It’s Penn Week at A. Victoria Mixon, Editor, with Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers. Joanna is the author and self-marketer of her self-published thriller, Pentacost.
Writing and publishing your book is just one part of the author journey. Once it’s out there in the world you need readers, and whether you are traditionally published or independent you can benefit from knowing the basics of online marketing.
1) Create your online home
You may have a book sales page on your publisher’s site or Amazon, but the best place to start marketing is your own home on the web. A static website is a good start—a blog is even better, as you can easily customize it to fit your personality. Decide on a theme that suits your subject matter and genre.
The first thing to add is a link to buy your book. Use a ‘Buy the Book’ page so readers can easily buy from all online sites or use Amazon embed code to put a widget on your sidebar. Make it perfectly clear how to buy and also how to connect with you.
2) Produce regular quality content
Search engines love updated, keyword-rich sites, and the best way to get regular attention is through blogging. The most important aspects are first choosing your niche carefully, then being consistent, useful and interesting in your articles. When you provide value, readers develop the habit of coming to your site to learn and enjoy. This is the core principle of content marketing.
3) Go where the market is
You can’t just stay on your own site if you want to attract attention to your book sales page. You need to find your readers. Research other blogs in your niche and offer them guest posts. Check out Goodreads and Shelfari and join in reviews and conversations on other books in your genre. Readers will click through to see your page soon enough.
Submit your book for review to many of the book review blogs within your niche. They can be a bit hard to find, but a simple Google search for “book review” and your genre works—nothing high-tech. Personally, I host Mystery Thriller, reviews of thrillers and mystery novels. Research review sites well, and make sure your book fits their standards. There’s no point sending horror to a romance review blog!
You may even consider paid advertising on a monetized review site like Kindle Nation, if you have a budget for marketing. I target Kindle-specific websites for my novel, Pentacost, as well as giving my blog readers free copies in exchange for reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, where book buyers are.
This takes time but is incredibly rewarding. Use your blog to promote other authors and blogs within your niche. Comment on others’ sites and join discussions, connecting on social networks. Once you have made an initial connection, you can email and suggest a mutually-beneficial article exchange or review of each others’ books.
There is an etiquette around these types of online relationships, so make sure you start developing them well in advance of your book promotion. The relationship is not all about the marketing. Make it a real connection.
5) Be sociable
Social networking sites are a huge source of attention for book sales pages, as readers recommend books to friends, sharing reviews and author interviews. Join at least one of the sites, like Facebook or Twitter, so you can engage with other writers and readers. Focus your time on joining conversations and providing useful and entertaining resources readers can pass on.
Along with search engines, social media is one of the best ways to gain attention, especially as even Google is now tweaking rankings to include realtime updates.
6) Be seen
Video is a hugely under-utilized marketing resource for authors, who are often shy and not tech-savvy. When you embrace video, you have the chance to stand out from the crowd.
Video search is growing, as bandwidth and mobile devices improve. Google, which owns YouTube, is currently investing in voice-recognition tools to improve the search engine capability of video. Well-done book trailers are a great means of attracting attention, as are video interviews and video blogs. You can buy a Flip camera cheaply or just use your webcam to get started.
Humans communicate through body language, and you can tell a lot about someone from a few seconds of watching them talk. Readers are more likely to buy from people they know, like and trust, especially if they listen to your voice for 30 minutes a week and hear you laugh or read your book aloud.
7) Be heard
Millions listen to audio programs on their commute, while exercising or during household chores. It’s a great way to be educated or entertained. Produce a podcast of your book or as an interview series, starting with a short teaser to be used in other podcast shows between segments. The software is free and easy to use, and you can submit your podcast to iTunes to reach a bigger audience. You can also submit your podcast novel to PodioBooks.com. Podcast novelists like JC Hutchins, Scott Sigler and Philippa Ballantine have gone on to print publishing success after gaining audio audiences for their books.
Even when you choose only a couple of these methods for marketing, you put yourself ahead in the game. There are millions of books for sale. How will yours stand out?
Joanna Penn is the author of Pentecost, a thriller out now on Amazon.com. She can be reached through her blog, TheCreativePenn: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing and Twitter.