After sharing how my co-author and I wrote and launched a book in (almost) thirty days, I wanted to have a simpler episode geared toward YOU. Here are some ways to market your book while you write and where to stop wasting your time.
You want to write a book. You want to self-publish (or, as I like to say, publish independently) on Amazon and/or other retailers.
Ick. Overwhelm. No. Help!
If that is YOU, then I want to help make this a little more accessible. Ready for it? Here are some tips for marketing your book WHILE you write.
HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK WHILE YOU WRITE
Many of you might think that you don’t want to market while you write. You want to write a book and THEN figure out marketing.
That’s not BAD…necessarily. But you want to talk about overwhelm? That is someone who has written a whole book and now thinks, “Oh, I guess I should consider marketing.”
Honestly, even if you aren’t taking steps to think about marketing actively, you should at least consider marketing in terms of where your book FITS.
What category does it go in? What are the reader expectations for that category? What do the covers look like? How long are the books?
Those are things to consider before or AS you write. I mean, if you want to sell books. If you are just writing a labor of love, then do what you want. But I’m assuming that I’m speaking to people wanting to SELL books. In that case, you should look at the market, even if you aren’t marketing.
But here is my very big, very simple advice on marketing while you write:
Write everyday. Do one marketing task daily.
That’s it. The end. Simple.
Too simple? Yep. So, let’s dive into some things that you can do daily.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 171 – MARKETING YOUR BOOK WHILE YOU WRITE
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!
DAILY MARKETING TASKS
I’d honestly love to make a freebie for this. I probably will… soon. But not today.
Overall, I would say that you should focus on things that have lasting power, like building an email list. Create a freebie that relates to the series you’re launching, or give away a teaser of a few chapters in exchange for an email address with a site like Bookfunnel, Story Origin, Book Cave, or Prolific Works.
Join author group promos and send paid traffic to that freebie to grow your readership WHILE YOU’RE WRITING. So huge. When you go to launch your book and you have even a few hundred subscribers, that’s POWERFUL!
Some potential marketing tasks to do one day at a time:
- Pick categories on Amazon that might work for your book
- Look at other book covers in your genre
- Take note of other blurbs for books in your genre
- Research keywords
- Set up your author profile on Bookbub
- Add your books under your author profile on Bookbub
- Set up your author profile on Goodreads
- Add your books on Goodreads
- Come up with cover concept
- Order a cover
- Start a short story, prequel, bonus scenes, or first chapters teaser to use as a reader magnet/freebie
- Order cover for reader magnet (I do paid covers for these too)
- Write description for reader magnet/freebie
- Create email welcome sequence for reader magnet to promote the preorder of book 1
- Promote your reader magnet/freebie
- Send paid ads to reader magnet/freebie
- Post in appropriate Facebook groups/social media about reader magnet
- Format reader magnet and upload to Bookfunnel (I use Vellum to format, but you could use Draft2Digital or just format in word)
- Write description for the book
- Set up preorder (if you’re going to do a preorder)
- Claim the book with your pen name through Author Central (more on that here)
- Start sharing preorder with your email list and on social media
- Create graphics to promote the book
- Join a bunch of FB reader groups (see below for tips on good/bad groups)
- Join a few author groups for the genre
- Start setting up newsletter swaps in the YA swap groups
- Post engaging content like graphics and teasers on social media
- Sign up for author takeover in YA academy group
- Start FB ads to the reader magnet
- Email list about the new series
There are so many more things you could do. But this is a start.
THINGS TO STOP DOING TO “MARKET” YOUR BOOK
This is where (if you listen to the audio) I get a little rant-y. Now, hear me: there isn’t always ONE way to do things. So, take this with a grain of salt. BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING, these things will not help you sell more books. Period.
Wasting Time on Social Media
Realize that if you think that building your Facebook likes or Twitter followers is going to sell books, you’re probably wrong. Email sells more books. Focus on email lists, not follower counts.
Facebook is amazing for groups and collaborations and newsletter swaps with other authors, but many authors go into FB groups for a genre and then just drop links to their books. Any group that is filled with authors dropping links to books with no likes or comments is a WASTE OF TIME. Look for actual reader groups with actual readers and see what their rules are for self-promo. Or just listen and learn what readers in your genre like.
Designing Your Own Book Cover
I once designed my own book cover. In the time it took me to create a cover (and I’m okay at stuff), I could have paid someone $15 on Fiverr to do it better and saved myself hours. Unless you’re GREAT at book cover design (not just graphics) you’ll waste time and money and lose sales because your book cover won’t hold up against other books in your genre. Stop it.
Blogging isn’t dead. But it’s shifted. People don’t read blogs like online diaries anymore. Authors didn’t get this memo. They either write blogs that are diary-esque (which really only appeal to hardcore fans) or they write blog posts that are not to the right audience. An example of the second one is a fiction writer blogging about writing tips. That attracts other authors and writers, not the people who’ll read your romance novels.
If you want to drive sales on your blog, you’ll have to actually take the time to create a content strategy based around things your readers are already searching for. You’ll use things like SEO (search engine optimization) and Pinterest to actually drive long-term traffic and then have your site set up for sales. This is a lot of work. Your efforts are likely better spent elsewhere.
Making Bookmarks and Swag
I’m biased because I hate bookmarks. But even beyond that, bookmarks don’t sell books. They’re fun. If you have time and money to put into swag, cool! But don’t make this a priority. This isn’t how most readers FIND a book. So, if you’re focused on sales, then stop focusing on swag. Superfans like swag. But if you’re working on your first book(s), you don’t have enough superfans to make this important.
Setting Up a Patreon
There have been some successful Patreon campaigns for books. But FOR THE MOST PART, this adds one more thing to do and dilutes your effort. When you sell a book, the most important thing is driving traffic TO THE BOOK. When you add Patreon, that’s one more thing to do (set up, giving out prizes, the bonus content, etc) and one more place you’re sending people THAT ISN’T YOUR BOOK.
I see people setting these up trying to help pay for launch and I’ve looked at the breakdown of what they’re paying. Usually? It’s too much money on things they don’t need to spend money on. My first book launch for Emma St. Clair probably cost under $300. I got a cover (that I still love) from an artist on FB having a sale. I paid $125 for editing. And I think I bought 2-3 paid promos. The end.
Creating a Patreon just takes away your time and effort and gives another place to send people that is not your book. Keep it simple. Bootstrap. Focus on sending people to your book to buy books, not to a site like Patreon to focus on bookmarks and bonuses.
DO YOU HATE ME?
Was that too mean? Too honest? Feels a little bit that way.
But here’s the thing: I hate wasting time. And I hate the thought of you out there, wasting your time when you could be writing and doing marketing tasks that WILL SELL BOOKS.
Want to disagree? Have ideas of what is or isn’t important? Leave a comment or head over to the Facebook group where we can talk and you can call me a meanie. 😉
Phil Cobb says
Super info, Kirsten!
A question: How far in advance can a freebie go out in relation to the amount of time that you estimate it will take you to finally have a finished book ready for the public:
3 months in advance? 6 months in advance? 1 year?
Should it go out at some milestone in the writing/editing/beta/cover, etc. process?
That’s a hard question! I don’t know if there’s a PERFECT time, but I will say that I sent out a freebie like six months before launch and I think that let my list grow cold. I didn’t have a focus or a launch date in mind, so I kind of ignored the people on the list and now feel like it was harder to engage. So if it’s LONGER in advance, then I would say make sure you have a content strategy in place for what you’ll send so they don’t forget you. We’ve grown a nice list in a month. I think that can be a nice sweet spot, but it also depends on what you’re writing and doing and if you’re sending out a sample of the book as the freebie or another thing altogether. If you haven’t picked up on this, I don’t have one right answer. Just some things to think about. 🙂
Phil Cobb says
Thanks for your thoughts about the timing for a freebie.
In the section on Blogging, you give examples of what authors should not write about on their blogs.
On the other side of the coin, what should fiction authors write about on their blogs?
What are your thoughts on blogging flash fiction stories and linking to your newsletter in the post?
Hi Kristin! If someone wanted to blog anyway for their author site, what would you recommend they blog about (apart from writing)? Thanks!
I would say think about what your ideal reader is interested in, and blog about that. Maybe that’s just reviewing other books they’d like. Or doing roundups (which do well on Pinterest) of the Top 10 BEST fill-in-the-blank books. Or interviews with authors in your genre talking about their books (not their process as much). If your books feature food, blog recipes or food ideas. If mysteries, mysterious things and mystery books. Think like your reader and keep it related to the average person who is not a writer who might be reading your books. Hope that helps!
Lois McKiernan says
Excellent advice, thank you! I’m just curious as to how you managed to only pay $125 for editing… I’m currently on the search for an editor for my Christian historical novel (80k words), and all the quotes are coming back ranging from $800-$2k+! Due to personal financial circumstances, I cannot afford to pay that much, so if you’re able to recommend a good editor who charges a lot less, I would love to know! Thanks 🙂
I basically have spent a loooong time hanging out in author groups and asking for recommendations. My editing is simply PROOFING, not a developmental or content edit. Those are more. But I’ve also seen much more expensive proofreading options! Honestly, I would ask around in groups for recommendations and ask what people’s budgets are AND be super specific about the kind of editing you’re looking for to make sure you’re not getting quotes on proofing when you want developmental.
Jayaram A S says
Excellent way of putting correct things. I was searching many methods of promoting but your blog is great.
Great info thanks Kirsten. Love the idea of doing some daily marketing tasks as it makes the dreaded promotion of our books seem less of an uphill battle. And I guess I’ll have to reconsider my DIY cover design🤣
You mentioned paid ads to your freebie. Is there one you recommend for non fiction books, Google, Facebook, Amazon or maybe Pinterest ads? Or is it simply a question of where your tribe congregates?