Tool #4: Plan seasonal tie-ins and re-launch type events to generate new interest in older titles. A book set around a college football team can find new life each fall while a historical novel set during World War II has its own set of important dates. Some authors celebrate their book’s birthday with a discount price, limited time freebie, or a new giveaway for readers to enter. I’ve also seen both a single author and a group of similar authors do a promotion of beach reads or cozy winter fireplace books. Valentine’s Day is an obvious time to market your romances while Halloween could be ideal for those paranormal suspense thrillers.
Set aside some time to brainstorm an out-of-the-box list of potential marketing angles for your book. The setting, season, character occupations, or even favorite food in a novel can all be potential hooks to reach new readers. Non-fiction topics also lend themselves to calendar-related promotions if you think about New Year’s weight-loss resolutions, Valentine’s Day marriage tips, tax day financial advice, or even a fall take-yourself-back-to-school-and-learn-something-new book bundle.
Once you’ve come up with a list of ideas, pick something for the next month, create a graphic or two, post something into various Facebook groups at random times, and maybe even take out a Facebook ad. Include it in your newsletter and even share it with your launch team so they can help spread the word further. Of course, as with any marketing strategy, keep track of what worked best so you can duplicate it in the future and learn from your mistakes. It’s also a good idea to take notes on what other authors in your genre are doing and plan to do something similar when next year rolls around.
Tool #5: Take advantage of the existing and new services of various platforms. You should already have author profiles on Amazon and Goodreads from when you built your platform originally, so let new readers and fans know that they can “follow” you there and receive notice when you have a new book coming out.
BookBub and eReader News are probably the most well-known advertising platforms where daily emails are sent to a huge number of subscribed readers letting them know about great deals on ebooks, making them the perfect (if somewhat expensive) tool to use when you have an upcoming sale. The competition to even get selected to advertise inside BookBub’s limited slots is fierce, but there is a lesser-known feature there for authors. You can create a free author profile on BookBub and have readers follow you there. Let BookBub know about upcoming releases and they will let your followers know about new books. If you are ever lucky enough to land an advertising spot, your followers will also get a personalized email letting them know there is a deal on your book. They might already have that particular title, but could spread the word to their friends.
These are not the only advertising avenues available online. In fact, there are hundreds of sites that offer book profile pages, recruit reviewers interested in free books, tweet out about freebies, or advertise sales to a smaller list of subscribers. Doing a simple online search for one of these angles should yield multiple results and even sites that are advertising to gain your business as part of your ongoing book marketing strategy. Many of these sites are run by folks with Amazon affiliate links hoping to earn a percentage of the sale of your book, but since their affiliate commission doesn’t affect your royalty check at all, their efforts to help market your book can easily multiply your reach.
If you’re wondering where to start, check out this semi-comprehensive list at Readers in the Know. Some of these are free while others have paid plans, so you’ll need to assess your ongoing marketing budget before investing in some of the opportunities. However, if you started with the free ones and added just one or two sites per week, your ongoing marketing arsenal would grow without a huge investment of time on your part and some of the income generated from book sales could then fund further marketing ideas. If you write for the inspirational market, I could also recommend looking into Vessel Project and Faithful Reads for additional promotion.
One free promotion site I discovered was The Reader’s Gazette. This site requires you to jump through a few hoops to prove you are an author, but then allows you to upload each of your published books to their database. They have a few fun games that you can share on your website including unscrambling your book cover image, hangman, and quizzes. You also have the opportunity to do guest blog articles on their site or offer a competition to win a book. In addition, they regularly tweet about various books and those links often get retweeted by other authors. It took a little time to get my account set up, but then the ongoing marketing happens without any additional effort from me.
Another promotional site is called Ask David which allows you to buy a few dozen tweets to their existing network of 56,000 followers for $10 and then customize the specific message and timing to coincide with your other marketing plans. In addition to advertising sales or giveaways, this is a great way to experiment with different hashtags to reach unique audiences on Twitter. They also offer an additional advertising program where for $15, you can list all of your books on their site for six months plus receive an additional quota of tweet links to customize. Plus, if you have a freebie day coming up for your book, you can advertise to their email list for free.
Marketing is all about finding readers, often one at a time, so never underestimate the impact of a single post, tweet, ad, or blog post. Keep telling people about your book in as many ways as possible while still maintaining a balance with other value-adding messages and continuing to write your next book.
One last thought when it comes to marketing is that you cannot improve what you cannot measure. How can you know if a particular activity resulted in sales or not? Indie authors have access to immediate sales numbers but traditional authors have to watch the Amazon sales ranks for clues. Either way—while you don’t want to be consumed by the numbers—figure out a way to document any spikes in sales to see if they coincided with a specific tweet or email blast. If you paid for a promotion with a certain site and sales actually continued to slide downhill, perhaps that specific opportunity is one to mark off your list. However, if you did a different promotion and your book jumped to the best-seller lists and stayed for a week, that would be worth doing again in the future. If marketing is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks, it helps to know which spaghetti-hurler flung the stickiest strands.
Next up? While you may be happy only writing and selling books, many authors have branched out to create multiple streams of income.
(NOTE: If you found this post helpful, pass it on! The entire blog series is also available in a single book here.)