According to recent surveys, over 80% of people want to write a book, but less than 3% actually do. And of people who even start, just 30 in 1000 actually complete a manuscript. Why is that? There are certainly countless reasons but the main one is that writing is hard.
It’s no wonder, then, that writers get so excited when they finish a book. If you’ve actually completed your manuscript, you have taken place among a select few, and celebration is in order. It’s important to remember, however, that while the book may be written, the author’s work is far from done. If you plan to sell your book—whether online, in bookstores, or at live events—it’s essential to have a solid promotional plan in place. A plan that will take you and your book well beyond launch day. The more marketing groundwork you can lay in advance of your book’s arrival, the further ahead you’ll be when it’s time to connect with readers and build your fanbase.
As with so much in life, a little planning can go a long way. Here are some great ways to get a jump on promoting your book (and yourself!) before it’s available for purchase:
Any successful promotion strategy starts with a clear objective and given that readers are your top target, you need to get clear on who, exactly, you’re trying to reach. Build a specific profile of your ideal reader by asking yourself the following:
- Where do they spend their time online? What about in-person?
- Who are their favorite authors?
- What organizations are they members of?
- What is their education and income level?
- What is it about my book that will get them excited and engaged?
The answers to these questions will help clarify your thinking about who you're trying to reach and how you might reach them!
As you expand your promotions, refer back to your ideal reader profile to ensure your efforts are reaching the people most likely to purchase your book. Having a clear picture of who your ideal readers are can give life and shape to your promotions because you’ll have a better understanding of what they actually want. Remember, your ultimate responsibility as a writer is to provide value for your audience.
As we’ve discussed elsewhere, networking can feel awkward for new authors, so be sure not to lose sight of your existing network.
Dip your toe in and develop a contact list of people you already know who might be able to help get the word out about your book. If you have a friend who works in a bookstore, an acquaintance in local media, or know anyone with an interest in your book’s subject matter, log their names and contact info. This way, you’ll have a pre-built list of contacts to call on when planning events, seeking media coverage, or marketing on social media. (And after you’ve reached out to them, you’ll have gained valuable pitching experience. This will be important down the road when you begin to approach and/or speak with strangers about your book!)
One group of strangers it pays to connect with is book reviewers. Send them a short hello and synopsis of your book and then offer them an advance copy of your book for review. Remember, reviewers do what they do because they love books. Don’t underestimate the power of a warm email!
If you don’t already do so, make an effort to attend local events at libraries, bookstores, and businesses—particularly those that relate to the themes of your book. Attending these events as a guest will give you a firsthand understanding of how they are run, who attends them, and what activities occur.
Schedule a meeting with the management of your local bookstore to find out what information and timeline they will need to host a book signing. When it comes time for you to plan your own book event(s) you will already have a better idea of what events are a good fit for you and your ideal reader.
The ideal reader profile you created will help you determine where and how you can connect with potential readers online. Create accounts on the social media platforms—like Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, or Instagram—that will be most suited to getting in touch with your audience.
Taking time to set up and learn how to use various social media platforms will pay dividends when it comes time to begin networking with your followers.
If you decide to write a blog as part of your promotional strategy, start writing well in advance. Develop a stockpile of articles to post, find your voice and online persona, AND get training on how best to use social media to promote your book and author brand.
Watching your completed book come to life is a thrill and an accomplishment worth celebrating. And by investing a few hours into one (or all!) of the initiatives listed above, you can keep that celebration growing. With a connected audience, you’ll have a book that can create positive word-of-mouth, generate sales and bring a smile to your (and your Book Promotion Specialist’s) face.
Written by Lauren Obee, FriesenPress Book Promotion Specialist