When you’re just getting started as a new author, whether you’re working on your first manuscript or your book is just being released, the world of book marketing can seem overwhelming. There are hundreds of paths that you can trek down with the goal of marketing your book, but it’s unlikely you’ll get very far unless you first lay the foundation. Following are essential steps for every author, no matter where you are in the journey.
1. Choose Your Niche – When you’re getting ready to launch a new book into the world, it’s incredibly important to define who you want it to reach. And the answer is never “all women” or “all parents” or “everyone.” Though you may want to reach ALL people, the reality is that you’ll reach more people if you narrow your focus to a specific target audience.
For example, if you’re writing a memoir about your experiences starting a technology company, your target audience would likely be owners and aspiring owners of technology firms. While the book may have some appeal to readers not involved in the technology industry, imagine how much more appeal it will have to those who have walked in similar shoes. If you were to promote your book at a tech event, your target readers would immediately identify with you and your books would sell like crazy. But if you promoted it at say, a convention for owners of cheese factories, you probably wouldn’t inspire many sales.
Know your audience.
2. Develop Your Brand Messaging – Once you know your audience, then everything you do should speak to their needs, interests and challenges. This means that all of your content—from your blog and your business card to your speaking topics and services that you offer (if any)—should be customized to the audience. You also need a tagline that describes what you’re about, and a 20-second pitch that describes your book so that you can convey its message concisely to anyone at any time. Spend time crafting your messages for your audience so that you look like a pro.
3. Build a Dazzling Website – One of the biggest mistakes I see among authors new and experienced is hosting a lousy website. Your website is often the first impression that a prospective reader or client sees about you. If it’s less than professional, looks like it was designed with a DIY template, or doesn’t dazzle, it could actually have a negative impact on sales. Invest in a professional website design and before you get out your wallet, do some research. Web designers are not all created equal. Look at portfolios to make sure you are happy with the work the designer has done before you. A professional site design doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And a great design can have a tremendous impact on your results.
4. Start Blogging – Your website should include a blog. Period. As an author, you are a writer—and therefore blogging should be a relatively easy task for you to tackle. There are too many benefits to blogging to skip this crucial part of your book marketing strategy. A blog allows you to communicate with readers, attract new readers, gain traffic from Google, and it gives you something to share via social media. I firmly believe that every author should commit to blogging at least twice per week. And know that it takes time to build an audience so start long before your book comes out if at all possible.
5. Build Your Audience – It’s never too soon to start building an audience for your book, even if it’s not going to be released for another year. One of the most powerful ways to do that today is with social media. Start sharing your blog content. Create videos and build your own YouTube channel. Record podcasts. Find the media options that best suit the way you want to work and start using them. Drive traffic back to your website, generate comments on your blog, and invite visitors to sign up for your mailing list. You can even start pre-selling your book well ahead of time, as long as you have a reasonable projected release date. Just start now. If you wait until after your book is released to build your audience, you will find it’s a long, slow journey.