her advice (well, except for the “letting fans draw all over your naked body” part). Watch it here:
THE ART OF ASKING
EMBARK ON A BLOG TOUR
If you’ve done any reading at all on how to market your book online, you’ve no doubt heard one marketer after another shout from their virtual rooftops that a blog tour is one of the best ways to promote your book. Personally, I’m not sold on it. A blog tour can consume vast amounts of time and effort and offer little in return.
What is a blog tour? There’s no clear definition, although it typically involves asking other bloggers if you can “guest blog” on their site by submitting a post relevant to your book. Another popular component is asking other bloggers if they will consent to interviewing you via video or audio for their site.
These ideas are all well and good, but let me ask you this: If someone you didn’t know asked if they could write a post on your blog or if you would interview them for your blog, how receptive would you be? Your response would depend on who was doing the asking, how they were asking and your impression of their book. Ah, and therein lies a potential rub. You’d probably want to see the book before you agreed to promote it. If you’re okay with a digital copy, fine. But if you and other prospects request a hard copy, the author would be on the hook for considerable printing and mailing costs with no guarantee of positive responses.
My apologies for raining on your blog tour parade, but I just don’t see it as the mystical, magical bonanza it’s made out to be. Yes, any mentions on other blogs is a plus, and I have reached out to other bloggers myself and will continue to do so, but it doesn’t strike me as the biggest bang for your promotional buck. For one thing, I don’t know how many readers another blogger has. If I pour loads of time into an original blog post and interview with a blogger who averages eight daily views for new posts, is it worth it? Sure, it’s great that search engines can find you and your content in as many places as possible, but unless you have unlimited time a blog tour may not be the best allocation of your resources.
Ultimately, a well-organized blog tour, complete with an accessible, easy-to-follow schedule with links for readers who wish to follow your blog-hopping exploits can certainly be worthwhile, but it’s best to keep your expectations firmly grounded in reality.
For another perspective, download this special report entitled “Virtual Book Tour Basics: How to Connect with Your Audience and Sell More Books Without Leaving Home” by award-winning former publicist Sandra Beckwith.
Whenever and wherever you guest blog for any reason, remember your manners! As Leslie Lee Sanders writes in her post, “How to Be a Great Guest Blogger“:
It’s always best to leave a good first impression. It doesn’t matter why you guest blog, but by applying these courteous and memorable steps, you increase your chances of getting invited back to the blog and making a good first and last impression.
BOOK YOURSELF ON INTERNET RADIO SHOWS
Google your genre and start sending e-mails to radio hosts asking if you can be interviewed on their show. For instance, if you’ve written a book on spirituality, Google “Spiritual Radio Shows” and start sending inquiries to shows listed on sites like:
• Sedona Talk Radio
• HayHouse Radio
• One World Puja Network
• New Age Spirituality Talk Radio
• Inside Personal Growth (podcasts)
Traditional radio stations are also in play, of course. Here’s how to find the right stations across the country.
TIPS TO ENSURE A GOOD RADIO INTERVIEW
• Send the host a one-paragraph bio to enure that you will be introduced correctly
• Send the host the contact information you would like listeners to have (your e-mail address and website URLs)
• Ask the host if he or she would like you to provide sample interview questions, and if so, how many?
• Ask the host if you can offer a free gift to his or her listeners (eBook, podcast link, personal consultation)
SCHEDULE BOOK READINGS
Newly published books and book readings have always had an inseparable association with one another. Most people still associate the two, but from a practical standpoint, speaking to a small (sometimes very small!) group of people can’t match the effectiveness of reaching vastly more potential readers online.
Even so, I love doing book readings. Not only does each one make you that much better as a speaker and get you more comfortable talking in front of crowds—which, of course, can lead to bigger and better speaking opportunities—a reading gives you the chance to connect face to face and often one on one with people who are interested in your work. Think of getting the chance to enjoy an intimate event—and perhaps have a five-minute chat—with your favorite author. How awesome would that be? Now how awesome would it be for you to be the author that made someone’s day?
CRANK OUT THE VIDEOS!
Video is perhaps the most effective medium for building awareness and driving web traffic. By being able to see and hear you, readers will feel a greater personal connection with you. You will be more trusted and familiar.
What sort of videos should you create? A book trailer is essential. Here’s the trailer for my book, Through God’s Eyes.
Here’s the trailer for my first book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.
If you’re able to spend some serious coin on your book trailer, check out this beauty commissioned by my good friend Paul Streitz for the book I helped him write, Blue-Collar Buddha. (It’s a great read, guaranteed!) This trailer by Tucker Capps blew me away. It’s the best I’ve ever seen!
But wait, there’s more! Ask a friend to videotape your next book reading or speaking engagement and throw it up on your blog, YouTube and everywhere else. People who weren’t able to attend in person can then enjoy your brilliant performance! Here’s one of my book readings for Through God’s Eyes.
Obviously, some types of videos will be longer than others. Ideally, most of your videos should be thirty to ninety seconds long.
More ideas for videos:
• Read an excerpt or a chapter from your book, or tell a story from your book by memory, which is more personal and intimate. If you’re posting the video on your blog, add the corresponding text underneath it.
• Provide an overview of your book and share why you wrote it
• Have a friend conduct a Q&A session with you
• Offer a video tutorial
• Vlog instead of blogging by occasionally posting a video on your blog instead of or in addition to text
• Post video testimonials from your readers
• Create a video bio for your website's Media Room so viewers can get a better sense of who you are and how you'll perform on camera
Post your videos on your blog, on YouTube and every other video-sharing site you can think of. Be sure to also post it on your Goodreads author profile and your Amazon Author Page. Populate your website’s Media Room with a limited number of videos as well.
This post by James Wedmore offers more detail on “How to Create YouTube Videos That Connect With People.”
Be sure to read this article by Joanna Penn called “7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video for Book Promotion.”
Here’s a quick read by Christine Kane called “3 Must-Do’s for Your Online Video (Hint: They’re Not Technical).”
Does video work? It sure did for Gary Vaynerchuk, who scored a ten-book deal from HarperStudio largely because of his video work, which highlight the need to be authentic, transparent and passionate about what you do.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL BOOK PUBLICIST
If you can afford to pay between $2,500 and $10,000 for a publicity campaign, here are some book publicists to choose from.
• Jill Mangino of Circle 3 Media, a boutique public relations and media consulting agency.
• Stacey Miller, founder of S.J. Miller Communications, a book promotion firm specializing in developing winning media strategies for authors.
• Penny Sansevieri, founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
• Lisa Dubbels of Catalyst Publicity, a boutique agency that provides mindful publicity for conscious change makers
Check out this article by publicity expert Sandra Beckwith that’s titled “7 Things You Need to Know About Working with a Book Publicist.”
Here are two other publicity experts you can learn from. You will not be able to contact them personally (unless you’re awfully resourceful!).
• Brendon Burchard, author of The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice and the “father” of expert marketing.
Author Expert Marketing Machines gives you the tools and training you need to leap out of your comfort zone and into the waiting arms of your greatest potential. After Koenigs takes you through the five P’s—position, publish, product, promote, profit—the only thing holding you back will be a sixth P—your own permission. Yep, all you have to do is say yes to plugging into Koenig’s “instant expert” marketing engines and you’re on your way to establishing credibility and authority in your given field faster and more effectively than you ever could have imagined.
Click here to download Arielle Ford’s newsletters, which cover publishing, publicity, promotion and platform building. (Look for my two-part article in issues three and four.) Arielle is one of America’s top book publicists. Click here to visit her website to sign up for her free e-mail newsletter and learn everything you should know about how to become a bestselling author.
Click here to check out the eBooks offered by Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart of TrainingAuthors.com. Titles include 7 Book Marketing Case Studies, Book Marketing for Beginners and Marketing Your Book on Amazon. Sign up for Shelley and Heather’s free newsletter here.
For free weekly tips on sniffing out publicity opportunities, click here to sign up for Joan Stewart’s ezine, “The Publicity Hound.” Check out some of her archived tips here. Or click here to e-mail Joan about her consulting services.
BLANKET THE GLOBE WITH A PRESS RELEASE
Trumpeting your book through a press release (a.k.a. media release) may sound old school, but Joel Friedlander swears by it. In this mini-tutorial on how to write a press release, Friedlander states:
Press releases are an inexpensive form of publicity that’s vastly underused by most self-publishers. Not only that, they have the potential for big payoffs. If your headline is magnetic and your story compelling, your press release can multiply your exposure exponentially.
ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS
Identify some prominent people in your field or genre and ask them to provide an endorsement for the back cover or inside pages of your book. If your book is already published, you can update it with new endorsements if you’re using a POD (print on-demand) publisher like CreateSpace. Share these endorsements with your blog readers like this.
(While I was writing this post, a very nice endorsement came in from the CEO of INTA (International New Thought Alliance) with a note that Through God’s Eyes would also be reviewed in the Autumn issue of New Thought magazine, their quarterly journal. Hooray for soliciting endorsements!)
Testimonials are unsolicited comments you get from readers. As they come in through e-mail or comments on sites like Amazon, assemble them into a blog post like this.
CONVERT YOUR BOOK TO AN eBOOK FOR EXTRA SALES
WIth the meteoric rise of eBook sales, you’d be shortsighted if all you’re offering is a hard copy of your book. For smaller, simpler books, a book designer like Jay Monroe (see info about Jay below) can help you convert your book to an eBook format (Amazon uses the .mobi format; everyone else uses the .epub format).
Since Through God’s Eyes was close to one hundred twenty-five thousand words and has a unique format—my narrative paragraphs alternate with inspirational quotes—I turned it over to BookBaby. Needless to say, I was concerned about what the final product would look like. When BookBaby sent the draft back to me, I took a deep breath, opened the file . . . and was thrilled with what I saw. It was perfect! What’s more, they linked all the nearly two thousand items in the Index to the appropriate pages, which I was not expecting. The job that BookBaby did was A+ all the way and I cannot recommend them highly enough. FYI, BookBaby not only formats your book, they distribute it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Baker & Taylor and everyone else who matters.
HELPFUL HINT: When your designer or BookBaby uploads the eBook to Amazon, it will be on a separate sales page than the sales page of your hard-copy book. This should self-correct within a week but just to make sure, I called Amazon and they cheerfully told me they’d take care of merging them onto one sales page. A day later, it was good to go.
USE eBOOKS AS MARKETING TOOLS
The promotion possibilities are endless with eBooks! I promoted Through God’s Eyes by writing a 5,600-word eBook called The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason. I started with some excerpts from Through God’s Eyes, added some original content and organized it all from a slightly different perspective.
It’s available as an eBook on Amazon for 99 cents (at the special URL of GodIsLogical.com), but the primary goal is not to sell it. The eBook was designed as a vehicle to build awareness of and drive sales of Through God’s Eyes. That’s why the second half of the book is a forty-page sampler of excerpts from Through God’s Eyes that includes the Table of Contents, Foreword, Introduction, chapter excerpts, sample story, endorsements and testimonials.
I e-mailed a free PDF version of the eBook to more than 2,500 people and asked them to share it with anyone and everyone they think might like it. Hopefully, they’ll share it with other people who will share it with others, and so on. I will also continue to explore other avenues for delivering the eBook free to targeted audiences. For example, I will offer it to other authors who may want to send it to their lists as a valuable free gift. By offering high-quality content for free via an eBook, I’ll be able to introduce Through God’s Eyes to people who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to it.
If you’ve published multiple books, you can put together an eBook that contains excerpts from all of your books plus links to buy them on Amazon. You can then post the eBook on Amazon as a free giveaway. This is a phenomenal way to introduce yourself and your work to scads of new people. Be sure to create a special URL that describes the book and makes it easy for you to relay it to people and for them to remember it. For instance, if your name is Bill Bakken, buy the URL BakkenExcerpts.com or BakkenBookAmazon.com.
Click on the link below to download my eBook so you can use it as a model (for format, linking, visuals, etc.) to create your own.
THE LOGIC OF LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
I hired a graphic designer to create the above eBook, but you can take a less costly route simply by “printing” a Microsoft Word doc as a PDF. That’s what I did to create a PDF of a sample chapter from Through God’s Eyes. It’s not as professional looking but that’s okay; it’s valuable content and that’s what matters. Click on the link below to download this sample chapter so you can see the stripped-down format.
FIND FREEDOM THROUGH FORGIVENESS
If your blog doesn’t have an eBook attached to it, you’re missing out on some great opportunities. So says Kelly Gurnett in her article, “Ebooks: The Perfect Companion to Boost Your Blog” on the blog, A Writer’s Bucket List.
Kelly’s right. I’m adding this to my “To Do” list.
In her article, “Why Successful Authors Are Giving Their Books Away for Free,” Simone Collins explains why giving eBooks away for free is now a common and, if done correctly, profitable practice:
In addition to enjoying more readers (and thus more word-of-mouth marketing), authors who give their books away for free or at low costs frequently enjoy deeper customer relationships, more reviews, more sales of print books and increased sales of related books, products and services.
Here is Bryan Cohen‘s account of going "Perma Free," which means making your book permanently free on Amazon. Bryan's free eBook was downloaded more than 100,000 times. The results were mixed, but he says he's glad he "tried out this grand experiment."
Here is the Free Book Beast‘s take on Perma-Free eBooks.
Here are fifteen sites where self-published authors can promote their eBooks. Not all of the sites require that your eBook be free.
CREATE SPECIAL URLS
There are lots of great reasons to create special URLs. For my book, Through God’s Eyes, I created these URLs:
• GodsEyesBook.com—This is the main page on my blog for my book. (I’m in the process of creating a dedicated website for my book and will redirect the URL to that homepage.)
• GodsEyesAmazon.com—This is the sales page on Amazon.
• GodsEyesOrder.com—This is the sales page on CreateSpace, the publisher of the book.
As you can see, these URLs are a great way to share links to your book in an easy-to-remember, engaging way.
I even locked in a special URL for this post; to share it with other writers, direct them to:
SIGN UP FOR GOOGLE AND TWITTER ALERTS
Would you like to know whenever anyone, anywhere comments on you or your books? That would be pretty awesome! You could then fire off a thank you note or comment, thereby expanding your network of and strengthening your connections with people who appreciate your books. Why is that important? Three words: fans for life!
Fortunately, you can be alerted whenever your name or the name of your book is mentioned. Click on the link below to download this quick guide to receiving Google and Twitter alerts from author and uber publicist Sandra Beckwith at Build Book Buzz.
GOOGLE AND TWITTER ALERTS
Bookmarks are a natural way to promote your books. Keep some on you like you would business cards so you can hand them out at any time. Ask bookstores if you can leave some on the counter. When you sell a book, slip a bookmark into it before sending or giving it to the purchaser.
Include the front cover image, an endorsement, your ordering information, other relevant website URLs and your contact info. On the back, include a brief description of the book or an appropriate excerpt. These bookmarks make great calling cards!
What’s that you say? You say you need a designer for not only your book but for related items like bookmarks? You’re in luck! I highly recommend Jay Monroe. He’ll design your cover and the interior of the book (or eBook) and take care of all the publishing details. I’ve worked with Jay on five books and wouldn’t think of working with anyone else. Jay also designed my PDF Sampler and PDF Press Kit (see below). No, I do not receive any commission from Jay for recommending him. I just like to put people in touch with skilled professionals who will treat them well. Click here to e-mail Jay.
Another alternative for cover design is 99designs, the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace, which boasts about its community of 267,211 designers. Read about one author’s experience with 99designs here.
Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, turned to 99designs to crowdsource designs not only for an eBook cover but also for logos for his company and his blog. He writes about his experiences here.
Or you could try Box Shot King, which allows you to create 3D graphics on your computer. Auhtor Susan Gilbert explains here how Box Shot King can be a valuable resource for designing your eBook cover.
If you decide to take a do-it-yourself approach to designing your eBook cover, here are some conceptual and technical points to keep in mind.
How important is the right book cover? In her article, “Self-Publishing on a Shoestring: Cover Me, Baby!,” Christiana Miller writes:
A book cover is an invitation—a way of seducing the reader. It beckons, inviting them to enter the world of your book and dance with your characters for awhile. It makes a promise about what kind of music they’ll be dancing to. Your cover should convey the tone and genre of your story, be eye-catching and, most importantly, look like it’s been professionally done.
PARTNER WITH A DISTRIBUTOR
Your promotional efforts will only take you so far unless you can tap into an effective distribution network. Large, traditional publishers will handle distribution for you. Everyone else needs to partner with a company like New Shelves Distribution, which combines low-cost POD (print on demand), eBook and traditional distribution with focused, effective sales. New Shelves’ customer base is 60 percent self-published authors and 40 percent small to mid-size publishers.
New Shelves will present your book to Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com, Books-A-Million, Hastings, Indigo, Brodart, Follett and other industry wholesalers and retailers. They also offer programs for airport, supermarket, big-box chain, school, international, and public and university library sales programs.
I’ve had numerous interactions with New Shelves founder Amy Collins and look forward to working with her. What impresses me about New Shelves is the individual attention they provide to each book they take on. “Each book receives a customized sales kit pitched to individual buyers on a monthly basis,” Amy says. “Our follow-up is unparalleled.”
ESTABLISH A PRESENCE ON GOODREADS
Goodreads, the number one site for book lovers, presents a tremendous opportunity for authors to connect with and promote their books to members. Goodreads has an extensive Author Program that offers promotional tools like:
• Sign up to advertise your book to up to the Goodreads Community—21,000,000 readers!
• List a book giveaway to generate pre-launch buzz.
• Lead a Q&A discussion group for readers.
• Participate in discussions on your profile, in groups and in the discussion forums for your books.
Learn more about the “how to’s” of Goodreads’ Author program here.
You can also create a Featured Author Group on Goodreads to interact with readers and create buzz about your books. Form a group and agree to answer questions about your books for a brief period, and Goodreads will help promote the group using its word-of-mouth tools. Learn how to create a Featured Author Group here. Although it’s listed in the site just mentioned, here’s a bit more information about how to optimize Goodreads’ “Ask the Author” feature.
Hosting book giveaways on GoodReads is becoming increasingly popular and effective. How do you do it? Here are eleven tips from Emlyn Chan, president of Novel Publicity & Co. Here are more tips from LiveHacked.com. Before you launch a Goodreads giveaway, be sure to read these cautionary words from author Catherine Ryan Howard.
NOTE: Amazon acquired Goodreads in March 2013. which prompted Carla Douglas to write, “Goodreads vs. Amazon Customer Reviews—What’s the Difference?.
Here are more sites where authors can promote their books, interact with readers and gain visibility:
Red Room: A community founded around the idea that writing transforms individuals and sometimes whole societies—whether you’re a writer or a reader, you’re part of something special. It’s a platform built for the future of publishing, an ecosystem where you can have a home, find friends and colleagues, and participate in the marketplace. Red Room is a social hub, a place to discuss and buy books in every genre, and a destination for exclusive content that will entertain and inspire you.
AWESOME OPTION: The Red Room Authors Bookstore offers a revolutionary new retailing model. When your book is purchased on Red Room, they’ll pay you 15 percent of your book sales in addition to what your publisher pays you. Check out the Red Room Authors Bookstore FAQ. Here’s a sample scenario:
You received a 10 percent advance from your publisher long ago, against a 10 percent royalty. Your book is finally published and retails for $20. You sell 5,000 books the first year and 2,500 books the second year. Your shoppers all buy online and you’ve asked them to buy from Red Room. Red Room pays you 15 percent of your book sales.
In the above scenario, you’d earn $22,500 more on the same book with the same number of copies sold. In order to list your books in the Red Room Authors Bookstore, you’ll need to become a Premium Member for $250 per year. You can cover the cost of this membership by selling 1.6 books per week (a total of 84 books in one year) at a cover price of $20 per book. Sign me up!
Shelfari: A site where book lovers can create a virtual bookshelf, discover new books, connect with friends and learn more about their favorite books.
AuthorsDen: An online literary community where authors and readers come together.
Nothing Binding: A place for emerging authors to promote their book, meet other writers and share their writing.
LibraryThing: Post your book library and reviews, and connect with likeminded readers.
Click here for a feature-by-feature comparison between LibraryThing and Goodreads by Matt Maldre.
HIT THE BOOKS!
Here are some books on book promotion that you may find helpful:
THIS IS A FREE eBOOK
• Practical, easy-to-implement advice on how to market any book
• Forty-one simple, do-it-yourself marketing tips that also explain the context and thinking behind each recommendation
• Marketing techniques that apply equally well to eBooks and print books
THIS IS A FREE eBOOK
• The 30 secrets of bestselling self-published eBook authors
• How to make your book more discoverable and more desirable to readers
• How to reach readers around the globe at Amazon and other major retailers
Red Hot Internet Publicity: An Insider’s Guide to Marketing Online (Volume 1) by Penny Sansevieri
• Six need-to-know rules of publicity for the Internet age
• The best way to design, write, and promote a website to sell your book
• Twelve blockbuster techniques to use blogs for book publicity
• Proven “live promotion” techniques you can use to reach a worldwide audience (2013)
BONUS: When you buy the book, you get access to helpful free downloads including:
• “Get Published Today” by Penny C. Sansevieri
• “The Twitter Ultimate Resource Guide” by Penny C. Sansevieri
• “The Ultimate Guide to Marketing on Twitter” by Penny C. Sansevieri
• “7 Mistakes Even Smart Authors Make When Marketing Their Books Online” by D’vorah Lansky
• “Convert Your Website Traffic and Sell More Books” by Susan Gilbert
• “Create a Book Marketing Plan That Sells Books” by Dana Lynn Smith
• “Social Media in 15 Minutes a Day” by Shelley Hitz
• Top 100 book reviewers by Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
This book is for authors who want to sell more books, but it’s also for those writers who want to think more like an entrepreneur. It’s for traditionally published authors who want to take control of their future, and for self-published authors who want to jump-start a career. There are some short-term tactics for those who want to kick up immediate sales, but the focus of the book is more about instilling values and marketing principles that will help your long-term career as a writer. It’s also about going beyond just the book, because the methods in this guide can take you from being an author into professional speaking, making money from other products and creating opportunities that you can’t even imagine yet. (2013)
Sell Your Book Like Wildfire: The Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Publicity by Rob Eagar
Learn how to:
• Increase your book sales by driving readers to bookstores and online retailers
• Build a brand that makes your books stand out from the crowd
• Secure more media interviews and speaking engagements
• Connect with key influencers who spread word of mouth
• Create raving fans who buzz about your book on social media (2012)
Book Marketing Made Easy by D’vorah Lansky
Learn how to increase your credibility and be seen as an expert in your field; sell more books to people who will benefit from your message; create multiple sources of income; harness the power of multimedia marketing; and use social media to increase your influence and expand your market. (2011)
Premium Promotional Tips for Writers by Jo-Anne Vandermeulen
A “must-have” resource book filled with practical online marketing tips for those who have books to sell. You will learn how to target your audience, create massive exposure, and drive traffic back to the site where your books are sold. (2009)
JOIN A WRITER’S GROUP
If you’re fortunate enough to have a professional writer’s group in your area, by all means join it for support, inspiration, knowledge and networking. For instance, if you live in Southern California, check out Publishers & Writers of San Diego (PWSD). The group is comprised of members from all areas of publishing and writing—authors, self-publishers, independent publishers, editors, book packagers, designers, consultants, promotional professionals, students and more.
CREATE A ONE-PAGE SELL SHEET
A sell sheet provides basic information about your book to decision-makers in the book business who are in position to buy your book. These people include buyers at book stores, libraries and other retailers and wholesalers. A one-page sell sheet is free of marketing language; it simply offers quick and concise facts about your book. Here is a brief but thorough guide to creating sell sheets by author K.S. Brooks.
CREATE A FACEBOOK FAN PAGE
Here is my Facebook Fan Page for Through God’s Eyes. A fan page (branded with images of you and your book) is a great way to interact with readers, share content and information, and announce and promote book-related events. I also post links there to some of my new blog posts. Building new relationships and strengthening existing ones through my fan page helps me create a growing and eager market for future books. Of course, I post links to new blog posts on my regular Facebook page as well.
HELPFUL HOW-TO ARTICLES FOR PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ON YOUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE
• How To Create A Facebook Fan Page For Your Book by Joanna Penn (includes a ten-minute video)
• Promote Your Book on Facebook With a Fan Page by Dana Lynn Smith
• 20 Ways to Promote Your Facebook Page by Justin Wise
• How to Make Money on Facebook: 101 Tips by Kristi Hines
START TWEETING ON TWITTER
I have organically grown a large following on Twitter—more than 13,000 followers and counting. The power of Twitter cannot be overstated. By entering keywords in the “Search” box, Twitter allows you to target a specific audience and send blog post links to people who would be most interested in receiving them. Posting links to content from my blog and other writings on Twitter enables me to drive ever more traffic to my blog and connect with larger numbers of people.
HOW-TO ARTICLES FOR PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ON TWITTER
• How to Use Twitter to Promote Your New Book by Michael Hyatt
• 12 Ways to Build Your Brand and Promote Your Book on Twitter by Fauzia Burke
• BookBuzzr Q&A: Using Twitter to Market Your Book
• 5 Top Tools for Promoting Your Book on Twitter by Steven Lewis by way of Joel Friedlander
• Are You Making These 8 Twitter Mistakes? by Michael Hyatt
• Twitter for Authors Who “Don’t Get It” by Laura Pepper Wu
• Why You Need to Use Hashtags, & the Best Hashtags for Writers & Authors by Laura Pepper Wu (You can even use hashtags to host a Twitter Chat!)
• How To Write An Effective Book Tweet by Heather Hart
Click here to get Frances Caballo’s free eBook, Twitter Just for Writers: The Ultimate How-To Guide for Authors.
ENLIST THE HELP OF AN ONLINE PRO
Need help designing and executing your online promotion strategy. Susan Gilbert can help. Her company, Online Promotion Success, assists authors with book promotion, social media setup, social media marketing, media promotions and website development.
For you do-it-yourselfers, check out Social Media Secrets for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, an eBook by the founders of Wise Ink Publishing, an agency dedicated to improving the quality of self-published books and the perception of the self-publishing industry.
SIGN UP WITH AMAZON ASSOCIATES
When you sign up with Amazon Associates, every time someone goes to Amazon through your blog, you get 4 to 6 percent of the purchase price in commission for every book or other product they buy there. That’s right: free money! If someone buys a book priced at $15.95, you get about a dollar in commission! And, yes, that goes for ANY product, as long as they order it after going through your site. (One of my first commissions was from somebody buying Confessions of a Werewolf Supermodel. I was puzzled and called Amazon to ask what was going on!) You won’t get commission if the product is already in their Amazon shopping cart and they go through your site only to check out.
This is a good reason to sprinkle links to other books throughout your blog posts. You can see on my blog that visitors can click through to Amazon simply by clicking on an image of one of my books. This also works if someone uses the special URL you give them like GodsEyesAmazon.com, as long as it’s coded properly. Amazon will explain to you how to code your links properly.
Once you’re set up with Amazon Associates, e-mail a message like this to your network and post it on Facebook:
I’d like to ask a favor: Whenever you plan on buying something from Amazon, please first go to my blog (http://philbolsta.com) and click on a photo of one of my books. That will take you directly to Amazon. If you do this before you select your items for the shopping cart, I will get credit for whatever you buy.
An even simpler way is to use this link to get to Amazon before you select your items: http://GodsEyesAmazon.com.
Thank you! This is very helpful and very appreciated!
And by the way, if you’d be willing to follow the above instructions before placing an order on Amazon yourself, I would very much appreciate it!
BEEF UP YOUR AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
Amazon is author friendly. They give you plenty of space to introduce yourself and publicize your books. You’ll find some useful tips on how to make the most of your Author Page in 5 Tips to Improve Your Amazon Author Page by Doris-Marie Heilmann of 111 Publishing.
CREATE A PDF SAMPLER
If you’re wondering what to e-mail people to give them a good sense of what your book is about, wonder no more! I created a forty-page PDF Sampler that includes ordering information and excerpts from Through God’s Eyes that includes the Table of Contents, the Foreword by Caroline Myss, the Introduction, chapter excerpts, a sample story, celebrity endorsements and testimonials. Now whenever I solicit endorsements or radio interviews or just want to introduce myself and my book to someone, I simply drag the PDF into my e-mail and fire it off.
Click on the link below to download my PDF sampler so you can use it as a model to create your own.
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Remember, the more content and value you can give away for free, the better the chance that someone will become interested in your book and order it. I offer this free PDF at the bottom of every blog post for people to download. And as I mentioned above, it’s also included in my free eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason.
ORCHESTRATE AMAZON SALES CAMPAIGNS
In “The Art of the Amazon Sale: Improving Rankings, Selling More Books, and Gaining Exposure,” Lindsay Buroker, author of the Emperor’s Edge fantasy series, details how she combined a free giveaway, sales prices on two other books in the series, and a $90 ad on Bookbub (a site that alerts subsribers to limited-time free and discounted eBooks matching their interests) to boost short-term and long-term sales and reach more fans.
If you’ve written a series of fiction books, here is another post Lindsay wrote about profitably bundling your books into bargain-priced boxed sets.
Amazon may be the gorilla of the industry, but beware of marketers who promise to orchestrate an (expensive) promotion campaign that will enable you to call your book “a bestseller.” Michael N. Marcus explains “Why Amazon Bestsellers Don’t Impress My Dog.”
Exposure on Amazon is the Holy Grail for every author. In her post, “Keys to Understanding Amazon’s Algorithms,” Penny Sansevieri pulls back the curtain on this mystical process and shows you how to position your book for maximum visibility. For more great Amazon-related tips, get Penny’s eBook, How To Sell Your Books By The Truckload On Amazon.com
In his eBook, Let’s Get Visible, David Gaughran demonstrates how to leverage Amazon’s recommendation engine, shows you how to position your books for discoverability on other sales venues, and offers a plethora of tips on how to cost-effectively promote your book.
Blogger Jane Ayres swears by this book: “More than recommended—this book is a must for indie authors and anyone interested in marketing for writers. I refer to it constantly.”
Author and marketing copywriter Mark Edwards was puzzled why his sales and conversion rates for his novel, Killing Cupid, were so weak. In his post, “The 11 Ingredients of a Sizzling Book Description,” he writes:
I spent days studying and analyzing the books with higher conversion rates. What was it about their descriptions that made them sell more? Once I’d come up with some theories I put them to the test, re-writing the description.
Sales doubled within an hour.
A couple of weeks later, the book was No.2 on Amazon. The conversion rate from visitor to sale was much higher. All was right with the world.
CREATE A PDF PRESS KIT
A press kit is a must have for soliciting media interviews. You won’t be considered professional without it. My press kit for Through God’s Eyes includes an overview of the book, my bio, the Foreword by Caroline Myss, FAQ and celebrity endorsements. Click on the link below to download my PDF Press Kit so you can use it as a model to create your own.
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PRESS KIT
NETWORK LIKE CRAZY!
Promotion is all about relationship building, of course, and I’ve established relationships with people all over the world, from India to England to Australia to the Philippines. They regularly leave comments on my blog, which I respond to immediately. Every comment and e-mail I receive from visitors to my blog or from readers of my books helps build my brand and my online presence. Consequently, I’ll have a larger built-in audience for every future book I write, which translates to larger initial sales and heightened word-of-mouth advertising.
Every blog post, e-mail and tweet I produce is yet another seed planted in rich cyber-soil, a seed which then takes on a life of its own. A popular post or comment can quickly go viral. I track all this by reviewing my blog’s analytical stats, which show me which blogs and websites have repurposed my content along with a link back to my blog.
The mother of all networking ideas comes from author and blogger Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing. In her post, “My Best Book Marketing Tip for Creating Maximum Buzz,” she writes:
I sent nearly all of my 800+ LinkedIn connections a personal-looking email asking if they would brainstorm with me about ways to promote the book.
Carol then details (with screenshots) how to do exactly that. Brilliant! Guess what happens when you ask people for input? They feel valued and listened to. They give you great ideas. They become aware of and buy your book. They introduce you to other savvy people, who give you more great ideas, expand your network and invite you to do fun and profitable things for and with them. (Read all the great things that happened to Carol as a result of her reaching out to her LinkedIn network.) I’ve used e-mail focus groups to solicit feedback on content I’ve written, but it never occurred to me to ask for input on promotion or to do so through LinkedIn. Guess what’s on my To Do list for tomorrow?
GO TO SEMINARS
I attended Joel Roberts’ three-day seminar, “The Language of Impact,” and came away inspired and informed. Joel is a master at finding the right words and the right angle to promote and present yourself during interviews. Drilling down and identifying and polishing your core messages will also help you in every aspect of book promotion.
Joel was a prime-time radio talk show host in Los Angeles and is now a top media consultant. You can check out his credentials here.
STUDY JAMES ALTUCHER’S PUBLISHING BLUEPRINT
I like James Altucher’s blog, The Altucher Confidential. He’s refreshingly candid, sometimes embarrassingly so. He starts his article, “How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0,” with this:
My most recent book, Choose Yourself! sold 44,294 copies in its first month out, hit the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list, was No. 1 on Amazon for all non-fiction books for a few days and is still flirting with No. 1 in its various categories. This post is about what I did differently, why I did it differently, and how I think anyone can do this to self-publish a bestseller. I describe all the numbers, who I hired and why, and how I made the various choices I did.
One of my favorite parts of James’ plan was his money-back guarantee, which he describes this way:
My goal was not to necessarily make the most money but to make sure the message reached as many people as possible. So on the very first page, before the editorial information and dedication, there is “the offer.”
I offer to pay people back for the book if they could prove to me that they bought it and read it. Then I would pay them back completely for the book (losing money on each transaction because of the cut Amazon takes plus shipping). The idea was I would be happy to give the book for free, but I know people don’t value things they get for free. And I also know most people don’t read the books they buy. Hence the offer.
There are lots of good ideas here, though it must be noted that James spent $31,000 overall to promote Choose Yourself. That’s certainly a roadblock for most authors, although he points out that you can lessen the cost considerably by forgoing an audio book and professional book trailer.
CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE/READERS/FANS!
Here are three ways to connect with and interact with your readers. Remember, the more that people feel they have a personal connection with you, the more likely they are to want to read your books!
CAUTION: Go interactive only if you genuinely enjoy meeting people and building authentic relationships. If you try to force it, you’ll come off as phony and your efforts will backfire.
• FreeConferenceCall.com. Schedule a call, then distribute the call-in number, access code, and date and time of the call to everyone in your network. You can record the call and then post it as an audio file on your blog. The format of the call is up to you, but a good plan to follow is to talk briefly about your book (origin of idea, process of bringing it into the world, content) and follow it up with a Q&A session.
• Google+ Hangouts. This no-cost option is growing more popular by the day. It appears similar to FreeConferenceCall.com, except with video. Check out Shelley Hitz’s twelve-step tutorial, “How to Host a Live Webinar for FREE Using Google+ Hangouts.”
Here’s another nice Google+ Hangouts tutorial by Krizia on The Book Designer website.
• Instant Teleseminar. This options strikes me as a sophisticated upgrade to Google+ Hangouts. However, after a twenty-one-day trial for just a dollar, prices begin at $47/month.
SOLICIT REVIEWS ON AMAZON
For my first book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, I solicited reviews from Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers, as well as from four- and five-star reviewers of similar books on Amazon. I figured if they gave similar books four or five stars, they were more inclined to give me a great review too. The more great reviews I get, and the higher profile the reviewer, the more synergy I create on Amazon, which leads to more numerous and visible listings and recommendations. Unless your publisher is willing to mail books out to reviewers (mine was, thankfully), you’ll have to run up some postage by sending them out yourself. Click here to see Laura Pepper Wu‘s detailed article, “How To Get Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers To Review Your Book.”
But beware! Too many five-star reviews can work against you. Author K.M. Weiland explains why.
One great way of generating reviews on Amazon is to give your book to people in exchange for them posting reviews. As blogger Carol Tice states in this post, this method of soliciting reviews is ethical if:
• You don’t tell reviewers what to say or how to rate your book
• They’re free to say whatever they want, including something negative
• Early readers aren’t your personal best friends
• Don’t post any fake reviews by pretend people, or encourage anyone to do that for you
THE STRAIGHT SCOOP: Blogger James Moushon asked more than fifty authors how they get reviews. Here are their detailed responses and James’ conclusions, including this one: “Note that Mark Coker from Smashwords has done studies about the influence of reviews on the buying process. He found that only 7 percent of readers use reviews to make the buy decision.”
SOLICIT FREE REVIEWS FROM BLOGS
The more reviews you can rack up on blogs, the better the chances that you will make your target audience aware of you and your book. Where do you find lists of bloggers who review books? Start with The Book Blogger List and Book Blogger Directory.
Click here for a list of hundreds of bloggers who are willing to review your book, courtesy of StepByStepSelfPublishing.net. This online list above is abbreviated and does not include e-mail addresses, genre preferences, pet peeves, etc. You can find the full list in The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages: A Promotional Reference Guide for Authors and Small Publishers, Fourth Edition by Christine Pinheiro. In this 800-page book, each reviewer provides detailed submission guidelines.
Here are more listings of blogs and other sites (and publications) that offer free book reviews or links to review sites:
IMPORTANT: Before you start firing off an avalanche of e-mails, it’s imperative that you read “5 Mistakes Authors Make When Approaching Book Bloggers” by former book blogger Anne Chaconas.
Did you read Anne’s article? Good. Now go back and read it again. Then buy some envelopes and stamps and get busy!
SOLICIT REVIEWS FROM INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS
Exposure is everything. Here’s where to send your book to get reviewed by the big boys:
Publishers Weekly (no fee) (galley should arrive three to four months prior to publication)
If you’ve self-published your book, follow these submission guidelines for Publishers Weekly’s PW Select program (fee is $149 for published books or $199 for unpublished books)
CAVEAT: Click here to read about one starry-eyed author’s experience with PW Select. Michel Sauret’s conclusion: It was a complete waste of money.
BookList (no fee) (galley should arrive at least fifteen weeks prior to publication)
Library Journal Book Review (no fee) (galley should arrive three to four months prior to publication)
Kirkus (fee is $425 for a review of your published book within 7-9 weeks / $575 for a review within 4-6 weeks)
CAVEAT: Click here to read about one starry-eyed author’s experience with Kirkus. Michel Sauret’s conclusion: Kirkus is extremely fair and objective, but he paid a lot of money for very little exposure. Also keep in mind that libraries and book stores rely on Kirkus reviews for purchasing books, but neither of them purchase self-published books.
For more on Kirkus, read “Watchdog: Is Kirkus Selling Dreams—Or Do They Deliver? by Giacomo Giammatteo, who offers self-publishing advice for ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors), which was founded by author Orna Ross.
Midwest Book Review (no fee for printed books / $50 fee for pre-publication manuscripts)
Here are a number of helpful articles on submitting your book for review, courtesy of Midwest Book Review.
• Keep in mind that the two worst months to submit your book for review are October and November because everyone is trying to get reviewed before Christmas. The next two worst months to submit your book are April and May because that’s the important Spring Season for the big publishers.
• The best months to submit your books are January and February (for the Spring Season) and July and August (for the Fall Season).
The next best months to submit are March and June, when things are fairly quiet. Your next best choices are September and December.
• Further, the two best days to have your book arrive on a reviewer’s desk are Wednesday and Thursday because those are the days when you’ll have less competition in terms of volume.
SOLICIT REVIEWS FROM FEE-FOR-REVIEW SERVICES
The more objective reviews you can accumulate, the better. You can post them on your own website, on your Amazon sales page and author page, and anywhere else that would give your book more exposure. These services will also post their review in a variety of places. These reviews are helpful for consumers. Even though you paid for them, they are objective and worthy of the word “review.”
CAVEAT: Although these reviews are objective, exercise caution when presenting them to bookstores and libraries. Trying to position them as unsolicited media reviews will backfire. Bookstores and libraries know all the pay-to-review players and will not only discount these reviews, they will hold it against you that you tried to sneak these reviews by them. That said, if you are open about the fact that you paid for the reviews, bookstores and libraries are likely to be open about receiving them.
San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Review—$125 for a turnaround time of six to ten weeks / $450 for a review plus a thirty-minute podcast interview with you published on AudibleAuthors.net.
(They also offer to review books that have been released in the last ninety days at no charge, but there is no guarantee that your book will be one they choose to review.)
ForeWord Reviews—$335 for a turnaround time of six to eight weeks.
(They also offer to review books three months prior to publication at no charge, but there is no guarantee that your book will be one they choose to review.)
Penn Book Review—$99 for a turnaround time of ten to fifteen days / $199 for a review plus lots of “extras.”
Portland Book Review—$89 for a turnaround time of six to ten weeks / $250 for a review plus an interview with you.
(They also offer to review books that have been released in the last twelve months at no charge, but there is no guarantee that your book will be one they choose to review.)
IndieReader—$100 for a turnaround time of eight to ten weeks (see “Submission Guidelines” near the bottom of this page). In addition to IndieReader, reviews will be posted on Amazon. A positive review from IndieReader could also mean further exposure via IR’s publishing partners, USA Today and The Huffington Post.
AN EVEN BETTER OPTION: For $150, you can enter your book in the IndieReader Discovery Awards. Your entry fee includes a book review and if you qualify for the Early Bird Discount of 20 percent, your net cost to enter the Discovery Awards would be just $20 (if you were already planning on paying for a $100 book review).
On a related note, should you consider paying for online advertising to promote your book? In an informal two-part study by blogger James Moushon, nearly fifty authors shared their experiences. Here is the good news . . . and here is the bad news.
Joanna Penn advertised with PixelofInk.com and was pleased with the results.
PIN AND PROMOTE ON PINTERIST
I’m not a Pinterest kind of guy so I’m going to have to defer to Kimberley Grabas’s expertise here. Here is her article on YourWriterPlatform.com titled “34 Strategic Ways You Can Use Pinterest to Market Your Book and Your Author Brand.”
As Kimberley writes, “Pinterest is a quieter platform where you express yourself primarily through images. No witty banter required. . . . What’s important on Pinterest is to market indirectly by building trust, loyalty and engagement.”
SEND YOUR BOOKS TO INFLUENCERS
Be on the lookout for opportunities to send your book to prominent people who are in a position to influence others. Yes, this is a “long shot approach” but it’s fun to connect with people in the public eye who may be able to give your promotion efforts a boost with just a few well-placed words.
For instance, as a sports fan, I sent my book Sixty Seconds to a handful of professional athletes and coaches in the hope that they would find inspiration in it and perhaps even spread the word a bit. One day, I picked up the phone and heard, “Hi, Phil. This is Clint Hurdle.” I was momentarily stunned. At the time, Clint was manager of the Colorado Rockies (and is now manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates). Clint was very kind and said that if I was ever in Denver that I should let him know so he could get me free tickets to a Rockies game. Wow, what a great guy. That’s all I remember him saying because when you get an unexpected phone call like that, your brain freezes up a bit and you tend to stammer out nonsense. Or maybe that’s just me.Now that Through God’s Eyes is out, I look for opportunities to send it to well-known people who are quoted publicly about their interest in spirituality. I recently sent a copy to Tim Flannery, the former San Diego Padres infielder who is now the third-base coach for the San Francisco Giants, because I read that he lives in Encinitas (like I do), is a songwriter (an interest of mine too) and is a spiritual kind of guy. When I followed up some time later to make sure he received it, I was shocked to hear that he kept the book in his locker for inspiration before games. How cool is that? Tim was kind enough to provide an endorsement, which I included in the front of the book.
Yes, you can run up some postage trying to get your book in the hands of prominent folks, but you never know what kinds of reactions and experiences you’ll get, which is half the fun!
CHECK OUT THESE LIBRARY RESOURCES
• Submit your recently published book to a library distributor and gain access to thousands of public, school, academic, corporate and special libraries. Two such distributors are Quality Books, Inc. and Unique Books, Inc.
Click on the link below to download information about Quality Books.
• Once your book has been published, you can check to see which libraries are carrying your book by visiting WorldCat.org
Kimberley Grabas of YourWriterPlatform.com has a slightly different approach to book promotion. Check out her article, “71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book.”
Elsewhere on her blog, I like how Kimberley explained the art of promoting: “The way we promote, market and sell has changed. We no longer need to push; we need to attract.”
Schedule as many book signings, newspaper and magazine article interviews, radio and TV appearances, and local speaking engagements as you can. Every talk you give and interview you do increases your public speaking skills and grows your network, which you can then leverage to full effect to promote future books. If you’re not confident about public speaking, I’ve got one word for you: ToastMasters.
A FINAL WORD
NOTE: This blog post is a work in progress. I will be updating it often. Click here to e-mail me with any suggestions. Thank you!
Click here to view all my posts related to writing.