Today is a day of mistake admitting. My greatest marketing mistake is that I didn’t start soon enough. I foolishly chose a release date in Feb before I had a final version of Rebellion. Do not do this. Because I had a tight deadline I was too focused on getting my book ready and not focused on creating interest before the launch. Ideally, start thinking about marketing at least 6 months before you intend to release. You need to start engaging in the online community so that people know who you are so when you say “hey, I’m releasing my first book” people are immediately interested and excited because they know you.
Mistakes aside, here is how I’ve been marketing my debut novel Rebellion.
- Lead-time – as in, allow enough. Don’t just publish your book and then market it, put it up for pre-order on Amazon and spend some time garnering interest through the methods below.
- Join online book groups, like this one and start talking about other people’s books well in advance of release. Obviously make sure it’s within the same genre as the novel you’re writing.
- Blog about it – oh look… I’m doing that right now!
- Tweet – make sure it’s not you just pushing your book, tweet other stuff too, it can be book or writing focused but constantly plugging something annoys people.
- Instagram – I only recently discovered how important a tool Instagram is for promotion, I’d never really seen the value before. There are so many people who insta book pics with thousands of followers. Have an explore of #Bookstagram.Photo by OutoftheBex.
- Goodreads – set-up an author page so people can review your book (you can link your blog to it too) and create a giveaway through them. My giveaway garnered interest from 2,097 people and 817 people marked my book as ‘want to read’ (although sadly that number has started dropping a little). The key is to create interest in your work.
- Facebook – for me, this is more me telling my friends about Rebellion but it can be a really useful tool. Yes, my profile picture on Facebook is incredible.
- Make it a talking point – I created small flyers that said “Join the Rebellion” with a QR code on them and website link – jointherebellion.net – the QR code sends people to the website which has info on Rebellion and links to its amazon page. The reason I went about it this way is because I wanted to peak people’s interest, I want them to engage in what I’m selling and for them to talk about it.
- Books on the Underground – they leave books in London tube stations and trains for people to read. They have over 10k followers on twitter and it’s a great way to spark a conversation about your book. They also now have ‘Books on the Subway’ who I chose to use instead. This is mainly because I can’t market in America as easily and so it was important to get some traction there.
- Reviews – No one wants to buy a book that hasn’t been reviewed, especially one that’s been self-published. This is why you need to build a rapport with people before launching so that you can approach them with a review request. I personally like reviwers on goodreads as they truly appreciate the written word. I’ve found some Amazon reviewers to be quite rude (in emails to me).
- Bloggers – My friend who is a superstar in marketing told me the best way to approach this. Research your bloggers then create a table that shows their reach (add up their followers on their blog, youtube, twitter etc) and then create a tier system. Tier 1 send a book to and a personalised letter/email. Tier 2 send a press release that’s personalised and offer an interview or some sort of incentive for them to read your book. Tier 3 send a press release. Make sure you read their review policies as a lot of bloggers won’t accept self-published books, and I do understand their hesitation as a lot of people don’t spend enough time on the editing phase – WHICH YOU MUST DO. Which leads me to…
- Invest in editing – there is no use spending all your time on an amazing marketing campaign if your book lets it down because it hasn’t been professionally proofed or there’s an issue with structure that an editor would have picked up on. The greatest writers need an editor because they see what you can’t. My book was edited by Cressida Downing, who is wonderful and the Detail Devil, Pam, whose knowledge of grammar and punctuation is terrifyingly good. I am literally in awe of her. Your books needs to be structurally edited, copy edited and proofread. They are all very different processes and they need to be done in that order. The structural edit will look at the story as a whole, the copy edit gives you “accuracy, clarity and consistency” (Detail Devil) and proofreading gets the book ready for publication. However, Susan Ee, had a different approach and she’s been incredibly successful. Read her process here and I’ve talked about how you can do this for free here.
- Save – yup, save yourself some pennies because this process is expensive. I mean, you can launch a book for free but it’s a huge gamble with regards to the quality of your work (as above) and I wouldn’t recommend it. The max you should spend is £2,000 – that’s 3 rounds of editing, a cover design, flyers and free copies. Yep. Sorry.
- Have an amazing cover. My niece pointed out the other day that she doesn’t judge a book by its cover – now, she may not but I certainly do. A cover will draw attention, it’s very important in the YA market as people love to comment on cover design and it gives a first impression of what you are offering. Unless you’re a graphic designer, artist or illustrator I don’t recommend designing your own cover. I can draw and paint but I didn’t even attempt to tackle my own cover. My cover was designed by Chris Dudley, who I think is superb.
- Paperback – Reviewers love to have a paperback and so it’s important to be able to offer them one and with print-on-demand you don’t have to spend a fortune buying large stock (I’ll do a video soon on the quality of my POD copies). Book lovers will always prefer a physical version to a digital one. It also means they can photograph it, which means that people will begin to recognise your book and if they see it in an e-book store or in a shop they’re more likely to buy it. Also, you can then try and get it sold in…
- Local Bookshops – there are a few really good independent bookshops in my area. I’m planning on going into each one with a copy of my book and asking if they’d be willing to read it and then sell copies in their shop. It is possible to get into larger shops like Waterstones and WHSmith but I’m still looking into who to contact. Yes, as an author you’re probably an introvert – I certainly am, but if you want to sell books you need to really put yourself out there.
- Preview – On Amazon and Smashwords you can let readers get a free sample of a small percentage of your book. Mines relatively short, as YA novels go, so I’ve allowed for 10%, but if you have a whopper of a novel it goes up to 30%. I personally love it as a function as I’ve often bought books from samples, and only one or twice have I chosen not to buy a book. It’s sort of like letting your reader browse before purchasing.
- Price – Don’t be greedy, it won’t help you to sell your book. You may think each copy is worth £15 in e-book format but the general public aren’t used to spending that much. Rebellion is being sold at £2.99 as an e-book and £7.99 in paperback (I only make £1.23 per paperback but I don’t want to price it any higher). Kindle Direct Publishing has a good graph on this when you’re deciding your price. It’s really up to you, I don’t know the answer but I do know, for a fiction e-book, you can’t really expect people to pay more than £9.99.