By Donna Schlachter
Extroverts—don’t roll your eyes and tune out. You can get something from this new series, too.
Introverts—stop rolling your eyes. Marketing is something that needs to be done if you want your books to sell, your message to reach its intended audience, and your bills to get paid.
First, let’s talk a little about marketing. Maybe it’s easier to explain what it isn’t. Marketing isn’t tooting your own horn for the sole purpose of selling books. Or services. Or whatever it is you’re trying to sell. That’s promotion. And sometimes we simply need to stand up and say, “Hey, look at me and look at what I have.”
We can accomplish promotion in many different ways including:
We might also offer a book to a library, then let readers know they can find that book in that library. This serves a dual purpose, in that the library gets more readers/patrons, and maybe you get more sales. A recent study showed that 70% of folks who read a library book and enjoy it will buy a copy for their personal library.
Promotion is usually focused on the “me” of the equation, and while it might meet a need of your audience (for example, if lots of people ask for your book at your library, that’s good, because libraries want more patrons), you are concerned more about the benefit to you than to anybody else. Sales, sales, sales.
In recent years, self-promotion has been frowned upon, mostly because it’s seen as selfish and self-centered, but as you can see, there are more sides to that discussion than we’ll have here in this series.
Marketing, on the other hand, is about satisfying a need of the buyer. Readers love books, so if you remind them about that, they’ll buy more books, thus meeting that need. Maybe your book meets a particular need, such as it will help the reader overcome a particular struggle. Letting them know about your book will help them. If your book answers questions, provides information or resources, or helps your reader transform some area of their life, tell them that. That’s marketing.
The subtitle of this series is reaching readers without leaving your home.
Extroverts—stop laughing. Introverts are not afraid to leave their house. They simply prefer to be their own best company.
In the old days, like pre-2020, authors would host lavish launch parties, schedule extravagant book tours, and fill their days with interviews with large metropolitan newspapers and literary journals. Okay, maybe that was pre-2000.
In recent years, even the largest publishing houses limited such book launch expenses to the big names only. So, assuming you aren’t a big name like Stephen King or Jodi Picoult, how can we connect with readers where they are?
I’m going to let you in on a huge secret: if you haven’t already started to connect online, you should start immediately. Even if your book doesn’t release for six months or more, get involved.
Get on Social Media.
Interact, make friends, comment, and like posts on whichever platforms your readers are on. Try two or three or more and see where you’re getting the most responses.
Add friends, but be careful not to go too quickly, or the algorithm ‘bots will lock you out. Decide how much time you want to spend each day on Social Media. You could spend 5 minutes a day on each platform, making that 10 or 15 minutes for the 2 or 3.
Figure out what works for you. Avoid politics. Be nice. Depending on your book topic or subject, look for groups that might connect with that. For example, if you write stories about the Thousand Islands area, there are a couple of Facebook groups that love all things Thousand Islands. Get on. Like, comment, and share.
Start a newsletter.
Post on social media that you have a newsletter. Give folks something free to sign up. I offer a historical and a contemporary ebook because I don’t know which my new subscriber would prefer. Don’t be ashamed to ask for a review if they like it. Reviews are golden.
If you have a newsletter but haven’t been faithful to send it out, commit to doing that now. I send one monthly. Around the middle of the month, I post on various groups I belong to online that I need titles for my next newsletter.
There are several groups on Facebook and likely on the other platforms for Newsletter Swaps. Join and share. One word of caution: make sure your genre fits their newsletter and vice versa. You don’t want your erotic novel to appear in a clean and sweet newsletter.
Ask for reviews.
I kind of mentioned that above, but just in case you missed it, there is nothing wrong with asking for them. Put it in each of your books as they publish. If you’re indie-published, go back and add this either in the front or back matter of the book. Most publishers already do this.
Make your newsletter do more for you.
Include a call for a Street Team. This is a group of folks who will read your books and post a review, promote the book to a book club, talk it up with their friends, share their business cards with others, or will even be bold enough to talk to their librarian. Maybe they’ll host you on their blog or podcast. You keep sending them an e-book, they tell you when they’ve done their stuff, and you send them another.
Do a Newsletter Swap.
Ask author friends to do a newsletter swap with you. Again, check the genre.
Start a regular blog and reach out to authors who already host a blog in your genre. If the idea of writing a blog post every day sends your eyes rotating, stop. Set up a form on a site such as SignUp Genius, then share the link with writer friends and in your newsletter.
Invite authors and readers to contribute. Make up a list of questions or items bloggers might include in their posts. Let your guest bloggers do all the heavy lifting.
When you write for others (guest blogging), make sure to follow their guidelines, and get the post in early. Don’t expect your host to edit for you, so send your very best. Include a good-quality cover image and headshot. Whatever your topic, draw it back to the book you’re promoting, but don’t make it all about that book, unless it’s a book spotlight.
Make sure your links work for the website, blog, and other social media. Anytime your blog or host a guest blogger, let your followers on Social Media know. You can schedule these in advance if you have a business page, which I highly recommend.
Make sure to brag about yourself when you have an upcoming release, a sale, or you are nominated for or win an award. Include that on your Social Media, in your newsletter, and even on your blog. I like to schedule 3 or 4 blog posts around release day for my books so my readers know there’s a new book coming out.
Spread the word!
Share the good news with the writers’ groups you belong to. For example, Pike’s Peak Writers have Sweet Success, a place on their website for members to share their triumphs. The more groups you’re part of, the easier it is to get the word out. Most require a cover image, a short blurb, and buy link(s).
Make a website.
Have your own website and keep it up to date with new releases. Change up the front page occasionally. Make sure to have a sign-up form to subscribe to your newsletter on the top fold of the first page—picture your website like a newspaper. Put the form close to the top of the page, but not the very first thing. Give the visitor a chance to meet you first. Make sure to include a link to follow your blog, too. Have a page with a few freebies on it. You want visitors to come and stick around for a bit. The longer they do, the higher they push your website in the SEO rankings.
Get a simple business card.
Include your website, Social Media handles, Amazon or publisher website, and email. Maybe a tagline. That way, when folks ask you what you do, you say, “I am an author.” Then hand them one of your cards. They will be so thrilled to meet an author that they will take it. And look you up. And probably buy your book(s).
In the coming months, we’ll talk about other ways to connect, and we’ll even expand on some that I mentioned today. I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means—just an introvert who enjoys meeting her tribe online.
A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky-clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers’ groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. Visit her website to stay connected and learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive 2 free ebooks simply for signing up for our free newsletter!