First-time authors often fantasize about their book becoming a #1 New York Times bestseller or writing a novel that becomes a classic, such as To Kill a Mockingbird or 1984. Writers spend countless hours crafting outstanding stories, failing to recognize that finishing their book is only half the battle. In order for an author to write a bestseller, they must also focus their efforts on marketing and promoting their work to effectively attract readers to become a bestseller.
However, promoting a book and connecting with an audience is easier said than done. To improve an author’s chances of success, these top 3 influential factors should be kept in mind during all book marketing campaigns:
1. Publisher Support
Authors working with traditional publishing companies have the opportunity to ask if the in-house marketing team has a budget for the advertisement and promotion of their book. Most likely, if an author receives a “hefty” advance (such as a six-figure advance), that publisher will want to make a return on that investment. But what if you have a lower advance? Ask the sales and marketing team what in-house strategies they will employ to help sell your book. While not all publishers will have a budget prepared for each writer, this can make a huge difference in book sales if you can push for better ad placements and strategies.
Publishers can also introduce authors to possible pre-sale opportunities that fit within their unique niche. For example, publishers could pitch your nonfiction book to corporations that could directly benefit from the advice or information you write about, or they could find existing book clubs with similar authors. These tactics can help you get your name out there and guarantee sales before your book officially reaches the shelves!
While it’s impossible for anyone to know exactly when they should publish their latest book, trying to release a title during a relevant moment can lead to increased attention from the public. For instance, Bob Woodward, an investigative journalist renowned for his in-depth books about American presidents, recently chose to release his latest book about president Trump during the final months before the 2020 election. During this time, political tensions are building around the country, and people want to know the truth about each candidate. Woodward’s book release immediately received widespread attention from CNN to the New York Times to late-night talk shows, showing that highly-relevant books can “go viral” when the timing is right.
An author can also aim to get their work on a book recommendation list, like Book Riot’s 40 Best Feminist Books or The 7 Best Self-Help Books of 2020 by Verywell Mind. Hundreds of these lists are created every year for any genre you can imagine, so any author could position themselves to market to these specific bloggers and their readers.
3. Strong Reviews
According to a 2019 survey, an astounding 92% of online shoppers read reviews before deciding to make a purchase. If you want more people to purchase your book, it’s important that you encourage readers to leave honest reviews. When curious potential buyers see that others have read your book and enjoyed it, they’ll be more likely to check it out for themselves.
However, it’s imperative to mention that authors should never give someone money to write reviews or create fake reviews. Amazon has strict guidelines for maintaining the integrity of customer reviews, and trying to increase the number of reviews for your book in dishonest ways could permanently harm your reputation. There are better ways to attract more readers and reviewers. For instance, an author can offer non-monetary perks for reviewers, such as a live Q&A session in exchange for a book review.
Actionable Tactics for Authors
Now that you know a few of the top factors that can impact your book sales, you’re probably wondering what you can do as an author to promote your book. After all, you can’t necessarily control factors like timing or your publisher’s marketing budget!
If you’re looking for clear-cut marketing strategies you can start working on right away, try these 2 tactics to help build a loyal customer base:
1. Build Your Email Subscriber List
Utilizing email to connect with your fans should be an essential part of any marketing strategy. If you understand your audience and their needs, reaching out to them once or twice a month to gently let them know how they can support you and your work can encourage subscribers to follow you on social media, write a book review, or even purchase a book. Additionally, you can share which books you’re currently enjoying, which can help you promote your own favorite authors.
When you request something from your audience through email, keep the message short, sweet, and honest. You might say something like: “If you’ve found my work valuable, here are the best ways you can support me.”
For additional help with building your email subscriber list or social media following, we highly recommend Rob Egar’s book, The Author’s Guide to Email Marketing.
2. Build Book Launch Teams
There are 2 main kinds of book launch teams: paid and earned. A book launch team composed of paid experts or influencers will be well-equipped to help your book launch succeed. Depending on your unique marketing goals, you may consider including:
- An ad team. Marketing agencies will create effective advertising campaigns for your book on whichever platform(s) your audience uses the most. They might also create supplemental content or manage your social media accounts to further engage with readers.
- A book publicist. While book publicists may charge anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 for their services, they excel at engaging with potential readers, raising awareness of your book, and encouraging excitement. If you’re a new author, a publicist can be especially helpful at building a solid platform for your business to grow upon.
- Book bloggers/influencers. Reaching out to avid readers who frequently write book reviews or promote books on their platforms can help your book get early reviews before it even hits the market. Most influencers will be happy to read and review your book if you’re willing to send them a free copy.
- A media coach. If you’re aiming for widespread national exposure, a media coach will help you define which media outlets would be the best for promoting your work and then prepare you to successfully pitch your book on these platforms.
Earned teams, on the other hand, include your true fans. Think of your most passionate and supportive followers: the ones who always react to your posts on social media, frequently respond to your newsletters, and (most importantly) think highly of your work. With the right encouragement, these people can become evangelists for your books and share content created by your paid book launch team. If these passionate individuals have a significant number of followers themselves, this is an especially fantastic opportunity!
Book marketing today is difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Understanding your audience, finding the best ways to interact with them, and creating supplemental materials for your book are all excellent strategies to overcome common challenges. Click here to learn how hiitide can help you reach new levels of success with done-for-you virtual book clubs!
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.