I think marketing it one of the hardest things we authors have to do. Isn’t writing the book hard enough? Revising? Editing? Cover designing? But now we have to sell it too?
Sometimes it can be exhausting. Never fear! I’m here to discuss some inexpensive marketing anyone can do. Trust me, I’m an introvert, and even I can do these things.
First, you should decide where the bulk of your time and money will be spent. Online? Or in person? I ask, because knowing this determines a lot of things. For instance, swag. Do you need it if you’re only promoting online? Sure, you can do some giveaways, but I daresay that if the majority of your promotion is going to be done online, you only need bookmarks. That’s it. Nothing more. Don’t waste your time or money.
However, if your focus is in-person events like school visits, book signings, panels, presentations, book clubs, etc. then you might want more than bookmarks. I will say that what you decide to get swag-wise depends on your audience.
The bottom line here is: Know what you want and who your audience is.
Second, be aware of what’s going on in your community. A lot of my publicity comes from people I meet at conferences, events, or book festivals in my local area. Once I meet a newspaper book reviewer, a magazine editor, the library administrator, or a book blogger (all people who live right here near me who are attending the same events I am!), I can solicit myself and my books to them for a Sunday book feature, a review, an event, or a blog tour.
All of the above were obtained by sending an email – after attending an event where I made the contact. I consider conferences and book signings to be opportunities to market myself as well as to gain inspiration and knowledge. It’s like a two-for-one dealio!
If you live in a rural area, or can’t afford to travel to conferences, there are a plethora of places online to do your marketing. Whenever someone asks me where I found my critique partners, I tell them the same thing that I do for marketing: Hang out where writers hang out.
Online, these are places like Agent Query Connect, QueryTracker, Facebook (lots of author-type groups here!), Twitter, and get out into the blogosphere. Every author relationship you make can lead to an increase in contacts for your marketing purposes, which in turn leads to reaching more readers. So don’t discount hanging out with authors, even though you’re trying to reach readers.
So how do you reach readers, particularly YA readers? Here’s my (possibly unpopular) opinion: Don’t worry about it. Young adults are hard to reach, because their time spent online isn’t looking up novels.
But, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter. I promise. Because librarians hang out online. They read a lot of books, as well as run/read a lot of blogs. Teachers hang out online. Parents hang out online. And 55% of YA book sales are for adults.
So I know we want to reach our “target audience” of young adults. But I propose that reaching their gatekeepers (teachers, librarians, parents) by gearing our marketing toward adults who actually buy our books (the 55%), our books will make it into the hands of young adults.
That’s my philosophy anyway.
So if all these people are hanging out online, how do you reach them? I actually think blog tours—with authors or book bloggers—are an effective way. Perhaps they don’t translate into sales, but it’s the visibility you’re going for with a blog tour, and it’s visibility that well-planned and executed blog tours provide.
Goodreads ads can reach readers. Goodreads giveaways. Goodreads excerpts. Basically, Goodreads should be your friend. Familiarize yourself with it, and use it as your time, money, and resources (giveaway copies) permit.
Other than those two things, I think the key to online promotion is to spend some time coming up with something unique. The noise online is intense, and unless you’re doing something different, your voice is just that: another voice.
So get creative! Look at the platform you’ve already built (blog, Facebook groups, contacts), and think of unique ways to expand on those. Group online event? Submit your expertise to an event/blog? Host a blogfest with a theme geared toward your book? Join a group of like-minded authors? Book a blog tour? Organize a book blitz? Run a giveaway?
No matter what you do, remember: Even one new reader/contact is success!