Book marketing is the process of effectively promoting and advertising your book so it gets into the hands and in front of the eyes of potential readers. Marketing efforts are utilized in order to create awareness, and therefore, increase or stimulate sales of the book. Let’s be straightforward. Marketing is as important as the book itself. If no one sees a book that might be up their alley or reads it, can it ever be defined as great? Getting your book into the hands of readers, book stores, and critics is a complex and long process. It takes time for people to read books and formulate a response to new content. Reading is inherently personal, which means getting people to react positively to a new author or new book can be tricky.
Simply put, you need to make a plan and realize it could take years, but if it’s done well and thoughtfully, you can get there. With the right partner (smaller publishers), you can get there a bit quicker, but there is no light switch you can throw on (unless you know someone like Oprah, Ellen or Reese Witherspoon – All who have big book club followings). Always remember that some of the best marketing for your book is a review from a reader that loved it. They will tell friends, post about it and help you grow the book’s following.
A key component of book marketing is the book launch. When you publish a book, you set a release date for when the title will be available for purchase to readers. This is also known as the book launch date. The primary goal is to build anticipation for the title’s release. If you have the publicity resources, it’s helpful to set up an author signing or event that takes place on the exact release date at a local independent bookstore or venue. From there, you can try to set up an initial book tour across multiple bookstores and venues in key regions where you feel the book will sell well. This requires reaching out to bookstores and event spaces and coordinating shipping books for the author to sign and readers to purchase at the event. It’s important to consider social media and email marketing leading up to events in order to increase event turnout and raise reader awareness that there is an author signing. It’s also necessary to find a dedicated em-cee or person to ask questions to the author at the event in order to establish a proper Q&A for the audience. Advanced Reading Copies or Galleys (both print and digital) can also be helpful to have prior to the release date, as allowing readers access to the work in advance helps stimulate reviews and buzz.
You might ask yourself, “What if I don’t have the publicity resources or contacts to set up author events?” A good place to start is to join a Regional Independent Bookseller Associations (there are 8 of them). Each association has a list of bookstores that they will provide to you for free (if you join) so you can reach out to bookstores about events for your books. You don’t have to join all eight of them at once, and can join the individual associations that you feel represent your market the best. Each association offers different marketing opportunities to take advantage of and connect directly with booksellers. There is an annual fee, usually around $150 dollars that is required to join a regional association.
There are many ways to market your book, and the different types of marketing involve getting your book in front of bookstores, ebook readers and library readers. There is the volume approach, like pop music. You can bombard people over time until they are so familiar with the author and book that they are drawn to it without realizing it. Think Michael Bolton in the early 90s. He was on the radio so much that it was nearly impossible to miss any of his music. That, in turn, made it popular through sheer will. Online-focused marketing opportunities also exist including Amazon and the popular platform Bookbub. The key is to do your research and see what fits your budget or your publisher’s budget.Of course, book marketing is always much easier if you are signed with a big publisher with deep pockets. According to statistics, the average self-published author only sells 250 copies of their book in a lifetime while the average traditional published book sells 3,000 copies. That means if you take those bestsellers (that pull up the average), many books don’t sell at all. Smaller publishers or self-publishers need to be smart, focus on building relationships with bookstores and employ savvy online advertising, either through Facebook, Instagram or Amazon. The craziest part is that even with the proper funds, it can take a year or multiple years to get a new book or author noticed, but there’s always the chance the book could take off.