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How to Promote a Book – a Self-Published Author’s Guide

by | May 17, 2024

Content Manager

Ara Koetts

Ara Koetts, a leading voice at Voxtury.com, specializes in AI content creation, blending technology with creativity. Her insights into AI's impact on storytelling and ethical considerations make her a pivotal figure for anyone exploring digital innovation. Ara's work is a guiding light in the dynamic world of content creation, inspiring confidence and curiosity in her readers.

Congratulations! You’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting a book, and now it’s time to unleash it on the world. But in the age of information and content overload, simply publishing your book isn’t enough. 

As a self-published author, the mantle of promotion falls squarely on your shoulders. This is very intimidating, considering that large publishing houses can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on book promotion, ads, book signing events, etc.  

This comprehensive guide equips you with a treasure trove of strategies to get your book noticed, generate buzz, and win over readers.

Building a Strong Foundation: Pre-Launch Strategies to Promote Your Book

Before publishing your book, publish your book’s website. This is the place for a user-friendly with a captivating bio, professional author photo, and clear information about your book, including enticing excerpts and purchase links. Include press releases and opinions or reviews! 

Social media sells a lot of books to just the right audience. You should establish a strong presence on platforms frequented by potential readers. This depends on your genre and topic – for some, LinkedIn might be a good strategy, while Instagram is perfect for others. TikTok sells a lot of books as well – if you’re up to date, you definitely already know about “BookTok.” 

But what should you do on social media? Regularly share engaging content like blog posts, teasers, character introductions, or eye-catching visuals. Run targeted social media ads to reach a wider audience.

There are also plenty of book influencers whom you can pitch your book to – especially on platforms like TikTok or Instagram. 

Go a step further and reach out to book bloggers and reviewers whose audience aligns with your genre. Offer them a free review copy in exchange for an honest review. Positive reviews can significantly boost your book’s credibility and visibility, and you can take advantage of the access to a big audience that these influencers have. 

Advanced Techniques for Book Marketing

There are some planned-out techniques that big publishing companies have – and you can backwards engineer them on a smaller scale. 

You should look carefully at this process and research it in depth, but we’re here to help you with a cheat sheet: 

  • Advance Review Copies (ARCs): Publishers send ARCs to reviewers, bloggers, journalists, and librarians months before the release. These early readers decide if they want to sell or promote your book. Break rooms in most small bookstores are filled with free copies of books. They are specially marked “not for sale.” 
  • Publicity Campaign: The publisher’s publicity team develops a targeted media outreach strategy. This might involve pitching the book to relevant publications, radio shows, or podcasts for interviews with the author. Doing this by yourself can take time, but if you develop a list of media outlets that you want to reach early on, it should make it easier. Remember – don’t broadcast the news across a wide spectrum of outlets, but rather target the ones that your audience is likely to subscribe to. 
  • Social Media (Again): The publisher creates engaging social media content to build anticipation for the book’s release. This could include author Q&A sessions, excerpts, character reveals, or eye-catching visuals. The downside of this is that big publishers already have an audience, and this might be difficult if you’re working with your own account. BTW – you have to create your own official author account! 
  • Building an Author Platform: The publisher might assist the author in establishing a strong online presence through a professional website and social media channels. As a new independent author, you have to do it yourself. If you’re not a social media person, or if you don’t have time (authors are busy people, especially self-publishing ones), then you can hire a social media manager to work with you across many platforms. 

Promoting Your Book After It’s Released 

How to promote a book after it hits the shelves? Try these strategies:

  • Press Releases: A press release is distributed announcing the book’s release to generate media attention. You also have to write this on your own. It’s possible to reach out to newswire services in order to distribute your press release. It’s not cheap, but in some cases, it’s definitely worth the investment as it might land you publicity in major newspapers and magazines. 
  • Book Tours and Events: The publisher might organize book tours or author signings at bookstores and literary festivals to connect the author directly with readers.
  • Online Advertising: Targeted online advertising campaigns can be launched to reach potential readers on various platforms. This is great (again, on social media) because you can choose exactly whom to target. If you wrote a book that is most likely to be read by single women in the 40 to 50 range, you can target your ads so they only reach your desired audience. This is a better method for your wallet because you pay only to be seen by the people who are most likely to buy your book in the first place. 
  • Bookseller and Distributor Relations: The publisher works with bookstores and book distributors to ensure the book is widely available for purchase online and in physical stores.

Mailing Lists and Giveaways for Book Promotion

Speaking of large publishing houses, here is a powerful resource that they have but you don’t: a rolodex. If you’re too young to know what that is, it’s a circular organization file for all of your contacts. It was usually seen on the desks of office workers, managers and CEOs alike. They contained all of their contacts’ phone numbers and contact information, and they were worth quite a lot depending on ‘who you knew.’ 

So – who do you know as a self-published author? Are you publishing your book with no contacts in your corner?  Start building a contact list early on – reach out to people, start building relationships. They don’t have to be publishers. It can be anyone from the industry. Other authors. Other self-published authors. People who write in your genre. Experts in your genre who don’t write at all. They can all be included in your circle of influence.  

For a less personal approach, start a mailing list for your readers and fans. Offer incentives like exclusive content or discounts to entice readers to sign up. Utilize your email list to keep readers engaged with updates, new releases, and promotional offers.

Should You Give Out Free Book Samples? 

Giving out a book sample isn’t exactly like standing in a Costco aisle and handing out candy samples. It’s not as easy, and it’s definitely not as cost-effective – a book is expensive! 

Having said that, there are some people who need to read your book before they sell it. Who are they? Acquisition Editors and Acquisition Directors are the people who usually read over the book, which doesn’t apply when you’re self publishing. 

A good place to send a free book sample, especially if you’re writing in a narrow niche, are the distributors who deal only in that niche. For example, Ocean Learned Publications focuses on sci-fi and mystery, so if you’re promoting a book from that niche, you have to contact them with promotional materials. 

Some small bookstores, however, may accept free promotional book copies at their purchasing department so that whoever is in charge of stocking the shelves can think about carrying your book. The fact is that the “little guys” have to stick together. Small independent bookstores draw from diverse sources. They use big distributors but also deal with independent distributors and independent authors. 

Self-Published Book Marketing Case Studies

Maybe this isn’t as serious as a case study, but it certainly makes for a great story and an excellent example of what you can achieve. 

Wool by Hugh Howey

This dystopian science fiction trilogy began as a self-published serial novella in 2011. Hugh Howey employed a savvy marketing strategy that you can definitely learn from. Here are some steps to follow: 

He released the story in bite-sized chunks, kept readers engaged and coming back for more. Basically, he got them addicted. 

He offered the first chapter for free on his website, enticing readers to purchase the full story.

Howey utilized online advertising platforms to reach readers interested in science fiction. He used reviews that boosted interest in his novel. 

The Martian by Andy Weir

This science fiction novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars became a global phenomenon. Weir’s success stemmed from following some similar steps that were described above. 

He initially released chapters for free on his website, building a dedicated fanbase.

Early readers championed the book on forums and social media, generating grass-roots buzz – this means they had access to an early copy.

Weir actively interacted with readers online, making people feel heard and more likely to promote his book. 

The book’s online success caught the attention of traditional publishers, leading to a lucrative publishing deal and a major Hollywood film adaptation. This is a great example of a snowball effect – how a series of good first steps can blossom into larger success later on. 

Important Points to Consider

These are just two examples, and the recipe for success can vary depending on the genre, target audience, language and writing style, and the author’s marketing approach.

Plus – you know… the books were great! But we have no doubt yours will be, too! 

Final Pointers on Promoting Your Own Book

So, dive in and explore – promoting your book should be fun! You are trying to get a great piece of writing to readers who are going to love it. In fact, a lot of writers say that the most rewarding part of this journey is connecting with readers who resonate with your words. 
Let your book find its way into the hands (or onto the screens or even ears) of those who need to hear your words. And if you need online software for book writing – we’ve got you covered!

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