Marketing your book
by David Patterson
Don't underestimate marketing if you want your book to be noticed, copies to be bought, or your status as an author to help you connect with income-producing opportunities. It's best if you think of marketing your book as part of the publishing process.
If you don't publish your book through a traditional publishing house, all of the marketing will fall to you. Even if your book has a traditional publisher, expect the effort you put into marketing it to have at least as much impact as what your publisher does.
So how do you actually go about marketing your book? Every way you can. But let's start by looking at some broad categories of marketing effort.
- Personal appearances.
- Printed promotional materials.
- Media exposure.
If you have a traditional publisher, some of the work in these areas will be directed and accomplished by that publisher. However just how much effort will go into it depends on the publisher's estimate of your book's potential sales.
If you're self publishing, the advice and concepts that follow are a path to marketing your book and getting it into the hands of readers. Marketing is a mutually supportive effort, and the things that you do in one channel are likely to impact other channels.
Bookstores are after all the principal places that books are sold. It's the most basic of commonsense that your book should be on their shelves, or even better on a table near the door. However, something has to be done to make that happen.
First the bookstore manager has to be made aware that your book exists. After that comes shelf space, positioning, in-store marketing, and a whole lot more. Traditional publishers have the tools to make this all happen. You probably don't. But if you want to see your book in bookstores, you're going to have to make the effort in marketing your book to them.
Start by visiting nearby bookstores. Let the managers know that you're a local author and sell them on carrying your book. Offer to make a personal appearance at their store to talk about the book and sign copies. Have promotional materials and press releases available for the bookstores to use. Work hard at getting into your local bookstores. It's one of the better ways to gain recognition in your hometown. And if any of your income source has a local component, that recognition can pay big dividends.
If you travel for your work, repeat this process with stores in the places to which you will be traveling. If you can, make special trips to nearby towns to do the same. For that matter, go as far afield as your budget will allow.
Bookstores aren't the only places where you can make a personal appearance in support of marketing your book. Jump at every chance to speak to groups likely to be interested in the subject matter of your book, and have copies with you ready to sell and autograph. Ideally, you'll have someone manning a table by the door.
Don't wait for the opportunity to speak to walk up and bite you on the nose. Market yourself to clubs, professional societies, and anyplace else where people gather to be talked to. Usually program directors for such organizations are in search of speakers. Write your own introduction and give it to the person introducing you.
And don't forget about local radio and television interview shows. Also look for appropriate Internet podcasts and other interview opportunities. Every place where you can possibly find an audience is fair game for marketing your book.
Another don't is don't show up with just yourself and a box of books. Develop a full presentation with Powerpoint and other props. Only the most dynamic of speakers should even think about standing in front of an audience on a naked stage. Develop a presentation persona. Become something of an actor. It's not that hard. After all there's a bit of ham in all of us. DO NOT BE BORING.
Printed promotional materials
Handouts, flyers, placards, signs, business cards, and anything you can imprint with words or images can be a tool for marketing your book. How about T-shirts with a great image, a pithy quote from your book, and its website address. Get your family to wear them in public. Give them away to others likely to actually wear them.
Use and distribute your less expensive promotional materials liberally. You want to get them into as many hands as possible, and having them makes for a more professional and branded image. Think of everything you send or give to another person as a potential promotional piece. Letterhead should contain a reference to your book and its website. Redo you business cards to promote your book. Place notices announcing upcoming public appearances on bulletin boards, telephone poles, and anyplace else you can think of.
Get in front of the media. Get the message about your book out to newspapers, magazines, radio and TV talkers, interview shows, and news departments. Don't forget persons running websites that cover your book's subject area. Have press releases for marketing your book tailored to specific markets and media ready to go at a moment's notice. Then there is social media: Do you tweet or Facebook? Are you on LinkedIn? What about Pinterest?
With the development of specialized websites, blogs, podcasts, and other e-media (don't forget YouTube) today's media marketplace is larger and more fragmented than ever before. Use all of it that is appropriate for you and the content of your book.
You've got connections. Use them in marketing your book. Ask anyone you have ever done anything for to help get the word out about your book. Give friends, colleagues, and family members a copy--at the very least an e-book copy.
Don't forget former college professors, high school teachers, even Miss Jones from kindergarten. You have more connections than you realize. Milk them shamelessly. Remember that boss who was an early mentor? What clubs do you belong to? What about the guy you stand next to on the step machine at the health club every Wednesday? How about your alumni associations? Then there are the people you do business with who do business with lots of others--accountants, lawyers, investment advisers, dentists, doctors. Do I need to go on?
Even if you already have a website, your book needs its own website. Link to it from any other websites you have or control and vice versa, but please don't ask a website that was established for some other purpose to be the headquarters for your book. And make no mistake about it, your book's website is its home base. It's where everything about your book resides and where marketing your book begins.
It contains the raison d'etre for your book—the why, what, who, and how of the reasoning and experiences that are its fabric. It's also the place where additional supportive material that's not in the book resides. It's a place of community formed around the ideas that are in your book. As such invite others into the website. It's where you blog about your book and everything that touches it. You should encourage others to join in the discussion.
A book's website is the place from which all digital media is launched. It's the home of all your email campaigns, and the place to which email drives recipients for more information. In today's digital world it can be argued that a book's website is as important as the book itself. Not all will agree with that argument, but I'm willing to bet that it is only a matter of time until a book and its website will be nearly inseparable. Each incomplete without the other.
Finally, a book's website is its place of record. It should contain opportunities to purchase the book, all of its promotional materials and press releases, quotes from and links to any reviews, your bio and other pertinent info, and a complete up-to-date schedule of your past and future appearances. And a way for people to easily contact you.
This is not the place to get into a discussion of what constitutes branding. For purposes of your book, branding is the shared identity and the value proposition that everything that supports your book has in common with the book itself.
It's about the look of your promotional materials, the feel of your presentations and presentation persona, the quality of associated imagery and its instantaneous visual recognition, the content of your email, the sense and sensibility of the book's website, and everything that exists in conjunction with and in support of marketing your book.
You brand your book, so that it will coherently stand apart from other books. If you don't already have a recognizable personal brand, you're likely to find that your book's branding will be applied to you, and that makes your book's branding even more important. Choose intentionally and choose well the brand of your book, and then stick with it. Maintain coherency and ease of accessibility. Once branded, hard to re-brand.