The modern technologies we have at our disposal today can work as excellent marketing tools, but the sheer number of creators hoping to break into the spotlight and “go viral” can make it difficult for anyone trying to promote their own original work. With most authors being left to do the bulk of their book marketing on their own, it’s understandable why so many don’t seem to know which promotional efforts they should invest in.
For writers who are struggling to find or build their audience, market their books, network with industry experts, or simply develop a more reliable author platform, the following strategies can provide real results during any marketing campaign:
1. Create reader-focused events
Although in-person events will likely be few and far between for the foreseeable future, virtual events designed for readers are quickly becoming popular. Paul Bogaards, deputy publisher of Knopf and Pantheon, explains that readers are easily adaptable and eager to connect with one another and their favorite authors.
“What you lose in a virtual setting is that intimacy and electricity, the collective intake of breath when an author takes the stage,” mused Bogaards. “What you gain, potentially, is an ability to scale up, as well as ease of use.” Authors can develop online book clubs, do virtual book tours, create interactive book release events on social media, or directly ask their audience what they would enjoy the most. According to Author Marketing Experts, other virtual events for readers may include:
- Author collaborations. If you know an author or two within your genre, reach out to see if they’d like to co-host a virtual event with you! Each author can promote the event through their own channels to attract a large audience for an author Q&A panel, online writing workshop, or any other fun activity you can think of.
- Book signings. For a casual but exciting online event, encourage your followers to purchase your newly-released book and offer virtual book signings to mail to each buyer. Simply buy a stack of pretty bookplates to autograph, and have fun chatting with your audience as you discuss the book and field questions from readers. While it might not be the same as a face-to-face author signing, your readers will still appreciate and value your time and willingness to interact with them.
2. Foster relationships with booksellers
After writing and publishing a book, it’s only natural to want to see your work sitting on the shelves of your local bookstores and libraries, so it can be discouraging when it doesn’t happen right away. Authors may not realize that they need to appeal to relevant booksellers, librarians, and local bookstore buyers to prove that their book is a good fit for that particular location. For instance, a children’s book probably wouldn’t be chosen to go on the shelves of a vintage bookstore.
As an author, you first have to recognize the primary goals that librarians and booksellers have. To keep themselves in business and appeal to regular customers, their top priorities include:
- Earning money for their location
- Choosing the best books for their patrons
- Increasing traffic to their website or location
- Making smart business decisions
Once you narrow down which places would be best suited for your genre, then you can start connecting with libraries and bookstores to pitch your book to them. Stay focused on what their goals are and how your book could potentially improve their current lineup of titles. Pay special attention to your local bookstores, which could use all the help they can get during this unpredictable time. If you prioritize building a connection over advertising your book, you’ll make a far bigger impact on book retailers.
3. Engage with readers on social media
Chandler Bolt, best-selling author and the founder and CEO of Self-Publishing School, states that utilizing social media is a must for today’s authors. After figuring out which platforms your target audience is most active on, you can leverage the range of free marketing opportunities to connect with current fans, join relevant conversations, post videos, share upcoming news, and much more. Just keep these fundamental tips in mind to maximize your social media presence on each platform:
- Twitter. Authors should use and search for appropriate, relevant hashtags when creating original posts, engage with fans by liking and replying to comments, and posting funny or relatable tweets to encourage retweets.
- Instagram. Like Twitter, Instagram also uses hashtags to make it easy to find your audience. Share or post pictures that you can relate back to your books, write engaging captions for each photo, consider hosting Instagram Live videos, and be sure to like and reply to other users (including other authors!).
- Facebook. Create a dedicated Facebook page for your author profile or one of your books in particular, and post blogs that are relevant to the topics or ideas presented in your work. You can utilize Facebook Live to do live Q&A sessions, do chapter readings, host a sneak peek of an upcoming release, or even conduct a virtual book signing!
- LinkedIn. This platform is excellent for business and marketing purposes, as well as connecting with other writers, publishers, and booksellers. Share insights about your book sales, create blog posts that discuss the main topics of your books, and educate yourself by exploring other professionals within your industry.
- Author website. Creating a personal website will give your dedicated fans a place to get to know you better, purchase your products, sign up for your newsletter, and stay updated on your recent blog posts. Furthermore, having your own site makes it easy to share your web content across all of your social media pages, which may encourage users to follow the link back to your webstore.
4. Attend conferences
Kevin Anderson & Associates, a notable editing and ghostwriting agency based in New York, emphasizes, “If you’re a new writer, breaking into publishing can be a huge challenge.” Attending library or bookselling conferences, writing workshops, literary conventions, or other events related to your niche can help you get a foot in the door and start building your professional network.
Valerie Peterson, an accomplished author and marketing strategist, explains that the main purpose of conferences can vary, ranging from networking with industry experts to connecting with readers to hearing tips from successful authors. When selecting a conference to attend, look for ones that align with your primary goals, such as:
- Developing or improving your writing skills. Conferences with group breakout sessions or workshops with hands-on instruction will be most likely to give you actionable advice that you can apply to your work.
- Connecting one-on-one with an expert. Look for Q&A sessions or signups for personal consultations with an author or industry professional.
- Understanding the book publishing industry. To get a well-rounded perspective of the various roles that go into creating and selling a book, look for a balanced mix of conference speakers, such as self-publishers, booksellers, traditional publishers, and literary agencies.
- Networking with editors or literary agents. Ensure that these types of professionals will be attending the event, and check the conference schedule to find out if there will be networking opportunities.
- Building fan loyalty. Conferences with author meet-and-greets are great for connecting with readers and showing appreciation to your fans.
- Networking with other authors. All creative-minded people need a chance to unwind and be inspired with some moral support from their peers. Writer or author conferences where peer networking is emphasized will give you opportunities to interact with like-minded people while enjoying a more laid-back environment.
5. Partner with influencers
Social media, as previously mentioned, is a necessary tool for authors to promote their work and engage with their audiences, but partnering with a notable social media influencer can take an author’s promotional efforts to a whole new level. Micro-influencers, book bloggers, or passionate fans of specific genres can become evangelists for your work and help you spread your marketing messages to their own followers. If you choose the right influencer for your brand or industry niche, you’ll likely see increased book sales, more followers on your social media posts, boosted engagement with your content, and (hopefully) new loyal fans!
Author Karen Mordechai successfully partnered with 25 Instagram influencers to post photos based on her new cookbook, Sunday Suppers. These 25 users cooked dinners inspired by Mordechai’s book, took photos of their amazing food, and published them to their Instagram profiles. The trend quickly became a hit as hundreds of other people began using the hashtag #sundaysuppersthecookbook after being inspired by the campaign. Since the author-influencer partnership, that hashtag has attracted millions of likes from Instagram users, dramatically improving the book’s online visibility.
While promotional efforts aren’t always simple and straightforward, authors can build upon these 5 tactics to increase their chances of success with digital marketing. As your online visibility increases, you’ll soon be able to see the results of your hard work and dedication to your audience!
About the Author: Evan Shy
As a published author, scientist, and the founder and CEO of hiitide, Evan has earned experience building teams and technology that help people live positively, better. Growing up in a family of professional athletes and entrepreneurs, Evan started his first business before leaving high school and would go on to found a number of wellness businesses while conducting physiology research and teaching at the University of Illinois at Champaign. His research has been published across scientific journals, college textbooks, and our own titles.
Evan’s own experience trying to make the leap from academic publishing to the general population was the catalyst for creating hiitide. Evan tells the story of how he did everything wrong, from writing, marketing, to building a community around the material. He knew the research had the potential to change lives if only they could make it more accessible and actionable for readers. Inch by inch, the team started testing, building, iterating, and testing again… through 2 different technology platforms, to finally build hiitide.
hiitide is a team of curriculum designers, engineers, marketers, and insatiable learners who are unwavering in their commitment to creating more meaningful and rewarding connections between authors and readers. Readers learn more, authors earn more.
hiitide creates 30-day virtual book clubs, courses, and workshops that draw out key lessons from books, delivered in short, easy-to-complete daily exercises, journals, and group discussions with the Author.
hiitide works primarily with authors equally committed to innovating new methods and stories that transform how we approach ourselves and one another.