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Some authors send out a press release about their book because they’ve been told that’s standard procedure; others run search ads just because they’re all the newest rage.
Your reasons for publishing are unique, so the process of marketing your book strategically needs to start with why.
As in, why are you publishing this book? What do you want to achieve?
If you have the end destination in mind, it’s easier to work back to a roadmap.
Here are some of the most common goals and objectives for publishing a book, and some ideas for tactics to achieve them:
Book Marketing Motive 1: Stepladder to Big 5 Fame
Are you hoping to become well-known and well-loved enough as an author that the popularity of this book lands you a contract with a conventional publisher? In that case, you need to first focus on building audience, brand evangelists, and awareness for your book and your brand. Ultimately, you’ll want to demonstrate you’ve built a loyal following a publisher can monetize.
Tips: Building your social following, and an audience you can communicate with, are key. So is making sure that audience is talking about you and raving about your book! Put aside concerns about revenue for now. Develop and maintain a solid author website, blog and social platforms. Then use sample chapter or incentives like free book giveaways with another book purchase in exchange for your readers’ contact info. This way, you grow both your mailing list as well as the number of people beginning to purchase from you. Make sure it’s easy for readers to review and share the books and samples after they’re done, and make a call to them to do so. You might also try the new Amazon Marketing Service ads, which will enable you to target readers of similar books with promotions for yours.
Book Marketing Motive 2: Money Money Money
Is profit the most important thing to you? You’ll need to first hit the pricing sweet spot and then concentrate on conversions–getting people to actually buy your book.
Tips: The most recent research from Smashwords determined that the best price for ebooks was between $2.99 and $3.99. So don’t be greedy. Too high a price can discourage readers from taking a risk on your book, especially if you’re a first-time author. Start by leveraging the people already in your network and inspiring them to take action and buy your book. Also, optimize your book’s title and description to ensure it shows up in relevant searches within your topic and genre.
Book Marketing Motive 3: Marketing Yourself, Your Cause or Your Company
A book can be the ultimate content marketing tool through which to market your main line of business, build a personal brand or advocate for a cause that’s important to you. If this is your endgame, you’ll want to be sure the book pushes people to take action or engage elsewhere with your organization or brand during and after they reading it.
Tips: Your challenge will be to technically enable the book as a free download from your website/landing page. You’ll also want to set up an opt-in lead capture mechanism, through which people give you their email in exchange for accessing your free download. This way you can communicate with the audience you build.
Book Marketing Motive 4: Complete a Goal or Express Yourself Creatively
Maybe writing a book has been what life coaches call a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) for you Perhaps you’re doing NaNoWrimo or it’s a New Year’s resolution. Whatever the case, the main goal is to finish. If you reach the goal, what happens next is secondary. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish what you’ve created.
Tips: If you’re just getting started as a book author, check out our free guide to self publishing. It’s full of tips on creating and distributing your book.
Book Marketing Motive 5: Vanity, Celebrity
It’s okay–we won’t judge! Wanting to become known is a perfectly valid reason to write a book.
Tips: A blog and active presence on the most relevant social networks are priorities one and two. After that, start local, promoting yourself as a local author and expert. Engage with your local independent bookstores to get your book featured in their stores. Leverage your existing network to be sure people buy it and spread the word. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, afterall. Pitch your author story to the local media–try to land TV segments as an “expert” being interviewed on your book’s topic and pitch the lifestyles writers at local publications for features on you as a local author. Plan events to promote your book, both at the local bookstores and for topical interest groups and meetups.
For more help with marketing your book, check out our free guide to self-publishing.
Elizabeth Mays manages the marketing operations of Pressbooks.com, among other organizations.