Friday, 9 July 2021

Book promotion ideas

If you've got a book published, whether with a big name publishing house, you've done it yourself on a shoestring, or anything in between you're going to need to promote it. Writers are often told we need to 'build a platform' on social media, so tweeting and making Facebook posts is an obvious thing to do.

Personally I do think it's sensible to mention our books that way – but only now and then. I've seen writers send out multiple tweets per day, sometimes even per hour, all just asking people to buy their book. I can't tell you if they're still doing it, as I've unfollowed or muted them all. It's better, I think, to tweet about the book and your writing life, and include some non promotional stuff too, than do nothing but masses of straightforward promotion on social media. After all, if you want to buy books is that where you look? And when you use social media is it a stream of adverts you're hoping to see? (By the way, here's the twitter profile for this blog and here's my personal one.)

It's possible to pay for social media advertising. I don't do that myself, for the reasons above, plus it's expensive and sounds complicated, but I know they can work well for people who are prepared to put in the time and risk some money. Paid advertising on Amazon is something I've dabbled in. To me that makes more sense as we're targeting people who want to buy books like ours, but might not otherwise find them amongst the millions of others on offer. Again it takes a little time to learn how to use them, and there's a risk of spending money for no result, but you can set daily limits and it's easy to make changes.

Winning a writing competition would be good publicity. My first novel publication came about after I won a novel writing competition. Although that wasn't a massive success and I've since got the rights back to Escape To The Country, it was a big boost to my confidence at the time and in the long run helped me become in Indie author. (I'll be back with more free to enter writing competition links soon.)

Newsletters are an excellent idea, as people will only sign up if they actually want to hear from us and learn about our latest releases, promotions and other news. It's a requirement that people can easily unsubscribe which is good because we know those who remain on the list really want to be. It's common to offer a 'reader magnet' which is usually a freebie, often something exclusive to newsletter subscribers. For my newsletter, I offer a free short story. As a lot of my books are collections of short stories, that seems sensible.

Another thing you can do is have a blog and pepper it with mentions of your own books, along with everything else you post about. You might have noticed I do that! If you don't have your own blog then I don't blame you – they are time consuming. In that case you might like to write guest posts for someone else's blog. You'll need to do a little more than send out blanket emails to every blogger you know asking them to promote you though. Read the blog, and leave comments so you're not approaching as a stranger. Think about the type of post which might interest readers of that blog and offer something appropriate. If you do more than one guest post to different blogs, don't send exactly the same text with exactly the same photos. That's not fair.

A website is another possibility.
Here's mine. They do take time to maintain, but are a good way of making it easy for interested readers to find out more about you and your books.

Perhaps you could get interviewed, or otherwise included, on a podcast. I've done a few of those.

Local newspapers are a good place to try. That could be paid for ones, the free ones and online newspapers. The latter are likely to be easiest to get into as they're not restricted for space the way 'real' papers are. Whichever you try, don't just send them a 'buy my book' promotion, but try to make it personal – local papers like pieces about local people. To further increase your chances of it being accepted, make the article as locally relevant as possible. Even if it wasn't set in your home town, maybe you wrote some of it in a local coffee shop, or used the local library for research.

Here's an example of something I recently sent to my local online paper.

You could try national publications, but unless you're well known and/or pay well you're unlikely to be successful. However if you are one of their writers you might be lucky – it's definitely worth at least mentioning your book to your usual contact. This is what happened when I told 'my' People's Friend editor about my first audiobook.

If you've got an interesting angle (as opposed to 'author writes book') it might be worth contacting your local radio, or even TV station.

If you're going to try to persuade bookshops and libraries to stock your book, you may like to create an advance information sheet to send them, or deliver in person. Perhaps you could also leave some of the sheets for readers to pick up, or offer bookmarks or business cards with the book details on. (It might be possible to leave some of these in other venues such as cafes or your dentist's waiting room.) If you're feeling really brave you could ask about giving talks or holding a book signing in the library or bookshop – or contact local groups and clubs to see if they'd like you to visit. Oh, and anywhere you can get away with it, drop in links like this, which show all your available books. Have you tried any of these marketing methods, or attempted something different? Which interesting promotional attempts have persuaded you to buy books? Have I tempted you to take a look at any of mine?


Elizabeth McGinty said...

Thanks Patsy for another useful and interesting post.
It sure is a bit of an eye opener that writing and publishing a book is really only the beginning, knowledge of marketing is essential if you want it to sell and that can all seem a bit overwhelming for beginners like me.
Thanks for all your tips and ideas, fingers crossed one day to be able to use them :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Between my publisher and me, we've done most of those.
Leisbet has been hugely successful getting her book into boating magazines and groups. Definitely areas to look at if one's book fits.

Eirin Thompson said...

AS there are no bookshops within twenty-five miles of me, I have resorted to some shameless self-publicity, popping flyers through neighbours' letterboxes in the hope of generating some interest - I have no idea,yet,whether this has been successful. I have also discovered that the time for busily promoting Book 1 has co-incided with the time for busily completing Book 2, and I'd be more careful about finishing a future book a bit further ahead of deadline to avoid this clash, if I get another chance.

Jenny Worstall said...

All very interesting! Thanks for sharing, Patsy.
There are useful ways to use Twitter too, for example #TuesNews if you belong to the RNA, which other members will retweet for you.
I haven't tried Amazon advertising, but might have a go now after reading about it...

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for all the good ideas and useful information, Patsy. Well done on all your efforts to get your books 'Out There'. I have ordered two of your novels from my local library - they're on order now. Wondered if you, or any of the other Womagwriters have ever heard anthing on Voracious Reader - link below, which provides a platform for readers to get books and authors to get reviews. First month is free. Good wishes Kate Hogan

Lindsay said...

As usual, Patsy, some good useful advice. I agree that authors who constantly tweet Buy My Book are annoying. The ones whose books I've bought are those who, as you say, interact on their social media platforms. I've found some fabulous books that way. Just went to a book talk at a local library and the talk was so good there was no way I was leaving without buying the author's new book. Keep up the fabulous work.

alyson faye said...

Interesting and informative Patsy thanks Aly

Patsy said...

@ Elizabeth – There is a lot to learn, but you don't have to do everything all at once. In fact it's best not to, but instead try a few ideas and see what works, before trying something else.

@ Alex – Great idea to try places connected with the book's plot or location.

@ Eirin – I haven't tried leaflets through doors ... yet. Please let me know if it seems to have done any good.

@ Jenny – Yes, there are lots of useful groups and events on twitter, which can help with all aspects of writing and marketing.

@ Kate – Oh, thank you! I love libraries and it makes me happy to know I have books in some.

No, I don't know voracious readers. I'll take a look – reviews are important.

@ Lindsay – There needs to be a balance, doesn't there? If we feel we know the person a little we'll be interested to know they've published a new book, we might even buy it – but we don't want a constant sales pitch.

@ Alyson – I'm pleased it was of interest.

Marguerite said...

Nowhere near that at the moment but I will keep it tucked away. Thank you, Patsy. More to the point, when you write such detailed blogs like this one, fully packed, how do you ever find time to write?! (I guess you have asked this many times!) Nevertheless, it is appreciated :)

Marian said...

Thank you so much. It's fascinating, as a reader, to hear about it all from the other side.

Bendywriter said...

Thanks, Patsy. I really enjoyed both the article and going through the links. You deserve the cakes.

Patsy said...

@ Marguerite – I do struggle to find time for everything I want to do – but I much prefer being busy to bored.

@ Maria – It's interesting to learn about it from this side. A bit daunting too at times.

@ Bendywriter – Ooooh, I shall have some today!