All authors, whether they are self-published or published by a publishing house need to market themselves and their book(s). In order for you to reach your readers and to be searchable or discoverable online you need to make it as easy as possible for readers to connect. Build yourself as a brand as early on in your writing and self-publishing process as possible.
Things you can do in your book to market it
Write a really good book
Write a book that engages your readers. A brilliant book will practically market itself.
Tell people who you are
Write a short biography about yourself and place it in your eBook. You will see there is a section for this in the template called ‘About the author.’ Write a great one. You can reuse it in press releases when your book is published.
Include links to your social media
You can use your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts to tell people that you have written an eBook and where to find it.
A hyperlink (also called a link) is an icon, graphic, or text in a document that links to another file or object. These links enable web pages to connect to other web pages. For example, you can add a hyperlink on your Facebook page to link to your Smashwords Book page where people can buy your book. Without hyperlinks you would need to know the full web address for every page on the internet.
Hyperlinks are important. The more hyperlinks that point to your profile or book, the more findable you will become.
Make it as easy as possible for readers to find you, connect with you, or follow you by providing links to all of your social media pages in your eBook. Facebook and Twitter are good platforms for you to start to build your brand.
How do you find and share your links?
Go to your Facebook or Twitter account and copy the link that you see in the address bar of your browser and paste the link into your manuscript in the section ‘Connect with [Firstname Lastname].’ You will also see a section for this at the end of the template provided.
Here is an example of what it will look like.
I really appreciate your reading my book! You can:
Friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ViaAfrika/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ViaAfrikaZA
Favorite my Smashwords author page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ViaAfrikaZA
Visit my website: http://viaafrika.com/
If you are not sure how to do this please watch this step-by-step video below. You can press pause at any time and press play to continue when you are ready.
Most importantly, send your links to your friends and family to encourage them to follow you and to purchase your book. If they aren’t sure how to buy an eBook you can copy or share the link shown below.
Here is a link that shows how to buy a book on Kobo:
Things you can do personally to market your book
Careful pricing can also function as a very persuasive marketing tool to encourage potential readers to read your book. How can you encourage readers to buy your book? Do you have an existing readership who love your work and are eager to read your next book? If you already have a solid base of loyal readers, you will find that they will be less affected by price.
What price should I give my book?
Pricing your book can be a delicate balancing act. Consider offering your first book at a very low price or at no cost. If readers love your first book they will be more likely to buy your second book. According to Smashwords, many of their top earning authors have at least one free book available to readers.
Play with your price for promotional purposes
Look out for great promotional opportunities that allow you to market your book. For example, there is the Read an Ebook Week in the second week of March and Smashwords’ annual sale in July. If you enroll for these you can offer your book at different discounts and you will be included in the Smashwords special promotional catalogue.
The best marketing is word-of-mouth. Think about the best possible ways in which you can market and promote your book in your area that will get people talking about you and about your book (in a good way). Brainstorm some ideas with friends and family. Create a practical and doable marketing plan to promote your book. Budget wisely and spend only what you can afford on promoting your book. Think about inexpensive ways to market your book. You could hold a book launch in your local library, church or at a community event. You could visit schools in your area or talk on your local radio and distribute coupons as prizes to encourage your community to start reading your newly published eBook.
Build a reading community where you are and create a strong social media network by posting things that your readers want to know more about (and be sure not to post only things that promote your book). Make your social media pages informative and interesting to keep your readers interested and to maintain a connection with readers who love your writing and who will want to buy your next book!
Talking at community events
Word-of-mouth marketing is worth more than paid advertising and costs less. Wherever there is a gathering in your community, there is an opportunity to talk about your book. Don’t be shy about it! Getting a book published is a big deal so you should celebrate the event. Your words may even be of service to society. Remember when you had doubts about whether you could ever be a published author? Now you have the chance to inspire the budding writers in your community, and show them how to achieve their publishing dreams.
Social media marketing
Here is the first and most important rule of social media marketing though: don’t spam your followers! Make each post unique and interesting. Post select quotes from your book that are relevant to trending hashtags, and get friends and family to help you strengthen your message by sharing your posts. To get the public to share your updates remember this rule: write about what you think your audience of followers wants to read. That will increase the chances of your extending your message through reposting.
Other tools to market your book
Smashwords author tools
Use all the fantastic (and free!) tools that Smashwords offers to promote yourself.
Author profile page
Promote yourself on your free Smashwords profile page by placing your biography here together with a photo. You can also add links to other websites, such as your own website or blog. Your Smashwords self-interview will also appear here. You can watch this short clip that shows you an example of an author profile page below.
This feature takes you through a series of questions and is then promoted on Smashwords. You will find the link to the self-interview feature on your dashboard under the Account tab.
Smashwords also creates a web page for your book. Take advantage of this. Make sure you have a synopsis of your book together with the cover. You can even create a promotional video and link it here. If you allow readers to read a sample of your book when you fill out the online publishing form, they will be able to find and read the sample here. If you have a blog or website you can also use the Smashwords widget provided on your book page to promote your book.
You can watch this video that shows you an example of a Book page below.
You can also watch this short clip that shows you how to create a widget of your book below.
Readers can leave a review of your book on your book page. Ask friends and family or your critical reviewers who helped you to fine tune your manuscript to leave a book review since this will help to promote and sell your book.
Make a short YouTube video in which you talk about your book and link it to your Book page. Remember to keep it short – no more than 2 minutes. You can also use this video when you promote your book on your social media pages.
Make sure that you add meaningful keywords (tags) when you are filling in your online publishing form. This will make your book more findable. Don’t add more than 10 tags.
Use the Smashwords coupon generator. You can market your book by giving coupons to potential readers on your social media pages or distribute them to your local community centre and library. Or perhaps you would like to provide coupons to friends and family who want to help promote your book?
To access coupons, you need to log in to your Smashwords account. Click on Dashboard and then click on Coupon Manager. If your book is free, or if you have selected the option “reader sets price” you will not be able to generate coupons. Note that the lucky receivers of your coupons will have to enter the code just before completing their checkout to get the discount.
The WPR Website
The WPR website will host a special page for all the authors who publish their eBooks using the WPR programme. Be sure that all your details are correct in your WPR profile and let us know when your book is published so we can give you the attention you deserve.
What is a press release and why is it important?
When you’re marketing your book, a press release is an important starting point for getting media attention. Your press release will be a written announcement to introduce your new book as well as promote yourself as an author.
A press release is a self-contained summary that contains all the information that the media requires to familiarise themselves with you and your project.
Elements of a good press release
There are three elements to include in every release.
Tempt your reader into reading further. This will be the subject line of the email you send out to media. Use simple language, and make the recipient want to click on the mail!
Begin by capturing the attention of the recipient by writing a short and punchy summary of the release. Keep this summary to two lines. This is a valuable exercise for you because you will learn to express the key elements of your eBook. This is important for when you market your eBook to potential buyers. Then write a general overview of your eBook. Don’t give away too much! The idea here is to tantalise the media into wanting to find out more. Imagine you are writing a blurb (summary) for the book’s back cover. If you need some inspiration, take a walk through your local library and see how published authors approach this task.
You are one-of-a-kind, and your bio should reflect this. Listing degrees and other qualifications won’t sell you as a writer of fiction. What will sell you as an author is being candid about yourself and explaining what has happened in your life that gives you a unique perspective.
Top tip: Explain your project to a family member, and ask them if they have any questions. Then make sure to include answers to those questions in your release. Remember not to get caught up in using fancy language. Write how you would speak!
Chatting about your book on radio is an excellent way of drumming up interest. Give your local radio station a call, and explain what you would like to talk about. Keep in mind that radio stations will broadcast what their listeners are interested in, so speak to the contact as if you were speaking to the station’s listeners. If they need more information, you have your press release ready to go.
When you’re in the studio, the important thing is to mention the book’s title often. About once every 2 minutes should do it. Tell people where and how they can buy your book, and motivate them to buy it by speaking about the book’s key idea but don’t reveal anything past what happens in Chapter 1. Don’t forget to speak about yourself and what makes you unique. People will buy your book if they are interested in you, so don’t shy away from speaking about your life experiences that influenced your writing your book.
The creation and maintenance of a website is a costly business. Rather put your time and energy into creating a web presence where people already look. Update your LinkedIn profile with details of your book, create a “Who’s Who” profile (whoswho.co.za), and update your profile pictures with the cover of your new book.
You can also create a blog or website using WordPress or Google Sites since these services are absolutely free! For more information visit: https://wordpress.com/ or sign up to Google Sites here: https://sites.google.com
A marketing checklist
Finally, work through the marketing checklist below and know that you are giving yourself and your book the best possible chance of achieving success.
|My story is compelling and will engage my readers.|
|I have had my story professionally edited and proofread.|
|I have a striking cover.|
|I have allowed readers to read a sample before they buy.|
|My eBook is available in multiple formats.|
|I have a thought-provoking or catchy title.|
|I have a book description (both a short and a long version).|
|I have set a good price.|
|I have created social media pages for my readers to connect with me.|
|I have a great marketing plan to reach more readers who would enjoy my book.|