Image: Matthew Loffhagen
Welcome to Part 2 of our advice on what you need to do once you’ve published your book. In Part 1 (available here), we covered the psychology of post-publication, the three-book rule, and the value of different types of review. Here in Part 2, we’ll delve into expanding your platform, using social media to your advantage, how an author site and blog can work for you, advertising, book tours, and using book categorization to attract an audience, as well as how all these disparate parts knit together.
While that might sound like a lot, remember that they’re all just tools you can pick up and discard to suit your own approach. It’s good to have options, and your long-term goal should be to find a marketing approach that suits you. That’s a lot easier to do when you have a few different avenues of approach, which is why my first piece of advice is to…
Expand your platform
The best long-term promotional measure to take once you’ve published your book is to extend your platform. Social media gives you direct access to readers and potential readers alike, so you need some kind of presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. YouTube isn’t a must, but if you think you have the time and skill to make video content, it will expand your audience and help you create content to make you more visible on the other sites, where rarer content (like video) tends to get top billing.
You don’t need to be posting every day, but you do need to be visible when your readers come looking. Not only does this signal that you’re a professional author (and, remember, you are), it gives them ways to signal their appreciation of your work. If you provide some blogs, reviews, images, or videos, you make it easier for them to share your content, which can vastly increase your advertising reach. Unless you’re a sultan writing for the fun of it, there’s no way to get thousands of people to spontaneously and gleefully advertise you to their friends, but keep making it easy to do so, and they’ll do it on their own.Finding a modern audience is far, far easier if you’re on social media.Click To Tweet
That’s the social media you really should be on, but there are other options if you want to put your back into promoting your work. Sites like GoodReads, Bookstr, LibraryThing, and Riffle Books are packed with users who are likely to be in your target market, so if you’re comfortable with online spaces, it can help to establish a presence here, too. Whichever sites you’re on, make sure you’re active around publication and any big marketing pushes – this is when readers need to see you as an active presence in the market.
On top of social media, create a website and (if possible) a blog. The majority of readers will interact with you solely through social media, but having an online home base is still beneficial. There are still readers who prefer a dedicated site, and a little effort will help you appear in online searches. You can also furnish media resources, making it easier for reviewers and journalists to discuss your work (and thus increasing the chances that they will).
Author blogs are useful because they’re an easy way for prospective readers to check out who you are and how you write. They also create content to share on social media, so while it may seem like a lot of effort to keep up a consistent blog schedule, remember that every piece you write isn’t just one article – it’s content for every network you’re a part of and a resource fans can use to promote you in their own networks.
For more advice on running a site and author blog, check out:
- The 6 Essential Features Of A Fiction Writer’s Website (And 1 Bonus You Should Try)
- 3 Things You Should Be Writing About On Your Author Blog
- How To Have Your Author Blog And Write For It, Too
Again, it’s a good idea in general to have a site and blog, but make sure they’re especially active around publication and any specific marketing pushes. Give potential readers a reason to keep you in mind. You should also use these resources to create an email list, giving you a direct line to people interested in your work. This is a great aim to keep in mind – make it a focus of giveaways and your personal site, because being able to contact fans directly can be a lifeline when other methods let you down.
Advertise and organize a book tour
Direct advertising is another step to take after you publish. By this, I don’t really mean banner adverts and book trailers. Targeted use of these measures can pay off, but the majority of authors report making a loss.
Book marketing services are more effective, especially when combined with some limited-time offers. Various online bookstores allow you to reduce prices for certain amounts of time – Amazon even have ‘countdown days’ where your book’s price plummets and then gradually increases, netting you the publicity of a steep price drop but mitigating the loss of income as more people hear about the deal. There’s no better time for these measures than when you can boast about them in interviews and reviews, and some of the better book marketing services will only include your book if they can offer their subscribers a deal.
Organizing a digital book tour – a series of reviews, interviews and deals hosted on different sites – is one of the best ways you can publicize your book after it’s released. This reaches a large audience and can give the sense of a reader hearing about your work from multiple sources, creating a sense of ‘buzz’.
Book tours can be hard to organize on your own. The basic model is to research a lot of sites that you’d like to appear on and then start sending out emails. If this is the approach you take, be willing to work with whatever type of content they want to produce. Some sites will want to do a particular type of review, some will have a standard set of questions they ask of a ‘guest author’, and some may require you to write your own content which they’ll then host. Make it easier for sites to host you by being flexible and doing some research before reaching out.
Of course, you don’t have to do this yourself. There are plenty of companies that will organize a book tour for you, often reaching a larger audience by utilizing existing contacts to get you on sites that wouldn’t have considered you alone. As with anything, you get what you pay for, but it’s worth looking into businesses like Xpresso Book Tours, Rockstar Book Tours, Goddess Fish Promotions, Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR, and Bewitching Book Tours if you have the budget to pursue this option. If you prefer the idea of going it alone, services like Written Word Media and Author Marketing Club can point you in the right direction.Organizing your own book tour is possible, but a business with existing contacts can make life easier.Click To Tweet
Your book tour could include an actual literary event – most events sell tables just like any other convention, so take a pile of books, be friendly, and make some lifelong fans.
Categorization and keywords
One final tip is to keep an eye on your book’s online categorization. Often, books fit into more than one genre – especially if categories are really broken down – and their definitions aren’t fixed. As you publish a book, choose an accurate set of keywords, but keep the competition in mind. On Amazon, specific subcategories also register under the main category, so if you categorize your book as ‘Crime Fiction – Organized Crime’, it’s also listed under just ‘Crime Fiction’. Why does this matter? Because while you want readers to find you under ‘Crime Fiction’, it’s much harder to get into the top ten of that huge category. In contrast, ‘Crime Fiction – Organized Crime’ still gets you listed in the main category, but it also means you’re competing against far fewer books in your subcategory. When that’s the case, you’re much more likely to be a bestseller within that group, which you can then mention whenever you’re trying to attract readers.Choosing the right category can change how your book is received.Click To Tweet
On most online bookstores, you can even change your categorization and keywords, so if your choice isn’t working out (or if you feel like you’ve already gotten everything you can from that market), you can go ahead and make a new selection.
Here’s a video (< 4 min) by Dave Chesson on how to add more book categories to your book on Amazon.
Tie it all together
The important thing to keep in mind about all of the above is that it all fits together. You can use an interview to let people know about your table at a literary event, you can use the experience of running that table as the subject of a blog post, you can share that blog post on all your social media and include a link to your discounted first book that garners a few reviews and pushes you up the rankings.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that if this article was one point long, you’d have far fewer ways to get your work out there, and finding readers is ultimately the name of the game. Experiment, learn, make ‘little and often’ your manta, and you’ll have found the best way to make a mark in the self-publishing market.
What’s worked for you, what hasn’t, and what post-publication tips would you offer to other authors? Share your wisdom in the comments, and check out 6 Things You Should Know About When To Self-Publish and Everything You Need To Know About Guerrilla Book Marketing for more great advice.