Self-published authors have to pull double duty as their own marketing and promotion team. This may seem like a tall order, but don’t be discouraged. With some creativity and commitment—the very same skills you used to write your book—you can generate some buzz and start building your audience.
Here are seven ideas to get you started.
1. Create a blog or website
Ideally, you would start building your blog or website before you even finish your book, so that you already have a place where your potential readers can find you. You can start driving traffic to your website through search engine optimization. Fill your website with relevant, keyword-dense content, and regularly post articles that are related to the topic of your book. This way, you’re more likely to rank on organic search engine results and attract the target audience for your book. For instance, if you’ve written a romance novel, you could create articles about popular romance genres, classic plotlines, or your favorite novels from fellow romance writers. Or, if you’ve written a book about learning how to meditate, post about the proven benefits of meditation and supplement it with excerpts from your book.
2. Build interest through online contests and giveaways
Once your website is up and running, and filled with valuable content, you can leverage it to stoke excitement about your book. As your launch date approaches, upload content that will get your potential readers engaged and encourage them to subscribe to your email list for regular updates. Contests and giveaways are tried-and-true methods for generating interest and getting people to join the community you’re trying to build. The more successful you are with this, the better it is for your site’s ranking as well.
3. Tie in your social media accounts
You want to give your audience as many chances as possible to find you, so it’s important that you establish a presence on a few of the major social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn. Plus, you’ll want to have profiles on sites that are specifically geared to writers and readers, such as Goodreads and Medium.
These platforms also offer golden opportunities to network and connect with fellow authors in your genre and their followings. Take note of what kind of posts and promotions generate the greatest number of likes, shares, and retweets and use them to build your engagement.
4. Grow your online presence and influence
Because the internet is an open forum where anyone can state their opinions, it’s important that you differentiate yourself and cultivate your level of influence, which will help to position your book as one worth reading. There are several ways to do this. You can start by regularly contributing to forums and websites that are dedicated to topics relevant to your book. You can also reach out to prominent websites and podcasts and offer to be interviewed or to be a guest. The more high-quality, authoritative places you can get a byline (which should include a link to your website and your existing or forthcoming books), the better.
5. Create a compelling book blurb
Your book blurb will appear on the back cover of printed copies and on online sales pages, so it is an essential part of your book’s marketing. It’s what prospective buyers will read when deciding if this book is of interest to them, so put careful thought and consideration into making it the best it can be.
Keep the length at about 100 to 150 words, and craft a killer opening line that will hook the reader’s interest. For fiction, describe the main conflict using evocative language but don’t give away major plot points. For non-fiction, mention the key concept and your specific angle on it as well as what your readers stand to gain from reading the book.
If you find yourself struggling to write your blurb, consider enlisting the help of a pro. Some writers prefer to outsource this task to a dedicated blurb-writer, since they feel “too close” to their own work.
6. Seek out reviews for your book
In building your readership, nothing is quite as effective as “social proof” in the form of an endorsement from others. This is why getting reviews of your book is absolutely crucial. If you’re a first-time self-published author, gather a list of the top reviewers on Amazon and handpick the ones who review books from your genre. A polite request and an offer of a free copy of your book is often enough to close the deal.
Your approach with this should be to cast as wide a net as possible, so decide how many reviews you would like (and can realistically get) and then multiply that number by four to get the number of requests you should be sending out.
7. Take advantage of Amazon tools
Amazon is a self-published author’s best friend. It offers a range of tools that you can use for promotion and distribution when you self-publish your book.
The first of these tools is Amazon Author Central. With an Author Central account, you get to have your own personalized author page on Amazon that includes all of your published books and your biography as well as photos, events, videos, and more. You can link to this page on each of your book’s sales pages on Amazon, on your social media, and even in your email signature.
The other Amazon tool you’ll want to take advantage of is the Expanded Distribution Program, which allows you to make your print books available to online retailers, brick-and-mortar bookstores, libraries, and other institutions. You simply enroll in the program and your book will be included in distributor catalogues that retailers and libraries use to order from.
The final word
Once you’ve self-published your book, it’s time to put on your marketing and promotion hat to launch it successfully. Just like with writing, slow and steady (and consistent!) wins the race, so put in the time to build your online audience, craft your blurb, collect your reviews, and leverage online promotional tools. Then, watch your book make its way in the world!