How to Market a Book

Three Methods:Building Long-Term Marketing MomentumMarketing OnlineMarketing In Person

If you want your book to be bought and read by the widest audience possible, you have to let readers know that it's available – and that means marketing your book. Every author should know that the key to getting the word out about your recently-published book involves a combination of persistence, volume, and legwork. Here are some thoughts on how to effectively – and reasonably – market your book.

Method 1
Building Long-Term Marketing Momentum

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    Recognize that the best marketing campaigns began long before the book is published. The simple truth is that you will be fighting an uphill battle if you don't start building a following long in advance. Remember that market requires both a strategy, as outlined above, and an actual market of people to implement that strategy on.[1]
    • Though there is no magic formula, try taking 1-2 hours of writing time a week and turn them into "book marketing" time. As the book gets closer to publication, you can ramp up the hours spent marketing.
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    Think about 1-2 specific groups of people your writing is geared towards. You do not have the time or resources to market to every single person on the planet. Nor should you. Think instead of the groups of people who most likely want your book. What else do they read? What websites do they visit? What is the best way to reach these people? Know your exact markets to make every hour and dollar spent more effective:[2]
    • Romance writers naturally skew towards female readers, particularly older women.
    • Sci-fi and horror writers have dedicated online forums and communities where people share stories and ideas, which is a great place to market/gain feedback.
    • Literary Fiction writers often have a hard time marketing their books, but should dive deeper into the subject matter. For example, if your book features a Jewish protagonist, the Jewish Book Council often offers free marketing to their followers.[3]
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    Provide twice weekly blogs, photos, tweets, or other content to build a fan base. Twice a week is your bare minimum -- daily is far more effective. The more you show people that you create amazing work, the more likely they will be to pay for it later. There are thousands of bloggers writing daily, keeping their name on their followers feeds. If you decide to release your book without any sort of online presence, how can you expect readers to trust you over a writer they've read daily for six months?
    • Don't try to manage Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others all at once. Choose the 1-2 that best fits your and your followers, then pour your time into dominating that market.
    • The line between working on your blog and working on your novel is a tough one to draw. However, the general rule is to transition to more online writing as you get closer to publication.
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    Build a mailing list online, through your website, or in-person at reading events. Collect all of the emails you can, using a service like MailChimp to keep them all straight and in one location. The sooner you begin this, the better -- it is your number one way to directly reach fans and potential buyers.[4]
    • Put a "Sign Up for our Mailing List!" section on your website. Even better, have it pop up when the site loads.
    • Don't spam or overwrite your email contacts. One email a month is usually the maximum people have patience for.[5]
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    Nurture a following in your community long before asking them to buy your book. Word of mouth is still the single most important marketing strategy out there. It is just the hardest to implement. People recommend books to friends when they feel comfortable, love the work, and trust the author. So answer comments on your blog or twitter feed, write an article or small story for someone else's blog, go to local events and readings, and be a mainstay on online forums related to your writing.[6]
    • Search for a sub-Reddit related to your community online. If you're starting out, /r/writers is an open and generous space to share writing articles and discussion.
    • Never underestimate an in-person connection. Become a mainstay at all your local bookstores, reading series, and other literary events.[7]
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    Give away printed and physical materials (postcards, bookmarks, posters, business cards) to put your name out there. Leave a stack of these at the cash register counter of a nearby bookstore and watch your book sales pile up. Also, use these as handouts at your next book-signing event, or give them out to family, friends and colleagues. It is said that it takes 10 attempts for someone to recognize a name or brand. Get a head start now.
    • Give away copies of your last book as "promotions" for the new one.
    • Send authors and publications copies of your books as a gift. Even getting one big endorsement will help.
    • If you have a big social media presence, free giveaways are a great way to build engagement.[8]
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    Consider offering pre-orders if your community seems interested. If you can sell some books before they've even been printed, you're assured of at least some positive buzz the day it is released. Offering a discounted pre-order sale may not always work if you're an unknown writer, but well-connected or established authors can see some benefits.

Method 2
Marketing Online

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    Produce daily content to draw in new viewers and keep your name at the top of social media feeds. The hardest working authors sell the most books, especially in the days where almost anyone can publish a book online. Now that the book is done, you should be spending a few hours every single day engaging with your followers and providing short, free content to entice people to buy the book.[9]
    • The more related to your market, the better. A horror writer might review recent thrillers, a romance writer could offer relationship advice (perhaps in the voice of one of your characters), a historian can offer thoughts on current politics. Be creative about your content.
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    Advertise your book on a personal website. They enable you to be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. It is one of the cheapest yet truly efficient ways of marketing your work. You can also link your website to forge stronger business relationships with online bookstores, book clubs, and author organizations. Be sure to feature your web address on all promotional materials, both print and online, and always include ordering information.
    • If you don't have a website, you need one. It is almost impossible to sell a book and gain trust in the modern era if you don't have an online presence. Sites like Wix, Square, Weebly, and others make website easy for anyone.[10]
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    Team up with similar authors or related websites to double your outreach. Does your book feature a lot of baseball imagery and stories? Then get in touch with players, teams, blogs, and more to talk about mutually beneficial marketing. You can share their new blog posts for them, and they'll promote your book. Not only will you build a solid, important relationship, you'll both reach fans you otherwise had no chance to talk to.
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    Reach out to your personal network with a kind, well-written email asking them to help spread the word. Provide all the necessary links and information, and kindly ask them to share the book and links with several friends or family members. This not only heightens traffic for your website but also increases awareness for your book, providing key word of mouth buzz that sparks early sales. You'll be surprised at how many people want to help your book get famous.
    • Offering a free or discounted copy is a great way to incentivize people.
    • Really comb through your contact list. Unless you're always asking for money, this is one simple, easy favor you can ask of most family and friends.[11]
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    Link all of your social media accounts so they feed directly your book's sales link. Make it as easy as possible to find and buy your book. Each page on your website and every bio on social media should point back to the sales page. While you don't want to plaster the page with annoying advertisements, there are easy, subtle ways to advertise everywhere:
    • Put a banner on the top of your web page celebrating your new release. Since the banner is the same, usually, on all pages of the site, this will "follow" viewers unobtrusively.
    • Link out to your book in blog posts where appropriate. If you say, "while writing my new book," link these words to the Amazon or GoodReads page.
    • Add the link to the bottom of photo posts on social media to the book. The image is the main attraction, but it links quickly to your sales.
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    Learn to adjust site's SEO and content to fit your target markets. SEO, or search engine optimization, sounds far more complicated than it really is. To be fair, there are people that make a living doing it, but for your purposes it is rather simple. SEO is simply re-using a similar, market-targeted phrase ("sci-fi fantasy novel") repeatedly to make it more likely to show up on Google. So, in every photo description, blog post, and set of "tags" you need to use the phrase "sci-fi fantasy novel." You should know the most likely groups to buy your book already, so think of what
    • Longer, more specific phrases are most likely to work. Random House will always beat you on the Google phrase "Published Books," but they might not win "cowboy western romance novel."
    • Linking out to similar websites, and getting linked back by other blogs, will improve SEO ratings.
    • You can check your outreach and SEO by signing up for a Google Analytics account.
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    Consider buying targeted ads online though Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or Google AdSense. If you've got some money to spare, you should put it to use. You can spend as little as $5 on Facebook to reach 1,000 people, and more money will reach more people. If you think your book has broad appeal or want to give it a serious marketing kick, you'll need to spend some cash.
    • Paid advertising, on its own, will not lead to sales. You need to combine it with hard, daily work marketing your book to see results.
    • Most advertising sites let you target the type of person who sees the ad based on their interests. Make sure these match your target markets.[12]

Method 3
Marketing In Person

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    Go on whatever book tour you can afford, reading at local bookstores whenever possible. Even if you just read at the 5-6 bookstores closest to your house, this is invaluable marketing experience. And, it should be noted, your goal is not to pack the house and read to sold-out shows, though it would be nice. Your real goal is to impress the store owners and cashiers, who will recommend your book to others and order store copies.
    • Simply call up local bookstores and let them know you'd like to read. Most will be ecstatic at the chance. If you're lucky enough to have an agent, they will be able to help.
    • Always bring 20 or so copies of your book to a reading and offer to sign books or ask questions later.
    • Know that these will likely be very poorly attended. That's okay -- put on a killer show for the store owner anyway.
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    Give away copies of the book to high-profile friends or connections. This doesn't mean Kanye West, it means anyone you know connected to the book or writing world. Send a copy to your rich uncle in publishing, one to the leader of your favorite writing workshop or series, and another to your fellow author friends. While you don't want to cut into your sales, try and notice the people who are likely to drive in 3-4 more sales if given the chance to read your work.
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    Write up a short, succinct press release and send it to local newspapers and magazines. These are succinct and informative articles sent to media personnel that tells the latest-breaking news on an event, product, or service. If a news editor or TV newscast producer picks up a press release, it is sure to reach millions of people through mass media.
    • Start small -- let your hometown paper and newsgroups know that one of their own recently published a book. The smaller the group, the more likely it is you'll get noticed.
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    Ask other authors, blogs you follow, and newspapers to review your book. Thus, by achieving contact with your local media about the recent release of your book, it will result in a higher chances of getting the book review you want. This process also becomes a platform from which you can gain more book reviews. A positive book review is one of the best forms of publicity available.


  • Marketing your book can often seem like an uphill climb. However, with effective marketing armaments, the right amount of determination, and a basic understanding of self-marketing, you can make this hill much easier to climb.
  • Daily work, even in small increments, is far more helpful than infrequent chunks of marketing.

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