Self-publishing your own book requires a hell of a lot more than the writing alone. In fact, writing is only a small part of a much larger process, and one of the largest steps in that process is marketing. Without a big publishing house behind you, marketing is one of the most important aspects for self-publishing authors.
The recent Melbourne Writers Festival presented a workshop called ‘Self-Publishing Blueprint’ that shared tips from successful authors with self-publishing know-how. Adrian Briones, top-rated food blogger and award-winning author of, What the Heck is Filipino Food?, was one of the self-published authors featured at the MWF event. Hugely popular and with a real talent for online marketing and community, he shared his top five marketing tips.
Put yourself out there
Your presence and your brand need to be available whenever your readers want to access it. The internet is the most common way people search for the information they want and it knows no time restraints. By being available you allow people to find you if they go looking for you, to stumble upon you in a general search or share your details with others. They can also tell you what they think about your work and, in doing so, help in the development process of new products or ideas.
Take Adrian as an example, he has enjoyed a lot of media (and consequent free publicity) for his self-published book since its release. This is in part due to the brand he has built around the book and its presence online. Check out the press and media section of his website.
Your online community will drive your book sales, and this means you need a blog and you need to build an online social media community around that. You’ll want to think about having a blog, a newsletter subscription, mini ebooks, mobile apps, and social media profiles, as well as guest blogging on other people’s websites who share a similar target market.
You also need to get your head around the niceties and etiquette expectations of these online networks. For example, responding to messages and comments in a timely manner, and thanking people for linking to your site and sharing your information with their respective communities. Your digital communities will also take time and effort to maintain and, unfortunately, not everyone has a personality suited to this type of communication. If this is the case for you and you have a marketing budget, you might like to consider outsourcing your social media or blog to a business that specialises in this. Your online community is far too powerful a marketing tool to overlook.
Provide good content
You won’t build a community by speaking at your audience with endless self-promotion. Instead, give them great content that is relevant to them. If you can help them by providing great information, they will see your value and be more likely to invest in your book.
Beyond writing great content, you also want it to be shareable. People are more inclined to act on recommendations from their friends than those from a stranger, so your content needs to be something they want to share with their networks. This is sometimes called ‘social media optimisation’ and calls for ideas that people are interested in spreading as well as producing those ideas in forms that are easily linked to and reposted, such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, downloadable documents or reviews. Just ensure it provides useful information that your audience wants and that they can easily share with others. Content might be king, but context and convenience are the keys.
Get your book reviewed
Join online communities like Goodreads and independent forums related to your topic or industry. This is a powerful marketing tool in the current age of peer review preference, and the more reviews you can get the higher your profile will become. Goodreads is a social network in its own right and is an easy way for debut authors to get their book talked about. Run competitions and give away prizes for reviews to get them into the hands of people who are actively engaged in reviewing and recommending books in a global forum.
Get your metadata right
Metadata is the information you need to provide when you register the ISBN or publish it through systems like Smashwords, KDP or blurb. It will usually include things such as title, author, publisher, cover picture, description and the relevant categories. Doing this right can help you in two ways. First, items like the description and the cover are important for potential readers who are deciding on whether or not they will buy your book. Second, in order for them to discover your book at all it needs to come up in the search results of online stores like Amazon and Book Depository, so you need to list your book in the right categories, along with including relevant keywords in your title and description.
The point is, if you have spent your time and energy on writing your book, you really need to champion it in the market place. If you are self-published you also need to be self-marketed. And when you are passionate about your topic or industry it can be a real pleasure to create a vibrant community around that.