My last post gave some reasons why it is advisable for authors, especially self-published ones, to play an active part in marketing their own books. For this post I have drawn on my own recent experience to suggest a selection of methods which may work for you, even if you have a limited budget or you feel uncomfortable with self-promotion.
Internet marketing is potentially a powerful tool, but personal contact and old-fashioned ‘word of mouth’ are still important and it is advisable to make use of both methods.
You will obviously want to tell your family and friends about your book, and this can often be done by email. However, beware of ‘spamming’ people whom you do not really know even though their address has found its way into your contact list. You can also write to relevant societies and organisations, preferably on an individual basis.
The message is best kept fairly short and factual, and should not come across as ‘pushy’. Include links to further information such as a web page describing the book’s content, a free sample chapter, even a YouTube video or an audio clip. Remember to say where to buy it. Finish with a request to forward the message on to others who might be interested. If you belong to networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, post the information there too.
Arrange a launch event soon after publication. This could be held in a local library or bookshop; at a venue appropriate to the subject of the book, for example at a sports club or in a healthcare setting; even in your own home. Send personal invitations to selected people, distribute some printed or electronic flyers, and ask for RSVPs so that you have some idea of numbers for catering purposes. Copies of the book, and perhaps any previous ones you have published, should obviously be on sale at the event and most buyers will want you to sign them with a brief personal message. A suitable timetable might include half an hour of light refreshments while the guests are assembling, half an hour for you to give a talk about the book and read some extracts from it, then half an hour for questions, discussion, more refreshments and of course selling and signing books.
There may be ongoing opportunities for talks and presentations, at meetings of local societies or at larger conferences. For example I have spoken about my own recent book Focus on Healing at various events attended by natural therapists, and at gatherings for members of a breast cancer charity.
Printed cards, fliers or bookmarks can be distributed through libraries and other suitable settings, or given to people you meet. You can be creative with the design but it is best to relate it to the appearance of the book, probably using the same image as that on the cover so that people will recognise it.
Write to relevant journals, magazines, newspapers and websites to ask if they would like to review the book or publish a feature about it. You may decide to send out unsolicited review copies anyway, but this takes time and money, and does not guarantee a response. If you do get a review it may well take a long time to appear, and will not necessarily be positive – though it is said there is no such thing as bad publicity, and a really damning review sometimes stimulates people to read the book out of curiosity.
‘Special offers’ may be worthwhile, for example you could suggest combining your book with another product for a limited period, or posting out gift-wrapped copies for Christmas.
Writing articles or giving interviews for websites, blogs or paper publications will help to get your name known, without necessarily promoting the book directly.
This is not a complete list of marketing techniques but I hope it provides some ideas for those starting to explore the world of self-publishing.