Book Promotion FAQs for the Self-Published Author
Today like no other time in publishing, authors can successfully go directly to readers by self-publishing. Here’s are some considerations to successfully compete in the marketplace with traditionally published books.
Hire an Editor: Engage a professional editor (and proofreader) and a designer for the interior and exterior of your book. The book must be flawless to compete with traditionally published books.
Distribution: Though eBook readers are growing in number, it is wise to publish both a physical copy and an e-version of the book to gain the widest distribution and sales options—Amazon, B&N, Sony, Apple Store, Kobo, etc., and placement in brick and mortar book and retail stores.
Get An Imprint and Publishing Company Name and Website: To get in the door with media contacts and readers make a quality impression and show the book is a serious endeavor by using a publishing name. With self-publishing and Print On Demand (POD) on the rise, the volume of books in the market has tripled in recent years. But the number of readers and media contacts have not kept pace. Only stand-out quality gets their attention.
- There are fewer book review departments and reviewers at top publications, and they are loaded down with books.
- Your own imprint establishes credibility. Your website should look equal to a serious publishing company, since reviewers will refer to the source.
To compete with traditionally published books, follow the their standard as closely as possible
Get Paid Reviews from Recognized Book Review Publications: In traditional publishing, there are a number of pre-publication trades that cover books before they are released and these dictate how the book is received by the book industry and literary media and book retailers. Before the book is published, traditional publishing houses send out pre-release copies for reviews prior to publication. This creates awareness and a favorable reception for the book.
Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Book Review and Foreword Reviews offer fee-based reviews for self-published books. Self-publishers can compete by purchasing reviews to increase pre-publication awareness.
Submit to Book Awards: Here are sites that list awards for self-published books:
Build Your Online Platform/Brand: So that media and readers notice your book, you need a message that is distinct and identifies you—is your recognizable brand—in the marketplace. This is created over time, about a year to 6 months before your book launches. This is a website, a related Facebook or Blog page that is professional, and all carry the ideas of the book.
- Website: About the Author, About the Book, Appearances, Media and Contact. A Blog is beneficial if you can commit to creating original and relevant content on a weekly basis.
- Social Media Platform: Whether you choose to blog or use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., build your social media network early, at minimum 3 months before your book launches. Engage your social media networks to create buzz for the launch of your book with contacts, fans, friends and family.
- Exceptions: Some books, especially nonfiction, don’t need Social Media for an effective strategy, and can choose essays and articles about their expertise and buildl relationships with local bookstores, retailers, and their book community directly.
- Email/Social Media Campaign: Your personal contact list is priceless for book promotion. An email marketing tool can send out an the news prior to the release of your book and generate increased interest.
- Ask your Social Media contacts to post an Amazon review, or blog review, and share thoughts about the book with their network. Offering a free book or other prize, like an eReader, can be an effective incentive.
THE MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Planning: Create a targeted list and pitches for print, online and broadcast media in local, regional and national markets. Timing is important so the following scenario is ideal:
- 3-6 months before publication: Create media list, media kit and pitch for galley mailing to get pre-pub reviews. Create a media list, media kit and pitch for book mailing to long lead media (print magazines and newspapers).
- 1-2 months before publication: Create targeted lists for online media (including bloggers) and broadcast media (radio/TV). Send books only when media contacts respond to email/phone pitch and request books for review.
Events: For self-published, first-time authors in particular, build local engagements first, because they allow you to draw from a built-in fan base of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Being part of a reading series or joint events with other locally recognized authors, personalities or organizations also offer a way to build on an existing audience, and can increase attendance and sales.
Independent bookstores are generally open to local self-published authors. In most cases however, they will not order the book through their store, but will ask the author to bring his/her own books for a 40/60 or 50/50 split of book sales between author and store. If the event goes well, the store might keep 5-10 copies on consignment and if those copies sell, they might consider ordering more.
Success: For self-published authors, recognition doesn’t come overnight. Once the book is out it will take on a life of its own. Remember you are a successful writer for having had the discipline, courage and patience to complete an entire book and make publishing a reality.