Thursday 16 April 2020

Guest Post: 5 Must-Do Book Marketing Tips

Today I have a guest post from author Jenn Gott with some helpful marking tips.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

5 Must-Do Book Marketing Tips to Action Before Your Book Launch

So you’ve written and edited your book to perfection, and now you’re finally ready to take the plunge. Launch day is the moment every writer dreams of — but before you go planning the perfect launch party and acceptance speeches for the many prizes you hope to win, you need to make sure that people actually find out about your new book. And the only way to do that is through marketing.
I can hear some of you groaning already, but I promise: marking doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, the fundamentals of how to market a book really aren’t that bad! The trick is to understand what actually works, and which common suggestions are just wasting your time and money. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 5 key things you’ll want to get right before you launch.

1. Commission a cover that sells

There’s no getting around it: your cover is a powerful marketing tool. It’s the first thing most people see, and the single biggest way to get someone to go “ooh, that looks cool!” in a sea of Amazon search results.
A great cover is a work of art, but that doesn’t mean they’re created in a vacuum. Effective covers all share several key elements that make them truly “work,” such as:
  • A clean, striking font that is readable at thumbnail size
  • Artwork and design in line with the covers of bestsellers in your genre
  • A clear sense of the book’s tone
  • Appropriate balance of the various cover elements (title, images, author name, etc.)

If that seems like a lot to juggle, don’t worry; you don’t need to try to make the cover yourself. In fact, unless you’re already a graphic designer branching out into writing, you probably shouldn’t.
Luckily, there are more than enough cover designers out there who are fit for the job and your budget. When browsing their portfolios, make sure to consider not only the quality of the work itself, but whether they work in your book’s genre. While a good cover designer should be able to study a new genre and create something fitting, it will save them time (and save you money) if you choose someone who’s already comfortable in the style you’ll be asking them to convey.

2. Nail your book’s description

Once you’ve gotten them to click on your gorgeous cover, the next thing readers are going to do is read the book’s description. After all, they’ve gotten some sense that this is a book they’ll like, and now they’re looking to either confirm or deny it. This is the moment of truth, so it’s crucial that you get it right.
To craft your book description, try to go back to the core of what excited you when you first started writing the book. Was it the characters? The wildly inventive world? A plot with a twist that took your breath away? Chances are, whatever compelled you to write the book is likely going to be a hook you can use to snare readers’ attention, too. 
Identifying this draw will also help you identify the central promise that your book makes to the readers. It’s those two things — the hook and the promise — that you’ll want to build your description around, as these are elements that make books irresistible to readers.

3. Choose your Amazon categories wisely

If there’s one marketing technique that new authors fail to maximize, it’s this. So many people don’t even consider their categories until they go to upload their book, and by then they’re so exhausted by the publishing process that they don’t necessarily do a good job.
I mean, I get it. You know your book’s genre the whole time you’re writing it, so surely picking a category is just a matter of finding that genre on Amazon’s list… right?
Not exactly. For one thing, there’s an abundance of subgenres in there to choose from — a lot more than you’d think, if you’ve never sat down and browsed them before. You might know you’re writing a fantasy, but is it sword & sorcery, alternate history, or dark fantasy? Is it a coming of age? Does it feature dragons and magical creatures? It is an Arthurian fantasy, a military fantasy, or a romantic fantasy?
This is just a small sampling of the many ways your book can be categorized on Amazon. Each of these categories has a different number of titles to compete with, and each of them also has a different number of fans that you’re all vying for — the trick is to find that “sweet spot” where there’s a lot of interest, but not as much competition.

Of course, you don’t want to lie and misfile your book just because it’s an easy category in which to climb the ranks. That isn’t fair to people who are actually writing in that subgenre — and ultimately won’t help you either, once reviewers start complaining that your book isn’t what it claims to be.
But there may easily be multiple categories that can apply to your book (say, a coming-of-age romantic fantasy about dragons). You’ll want to pick the ones that provide you with the best chance of success, while remaining truthful to what the book is.

4. Gather early reviews 

When it comes to reviews, there really is no such thing as too early. Well, okay — you shouldn’t be trying to get people to leave you a review before you’ve even written the book, but so long as you have a complete story that is at least 95% the same as it will be on release day, there’s no reason to hold back!
Putting together an early review copy of your book really isn’t significantly different than creating a final version. Just be sure to label it as an advanced proof, and make sure that anyone who’s reviewing it knows it’s still subject to a few changes. Then just start reaching out to people. Whether you approach book bloggers, try to form a street team, or use an editorial review service, there are plenty of readers ready and eager for a free copy of a pre-release book.
And if you’ve never seriously considered preorders before, now’s the time. Preorders will not only allow early reviewers the ability to post reviews before release day, but they’ll also give you time to adjust your description and Amazon categories to see what works best for your audience, effectively raising your sales rank before your book has even launched. It’s a single action that packs a triple-combo marketing punch.

5. Prepare your author mailing list 

Selling your book is great, but you know what’s even better? Ensuring that you’ll be able to sell those same readers your next book as well.
Enter the author mailing list, easily one of the most valuable tools in your marketing arsenal. Why? Because it provides access to your previous readers with minimal additional effort, so you can spend most of your time reaching out to new readers. You can then add these readers to your mailing list, so that they’re already taken care of when your next book comes out, and you can spend your time reaching even more readers. It’s snowball marketing, constantly adding to your reader base as you charge ahead.
That said, simply having the mailing list isn’t going to cut it. To properly utilize the marketing power of this approach, you’ll need to make sure that enough readers want to actually sign up!
To that end, you should create a “reader magnet” — essentially, a free sample of your work that serves to a) entice new readers to give you a try, and b) reward loyal readers for their dedication to your work. This can take the form of a free chapter (or several, if you’re trying to get people interested in multiple books at once), a short story, or even a whole book.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the word out! Be sure to mention the reader magnet everywhere you link to your mailing list, such as all your social media profiles, as well as the front and back matter of your books.

And there you have it! By putting in just a little marketing time at the launch of your book, you’ll lay the foundation for healthy, sustainable book sales, which will ultimately free up time to do the next important part: writing the sequel.

Jenn Gott is an indie author and a writer with Reedsy, a platform that connects authors with the world's best publishing resources and professionals. In other words, Jenn basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books! She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance.

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