Figuring out how to self-publish successfully is challenging and different for every author. Marketing can be one of the hardest parts of self-publishing. Here are 20 ideas to get you thinking about the best way of marketing your book. Not every point will be relevant to you, and you don’t have to follow every point to be successful, but it’s a useful starting point.
1. Invest in cover design
A book’s cover is its billboard, business card and profile picture. It should represent the genre and content of the book, but not be overcrowded. This is why paying a professional book cover designer is one of the best things you can do for your book. Ideally, find someone who specialises in cover design, as it is a very specific art form.
2. Write a killer blurb
Your blurb is the second thing a potential reader will look at after your cover, so blurb writing is super important. It needs to sum up the essence of your book, give a sense of the content, and leave the reader wanting more. It might be worthwhile to ask someone else to write your blurb for you, as they will be able to view it more objectively.
3. Organise a book launch
Book your local bookshop for an evening, or find another venue. You’ll need to budget for the venue hire, and for catering, but a book launch is a useful way to generate some excitement about your book and get some copies sold in the first week.
4. Write an AI sheet
An AI sheet, or advance information sheet, is a single page document, usually A4, with all the relevant information about your book ahead of its release. Things to include are the book’s technical details like the ISBN and RRP, a blurb, and a bit about you as an author. Any existing reviews can also be helpful.
5. Make bookmarks
Bookmarks are some of the most underrated tools for generating buzz for your book. They’re cheap to produce and can be sent to bookshops to sit on their counters as freebies for customers. Ask your cover designer to put together a version of the cover in a 148 x 52 size (half of an A6) with artwork on one side and the blurb or other teasers on the other.
6. Make a book trailer
Book trailers are a wonderful idea, but so many authors (and publishers) do them badly. If you have the skills to do this well or can hire someone to help you out, they can be a fantastic way to get the word out about your book. Videos consistently perform higher than other media on platforms like Facebook and are easily shareable. Even if you don’t do a trailer, consider video content as a marketing tool.
7. Get in touch with your local paper
In terms of media forms, newspapers are pretty dated, but fortunately, most papers are also published in digital form, making articles easier to share online. If you’ve booked a book launch, or are doing any events or special publicity, consider asking if a reporter is available to come along.
8. Make merchandise
This is where you can get creative. Appropriate types of merchandise will vary depending on the sort of book you have, but some suggestions include pins or badges featuring your cover art, t-shirts with artwork or quotes from your book, and bookmarks. If you’re on a budget, try starting with something simple like stickers or bookmarks.
9. Give away free samples
Samples could include a chapter of your book or a short story. You have the option of sharing these digitally, perhaps when people sign up for your newsletter, or in print at events or in bookshops. Ensure that whatever you’re giving away leaves the reader wanting more.
10. Organise talks at local venues
Public speaking can help to establish you as an expert in your field. Consider doing a talk at your local library or bookshop. If you’re a reluctant public speaker, panels or conversations with others can be a lower pressure option. Find some fellow authors or someone who is good at interviewing, and get them to ask you questions about your process, research, and other relevant topics.
11. Get your book on international sites
It’s easy enough to get your ebook on Amazon but think about other international platforms like Book Depository. Ask us at The CopyPress about international distribution.
12. Get a website
An author website is crucial to internet success. It’s your personal piece of real estate online — a place that is yours, even if social media platforms disappear. Having your own website also makes you look more legitimate and professional.
13. Up your social media game
You don’t need to be on every social media platform. Try a couple to start with. One visual-based site (such as Instagram or Pinterest), and one text-based (such as Twitter or Facebook) is a good guideline at the beginning. The principle with social media is a bit like going to the gym — consistency is key. Making a schedule may be useful to keep you on track, at least to begin with. Oh, and make your author page separate to your personal profile. Your content should be relevant to your author ‘brand’.
14. Ask your friends and family to write reviews
Having a group of friends and family who have read your book and can post reviews online before and after your release can be a useful way to generate buzz in those crucial first weeks. In these cases, you could offer free copies to people you know who might enjoy it and ask them to review online.
15. Make ARCs
ARCs or advance reader copies are copies of your book that get sent out ahead of your release. Often ARCs are uncorrected proofs that haven’t yet gone through the final proofreading process. Usually, a proof has an unfinished cover too, but sometimes publishers will create alternate or special covers for ARCs, making them more beautiful to share on social media sites like Instagram.
16. Send ARCs to key people in the media
If you decide to get ARCs printed, you’ll need to send them to appropriate people. Look for people online who like titles similar to yours. Good places to look include Goodreads, YouTube and Instagram. A simple Google search for reviews on a similar book is a useful exercise. Politely reach out and ask if they would like to receive an advance copy, and don’t be surprised if they refuse. Some bloggers and influencers will refuse self-published books as a policy, but if you can write a compelling blurb and info sheet, you may be able to persuade them.
17. Request your book at your library
Authors often forget about libraries because they think that having their title available for free will result in fewer sales. But libraries are great for discoverability — readers go to libraries to browse and find new titles. If enough copies of your book are available at libraries, you may be eligible for a portion of the public lending right, a two million dollar fund that is divided up amongst New Zealand authors who have their books in libraries.
18. Set up a market stall
Markets are good places to meet potential readers in person and have a chat about the book. Readers are more likely to buy a book if they’ve met you and like what you’re doing. Even if you don’t sell many copies there and then, you can give out bookmarks with promotional material, and even free samples of your book, with the hope of converting those people to readers into your readers of the future.
19. Find your tribe
Seek out the people who have the most in common with you. Look for those who share the same interests and values. With social media, it is easier than ever before, but that isn’t to say it’s easy. It can take years to find the people who most appreciate your work. Creating an authentic connection with your audience is the most important thing when it comes to building and maintaining a community.
20. Get distribution
Once you’re getting the word out about your book, you need to ensure that potential readers can get hold of it. Distribution of ebooks is easy — you include a link to your book on your social media and business cards. But with print books, it’s a little trickier. There’s standard distribution, which tends to be expensive unless you’re moving thousands of units. Alternatively, you can look no further than The CopyPress. We make your book available to bookshops across New Zealand and on online sites such as Fishpond.