After focusing on both stand-alone releases and books that are part of a series, this last post in my Bookbub Insights series suggests nine different ways to promote any book. Some of these you may be familiar with; others will probably be news to you.
The post is based on an excellent recent post by Diana Urban, titled How to Market Your Book After the New Release Buzz Dies Down.
1. Use discounting to hook new readers
Use a backlist book to hook new readers. Readers are more inclined to try a book or author they’ve never heard of if it’s offered at a bargain price or free. However, they’re less likely to risk spending full-price before they’re a fan of an author’s work. Sixty percent of bargain readers purchase other books from an author they discovered through a price promotion, so after they buy a discounted backlist title they’ll often be willing to buy your newer book at full price.
For example, if you’re promoting the latest book in a series, offer the first book in the series for free. Be sure to promote it wisely – use my Call to Arms Survey results to choose the right service for you.
This also works even if the newer book is not part of a series. For some reason, whenever I promote Pearseus, sales of Runaway Smile also increase.
2. Continue to bolster your book’s platform with more reviews
Garnering more reviews for a book isn’t something that stops being important once the book has been out for a few weeks. Don’t forget to read my post, How to Score Great Amazon Reviews: Resources and More for a complete guide on getting Reviews.
3. Give the first few chapters away for free
Just like you can promote a series by giving away the first book for free, a great way to hook people and encourage them to buy the full book is to offer the first few chapters for free. You can give away a longer sample than the one provided by Amazon’s Look Inside feature; ideally one that ends on some sort of cliffhanger. End your sample with a call-to-action and a link to purchase the full copy .
There are a few different ways you can give away these first few chapters:
- If the book is long enough, you can publish a permafree sample on retailers as its own ebook. Make it very clear in the title and description that this is just a sample — the first chapter or first few chapters of your book — to avoid confusing readers.
- Upload it to your blog or website, either as a PDF/ebook or as blog posts. As long as it’s under 10% of the total length of the book, you’re not in violation of KDP Select terms, if this is something that worries you.
4. Check in with people who received the book launch announcement
You may have sent an email to your mailing list and/or blog subscribers when you launched the book. Don’t make the mistake of sending another promotional email to the same group. Instead:
- Send one email to people who engaged with your first email. You can choose to include the people who opened the announcement email or only those who clicked a link within the email. These are the most engaged people on your list, who would be most likely to make the purchase or even write a review for the book. So reach out and thank them for their support. Let them know you value their opinion and would sincerely appreciate an honest review.
- Send a different email to people who didn’t engage with the first email. These people are low-hanging fruit — they’re the ones who cared enough to specifically sign up for your email list, but for whatever reason didn’t open the first email. Maybe it got caught in a spam filter, maybe they were busy that day, or maybe it just got lost with all the other dozens of emails they received at the time. Send them a sample (say the first few chapters) of the book for free, and see if you can hook them a second time around.
5. Show targeted ads to readers in your niche
I see this mistake all the time: authors say, “this is no longer a new release, so why should I promote it?” My answer is always the same: “To someone who has never seen your book, it reads like a new release even if it was first published years ago.”
You should always seek new readers via targeted ads. If anything, you’ll have even more social endorsement possibilities if you’ve already established a fan base for the book during its launch period. If people have already liked the book’s Facebook page, for example, you can target those people with advertising, and thereby gain exposure to their friends as well. The more existing fans like or engage with your ad or boosted post, the more people will see your content.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience. Again, you can use my Call to Arms Survey results to choose the right service for you.
6. Be the first to use new marketing tools
Keeping up with the newest promotional tools is a great way to catch readers’ attention. You should monitor the marketing landscape in case something new crops up during the first six months of your book’s release. Bestselling Indie author Michael Siemsen has been able to attract new readers by using this strategy on Twitter:
The second Twitter introduced Cards in promoted tweets, I jumped on it and blasted my latest Sci-Fi release to everyone in that interest segment (via Twitter Ads), with an eye-catching image of the book cover, because I know it grabs the eye of SF fans. Whenever a new promo tool like that comes out, I jump on it, because:
- It’s still novel to the users so they’re more likely to look at it, click, etc.
- The ad prices are usually super cheap because they’re new, so it’s a safer investment.
That campaign received somewhere around 200,000 impressions, 30,000 ‘engagements,’ and 2,200 link clicks. I sold around 1,500 books over those two days — a huge spike.
7. Keep an eye out for free publicity opportunities
You can write guest posts to gain exposure to a new audience. Once you have written posts for most of your blog friends, however, you may feel stuck. Enter Help a Reporter Out (HARO); a sourcing service that connects journalists with relevant experts, enabling brands to tell their stories to the people looking for them. If you sign up for a free HARO account, you’ll receive an email three times per day that includes media opportunities in which you could be quoted. You can customize which email alerts you receive so you’re not bombarded with irrelevant queries.
Since these categories are fairly broad, it’s often best to sign up for the Master HARO list and set up your own email filters so you only get alerts for relevant queries.
If it’s a relevant query where you have some expertise, don’t hesitate — reporters often quote from the first response or two they receive. This is a fantastic way to get free publicity for yourself and your books.
8. Capitalize on current events
- If you’re promoting a romance, do a marketing push on Valentine’s Day.
- Promote funny chick lit as a fun summer beach read or as airplane reading during the holidays.
- Compare Tudor historical fiction to a hit new Tudor-related TV show and target fans of that show.
- If you have a new book featuring athletes overcoming great obstacles, promote it during the MLB or NFL playoffs or a relevant sporting event.
You can move sales for a relevant book by strategically taking advantage of what’s trending in the news. Try a price promotion or a major ad campaign during one of these timely events and you could keep a newer title’s momentum going.
9. Continue publishing new books
Publishing new books will help you garner a wider audience that will be interested in your other books. Just like running a price promotion for a backlist book is a great way to gain exposure for a new release, publishing a new release boosts backlist book sales as well.
It’s important to find a balance between churning out new books and promoting existing ones. But for all the months and years of effort you pour into your books, they deserve attention beyond the initial release date, and it’s entirely possible to effectively find new readers even after the initial buzz dies down.
All this marketing stuff does your head in? Relax with my award-winning children’s book, Runaway Smile for free!