Sometimes the best way to market yourself is to have other people do it for you. Your true fans and readers are passionate, loyal, opinionated, honest and willing to share what they love with others…. and would probably love some extra cash and discounts on books. In this blog we will discuss a couple of easy and free outlets where readers can share what they love and earn cash in the process.
Smashwords is an e-book distributor and publisher with the capability to convert and format Microsoft Word versions of books into downloadable e-books. They also have an affiliate program, which is what you should tell your readers about. Anyone can sign up and then earn cash based on the amount of traffic they direct to the Smashwords site via hyperlinks. Affiliates have the potential to earn 11 percent plus of the net sales they influence. As an author you can opt to increase the affiliate commission to encourage extra promotion for your books. Smashwords also provides authors the option to offer coupons. You can determine what you would like to offer, whether it be a percentage off any of your books, free books, or a monetary discount. Amazon also has an affiliate program. Again, anyone can sign up for this program and earn money for recommending products, advertising products, or reviewing products, etc. You can also host contests, offer rewards, free books, discounts, etc. via your website or blog or social media pages for those of your fans that promote your book the most.
You are essentially encouraging word-of-mouth marketing, which is one of the most powerful tools for getting noticed in today’s marketing world. The only difference is that this kind of fan based marketing benefits BOTH you and your readers greatly.
A press release is a simple, yet essential part of book marketing and promotion. It alerts figures in the media that there’s something new to talk about in the entertainment world. If your press release is intriguing enough, those media figures will want to share it with their massive audiences. The basic guidelines to adhere to when writing a press release are as follows:
- Keep it to one page
- Be straight forward. A release is meant to be informative and factual. Do not try to “sell” or promote via a press release.
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- Come up with a bold, catchy headline
- Send the release to specific individuals
- Set up a Google Alert for any mentions of you or your book. There is a chance that you may not be contacted if a reporter decides to publish a story about you.
- Bronwyn Hemus advises on her blog that you shouldn’t send a free copy of your book with your release. She says doing so can make you seem desperate. It can also be a waste of your money if the journalist, blogger, media figure, etc. doesn’t like your release and then tosses your book in the trash. You can read more of her advice regarding press releases here.
- Bryan Heathman, the president of Made for Success, wrote an article outlining the structure of a press release piece by piece and paragraph by paragraph. You can read through his guidelines and advice here.
While being able to format and structure your press release correctly is important, what is more important is knowing how to make it interesting. A book launch in itself is not all that interesting to a journalist or blogger, but if there is an external story surrounding you and your book then it becomes noteworthy. “Blogs, newspapers, TV reporters, they want to share a story that’s interesting, unique, thought-provoking, novel, fun. They want something that makes you go “Oh!” A press release about a book is boring. ANY book. You publishing a book is not news. You need to DO SOMETHING that makes you newsworthy,” (Derek Murphy, The Creative Indie). Derek says that you can market your book indirectly by “turning your book into an event.” He encourages authors to come up with big, inspiring, fun events/activities that will catch the attention and participation of people and in turn the media. He mentions a few ideas in his article , “How to really write a press release (that actually sells books).”
Be creative, get involved in your community, host an event, enter into exclusive, difficult, prestigious contents and then write your press release. You will have a better chance at getting noticed if you become more than just a person who wrote a book.
Don’t think of other authors as just your competition (even though they are), but also think of them as potential mentors, promoters, friends, fans, reviewers and sources of inspiration. For this blog we will discuss the marketing benefits of recruiting other authors to promote your written works.
Marketing is difficult and no matter how well or how often you advertise, you can only reach so much of your targeted audience. Remember that you are not alone in the book marketing world. There are many authors experiencing the same things as you. R.S. Guthrie offers these words of wisdom regarding cross promotion, “The point is if we, the isolated ones, begin to depend on each other, and we work as a network of not just writers but readers and communicators—then there is a chance for us all. If we read each other’s work, if we help edit and proofread and suggest, then the word slowly begins to spread. If we socialize our efforts—if we Tweet and we Facebook and we Link IN and Blog OUT—then the word spreads even faster”.
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Cross-promotion with other authors expands your potential fan/reader network, is cost effective, and offers a priceless and unique learning experience. You can learn and hone marketing techniques from other authors and if they do something for you that works, then you can continue using that method to promote yourself and to promote other authors as well.
A successful cross-promotion campaign begins by selecting authors that write in a similar genre as yours and have a similar target audience. “Other authors in your genre can be your biggest fans and promoters. Build on-line relationships with other authors, and use your social media channels to promote each other’s books. There are many Facebook groups for authors, communities on Google +, websites, and online networks for authors,” (iUniverse). There is a cross-promotion group on Goodreads that was created just this year. You can join and add people here. Side note: be prepared to promote other authors in the same ways you ask them to promote you.
Deatri King-Bey crafted a list of cross-promotion ideas on the blog Become A Successful Author. Some of her ideas include:
- Inviting authors to be guest writers for your blog
- Create an entirely new blog in partnership with several other authors
- Announce “book birthdays” (new book releases) and cover reveals of your favorite authors
- Set up a scavenger hunt
- Host a Twitter party
Other ideas were found on books.draebox.com.
- Virtual interviews on youtube, blabchat, snapchat
- Review & recommend other author’s books on social media, Goodreads, Google+, etc.
- Take over each other’s accounts
- Share & re-tweet posts
- Split the cost of advertising & promote each other’s work
- Narrate each other’s books on Audible
- Feature authors on your website, blog, social media, etc.
- Recommend other author’s books in the back of your own novel and explain why
- Post photos of you reading other author’s books and tag them
Drae offers many more ideas which can be found here.
Other authors are not your enemy and you are not alone. Once you believe these two facts to be true you can join forces with the rest of the writers out there and begin to market/promote/advertise in ways you could have and should have been doing all along. If all writers worked as teams, it is guaranteed that there would be an increase in awareness, sales, readers, and an element of fun in marketing for all involved.
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Marketing a book or anything really can be difficult, time consuming, and the benefits are not always immediately recognized. Keep entering competitions, keep asking for reviews, keep giving out copies of your books, continue posting on social media, blogging, and attending events no matter if you don’t see much success right away. Compare it to wanting to lose weight or gain muscle. No one could ever lose a significant amount of weight or gain muscle in just one day. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, or even a year to see what your healthy living efforts have accomplished, but you will see success whether large or small. Promoting yourself and your written works is no different, s0… DON’T GIVE UP! “Promoting your book is not a task that you can do in a day, a week or even a month. Often, the fruits of your efforts won’t be immediately evident. It takes time and persistence to get your book noticed. Be prepared for some rejection, but remember to celebrate every achievement,” (iUniverse 10 Tips for Marketing Your Book).