Experienced authors know that writing a fantastic book is only half the battle. Marketing your book requires just as much energy and persistence if not more; this is especially true for self-published, independent authors.
This short post will share a few low-budget or free options for marketing your book.
Blogging: Establishing a blog is a great way to interact with your fans and develop new fans. You can use free platforms like Blogger or WordPress.com, or if you want something more sophisticated, you can invest in a hosted WordPress.org blog.
If you’re a fan of the look and feel of this blog, then WordPress.org might be the best option for you. I chose WordPress.org, because it was important for me to have a t-shirt shop as part of my blog, and because I wanted to have complete control over the look and feel of my blog.
Selecting a blog platform is a conversation for another post. If you need help selecting a blog platform, feel free to contact me to discuss.
Here’s an example of an author leveraging a blog to interact with fans and keep them engaged. Randolph Lalonde is one of my favorite authors, and I use his blog to stay up-to-date with the progress of his work. I followed Lalonde’s blog, so I could be one of the first to read his recently released book in the Spinward Fringe Series titled, The Expendable Few. You can see my review of The Expendable Few by clicking here.
Lalonde uses his blog not only to keep fans updated about new work, but he also uses it as a platform to get fan feedback.
Goodreads: In simplest terms, Goodreads is a social network for people who enjoy reading. As an author, it’s a fantastic place to be discovered by new readers and fans.
You receive special privileges as a published author. Not only do you get to create an “author’s profile” that links all of your published work, but if you have a blog, you get to link all of your blog posts to your Goodreads account. This is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your blog and to develop more intimate relationships with your fans.
Author of the ‘In Her Name’ series, Michael R. Hicks provides a very good example of how authors can take advantage of their profile on Goodreads.
If you’re a published author and don’t yet have a Goodreads author profile, you should sign up for one right now.
Have a contest: One of the most creative ways to market a new book on a shoe string is to have a contest. Author, Steve Umstead has done a brilliant job of marketing his new book, ‘Gabriel: Zero Point‘ with a contest.
Essentially, he rewards fans who help to promote ‘Gabriel: Zero Point‘ with gift card drawings, and he even has a grand prize in place for the most creative marketing effort for ‘Gabriel: Zero Point‘. To keep it all credible, Umstead actually posts contest winners directly on his blog and also announces winners via social media.
Steve Umstead’s example is so powerful because it encourages sharing across all of the different social media platforms, and let’s face it, everybody loves a chance to win something for free. His prizes are perfect because they are exactly what people who enjoy reading would want.
Develop a Social Media presence & interact: As with the contest example above, establishing a social media presence is a critical component to developing fans and marketing your books. For me personally, Twitter is my favorite platform for connecting with other fans and my favorite authors. In fact, all of the authors mentioned so far are active on Twitter including Steve Umstead, Michael R. Hicks and Randolph Lalonde.
I’m currently reading ‘In Her Name: Empire‘ by Michael R. Hicks because he advertised it as a free e-book via Twitter. Since starting this Science Fiction blog, I have a very long list of Science Fiction books that I want to read. It’s hard to turn down a free book that has strong fan ratings, so I moved ‘In Her Name: Empire‘ to the front of my list. Right now, I’m about 75% through the book and very much enjoying it.
The clever thing about giving this book away for free is that it represents just one of nine that he’s written in the ‘In Her Name’ series. Now that I’m hooked on ‘In Her Name: Empire,’ of course I’ll want to read the other books in the series.
I don’t think that Twitter is necessarily any better than Facebook, Google+ or any other social network. In fact, I think it’s a mistake to feel obligated to have a presence on all social media platforms. Start with one, and experiment to see if it fits your style. Once you develop a following and get comfortable with one social media platform, then you can move onto another.
The good news is that as an author, you already have the discipline to stick with something, and social media marketing requires those same skills. All successful social media marketing requires a consistent presence. You can’t just create a profile and expect people to show up if you’re not interacting.
In summary, establishing a blog, setting up a Goodreads author platform, holding a contest and engaging in social media are all very effective ways to market yourself or your books. What other effective techniques have you seen? Please share your comments below.