Independent authors must navigate a fast-paced and competitive marketing landscape to promote their books. Self-publishing as a practice continues to expand. The latest data available shows ISBN registrations for indie authors rising 21% between 2014 and 2015. With the growing success of easy-to-use self-publishing platforms like Lulu and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), many authors are also turning to bootstrapped, DIY methods to promote their books. But with so many potential options for promotion advertised to authors online, it can be difficult to know how to get started and the techniques to follow. In this guide, we advise you on how to promote your book across key digital channels to target the right audience for your genre and topic. We tell you:
- How to Understand Your Audience
- How to Design a Great Landing Page
- How to Promote Your Book on Your Blog
- How to Find Guest Posting Opportunities
- How to Submit Your Book for Reviews
- How to Promote Your Book on Social Media
Understand Your Audience(Source: stock.adobe.com) To promote your book effectively, you need to know who your audience is. Narrow it down as much as you can. What types of people would want to read a book like yours? Here’s a useful cheat-sheet of questions to ask yourself to help you figure out the particular sections of society that are highly primed to buy your books:
- What categories or genres does my book fall into? (e.g. fiction/non-fiction, fashion/photography/horror/romance/drama/thriller)
- What are the other interests of people who read books in the same categories as mine? (e.g., If they like a particular brand of horror, are they also likely to enjoy rock music, counterculture, and gruesome facts?)
- Who are the most similar authors to myself (with regard to this particular book)?
- What age range is my book most likely to appeal to?
- Is my book tailored more to any particular gender?
- Does my book appeal to people in a particular location? (e.g., If you wrote a book on the history of a town, would the people who live there have a higher incentive to read it than others?)
Design a Great Landing Page(Source: Author screenshot) Every book needs a great landing page. A landing page is a web page designed with the purpose of getting visitors to take a specific action, like buy your book. A landing page for book promotion and sales should provide information on the best features of the book, reviews from authoritative sources, some stunning cover imagery, and a “buy” button. The primary elements of a landing page are few. No headers, sidebars, footers, widgets or any other distraction from the sole aim of the page, to filter visitors through to making a purchase. Though most authors are not seasoned web designers, it is easy to create landing pages using any of the most popular website-builder platforms (we’re assuming you already have an author website - if you don’t, check out our article 10 Essential Components of an Author Website). Platforms such as Wordpress, Shopify, and Booklaunch.io all provide professional and eye-catching templates for you to market both print- and e-books.
Blog(Source: stock.adobe.com) A great landing page is no use if no one can find it. You need to start getting traffic to your website so you can filter it through to your landing page. But how? After establishing the particular audiences you want to target, you need to reach out to these audiences and start getting them into your site. Your most promising leads are the people with the magic combination of an interest in your particular type of book as well as purchase intent. Packing your website with content these people are likely to search for when looking for their next book purchase is crucial. When readers are unsure about what to pick up next, the most common digital spaces they will go for answers are the popular search engines, such as Google. But to be found in searches you need to ensure that your website, with your book landing page on, is filled with written content tailored to your specific audience. Search engines like Google rank results according to relevance. If someone searches “best books similar to X,” the top website results will be those with the highest number of relevant keywords on and with the highest number of other authoritative (high-ranking) websites linking to them. For each specific, narrow audience you have established, come up with a list of common searches people within it would type in when looking for their next book to read. Standard formats for book idea searches include “best books in [year],” “best [genre] books,” and “similar novels to [author/book].” With a good understanding your audiences, you can fill your website with high-quality blog posts related directly to these searches. Use the keywords you come up with to create search-optimized titles for your blog and write your posts to them. Be sure to include the most relevant keywords within every post (e.g., if the keywords are “best blog titles author” you would write a blog post entitled “The Best Blog Titles for Authors” including all the relevant keywords within the main text of the blog post). Regularly post search-optimized, high-quality content, targeted to the specific audiences who will be a) most likely to search for it, and b) most likely to take an interest in buying your book. One post per week should suffice. You will start to build a repository of keywords on your site related to the interests of your particular audience. This will allow you to start getting them in from searches and filtering them through to your book. Filtering them through is the easy part - in each post mention your book at least once (where relevant) and stick an ad promoting your book at the top of every blog page.
Guest Blog(Source: stock.adobe.com) As mentioned earlier, your blog will do better in the rankings if other established sites link to it. You can’t just keep sticking blog posts on your site, you need to try to get them out there to be read. A great way to do this, and at the same time bolster your digital presence and authority as an author, is to guest post on other blogs your audience is likely to enjoy. The topics you’ll cover in your guest posts will be similar to those you cover on your own blog. They should be targeted to your audience and introduce visitors to your book in a positive way. To find guest posting opportunities, you’ll have to do some research. Look for the other blogs and online magazines your audiences read, and see if they offer opportunities for guest post submissions. You can also search the keywords “guest+post” along with other keywords related to your audience’s interests. When you find a guest posting opportunity on a relevant site whose audience you think you may appeal to, keep an eye out for the submission guidelines. If it does list guest posting guidelines, follow them, as well as examples of past content, to write an impressive article within the word limit on a relevant topic. If they don’t advertise their guest posting opportunities, you can contact the blog owner with a friendly email and a pre-written post, perfect for their site and ready-to-go. Sites like these are more likely to accept your cold-submissions. As they don’t advertise the fact that they post guest contributions, they aren’t as inundated with external posts as those that do. The Topic You Write About Could Be Anything That Will Enable You To:
- Engage the type of people who read and buy your books and similar books
- Provide useful information that your audience may search for online, in standard formats
- Make use of your expertise - be it your knowledge of writing or your topic
- Positively influence the reader’s life (within the remit of your expertise)