If you’ve dreamed about becoming a published author, you are not alone. According to ISBN registration figures from Bowker, “self-published titles in 2013 increased to more than 458,564, up 17 percent over 2012.” What the vast majority of those new authors don’t know is that they are now the Chief Marketing Officer of their own personal publishing company. They’ve also taken on the role of Director of Sales, Operations Manager and Publicist.
Very few authors bring all of those skill sets to the table and while bestseller status may not be in the cards for every author, finding and promoting a book to those who are most likely to want that book, is possible and getting easier all the time. Social media levels the marketing playing field for the self-publishing author and helps authors find their reading public through direct to consumer marketing.
Every author may dream of writing a bestseller. But writing the book and dreaming isn’t enough.
If you write it, they will come, IF you go find them and lead them to it.
These three inexpensive, but effective, strategies will help self-published authors present their work to book buyers. As an author who has been published by a legacy publisher and as a self-published author, I’ve employed these strategies myself in both cases and can attest to their ease, cost effectiveness and efficacy.This is by no means a comprehensive list but simply a starting point to help first time authors begin the work of promoting their work to others.
Author Central is a free feature of Amazon.com and self-published books need to be on Amazon. Amazon is one of the most trusted online booksellers and people feel comfortable purchasing from Amazon. Being there is a key element in a good distribution strategy. Author Central provides authors with a page for their photo, bio, promotional videos, blog feed, Twitter feed, and promotional tour schedule. An Author Central page is indexed in search on Amazon and will be served up to book buyers searching for an author by name. It’s also a good tool for introducing an author to new readers. This is free to set up and every author should take advantage of this marketing real estate. The author’s page on Author Central will appear at the bottom of the sales page for their book and gives readers more information about the author at point of purchase; right when they’re making the decision whether or not to buy the book.
One billion users is a very large ecosystem and most authors already have a personal profile. There are several very sophisticated marketing opportunities on Facebook, but here are two free and easy ways to begin. Upload a 403 x 403 pixel photo of the cover of the book to Facebook and write a post announcing the publication. At the end of the post include the direct link to the page where the book can be purchased; Amazon, Barnes & Noble, author website or other. Next mark the post as “Life Event,” a Facebook designation found in the upper right hand side of the status update box. The choose “Published a Book” from the Life Event Options. Facebook will create a large, 2-column posting with this update and send it out into the news feed to nearly all of the author’s connections. This one action significantly increases the visibility of the newly published book within the author’s own circle of contacts. Keeping a close eye on the comments for this post and responding with a request to help spread the word can mobilize the author’s friends and family to help with promotion. All hands on deck should be the self-published author’s watch words.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, behind Google, and is owned by Google. Creating a Book Trailer, similar to a movie trailer, and posting it to YouTube gives the author a high value marketing piece to share on social media, in blogs and on YouTube itself. Authors can create a 30 second video that includes images, words, a link to purchase the book and even music without any special equipment or knowledge at Animoto. This wonderful free tool has easy to use templates that make creating a 30 second digital commercial for a book simple. To make longer videos, remove the Animoto logo and access a library of professional templates, authors will need a pro account, which is $240 per year, or click on the Animoto link above and get a 20% discount (full disclosure: signing up through that link gives readers a discount and I get a little something from Animoto). I’ve been an Animoto pro user for 3 years and cannot recommend it enough for authors. Here’s a sample of one of the first Animoto videos I created. It took me 10 minutes. It’s fun, easy and authors can upload the video to their Author Central page, YouTube, Facebook and their website.
There is so much more that authors must do to market and promote their self-published books, but these three free marketing strategies are a good beginning. Create an author profile at Author Central, add a Life Event on your Facebook profile, and produce a book trailer video at Animoto to upload to YouTube and share around the web.
The self-published author is both writer and publisher and is the director of the entire publishing process. This includes cover design, interior layout, marketing and promotion. Standing out from the crowd of hundreds of thousands of other self-published authors and garnering attention for an unknown author, and his or her book, is a daunting undertaking. Budget, time, connections and strategy all play into a successful book launch. Start planning for your book launch even before the book is complete. Begin engaging with readers through social networks. Join groups of writers for the support and experience they offer. And, most of all write, every day.