Book Marketing 101: Create Visibility for Your Book with These 5 Tips

You’ve written a book and published it — but the sales just aren’t happening. The biggest likely reason for this is that no one knows that you or your book exists, even if it’s been uploaded to Amazon. There are thousands of authors on Amazon vying for people to buy their books. That’s why authors need to create visibility so that they can stick out from the crowd.

It can be really tough to put yourself out there and talk about yourself and your work, but if people don’t know who you are, then they won’t buy your book!

Here are some ideas for authors to create visibility for their books:

  1. Visit your local bookstore, retail stores, or library. Dropping by and leaving a copy of your book for the bookseller or librarian will help them learn who you are as a person and give them the chance to look at your book before deciding to purchase. Many indie authors shy away from selling books on consignment, but sometimes it’s the best that your indie bookstore can do, especially if your book is not available through the proper distribution channels or is unavailable for return.
  2. Have a release party or event. Invite friends and family to celebrate your new book at your house, and have them purchase copies there. Or you can have it at a restaurant where you can incorporate the plate price with the price of the book, so everyone who comes is guaranteed a copy. You can also see if your local bookstore will have an event for you, if you are positive you can get enough attendees to come. (Read more about authors events in this blog post.)
  3. Ask family and friends to review on Amazon or BN.com. Supposedly, those with more reviews on Amazon are more likely to be included in the company’s email newsletters and receive more visibility overall–although to be honest, nobody but Amazon knows how their algorithm works. It’s still worth having friends and family post reviews so that it will generate interest for others to read your book. Books with no reviews whatsoever will likely be passed over by shoppers.
  4. Put yourself out there at festivals and conferences. Start visiting local book festivals and writers conferences and hand out cards or copies of your book. See if any of them will put you on a panel. Many festivals have the option for author signings, although you most likely have to pay for that privilege, at least in the beginning.
  5. Make sure it’s easily accessible for purchase. Even though Amazon is the most popular online outlet to purchase books, readers do have other shopping preferences–whether it’s a local store or a Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media pages have links to these sites and to Indiebound, so that your audience can purchase through their favorite indie bookstore.

It’s important to get yourself out there in some way, shape, or form to create visibility–whether it’s by putting yourself out their physically or through online channels. You may not sell hundreds of copies at first, but you’ll be on your way to make yourself known. The readers will come–you just need to put your foot out the door.

If you’re an indie author, do you use any of the above ways to create visibility for your books? Tweet about it to us @McKinneyPR!

Book Marketing101: 10 Things You Need To Know About Bestsellers Lists

NYT BestsellersI’ve been doing book publicity and marketing for a long time.  I keep doing it because I haven’t lost that kernel of idealism and drive that truly believes in the potential for success of a good idea, book, and/or person who has something to contribute to the conversation in the world.  Coming up with a strategy that makes these things work and makes my clients happy is immensely gratifying.  But (and you knew this was coming), I do raise a caution flag when I get into a conversation about books and bestsellers lists.  I hear all kinds of myths about the “right” way to do this and although there can be exceptions to every rule, there are certain realities we all have to know.

Amazon BestsellersAll of the lists are generated by proprietary algorithms based on quantity, rate of sale, range of sale, date, time, etc.  No one, except the people who wrote these things, knows for certain how they work, and I’ve been told that they are tweaked occasionally when it looks like someone out there is trying to be smarter than the system.  You can’t buy a thousand copies of your book the day before pub date.  You can’t tell a hundred friends to visit your book online or click through to anything.  The numbers are based on actual sales, POS (point of sale) whether online or in person at a cash register.

There are many reasons why or how a book can “list”, as the biz folks say.  If you are traditionally published here are five things you will need to have a shot at the New York Times or other national “print” bestsellers list (physical books sold).

Traditionally Published Authors:

  1. A brand name (meaning you are a known entity to a book buying or commercial audience)
  2. A marketing plan with the right jacket image; front of store placement at Barnes & Noble; and money spent on premiums on etailer sites like Amazon.
  3. Distribution across all sales channels.  This means Amazon has a bunch of copies, Barnes & Noble has a good quantity available to its stores, and the wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor have bought a solid quantity.  It would help if Target, Walmart, Costco and other “club” stores also had some, but you don’t necessarily need it if you don’t care how high you go on the list.
  4. A traditional and online publicity campaign that gets the word out about the book leading up to and during the first week of publication.
  5. A publication date that is in line with the level of author/book.  I mean that the most books are sold during October – December so if you aren’t able to compete with the titles being released in this time frame, then you don’t have a chance.  You would have to sell twice as many or more copies in order to achieve the same result you would, say, in February.  But again it does depend on the topic and your level of “celebrity” .  (See our article on when to publish.)

If you are an indie author through a small press or on your own without a nationally recognized brand on your score card, and you utilize the print-on-demand technology for your physical books, you will not jump on a bestseller list within a week or even a month of your book being available for sale.  This is an entirely different publication model when it comes to print copies because you are not distributed in stores.  However, you can achieve the coveted rank of bestseller on digital  or ebook lists, especially USA Today and different category rankings on Amazon.

Check out this list of five dos for the indie ebook:

  1. If you have a dedicated audience that is awaiting your next book you need a digital marketing plan via content and social channels that lets your audience know your book will be available for sale.
  2. If you are a new author, you need to work several months in advance at building an audience on social media or through your own personal networking channels that creates anticipation and awareness of the upcoming title.
  3. A great jacket, branding, and messaging that speaks directly to the audience that is the primary market for the book.  This is about generating a “need” for your product.
  4. Error free Amazon page for the book and “buy buttons” on your website or book page so there are no issues when it comes to making a sale.
  5. A traditional and online publicity campaign that provides opportunities for reviews and interviews and reaches your audience(s), creates awareness, and generates positive reviews that lure people to buy!

I also need to be clear and to say that all of the above is about creating the best possibile circumstances to get on a list within a couple of weeks of publication.   You can build a bestseller, but it takes time, attracting a bigger and bigger audience, getting name recognition, having a topic take hold, a news cycle item that brings your idea to the forefront of the zeitgeist, and other things that would take a lot longer to explain.

Ultimately everything is about the book itself and what’s between the covers (or on the Kindle, Nook, etc.).   I think it can be self-defeating to only look at what is on the bestsellers lists and to consider that the ultimate goal.  Does it help?  Sure, but it also can be very short-lived.  Steady sales over a longer term that show a rate of growth are way more valuable than a week on a list and a deep dive down to nearly nothing.  Grow an audience, market your book, and find every opportunity you can to let people know about it.  That is likely to be the best, most rewarding, and most lucrative path to success.

Social Media 101: Instagram as an author tool

Instagram LogoIs your New Year’s Resolution to use a different form of social media other than Facebook or Twitter? Instagram is one of the best social media platforms out there, and one of the most popular among 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds, according to Social Media Week. If those age groups are your main audience, then utilizing Instagram is an app you should seriously consider. It’s fun, easy to use, and unless you’re Justin Bieber, less likely to be spammed or “trolled” than outlets like Twitter.

For those who aren’t familiar, Instagram is an app that allows you to post photos and graphics with (or without) a caption. It’s different from sites like Facebook and Twitter because you can only post to it if you have a picture to upload.

If you’re an author, how can you use Instagram to your maximum potential?

Use those hashtags. Like Twitter, Instagram allows you to use hashtags so you can search for terms like #ThrowbackThursday with ease. Participate in trending hashtags to insert yourself into the conversation.

Show us what you’re reading. Why not show your audience what books you enjoy or are currently reading? The hashtag #bookstagram is popular, and if you have a bookshelf that’s as grand as the one in Beauty and the Beast, you can even get involved in the #bookshelfporn tag.

Give us a glimpse of your life. Your readers may love your books, but we want to know who you are, too. If there’s anything going on in your life you’d like to share, like showing off your new lightsaber while in line for the new Star Wars movie, your audience will love you the more for it.

Cats, cats, cats! Since the dawn of time, photos of pets are proven to receive the most likes, hearts, and favorites across all social media. It’s okay to upload a photo of your kitty making an angry face worthy of Grumpy Cat, or your dog trying to lick peanut butter off his nose.

Quote your own stuff. Do you have some lines in your new book that you seriously love? Post them on Instagram as a pretty graphic! You never know who will find your book quote inspirational enough to repost.

What social media platform do you find is the best to use as an author? Tweet us your thoughts @mckinneypr!

 

Public Relations 101: Why are bloggers important for PR outreach?

bloggers and blogging

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that there are a lot of bloggers. Google the term “book bloggers” and you’ll ping a million results. Google “book review bloggers” and you’ll ping a million more search results. Researching and sifting through blogs and their contact information is a time consuming process, but they are an important part of a PR campaign.

Why are bloggers so necessary to publicists as part of their outreach? More importantly, why are they so necessary for an an author looking to establish their brand?

They have their own fan base. Each blog has a built-in audience that comes with it, whether it is five people or five thousand. If you’re looking to have your chick lit novel reviewed, you’ll want to check out some chick lit reviewers—their fans may be your future fans, too.

They may review indie or self published authors. As an indie author, it’s difficult to get yourself reviewed in newspapers like the New York Times. Book review bloggers can give you the support you need, especially if they decide to favorably review your novel. Always respect a blog’s review policy—many clearly state that they do not review independently published titles. You will find bloggers that are open to reviewing indie authors, but you must ensure that the book is professionally edited before deciding to contact a reviewer—you don’t want to find a scathing review of your novel’s numerous spelling and grammatical errors.

They provide you with an online presence. A social media presence is one thing, but a presence on the rest of the web is just as important. Because blogging equals SEO, tagging, categories, and all that great online marketing jargon, reviews of your book online will make you a more searchable term—and people Googling your name will see that you and your book exist.

They have their own networks. More than ever, bloggers are an important tool for publishers. This summer, Book Expo America even had a networking conference for bloggers with several seminars related to the profession. Attending a blogger networking event in your area could lead to a relationship with someone who could have interest in your future career as a writer!

They’re a supportive medium. A blogger who has their own book review site is going to be someone who supports books. Why wouldn’t you want to be friendly with a crowd that loves reading just as much as you do?

Are you an author who utilizes bloggers and blog tours, and do you find those parts of your campaign successful? Tweet us your insight at @MCKINNEYPR!

Links Roundup: Week of 6/8

Happy Friday, and a beautiful one at that! The excitement and buzz of Book Expo finally started to die down this week, and now it’s time to move on to other book and pr related topics! So here’s our Friday Links Roundup for you, and we wish you a sunny weekend!

RIP Christopher Lee [People]

Growing your audience on LinkedIN by repurposing content [Copyblogger]

A case study of a successful book launch [ALLi]

53 of the best lines in literature. Is yours here? [Buzzfeed]

Quiz: How humble are you? [92Y]

Can reading make you happier? [New Yorker]

Assembling a good team can help a lot in self-publishing [PW]

More ideas on repurposing content [PR Daily]

A finished copy of EL James’ “Grey” was stolen [Bookseller]

How much should you spend on a marketing budget as a writer? [Funds for Writers]