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While there is a lot of value in self-publishing, there is also a lot that can go wrong if a writer dives into the venture unprepared.
Some self-publishing companies help with marketing. Most, unfortunately, do not. Without any guidance or marketing support, the seas of self-publishing can be a dangerous place and even the best books are prone to quickly drown under a wave of new releases.
To make sure your book isn’t the next victim, here’s a list of five ways to get the internet buzzing over your self-published release.
1. Build and maintain a platform
You might hear the word “platform” thrown around loosely when referring to creatives. It shouldn’t be a buzzword — it should be a tool.
Think of a platform as the online presence you’ve created for yourself that includes all things related to you. It’s a hub of content, information and even sales potential for you as an author and creator.
All great platforms should be spearheaded with a website. And, with so many writers vying for online attention, you can’t slouch on the design. Thankfully, sites like Wix and Squarespace allow for easy website creation with a drop-and-drag system. In other words, no coding is required.
Still, amateurish website designs can be detrimental to sales, so if you don’t feel comfortable making a sharp, professional website, consider hiring to get it done. This could come with a considerable price tag, but the return on your investment will pay off in the long run.
What else goes into a platform? Social media, for one thing. And people have different blends of social media preferences, so to maximize your impressions, you should go beyond just Facebook and Twitter. Consider Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and Goodreads.
Finally, video is an increasingly popular platform component that you can’t afford to overlook. Create a YouTube channel to talk about your book, your life or anything else readers might find interesting.
Then, once you’ve laid the foundation for your platform, you must create. Releasing consistent content — including videos, posts, blogs, and more — is the best way to get discovered online.
2. Run a social media campaign
Social media campaigns are a cost-effective way to raise awareness for your book both pre- and post-release.
Once you’ve created your platform, running a campaign is a good way to find new followers and readers.
Most social media sites provide the option to target a specific audience with paid advertising. This is a luxury because it makes all of those impressions more valuable than they would be via other marketing channels. For example, an ad for a young adult novel wouldn’t fair well in a print newspaper, but Facebook or Instagram can help you market it towards a readership that would be much more likely to engage.
Pre-released campaigns are designed to build excitement. Since your book isn’t out yet, the call-to-action should tell the audience where to learn more about the book and subscribe for more updates (hint: it’s your website.) In terms of content, these ads are a great place to share blurbs, images and any early reviews you’ve received.
Post-release campaigns will function the same way, but the call-to-action will be centered around buying the book. To do this, share a link to the book’s Amazon page (or your favorite distributor), along with your website.
3. Connect with online influencers
One of the best ways to build a big following is to tap into somebody else’s following. That’s the logic of trying to connect with online influencers.
Book reviewers and literary content creators are becoming increasingly popular with their videos, podcasts and blogs. And, for a self-published writer, the best part of what they offer is that they have a built-in audience.
In other words, if you can get an interview with a YouTube book reviewer, all of his or her followers will be exposed to you. Better yet, if you leave a good impression, they will begin to follow you, too. There is tremendous value in that.
Start by searching online for people who review and discuss books or topics related to what you write about. From there, remember it’s got to be a give-and-take relationship. If you’re getting value out of the exposure, you need to provide the influencer with value, too. Offer a free book, and if you can record your interview before release day, they will be interested in that, too. Hot, new releases fuel engagement.
4. Well-placed giveaways and contests attract reviews
Buyers can be finicky. They might circle your book several times, debating whether or not it’s worth their time and money.
The best way to counter this is by accumulating positive reviews and giving away copies. There are two types of reviews: customer reviews and editorial reviews. Customer reviews come from people buying and reading the book, while editorial reviews are from trusted experts.
Finding quality reviews might seem like a daunting task. Thankfully, some sites are designed to help you easily gain customer reviews. The first is Netgalley, which connects readers of influence to books or soon-to-release books. Many of these readers value having a leg-up on what’s coming next, so by using Netgalley before your release date, you’ll be even more likely to build buzz and receive feedback and reviews for your work.
My other recommendation is a Goodreads giveaway to spread the word about your book and earn quality reviews. It’s a simple process: just list your book on the site and claim your author profile. From there, tell the system how many books you want to give away, select your dates and provide a short description. It’s a very simple, affordable process, and it can even be done with advanced reader copies (ARCs) to generate reviews before the release.
5. Buying reviews and promotion
The idea of paying for editorial reviews and promotional placement might raise some red flags. To be fair, it probably should — never do this without due diligence regarding the review. On top of this, never pay for Amazon customer reviews.
But also understand that there are some quality paid-review sites, such as Kirkus Indie, and IndieReader. These provide honest editorial reviews of your book to a wide audience. Since these reviewers have credibility, a positive review from any of these sites can be a major step toward more mainstream exposure.
Additionally, some other sites offer paid advertising for books as either published articles or emails. Forums such as BookGorilla and Booksends will promote your work to a subscriber list made up of readers looking for their next great book.
As you consider these options, remember that marketing your book will include some trial and error. Some approaches won’t work. Some might work much better than you’d ever expect. In other words, there’s no cookie-cutter formula that guarantees success for every book because all books are different, but there are a lot of proven methods that can lead to a path of success.