Some while back, LDS Publisher invited me to write a guest blog sharing some of the ways I have marketed my books online. First, I’d like to thank her for this opportunity and recommend that you begin by reading, if you haven’t already, her own blog on Creating the Buzz. I will try not to cover too much of the same ground.
As suggested by LDS Publisher’s blog title, marketing really begins with what’s called “buzz”. I have heard it said that a potential reader needs to read or hear the title of a book a minimum of ten times before he or she will consider buying a book by an unfamiliar author. Creating buzz is how we get the name of our books out there, so that eventually a potential buyer will begin to think, “I’m hearing and reading a lot about this book lately. Maybe it’s time I check it out!”
Here are some of the ideas I have used for creating “buzz” for my medieval novels, Loyalty’s Web and Illuminations of the Heart:
Create and maintain a website. Websites are more static than blogs and, in my opinion, not as much fun, but they are an important centralized source of information and will often be the first place a reader looks to learn more about you and your books.
Create and maintain a blog. Blogs are a lot more flexible, and in my opinion, much more fun than websites. Blogs are a good place to record random and not so random thoughts about your writing or anything in your life or the world that happens to strike your fancy. They’re good places to make announcements about your books, do interviews with other authors, write book reviews, and hold contests for copies of your books or other people’s books. Blogs are pretty much limited only by your imagination.
Celebrate the “milestones” of your book by holding contests. Hold a contest when you sign your book contract. (I gave away a box of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates when I signed mine.) Hold a contest to celebrate the unveiling of your cover art. (I gave away a framed print of a medieval-themed painting to celebrate the new “medieval” cover art for Loyalty’s Web.) Hold a contest to celebrate your book becoming available for pre-order or order on DeseretBook.com or Amazon. (I gave away gift certificates to both online bookstores towards the purchase of copies of Loyalty’s Web…and the winners were honest with their win and bought copies of my book. And at least one of those buys resulted in both a new fan and now a very good friend.)
Make up your own milestones and celebrate them with your potential readers!
NOTE: When holding a contest, ask a question about your book that forces the entrants to read your cover blurb or the first chapter of your book (posted on your website or blog) to find the answer, then have them email the answer to you to enter. That way, entrants might be intrigued enough by your book to buy a copy, even if they don’t win your contest.
Advertise your contests everywhere you can…on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and LDS Publisher. Do the same when your book gets a good review. Even if people don’t enter your contests, just seeing you post about it creates a sense that “things are going on with your book”. I had a woman email me, saying she’d been following the progress of Illuminations of the Heart on Facebook (through my status updates), and offered to review a copy for her review blog, Library of Clean Reads and if she liked it (which she did), recommend it to her reading group. So you never know who might be watching those status updates of yours!
By the way, never refer to your book as “my book” when you advertise or blog about it. Always refer to it by its title. Remember, your goal is to get people familiar with the TITLE of your book, not merely the fact that you’ve written one.
Donate copies of your book for giveaways on other people’s blogs, and be willing to return the favor. Be satisfied with small turnouts for your contests. Another recent personal example: I held an online “book release party” on my blog for Illuminations of the Heart, where I gave away a small, “illumination” themed prize every hour for eight hours. I only had a very small handful of people actually enter my hourly contests. But one of the women who won a prize subsequently went out and bought a copy of Illuminations of the Heart. She liked it so much, she not only posted reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but FIVE other book review sites that she found online. So again, you just never know…seemingly small turnouts may result in very large results! And again, the advertising will still catch people’s eyes.
Be observant. Look at what other people are doing to promote their books, then copy or adapt their ideas to your own needs. Remember ideas, like titles, are not copyrightable.
Here are some important links that can help you create “buzz” for your books:
- Join Facebook: www.facebook.com
- Join Goodreads: www.goodreads.com
- Become a Goodreads Author at: http://www.goodreads.com/author/program
- Join Twitter: www.twitter.com
- Join Amazon Author Central: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
- Join Your Neighborhood and Friends (http://yourldsneighborhood.ning.com
- Sign up to have the first chapter of your book appear as a Daily Chapter distributed by LDS Bookcorner (http://www.ldsbookcorner.com). Contact Deanne Blackhurst at firstname.lastname@example.org (Be sure to get your publisher’s permission!)
Good luck and happy buzzing!
I'd just add a couple of things: make your book titles links to more information about the book or to where you can buy it; and always provide links to your website and blog when you do a guest blog somewhere. :)
See what Joyce has done to create buzz about her books at her website and her blog.