Start Marketing Your Book Early

Six Steps to Selling Your Book

Diverse group of friends discussing a book
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Marketing your book before its publication helps ensure there are readers ready to buy the book during its launch and beyond. If you’re in the process of writing a book, you should already be thinking about book promotion now.

Book marketing is crucial to a book's success. There is the idea that book publishers will handle all the marketing needs from reviews to book tours, but in reality, authors are expected to do the heavy lifting in selling their book. When you pitch a non-fiction book to an agent or publisher, a marketing section is part of the book proposal. When you've secured a publisher for fiction or non-fiction, you'll be asked to submit your marketing plan. While you'll be doing most of the work, keep your publisher in the loop on your plans as it can support your efforts.

Ideally, you should start talking about your book when you begin writing. At the very least, begin promoting your book as soon as you have the book deal. While it can take up to two years for your book to be published, that's how much time you'll need to find and attract readers who will buy the book when it's released.

Below are six steps to get you on the right marketing page. 

1. Maximize Your Book's SEO With Metadata and Keywords

Metadata in book marketing is the information that provides the title, description, and tags or keywords used to describe your book. For starters, get a handle on how books are marketed via search engine optimization (SEO). Learn about digital marketing and how to choose keywords that your readers use to find books with your content.

Because this information can make a big difference in your marketing, work with your publisher to research and optimize your metadata. If you're self-publishing, research SEO and keywords, and consider testing different options to get the best results.

2. Establish Your Online Expert Presence

Sometimes referred to as an author platform, the bulk of your book marketing tactics initially will be to establish your presence in relation to your book. The goal is to find your readers and have them view you as an expert or authority in your book's topic, whether that's in gardening or writing mysteries.

The first step to setting up your author platform is an effective author website that showcases you as the subject matter expert or fiction writer that you are. When appropriate, it should also showcase your book.

Having a blog on your website helps to engage readers and keep them posted on your work. Keep in mind that your goal is to attract readers of your book, so you want to create content related to your book's topic, as opposed to the writing process, unless you're publishing a book on writing.

3. Tend to Your Author Platform

Beyond your website, your author platform involves your visibility and reach to your target reader. In essence, it's about how many people see and know about you in relation to your book's topic. Once you have a website, you need to determine the best additional ways to find and reach your reader. For example, if your platform is a Facebook author page, schedule your book’s publication announcement and plan promotions, such as cover reveals, content teasers, and book giveaways.

Generally, you should utilize several mechanisms to find and reach your readers. Ideas to expand your author platform include social media; speaking or guest appearances on TV, radio, or podcasts; and events such as book fairs or conferences on the topic of your book.

Whatever you use to reach readers, have a plan and regularly engage in it. A blog that hasn't had a post in six months or a Twitter feed with only a few Tweets won't help you grow your platform.

4. Cultivate Fans for Viral Marketing

Consumers are more likely to believe a book is great if they hear it from a trusted source over the author. Therefore, you don't just want to find and attract readers; you want to cultivate fans who will promote your book to make your book release go viral.

Your fans can be everyone from friends who have media contacts, to the editor of your alumni magazine, to your favorite local bookstore owner, to your friend who has 10,000 Instagram followers. You can even consider creating a street team, a sort of fan club or brand ambassador program, where your top fans get perks such as advance review copies, behind-the-scenes insights, swag items, and input into your books, such as cover design or character names, in exchange for getting the word out about your book.

For help with figuring out who might be willing and able to help spread the word about your book, learn about the author questionnaire marketing tool that’s used by most traditional publishers, and take the time to fill one out yourself.

5. Find Partners or a Sponsor

If your book is non-fiction that won’t suffer from a little commercial association, you might want to consider looking for a sponsor to help promote or help defray your marketing costs, a strategy that traditional publishers love. For example, if your book is about pet care and you have pet food company connections, you might ask them to sponsor a book tour to help defray the cost of author appearances or a satellite media tour. 

This can work in fiction, as well. For example, if you have a children's book about pets, or if a dog features prominently in your novel, a pet food company may sponsor book marketing activities.

6. Engage With Your Social Media Networks Regularly

Out of sight is out of mind, so keep your followers reminded of you and your upcoming book by staying in touch. Social media is a great way to stay visible and interact with your potential readers. Make sure you’re blogging, Tweeting, Pinteresting, and otherwise posting to your social media sites in a way that draws readers to you. Even if you're a fiction writer, find ways to post content on your feeds that engages and entertains them. For example, if you have a character that loves chocolate, have a social media post asking your followers about their favorite chocolate confection. For hints and best practices, read:

It's never too early to start marketing your book. Use these ideas to start getting the word out about your book and building your base of readers.