Five Tips to Improve Your Book Promotion Efforts – Guest Post by Maria Connor

One of the biggest challenges for authors—whether traditionally or independently published—is book promotion. Effective marketing requires time, knowledge, technical know-how and money, resources which are limited for most authors. Although marketing and promotion may seem daunting, there are strategies that can improve results. Here are five easy, affordable tips for more effective book marketing outcomes.

1. Communicate with readers. Have you ever attended a party and vowed to meet new people, only to hang out with the same circle of friends? Authors do this all the time, especially when blogging. Rather than invite other authors to visit a blog post, ask them to share the announcement on their social media channels. Reciprocate by announcing new releases, blog appearances, contests, etc. for other authors. To really leverage cross-promotion, work with authors who write within your genre. Other ways to communicate with readers are to develop a mailing list for an author e-newsletter, monitoring and responding to comments readers leave on your social media channels, and acknowledging reader reviews.

2. Develop consistent branding. Branding is one of those marketing concepts that sounds way more complicated than it really is. Branding is simply who you are as an author. Your brand may include a logo, a tag line, the genre in which you write, specific themes in your stories, etc. It is important to use the same brand identifiers across all of your author platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter, print materials, swag, etc.) so readers can easily identify you from all directions. One example of consistent branding is using the same header or banner on your website, Facebook page and bookmarks.

3. Be selective. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of effective marketing strategies available for authors. That doesn’t mean every author should pursue every promotional tactic. The marketing approach you decide on should be based on your resources (time, money, energy), what you enjoy and are comfortable doing, and what works. Most experts agree, however, that authors should have at least a website or blog, and a Facebook page.

4. Cultivate professional credibility. I once met someone who identified herself as a professional journalist, but when I read an article she had written, it had misspelled words, grammatical errors and did not adhere to journalistic style standards. She immediately lost professional credibility. Authors can acquire professional credibility by educating themselves about the publishing industry, learning how to work with the media and communicating clearly, correctly and concisely. Proofread your website, keep the content up-to-date, and double-check information.

5. Maintain your inventory. The most important strategy for effective book promotion is to retain the readers you’ve already cultivated and this means consistently providing new product. You must balance your time promoting the current release while writing the next book. Romance readers are notoriously voracious readers so keep them satisfied with well-written stories and engaging characters as frequently as possible.

I welcome the opportunity to answer your book promotion questions and help find solutions to your marketing challenges. Post your question here and check back throughout the day for answers to other authors’ queries about marketing and promotion.

Maria Connor, Author Concierge - Author Services, Book promotionBio: Maria Connor has worked as a freelance writer, journalist and author in print and digital media for more than 10 years. Her publishing credits include daily and weekly newspapers, regional lifestyle magazines, national trade journals, academic texts, full- and novella-length fiction, e-zines, websites, marketing materials, brochures and newsletters.

Her marketing and editing skills include social media management, blogging, search engine optimization, proofreading, copy editing, editorial review, copy writing, book promotion, content creation, digital photography, e-publishing, graphic design, layout and AP style.

She has also worked as an administrative support professional, project coordinator, event planner and budget administrator in the medical, academic, publishing and non-profit sectors.

Maria is a member of Romance Writers of America. She has been active in the romance fiction community for more than 15 years, volunteering at both the national and local level. Her first completed manuscript finaled in the 2011 Golden Heart contest and was released as Willing to Learn from Boroughs Publishing Group in February 2013.

You can find Maria at:

Website:  http://www.myauthorconcierge.com/

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/MyAuthorConcierge

Twitter: http://twitter.com/authorconcierge

A Giveaway! Join my mailing list, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for a chance to win an personalized digital media kit, a value of $100!

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Five Tips to Improve Your Book Promotion Efforts – Guest Post by Maria Connor

  1. Thanks, Maria. I’ve taken your advice for #2 – it was easy to make my banners the same. I think #5 is the most difficult – there are only so many hours in the day to balance between writing (which I love to do) and marketing (which I have to do). It looks like I’m on the right track, though.

    • Ashley ~ I agree that #5 is the most difficult but also the most important. All the effort that goes into developing an audience for one book will be lost (and the work re-done) if too much time passes before the next book is available. I hope today is a prolific writing day for you!

  2. I totally agree on the social media opportunities – you don’t mention swag at all. What’s your opinion on bookmarks/postcards/promo items?

    • Dynamite constructive advice. I write mature romance with sexy seniors enjoying life and love. My latest book,titled She Didn’t Say No, was just released. Romance is Golden and I should know. At age 83, when did that happen?.I’m living life to the fullest. Thanks again for all the tips.

    • Katie ~ Thanks for the great question. When considering what type of swag to invest in, I think there are two important factors to consider: cost and functionality. I’m a big fan of postcards and bookmarks, especially for e-pubbed authors because they can use this marketing collateral to connect with readers. Postcards are good to hand out at events because they are bigger than business cards (so less likely to get lost) and can include more info (book cover, website, QR codes, author image, buy info, etc.) Bookmarks are nice to send to fans through the mail or to offer at events and public appearances.

      As a reader who has picked up tote bags full of swag at 10+ years of conferences and events and never purchased a book as a result, I think novelty swag offers a poor return on investment for authors. Others may disagree and while my desk is full of emery boards and magnets and calendars sporting book covers and author logos, I usually ignore the promo and simply use the item until its usefulness is gone.

      If you do want swag to offer to readers, select something useful. Some of the most popular items (based on a quick Google search of the topic), include lip balm, small notepads and pens, luggage tags, post-it notes, compact mirrors and tote bags.

      Many authors seem to have moved from offering inexpensive giveaways to inviting readers to qualify for a chance at “big-ticket items” such as a Kindle or $100 Amazon gift card by entering a contest or joining a mailing list. I definitely think something like that is more effective than key chains or coasters.

      I’d love to hear thoughts from other authors on what type of swag is popular with readers.

    • Andi ~ Love the cowboy boot banner on your page. I had an immediate impression of the type of stories and characters you create!

  3. Great tips. I can really see how authors hang out with other authors. Keeping the balance of promoting and producing new stories that maintain the professional quality is the hardest.

    • Kathy ~ I see this same dynamic across other author promotional initiatives. I would bet that for many authors the majority of their social media connections are other writers. That’s a great place to start and peers can be extremely valuable in cross-promotion and the like, but the people authors really need to connect with are paying readers.

      One way to expand your Twitter reach is to do a keyword search such as “paranormal romance.” You can then identify and follow potential fans based on this common interest. I would also suggest searching keywords such as romance publisher, romance reviewer, romance editor, romance fan, etc. You can also check out who is following other authors in your genre and follow these individuals.

  4. Thanks for this awesome information, Maria! It’s nice to know there are people out there who know all this stuff for those of us that thought “we just needed to write a book and sell it!” I’m grateful for you reminding me of how important it is to JUST write sometimes, so we can “keep ’em coming” for our readers. And thanks for BEING My Author Concierge, taking care of many of these things for me so I CAN sit back and JUST WRITE 🙂

    Write On!

  5. Maria, my first book has been out a month. I’m fairly certain all of the copies that have sold have gone to people who know me. How do you suggest I expand that circle? I’m asking for reviews when someone says they’ve read the book and liked it, I’ve been doing interviews on other romance authors’ websites. What more should I do?

    • Hi Monica ~ First off, congratulations on the release of your book! How exciting. I see you are now on the part of the learning curve that relates to sales, promotion and marketing. Just like there is a learning curve to writing a book, every new author has to learn about this next phase in the publishing process.

      I went over to your website to check things out. My first impression was positive – your site is clean (in my book, that means good balance of images and text, the layout is user-friendly, you make good use of hyperlinks, etc.) and well-organized. You are blogging, which has been shown to be an effective marketing tool for authors, and you offer readers an excerpt so they can “sample” the story. Also an effective marketing technique.

      I do think there are some things you could do to improve your website. I looked for links to your social media channels and didn’t see anything. I saw icons for me to share your site on my social media (good option!), but it wasn’t until I made a specific effort to scroll through every inch of your site that I found the icon to like you on Facebook (right side, below links to buy the book, below a list of blogs you’ve visited, below a list of your recent blogs). Move the Facebook LIKE icon to the top. Facebook and Twitter are where authors and readers can more actively engage so you really want to cultivate your audience here, as well as creating engaging content.

      A couple more suggestions for your website:

      – Create categories for your blog posts. Maybe “For Writers,” “Personal Musings,” and “My Books.” This helps readers find content that is useful to them without having to wade through posts they may not be interested in reading.

      – Make things as easy and simple as possible for visitors. When I was on your Book page, I saw the book cover, the book summary and the excerpt. I got to the bottom and saw links for trailer and reviews. Clicked on the book cover. Hmmmm, I wondered. Where are her Buy links? Again, I had to actively look for this specific information on your site. It sounds silly, because the buy links are at the top of the right-hand column, but my natural inclination was to look for this information in the body of the Book page. My suggestion is to add vendor Buy links on the Book page (Amazon, Wild Rose, B&N, etc.).

      – When “shopping” your book, I was left needing more information. What genre is it? Is it a novella or full-length? Price? Publisher? Release date? I would include this information the book page.

      You’ve accomplished the first step in author promotion, which is creating a location for readers to visit. The next step is to drive traffic to your website. What are you doing to achieve this? Here are some links on how to increase website traffic:

      http://www.wikihow.com/Increase-Website-Traffic
      http://janefriedman.com/2012/11/27/build-long-lasting-traffic-to-website/

      I see you have done some blog appearances, which is great. I would suggest broadening the scope of your blog appearances by querying book bloggers and book reviewers to be featured on their blogs. One way to drive traffic to your website is to feature guests on your own blog.

      Unfortunately, Monica, there is no simple formula to sell a million copies of your book. The brutal truth authors must face is that many people hear you’ve published a book and think, “So what?”

      Answering that “SO WHAT” will give you the angle you need to market your books. What value do you and your book offer to readers? Does it target a certain market segment (50+ women?)? Is it humorous and entertaining? Do you have more books to offer? What is the price point? What makes you DIFFERENT than any other author writing similar books?

      The other thing to keep in mind is that marketing is a cumulative process. I compare it to the snowball rolling downhill analogy. It takes time and continued effort for that snowball to get bigger and bigger. Marketing, and ultimately sales and your career, take time and continued effort to amass results.

      Good luck!

      • Thank you so much Maria for the invaluable advice. This past weekend I queried many review sites seeking reviews, but after sending out quite a few emails, I decided to ask if they would highlight my book if they didn’t have time to review. I’ve already gotten a few affirmatives on this. I’ll be working on improving my website next.

    • I enjoyed the conversation. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any follow-up questions. I’ll give the post another day before announcing the winner of the free digital media kit.

I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: