There is a lot of marketing and sales advice available online about promoting your self-published book, targeted to authors, full of unhelpful buzzwords and phrases like “develop community” or “increase engagement.” So, how exactly do you do that? Read on for my top three essential tips on steps that every self-respecting, self-published author should take to help promote and sell his or her book.
Our first topic to tackle – community.
The big question: how do you reach out and find people who may be interested in your book? The big answer: Go where the people are.
Step 1: Create a Facebook fan page and Twitter profile
The two largest communities on the Internet are Facebook and Twitter, so of course, you should be there too. Every author should create a Facebook Fan page for their book, as well as a Twitter profile. If you need some help understanding Facebook or Twitter, check out Computer World’s Newbie Guide to Facebook, and CNET’s Newbie Guide to Twitter. There are also courses on Facebook and Twitter Essential Training and Social Media Marketing on Lynda.com that may be useful (subscription service).
Use these sites to interact with existing fans of your book and discover new fans by following conversations around your subject matter. For example, if your book is about bread baking, try getting involved in conversations on baking forums like The Fresh Loaf, and Facebook communities for the topic. Don’t forget retailers and brands either – my favorite brand of flour has an active Facebook community. I bet some products related to your world do too.
You can also use BookShow to share your book with your friends and followers, and encourage others to do the same. You’ll find those links on your BookShow page. Link to your Facebook fan page and Twitter profile everywhere – your email signature, your Blurb book page, your business cards, in the actual book – anywhere you would have previously signed just your name, add these URL’s.
Once you have a Facebook and Twitter profile, it’s time to get involved in Internet conversations elsewhere. Google Alerts is a fantastic service that you can use to receive daily notifications whenever new content is found online containing any word or phrase that you want. Simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts and type the phrase you want to receive a notification for into the box labeled “Search Query.”
At the bare minimum, every author should have alerts set up on their name and their book name. Consider what people who would be interested in your book would be talking about and set up alerts for that. Once a day, you’ll receive an email from Google with the newest results (you will not receive an email if there isn’t anything new). Spend 10 minutes a day responding to blog posts or Tweets your alerts find – you’ll be amazed how quickly you can start to gather a following.
Wherever possible, use either your Twitter or Facebook account to log in to other websites. This ensures that someone who finds you on one site will be able to find you on others.
There are also numerous book-specific communities on the Internet where readers may already be talking about your book. GoodReads is one of the largest book communities, and has a number of free tools available for authors to connect with readers. If your book is already listed, there is a link on the book profile where you can claim it as your own. If it is not listed, look for a link on the right hand of the search results screen to manually add a book. Also check out Good Reads’ Author Program for great tips and information.
Go to search.twitter.com and run a search on your name, book title and/or subject matter. For example, a cookbook author may search for people who say the phrase “need recipe,” and respond with a recipe suggestion from their book with a link to the book preview. As long as responses are personal and related to what the person was saying, you will get more people looking at your book.
Most of all – don’t be shy. People talking online are there because they want to talk. Jump on in and join the conversation, people really do want to hear from you and if you don’t speak up, you can’t be heard.