8 Simple Ways to Market (and Actually Sell) Your Book

Marketing Ideas for Your Book
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No matter how good your book is, you need to consider your marketing strategy if you want it to actually sell. Even the best content in the world won’t sell if people don’t know it exists!

When I wrote a book several years ago, I didn’t realize how significant a role my marketing strategy would play in its success.

Through trial and error I learned which marketing strategies would work for my book. Some are fairly straightforward, and others require a little more effort. Hopefully they will help those of you contemplating a similar venture.

The Basics

1. Create a website

We’re starting with the most basic element of all: your book needs a website. This can be anything from a landing page on your personal or business site to a full-scale website devoted to the book.

If you’re working within a tight budget, go DIY or find a designer through outsourcing portals such as Elance or oDesk. Better yet, look for someone in your circle of professional contacts who has experience with web design and barter your services.

In exchange for a few personal finance counseling sessions, a business colleague of mine created and launched a full-scale website for my book, including a home page, an “about us” section, an FAQ section, a blog, and a page where you could purchase the book.

2. Make the process user-friendly

Whether you offer direct sales for your book through your website or you include a link to where it can be purchased, make the process as user-friendly as possible for your customers.

If you offer direct sales, accept all forms of payment, including American Express and PayPal. You never want to miss out on a sale just because a customer isn’t able to use a certain payment method! If you don’t offer direct sales, include a link on your website to where the book can be bought (for me, it was Amazon).

Don’t make customers have to hunt.

3. Start a blog

Including a blog on your website can help add credibility to your book by further showcasing your talents as a writer and showing your audience that you are truly an expert in your field. Post well-written articles featuring advice that readers can’t find anywhere else.

Go the extra mile by including a high quality video or two. Videos highlighting certain points in your book can drive interest, and can also boost your SEO ranking.

4. Get involved with social media

Your next flow of customers could come from anywhere, so you have to investigate a wide swath of outlets to try and reach them. While I got positive results from my efforts on Facebook and Twitter, I also got a very solid response from people on StumbleUpon — a largely unknown social media website at the time. These days you might look to Pinterest, Instagram, or Google+ to build a following and generate sales.

Track your success with Google Analytics and use the data to adjust your strategy; if you’re seeing lots of traffic or purchases from a particular network, build on it. Be sure to follow and like other authors and industry leaders in your niche, and make sure you include social sharing buttons on your blog to encourage activity.

5. Change your email signature

This may seem like a minor point, but how many emails do you write or respond to every day?

Pick the low-hanging fruit: simply adding a quick note with a link to your book’s website at the end of each message gives you one more way to get the word out about your book.

Extra Credit

6. Partner with local businesses

Taking a physical copy of your book to local bookstores is the first step; see what it will take to get them to carry the book. However, with a little more imagination, you can connect with additional kinds of businesses.

If you’ve written a book about home improvement, see if your local hardware store might allow you to set up a small display. A gift shop at a local nature center may be willing to feature your book if it’s about something pertaining to that niche. Get in touch with larger nearby businesses in related industries and inquire about bulk sales. They might be able to use your book as a promotional giveaway during a conference or even as a gift for staff members.

Novel and innovative connections with community businesses may involve a bit of pavement pounding, but they just might boost your sales. (Click to tweet this idea.)

7. Target media opportunities

You could also contact local radio and TV stations and inquire about media appearances. Perhaps they’d be interested in interviewing you for a TV newscast segment on local authors, or maybe you could participate in a question-and-answer session on a radio talk show. Smaller media outlets are always looking for local stories, and that kind of exposure could be a boon to your business.

8. Entertain outside advice with caution

You’re likely to receive all kinds of advice when it comes to marketing your book. You’ll likely hear about all sorts of products and webinars “guaranteed” to make your book a best-seller.

With so many opinions and options, it’s important to remember the key item in the equation: your instincts. If you want to go with an offbeat marketing strategy, give it a try. After conducting some research, if your gut feeling tells you that a particular idea can work, go for it.

You may not be a marketing guru, but you are a human being, and you possess common sense insight as to what can and cannot attract a potential buyer to your book.

The fact that I wrote a book — whether it sold a million copies or not — played a large role in what allowed me to eventually work for myself. Did I experience a bit of luck? Maybe, maybe not. However, I did put my marketing strategy into place with a good amount of research, common sense, and hard work.

Pour all of your creative efforts into your writing, then go back to the well and stock up again when it comes time to market your book — you’re going to be glad you did.

What other ways have you successfully marketed a book?

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David Bakke is an author and entrepreneur and writes on a wide variety of topics including marketing strategies.... .

Money Crashers | @MoneyCrashers

David Bakke
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Comments

  1. David,

    Many of your suggestions apply to marketing products other than books and even services. That e-mail signature suggestion is so simple, it’s brilliant.

    Kathryn

  2. #7 got me to thinking. That can be dangerous, but thank you. 🙂 Got 1-5 covered. Whew!

  3. With regards to the website, getting up and running with a simple Wordpress theme is an easy way to go for the budget conscious author out there these days. Most are free, but if you want a deeper product, you can even find impressive website themes for around 30-40 bucks. And even if you have only a little bit of experience with websites, you can do the entire build yourself with the help of some basic tools like Firebug or Chrome Developer Tools. If you know nothing at all, going with the theme approach may only require a few hours of a developer’s time to help you get up and running, as opposed to the time required to build a custom product from the ground up. As the former head of a digital agency, let me just request this – please be very good to your designers and developers. Treat them with respect and realize that their time and skills are valuable. While I don’t disagree with barter, make sure that you understand the value of the process and arrange your barter deal accordingly. With websites, you absolutely get what you pay for. If you don’t have a big budget, or your barter only accounts for a few hours of time, align your expectations with that budget.

    • Great advice, Will — thanks for sharing. I think you make a great point that bartering requires you to value the services you’re exchanging; it’s still a work agreement between professionals.

  4. Dee Holstine says:

    Many of the articles I have read talk about preparing well ahead of time of book release dates. In one article I read, Seth Godin, marketing guru, suggested that writers begin building that platform three years before you try to publishing a book. Advice like this seems very sound and I am nobody to argue with Mr. Godin, but it is kind of scary to someone, like me, who doesn’t know a thing about these social media outlets. And even if I did know anything about them, what am I going to put on there about my book? I’m not sure I would want to put in excerpts because it could all change before the final draft. If you do include something about the book, how do you know that some well experienced writer won’t “borrow” your idea and put something out there before you can finish? I am taking a writing course and I am learning so much about the actual writing part but very little about the business side. I want to begin preparing for my first book, so I guess I had better begin to learn about these social media’s. Honestly, I thought the publisher put together the marketing plan, the writer just submitted the book. I have so much to learn. Thanks. Dee

  5. Thank you for sharing such valuable tips. Though some are often already used it’s also a great reminder that they are effective in many ways and always lead to other ideas.

    Thanks for sharing and reading,

    Sarah Butland
    author of Arm Farm, Brain Tales and Blood Day

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