by Hayley Zelda
As a writer, you’re bound to advertise your book online if you want it to sell well. However, it’s not that easy considering the thousands of other books competing for your target readers’ attention. To rise above the competition, you have to plan your marketing strategies. Below are seven tips on how to effectively promote your book online.
1. Do long-tail keyword research
To promote on a search engine like Google, you’ll need keywords. As such, you should do keyword research—not just a few choice words, but the long tail, too. It’s also important to take your search beyond your genre’s leading keywords, or your topic’s most popular terms. It should involve trying out related words.
Once you have your terms, group the most promising ones into a word cloud, or a big list of potential tags you can use to create a Google Alert that you can monitor later. Circle the ones you like and put them on a saved file to reference later.
You can use these keywords for SEO and to run ads. For long tail keywords, if you bid on Google Ads, you may see much cheaper results than in competitive terms. If you find long tail keywords that are converting, you can work on creating content on your blog related to that keyword and eventually rank naturally for words that will drive traffic to your books.
2. Look for free book publicity opportunities
Make sure you check out free book promo websites. These are a great place to have free copy of your book promoted everywhere. The ads you create for your book are not permanently linked to you, so you don’t have to worry about any future cloning issues. You’re doing nothing wrong by releasing your book for free and letting it go viral.
You should also consider platforms like Wattpad, Tumblr, Commaful and other free-of-charge reading and writing sites. You can either post your entire novel or just share a free chapter on the said sites. These can all be great places to grow your audience and drive potential sales.
3. Research paid advertising
The holy grail in any sale is to have the book sell at full price, so don’t be afraid to pay for a short advertising burst that could pay off in the long run. If you’re new, Amazon’s targeted advertising program is a great place to start. You can target specific regions and demographics, allowing you to spend only on those that you know will be interested in your book.
Additionally, reach out to leading blogs and sites meant for book lovers. One of which is Wired for Youth. Visit it and see for yourself how you might score an author interview or how a summary of your book can be featured.
4. Play with social media
Before you post or tweet one word, you need to have a concrete goal for it, so you know which platform to use. Give your posts a couple of days to get traction, and then compare which gets more viewers. If you’re really dedicated, Facebook also lets you delve into your analytics to see just how far your message reaches. Make sure you don’t use too many hashtags—one or two should be enough. You should also use tools like Canva to create images that will attract people to your content.
5. Draft book trailers
If you’ve written a novel with an element of the “unusual,” people are going to want to see an example of that. One of the most impactful ways to bring people into your world—whether it be vampires, time travel, or a post-apocalypse—is through a book trailer. These customized mini-movies are your chance to show people what you’re writing and hint at how creative you are with it.
The easiest way to make your own book trailer is to use a simple program like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker and add a soundtrack to your written words. Feel free to add in a few interviews with people you think are interesting and a few scenes you know that fit what you’ve written. If you’re stumped as to what you want your trailer to say, check out other book trailers for inspiration and see which ones resonate the most with your target audience. Just make sure you’re producing your trailer at least three months before your book is due, so that you have time to reach potential readers.
Book trailers are not just for self-published authors who have no publisher backing them. In fact, some publishers and agents are beginning to ask for them to boost book sales.
6. Release podcasts
Podcasting is a powerful promotional tool. The audio format is convenient and portable for busy readers, and the informal tone of a podcast conversation makes it very appealing. It’s also free to record, so in theory, anyone can do this promotion method.
Try podcasting about topics that are relevant to your book. Perhaps talk about writing and publishing from a creative angle, address the controversy inherent to your book’s topic, or devise a silly podcast for the primary purpose of talking about your book.
7. Be consistent
In social media marketing, consistency is key. Potential readers like seeing new pictures or posts, but if you only update, say, your Facebook and Twitter once or twice a week, the buzz about your book will die off long before someone chances upon it. Remember that online you’re promoting yourself, your book, and your other works, so always create and share new content, even if it’s not a huge amount.
This kind of consistency creates a demand and a familiarity, and it’ll pour over into your next post. As an author, it’s as easy to get to people online as it is in person, so you may as well take advantage of it.
Mastering the abovementioned marketing tips may take some time. Once you’ve become skilled in them though, you can plan and carry out better promotional strategies for your next books.
Hayley Zelda is a writer and marketer at heart. She’s written on all the major writing platforms and worked with a number of self-published authors on marketing books to the YA audience.
Thousands of books as competition? Try millions. Hundreds of thousands of new ones every year.
I’ve got to agree with the above poster. We are currently (and have been) in a gluttonous swarm of books that are in the millions. I run Guerilla Warfare for Writers–writer advocate–industry watchdog. Having a monstrous social media presence (nearly 5,000 FB alone) has done nothing for me . You can interact in 15 to 20 FB sub-groups (like I do) and comment to no end and, no matter how interesting, educational or complimentary, it will NOT sell books. Free display sites will not sell books–they are bum-rushed by old and new authors. Everywhere you go, you’re archived deep in the stacks. FB non-ad announcements won’t sell books (used to). Twitter mentions/posts do not sell books (used to 10 years ago). I doubt that Twitter and FB booster ads are having the effect they used to have. You realize that the only organic sales that you’ve gotten came from family, friends and fans at the very beginning.
Word of mouth. This is the only powerful sales-driver. It is the culmination of everything that has been done perfectly in a promo and marketing sense.
If you are not listed as Free or with a 99-cent book, the chances of you succeeding in 90% of the most popular advertising/marketing companies are nil. (I just got my fourth full refund this morning from a marketing company for “under-performance). It was Booksy this time. These companies even state the fact that anything OVER 99 cents is very unlikely to get a click through. Why? Because the other marketing sites are set that way. BookBUB, AMS might be exceptions to this rule.
You bring up some excellent points about pod casts and trailers, and these can cost money if you have no experience creating them. We must go heavy in visual today to get upticks in our book sales, and that is a fairly new, realistic shift. I’m heavy in Tumblr but it’s ineffective, as has been a decade in Booksie and Wattpad. The exception might be Instagram, but I’m on a PC and haven’t gotten that darn app to run it yet. Pinterest is a lame duck of sorts.
I don’t know the name of the author of this article. But google Guerrilla Warfare for Writers and read my most recent post. You and I need to talk about the industry, if you would like. I would be delighted to tell you exactly what has happened since I’ve been published in 1987–Thanks for your articles–Chris H. Stevenson (aka Christy J. Breedlove)
I took your advice about researching on Google. I looked for hashtags used for memoirs and writers. Extremely helpful. Thanks.