I’m fond of telling authors that after they’ve written their book, the hard work begins—and by that I am referring to marketing and promoting. In reality, though, your book promotion plans should begin well before you start writing the book. In this post, I’ve listed those things you can do before you start writing, before you launch, and after you’ve published. Follow this list, and you should be on your way to developing a solid author platform—and selling more books.
Before you write it
Have a unique approach to a relevant topic. There are a lot of books published every year. Make sure yours stands out from the crowd for the right reasons.
Decide why you are writing a book. To make money? To establish expertise? To see yourself in print? All are valid reasons that may impact how you publish as well as market the book.
Make sure you have an audience for the book. And make sure you know how to reach them. If you plan to market strictly online and your audience is made up of non–Internet savvy readers, you may have a problem.
Build a following via social media sites. It’s never too early to start making connections with potential readers and relevant professionals via social media. There are many sites out there, but Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most common. You may also want to check out sites such as book marketing expert John Kremer’sBook Marketing Network.
Before you launch it
Create a website that features your (forthcoming) book. This one is a no-brainer.
Start building your email list. Publish an ezine and offer a free report, free chapter, or some other bonus for people to opt-in with. When you attend events, collect business cards and email addresses. Send them an email or a copy of your ezine, and invite them to opt-in.
Start blogging. This is the best way to keep your website content fresh. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with potential readers and professionals within your industry. You can also use it to establish your credibility well before your book is published.
Use your blog to ask for feedback on your book’s content. Then promise to acknowledge everyone who comments in your book. These people will feel an “ownership” in your book and will help spread the word after it launches.
Create a list of important bloggers in your field. Start interacting with them by commenting on their blogs.
Get testimonials and endorsements from pertinent people in your field. These are great promotional tools that can then go on the book cover and/or inside the book. Post them on your website and use them in news releases.
Approach associations relevant to your book’s content. Suggest ways you can work together. Perhaps you can put on a workshop or seminar, speak at an event, or write an article for their newsletter or blog.
Set up Google alerts. Stay abreast of industry news by setting up an alert in your name, your competitors’ names, and other key terms. This will enable you to jump into the online conversation in a timely manner.
Have your manuscript edited by a professional. Ensuring that your content is top-notch will go a long way in making your reputation is top-notch.
Have your book cover designed by a professional. Don’t skimp on this very important sales tool. A professional book cover designer will ensure your book stands proudly next to any other book on the shelf.
Create your own competition. Create a competition on your website or on Twitter (Tony Eldridge has written an excellent book on Twitter contests) with copies of the book as prizes. Follow up with those who entered but didn’t win and offer them a discount to purchase your book
Offer the book as a prize on other websites and blogs. You should have already put together a list of blogs and websites where your book could potentially be promoted. Offer the blogger or website owner free copies of your book to be used as competition prizes.
Send out free copies of the book. Don’t skimp on this important aspect of promotions. It’s a great way to garner reviews and endorsements. Send out copies to influential bloggers and journalists.
Pull out excerpts of the book to use as articles. Post them on free article sites that are available all over the Internet.
Create and post videos. Keep videos short and sweet (under 10 minutes) and publish on YouTube and your own website, as well as other sites.
Schedule a launch day. Pick one specific day and make sure plenty of activity is planned around this day. Notify your email list, post some videos to YouTube, hold a webinar, plan some guest blog posts. All that activity should go a long way in creating momentum.
After you publish it
Offer a chapter as a downloadable PDF. Post one of your book’s chapters on your website as a free, downloadable file. Encourage readers to share it with others. Include a summary of the rest of book to encourage people to buy it.
Publish the book’s table of contents on your website. Include a brief overview about each chapter. Optimize the page for search engines.
Organize an online virtual book tour. Touring the country to physically visit bookstores is cost prohibitive for most authors—and not all that effective unless you are a celebrity. Arrange a tour online with virtual stops at websites and blogs. You’ll gain maximum exposure for minimum costs.
Encourage people to write a review of your book on Amazon.com. Ask everyone who gets a copy of your book to publish a five-star review of your book on Amazon.
Publish reviews and testimonials of the book on your website. Include reviews from Amazon.com and other sites where your book has been reviewed, as well as any testimonials you’ve received.
Arrange interviews with bloggers in your genre and radio hosts interested in your subject matter. This is a win-win since it provides them with valuable content and you with valuable publicity. Include these as part of your virtual author book tour initially, but you can continue to schedule interviews even after your initial publication. As long as your book is for sale, the promotion push should be ongoing.
Makes sure you always have copies of your book with you. I’ve had clients sell 20 or more copies out of their trunk or waiting in line at the post office. One author I know gave away a copy of his book to an executive, who ended up ordering dozens of copies for his company.
And don’t stop with this list. There are dozens more things you can do to promote your book. Get creative, be persistent, and watch your book sales go up.