By Maria Connor
One of the biggest challenges for authors—whether traditionally or independently published—is book promotion. Effective marketing requires time, knowledge, technical know-how and money, resources which are limited for most authors. Although marketing and promotion may seem daunting, there are strategies that can improve results. Here are five key points for more effective book marketing outcomes.
1. Communicate with readers by networking with other authors.
Have you ever attended a party and vowed to meet new people, only to hang out with the same circle of friends? Authors do this all the time, especially when blogging. Rather than invite other authors to visit a blog post, ask them to share the announcement on their social media channels. Reciprocate by announcing new releases, blog appearances, contests, etc. for other authors. To really leverage cross-promotion, work with authors who write within your genre.
Other ways to communicate with readers are to develop a mailing list for an author e-newsletter, monitoring and responding to comments readers leave on your social media channels, and acknowledging reader reviews.
2. Develop consistent branding.
Branding is one of those marketing concepts that sounds way more complicated than it really is. Branding is simply who you are as an author. Your brand may include a logo, a tag line, the genre in which you write, specific themes in your stories, etc.
It is important to use the same brand identifiers across all of your author platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter, print materials, swag, etc.) so readers can easily identify you from all directions. One example of consistent branding is using the same header or banner on your website, Facebook page and bookmarks.
3. Be selective.
Believe it or not, there are hundreds of marketing strategies available for authors. That doesn’t mean every author should pursue every promotional tactic. The marketing approach you decide on should be based on your resources (time, money, energy), what you enjoy and are comfortable doing, and what works. Most experts agree, however, that authors should have at least a website or blog, and a Facebook page.
4. Cultivate professional credibility. I once met someone who identified herself as a professional journalist, but when I read an article she had written, it had misspelled words, grammatical errors and did not adhere to journalistic style standards. She immediately lost professional credibility.
Authors can acquire professional credibility by educating themselves about the publishing industry, learning how to work with the media and communicating clearly, correctly and concisely. Proofread your website, keep the content up-to-date, and double-check information.
5. Maintain your inventory.
The most important strategy for effective book promotion is to retain the readers you’ve already cultivated and this means consistently providing new product. You must balance your time promoting the current release while writing the next book. Romance readers are notoriously voracious readers so keep them satisfied with well-written stories and engaging characters as frequently as possible.
Effective book promotion is not a one-step process. Authors establish a readership and build name recognition through consistent, diligent effort, much like a snowball rolling down hill. Marketing requires creativity, communication and persistence.
What book promotion strategies have you found effective? Share your suggestions and experiences!
Bio: Maria Connor has worked as a freelance writer, journalist and author in print and digital media for more than 10 years. Her marketing and editing skills include social media management, blogging, search engine optimization, proofreading, copy editing, editorial review, copy writing, book promotion, content creation, digital photography, e-publishing, graphic design, layout and AP style. She has also worked as an administrative support professional, project coordinator, event planner and budget administrator in the medical, academic, publishing and non-profit sectors. A long-time member of RWA, she has been active in the romance fiction community for more than 15 years, volunteering at both the national and local level. Her first completed manuscript finaled in the 2011 Golden Heart contest and was released as Willing to Learn from Boroughs Publishing Group in February 2013. Her next release, What Lies Beneath, will be released from Ellora’s Cave in 2014.
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You can also find Maria Connor presenting at the 2014 RWA National Conference on “I’ll Take Care of That For You: Working with a Virtual Assistant.” Date and time TBA.