With millions of books to choose from, it’s necessary for most authors to promote their books in order to help readers in their target audience discover them.
We sometimes see blatant self-promotion, like going to external websites and posting, “I just published my new book, Whip It Out There. Buy it today.” You should mention your book occasionally on your own site; after all, it is your site. At other sites, this behavior is often strongly discouraged, if not against the rules.
Many of the people who come to your site already know about your book. What you really want to do is find your target audience at external sites, where nobody knows about your book. And this is exactly what you should do, only at most sites you need to let people discover your book by checking out your profile or mentioning your book in the proper context, where this is allowed and acceptable. Some sites allow a brief signature, where you can include a link to your book; where it’s common to post with a signature, you can blend in nicely, and if you make a good impression, people may check your book out.
A milder form of self-promotion is mentioning your book in context. Instead of saying, “Check out my book, In Your Face,” try to find something else you can post where mention of your book is relevant. For example, asking for opinions about your blurb gets you a little attention and helpful feedback while not coming across as a salesperson. Obviously, you can’t ask about your blurb three times a day all year. Use the creativity that you obviously have as a writer and find relevant ways to mention your book. Study the ambiance of each site first and be sure not to behave in a way that may be frowned upon.
“Self, how would I feel if I were just chillin’ with my pals online and some other author posted that?”
Before you post it, think about how it looks from the other side.
Most marketing isn’t about instant sales. When you see an advertisement on t.v., do you run right out to the store and buy the product immediately? “Sorry, dear. I know it’s 3 a.m. Saturday morning, but I just saw an advertisement for honey and I really need to get some. Could you please watch the kids?”
It’s about branding. You learn about a product enough times that you recognize it. But you don’t want to be branded as annoying. Strive to find less obtrusive ways to get discovered. Come across as a professional. Make a good impression. Brand a positive image as an author to help get your target audience interested in your book over a long period of time.
The best exposure you can get is selfless promotion—i.e. when others market on your behalf. One way you can do this is to seek honest online book reviews or arrange a blogger to interview you. However, most of this is beyond your direct control.
Imagine a reader who discovered your book online, enjoyed your book, and posted a good review for your book online without your even knowing about it. Or imagine a reader who loved your book and told all of his or her friends about it. Recommendations and word-of-mouth sales are golden. They’re also very hard to come by. If a book is truly exceptional in some way, or if the book elicits strong emotions, this is more likely. The first step is to perfect your book from cover to cover and include some wow-factors in your writing. This is quite challenging, but ask yourself this: “Will people recommend a book if it’s just so-so?”
What good books have you read lately? What are you doing to help spread the word about those amazing books? Don’t just review and recommend books because you’re hoping for the same in return. Do it because you discovered a great book and believe others would enjoy it, too. Definitely, don’t recommend books that you don’t honestly believe to be worth recommending. There are many good books out there, and they can use your support.
I see plenty of selfless promotion in the form of reviews and recommendations. It’s a great sight to see. You might notice that I recently added a couple of pages to my blog, highlighting a few books by other authors. It’s a short list, presently, but it will grow.
Brace Yourself, Here Comes the Self-Promotion
I started this blog to provide free help with writing, publishing, and marketing. You can find many free articles by clicking one of the following links:
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers