How To Get Your Book Noticed: Marketing for Authors

How To Get Your Book Noticed: Marketing for Authors

I recently got an email from a new author asking for advice on how to get her book noticed. I wrote her a short reply about The Long Road and The Immediate Fix. Then I got to thinking that I really didn’t cover it enough so I thought I’d try to tackle that today.

First of all, I will say that while I am a marketer with an M.B.A. from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Business in Entrepreneurial Marketing, and I started a company, Aquent (renamed from MacTemps), out of college that landed on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Company six years later at the #12 spot, I have never worked in children’s book publishing nor marketed a book.

Aquent

I do, however, know how to get bloggers to notice your book, from the backwards perspective of publishers, PR folks, and authors asking me to cover their book. And I also I think that building the brand of YOU, THE AUTHOR, is not so different from building a blog following. Over the past seven years, I built a blog audience of 100,000+ page views a month, and a social media following:

I have a Twitter following of 76,900

My Pinterest following is 143,700

My Facebook network is 6,400 (personal and PragmaticMom)

My Google + network is 11,200

My Instagram following is 7,600

My LinkedIn connections total over 3,500

and I can share with you my learnings and takeaways.

So read on if you want my 2 cents …

First of all, I noticed that publishers don’t spent a ton of time or money on most authors. Sure, if you are Rick Riordan, they go crazy with a huge marketing campaign, but for most authors, it seems to be about a three week campaign. And here’s why …

Think about how many books publishers launch each year. And when they reach out to bloggers, the emails asking for coverage can feel like too many times to the well. Bloggers like myself stop reading and responding to these requests. Blog tours get harder to set up. You see where this is going … publishers want authors to set up their own blog tours. It’s because that a personal request from an author is going to get noticed a lot more than a mass email from a publisher or a PR firm.

Marketing for books  is generally a “set piece” comprised of:

  • Advertising (consumer, trade, school, library)
  • PR (bloggers, publications)
  • ARC distribution
  • Promotions (Goodreads, school and library conferences, trade shows)
  • Author appearances (school visits, book store events, conference events)

Authors get a budget based on how many books they are expected to sell. ARCS and advertising are hard costs. PR and outreach are staff time, and I am guessing most likely email blasts to internal lists.

None of this really causes a book or an author to “break out of the pack” though. And there might be 35 middle grade books released that month from all publishers competing for air time. And that’s not including other children’s book genres!

So now the marketing burden of a successful book launch falls on the shoulders of the author, more so than it ever has.

I realize that writers are not marketers. These are two very different skills, and frankly, most authors are really not into marketing themselves or their own books. It’s completely out of their comfort zone, and it’s not their background, training, or interest.

What a dilemma! But marketing in the social media space is not the same thing as marketing in business school or for a corporate entity. It’s not “Marketing Strategy” or “segmenting your market” or 4Ps and 3Cs of marekting.

Here’s another way to think of marketing for authors:

  1. Social Media is a CONVERSATION
  2. Marketing is BUILDING A COMMUNITY

This is very different from “I’m an author plugging my book. Look at me! Read my book! Buy my book!”  You can do this!!! You really can!

social media

Where to Begin … Social Media for Authors

Setting Up Your Social Media

I wrote this post, Bootstrap Marketing 101 for Authors, that goes over different social media platforms to match up your social media platform to the audience of your book. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. You don’t have to be active every day. But you do need to know WHO your audience is (or who is actually buying your book, mom versus kid). Then, you need to find the right social media platforms for where they reside. And gravitate to the social media platforms that work for you and that you feel comfortable on.

So… pick a few social media platforms to try out and see which ones feel good to you: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Blog, Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Periscope, etc.

Personally, I hate Facebook but I like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I have more followers on video social media Flipagram than I do on YouTube. I am experimenting with Google+. I am kinda/sorta on Google+ but I post to it because it helps my Search Engine Optimization.

I wrote a post on how to use Twitter, Twitter Tips and how I got 55,000 Twitter Followers, for whom Twitter is your jam. It’s my jam.

I can write posts on how to use other platforms (Instagram, Pinterest) or direct you to power users that I personally know. Leave me a comment and I’ll direct you to helpful information if that’s you jam and you want to be a power user on that platform.

Now that you are on social media platforms, the next step is how to rock it.

Social Media is a Conversation

It’s easy to fall into the trap that social media is a kind of virtual direct marketing … like a postcard with your message that you pump all over the planet. Think of it instead of going to a cocktail party and striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know. One interaction at a time, you are making new friends (and fans), and spreading good karma.

Building Your Social Media Following

Growing your following will relate to topic 2 below, Marketing is Building a Community, but the ins and outs are very similar to how I grew my Twitter following. It’s true that different social media platforms have their own unique ins and outs of growing your base, but the fundamentals are the same:

  • Have a consistent schedule of how often you share and interact. It doesn’t have to be too ambitious but try to be predictable.
  • Share good content that relates to what you talk about but that you don’t create yourself. For Twitter, that’s retweets. For Facebook, that’s Facebook shares. For Pinterest, that’s a repin.
  • Follow those who seem interested in what you are trying to create and get in a habit of trying to grow that number weekly. Follow/Unfollow works for many of the Social Media platforms and there are apps to help do that efficiently. The idea here though is to find your tribe.

Does this make sense? Is everyone with me? Email me if you have questions.

Marketing is Building a Community

(Source: waldorphile, via off-grid-inspiration)

Source: waldorphile, via off-grid-inspiration. The idea is to take this idea into the virtual world.

The idea behind marketing is to first identify your market niche and then reach these people. You can do it in a very time efficient and cost-effective way:

Linkys: Bloggers host link ups which means your link will get read by at least one blogger and, most likely shared on social media. That’s not a bad return for a few minutes of work. I host Kid Lit Blog Hop (monthly) and #DiverseKidLit linky (twice a month) on my blog. I found a directory of Link Up Parties on My Joy-Filled Life.

Facebook Groups: Closed Facebook groups are pre-screened with like-minded individuals. Find the groups where your audience hangs out. Personally, Facebook is not my favorite Social Media Platform, but I would recommend doing Facebook searches to find your audience.

Google+ Groups: Google+ has groups too. Promote Your Book has 14,000 members. The group that I’m most active on is Great Books for Kids with 16,000 members. There are also tons of parent groups like The Go-To Parents Community with nearly 100,000 members.

LinkedIn Groups: I like the education focused groups like Elementary School Teachers of America, and International School Educators, but honestly, the dads hang out on LinkedIn and they read the posts that flash by at work.

Pinterest Collaborative Boards: Pinterest is a good place to find moms, especially if you create content via an author blog or want to post a book review. Ask the owner of the collaborative Pinterest board if you can join. It will be the first person listed on that board. I have two collaborative boards on books: Best Books for Kids with 32,400 followers and Multicultural Books for Kids with 13,400 followers.

Hashtags: For most social media, hashtags help you find and build community. You can research hashtags or go with ones you notice other people using. Are you trying to reach a certain group: educators, librarians, moms, book bloggers? Hashtags help everyone find each other. I tend to use #ReadYourWorld for diversity books, #KidLit, #EdChat, #picturebook, #chapterbook, etc. Once I researched hashtags by platform extensively, but I haven’t done that recently. Most social media platforms will show you related hashtags and trending hashtags.

The big picture to Marketing is Building a Community is to actually build a community. Usually this will be around something bigger than yourself or your book. It might take a while to find what coalesces too. This can be an organic thing. My advice here is to be yourself. Be authentic. If you are bold and want to declare what you believe in, that will help you build a community. If you don’t want to make waves or enemies, you can build community that way too. My community is loosely moms who value education and are interested in diversity and multicultural books for their kids. And it took me several years to realize that this is what I was all about.

how to market your children's book

Everything I wrote about is The Long Road. The Long Road is you building your brand. It’s like an annuity that you create. It’s portable. You own it. You can use it again and again, no matter what you decide to do with your life. You build it brick by brick in a very solid way.

YouTube

The Immediate Fix

If you are “this is all well and good but my book is coming out in six weeks and HELP! I need to do my own marketing,” let’s cut to the chase. This is your check list of what to do to build excitement before your book launches.

Blog Tour: The fastest way to set up your blog tour is to target 25 or so book blogs. Do the following for the first five blogs ONE TIME:

  1. Leave a thoughtful comment on their blog on their newest blog post.
  2. Follow them on all their social media platforms.
  3. Like and otherwise engage them on their social media.

Now go to the next five blogs on your list. Repeat. Do this for two weeks and then write them a custom email. Use their first name. Tell them that you follow them on x, y, z social media platform. Talk about their blog. Ask them if they will be part of your blog tour.

Cover Reveal: Ask one of your new blogging friends or an author with a blog to host your cover reveal. It helps to build excitement.

book trailers to market your book

Book Trailer: It doesn’t have to be fancy but make a book trailer. I use Flipagram to easily edit a video. iMovie is pretty easy too. Hire a teen to help you.

Author Kate Dopirak asked me to upload her book trailer for Your My Boo to my YouTube. I only have 55 YouTube subscribers but this video received 231 views. 

Book Trailer Reveal: Why not? Ask someone to host a book trailer reveal for you.

Book Giveaways: From your new friends on social media and blogs, ask if they want to host a giveaway of your book. Sweeten it by making a signed, personally ascribed book. If you can illustrate, add a custom drawing. You’d be surprised by how much this little touch can make a difference.

Other Giveaways: Can you find ways to promote your book with other giveaways? A t-shirt with the cover? A print of the book turned into art? It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Make the Ask: For anyone who gets a copy of your book or ARC, ask them to post a review on GoodReads and Amazon for you. And why not Facebook too?!

Make the Ask Part 2: Add that the best way for anyone to help you with your book is by Pre-Ordering it! And give the link.

build community to launch your book

Ask for Volunteers to Help Promote Your Book: Ask using any means at your disposal — email, Facebook, whatever — for volunteers to help you promote your book. Sign them up using a Google form. Then email them with instructions. If you want to get tweeted, WRITE them a tweet. Supply an image. If you want them to post to Facebook, WRITE them a Facebook post. Don’t forget to link to your book! Who can help? Neighbors, friends, family, co-workers from past jobs, your critique group, your church members … make the ask and see who wants to help.

Also ask this group to leave comments, like the post on social media, and even share all the posts on your blog tour.

Is There a Related Cause to Your Book?: You can reach out to that group and you can also promote this cause as part of your book promotion. Maybe you donate part of the revenue to the cause? Maybe you just want to help drive awareness? Maybe you want to donate books to them? Maybe you can do an event with them?

Guest Post: One easy way to get blog coverage is to offer to guest post. This works better if you have a relationship with the blogger so see Blog Tour strategy above for tips. Also, ask those bloggers who opted not to join your blog tour with their own post if you can supply content instead. There’s also Nerdy Book Club to guest blog but you need to sign up 9 months before your book launch as spots are in high demand. Ask your author blogger friends if you can guest post. Caroline Starr Rose has a great author blog that I really enjoy (and she’s an author, a full time teacher, and a blogger!). [sorry, I didn’t mean to go all Tiger Mom on you.]

Join a Collaborative Blog (or start one): KidLit 411 and From Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors are great collaborative blogs.

 

I know this is a lot of information coming at you. Pick and choose. Start small and add on. Try and experiment to see what works for you or what you enjoy doing. This is a marathon not a sprint. You will have other books in the hopper. Just like you learned to become a good writer of books, you can learn to be a good marketer of books. No one cares more about this book than you do. You are the best emissary for your book.

I hope this was helpful to you. Please share your tips for getting your book noticed! Thanks so much!

How To Get Your Book Noticed: Marketing for Authors


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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

24 Comments

  1. Sound advice as always, thanks Mia

  2. Really good marketing advice for setting up your platform. Authors have to do so much for themselves, but it is a full time job. I don’t promote myself enough, but I do all that I want to do. Need to tackle Pinterest again — overwhelmed me. But, for authors there are many excellent writing groups and author support communities to join, like 12×12 with Julie Hedlund, Tara Lazar, Susanna Leonard Perfect Picture Book (writing group too), Emma Walton Hamilton’s “Just Write for Kids,” and Mira Reisberg’s “The Children’s Book Academy”, and Rate Your Story, by Miranda Paul. Many offer writing classes in all genres, opportunities to submit to agents etc. Thought I’d add this info.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen BurkinshawMy Profile

  3. I love thinking of marketing as building a community! As a new author and an introvert, it has been a daunting experience, and one well out of my comfort zone. But I’ve “met” so many wonderful, like-minded people in the kid lit community, and that has been the best part of it, including you now too (since we met at Newtonville Books last summer!) 🙂

    I will definitely re-visit this for all of your wonderful suggestions.

    Thanks, Mia!

  4. Really appreciated the big-picture overview. Good reminders and the spirit and motivating principles fit into my values so thank you.

    I really don’t know how to find time for marketing. Rapidly switching gears, juggling, & multi-tasking the sites gets me overwelmed so I retreat into making more art (product we jokingly call it).

    But life is not perfect and artists are luckier than most.

  5. Excellent advice and suggestions not only for those who are self-published but the traditionally published author, who also must advertise her own book.
    Mona AlvaradoFrazier recently posted…Why Complaining is Useless and Protest is UsefulMy Profile

  6. Appreciate the time that you took to “lay it all out.” Completely agree that most of marketing is building a community. Writers need to get out of that glass cubicle and interact with those whose lives they are attempting to touch.

  7. Thanks for sharing your expert advice! You are a marketing queen.
    maryanne recently posted…Dress-Up Bears and More Bear-Themed Learning Activities for KidsMy Profile

  8. Mia, thanks for good advice. It’s helpful for self-published and the traditionally published author. who also must advertise her own book. Such a way to promote own books can be much more effective.

    Best regards, Keane Darren Storm

  9. Thank you for the great tips in this post! 😀
    Erik Weibel recently posted…Review! The Underground Toy Society by Jessica D. AdamsMy Profile

  10. I can’t thank you enough for all the great advice and tips you shared, Mia! This is super helpful for me and very timely 🙂 I’m saving it to reread and soak it all up for the months ahead–this is gold. I’ve also shared, though, I know most authors feel lost when it comes to marketing. Thank you!

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