So, you’re one of the 3% of authors to not only start writing a book but to actually finish it, too! It’s clean, it’s polished, and it’s ready for those reviews. But, if this is your first time, you might be at a loss of how to market your novel.
Here are 14 ways to market your novel:
- Build a brand and author website.
- Have at least two forms of social media.
- Be active on your platform, but limit sales pitches.
- Look into guest blogs for readers and authors.
- Reach out to podcast hosts for interviews.
- Put your book on Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select.
- Run multiple Facebook Ads to find what works.
- Consider BookBub deals.
- Consider Goodreads giveaways.
- Donate copies of your book to the library.
- Look into The Indie Author Project.
- Enter writing competitions.
- Turn your book into an audiobook.
- Offer your first book for free.
As an Indie author, you can’t get around the fact that this will be a lot of work. But if you want to succeed, these 14 steps should help you along the way.
1. Build a Brand and Author Website
Yes, you need an author website.
It might sound silly, and you might not know what to put on it, but if you want people to know who you are, they need to have somewhere to go if and when they google you.
Now, this doesn’t have to be anything splashy. I just happen to be living with a tech wizard and got early access to his amazing new website builder, RetroStack.
Instead of spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on a confusing and over-the-top WordPress site, RetroStack uses static templates to keep things simple, clean, and lightning-fast.
That said, there are so many website builders out there, like Wix or Squarespace, that will do a decent job. You don’t need to be a developer to create something sleek and professional.
What Do I Put On My Author’s Website?
You should put blog posts and helpful information on your author’s website, as well as information on your book(s). To gain traffic, consider starting a blog and be sure to include plenty of SEO-friendly keywords and content.
As you can see, I’ve opted to start a blog on my website. I’ve been working hard to create a sort of how-to for new writers, and I hope that I can help people navigate the crazy world of Indie writing and publishing.
The key thing to keep in mind is that you want to offer the reader something.
Sure, it could just be a simple page with information on your book and how and where to buy it. But without keywords and content, it’s going to be hard to find.
Your blog doesn’t need to be detailed or take up hours of your time. Even if you just use it as a writing journal, of sorts. Write about how your writing is going and maybe what you’ve done to come up with a story or character.
If people like your book, they’ll be interested in how you brought it to life.
2. Have at Least Two Forms of Social Media
Social media is a necessary evil. Billions of people log onto Facebook every single day, and having an Instagram or TikTok may help you reach thousands of new readers.
It’s unavoidable, so don’t fight it.
I suggest you go for Facebook and Instagram since you can’t have the latter without the former anyway.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Start a new Facebook page using your pen name or author name. This page will be connected to your personal page, but your personal information won’t show, and your friends won’t see your connection.
- Use the Facebook page to open a new Instagram profile. Be sure to pick a handle that’s relevant to you and your work. Mine is “cwells_author”.
- Use Facebook’s scheduling tool to set up posts on both platforms. You can set up weeks in advance right on your laptop, and it will automatically post to both Facebook and Instagram.
- Invite your friend to like and share your new page. This will help with exposure.
- Be sure to “like” and follow other creators, and comment on posts. Instagram likes users who are active and will be more likely to push your posts if they see engagement.
The two are the essentials because they’re your gateway to paid ads, which will boost your exposure to readers.
That said, feel free to explore TikTok as the reader and author community is huge! Just remember not to sell too much and try to offer funny or helpful content.
3. Be Active on Your Platform, but Limit Sales Pitches
As mentioned above, you don’t want to use social media just for selling. If all people see of you is “buy my book,” they’ll quickly unfollow.
Instead, you need to be active and engaging, posting quotes, story snippets, book reviews, and funny videos of your own.
If readers feel you’re inauthentic, they won’t buy your book.
Of course, you can and should try to sell too, but it should be at least a 60-40 split with the higher end going to fun content.
I love the following creators on TikTok. Please head over and check them out for inspiration:
- Catrina Burgess: Author
- Zoe Allison: Author
- “Stacebookspace”: Hilarious creator and book lover
- Karena: Writing Coach and Author
4. Look Into Guest Blogs for Readers and Authors
This one can be a little bit tricky, and it’s not always easy to find blogs that are A. active and B. taking guest posts.
It will take some digging around, but if you google “book blogger,” for example, or “book review blog,” you’ll find some that will work.
You just need to email them to see if they would be open to a guest post.
What Is a Guest Post?
A guest post is when you write a blog or book review and blogger puts it up on their website. The post needs to fit with their niche and style and should be helpful to their readers. If the blogger likes your post, they will add it to their site and give your information at the end with a link.
So, you wouldn’t write a review for a Sci-Fi novel and send it to a romance blogger. Just like you wouldn’t write a blog post with a recipe for TikTok Baked Oatmeal and send it to a book reviewer.
Get the picture?
5. Reach Out To Podcast Hosts for Interviews
With the sheer number of podcasts out there, I know you can find one that works for you.
For example, here’s a list of 11 Podcasts for Romance Readers. If that’s your genre, reach out and ask if they would like an interview or an author exclusive.
Before you send them that email, have your pitch ready to go.
Here’s how to pitch a podcast for a guest spot:
- Research the podcast (listen to it and check out their socials) and see what they like, what they talk about, and what the listeners expect.
- Follow them on social media and interact, liking posts and commenting.
- Tag them in posts, such as, “check this out!” in a story.
- Come up with a potential pitch for your guest spot, such as “how to write romance.”
- Make your pitch with at least one main talking point and as many as four for them to choose from.
6. Put Your Book on Amazon’s Exclusive KDP Select
KDP is a no-brainer for Indie authors, and here’s why:
- It’s 100% free to publish your book as an ebook and in paperback.
- They handle the printing and shipping of paperback copies, so you don’t have to pay for a bulk batch upfront.
- It’s super easy to use with step-by-step instructions.
- Amazon is the largest online retailer of books, and its reach is worldwide.
If you’ve never published with Amazon before, it couldn’t be easier. Check out my blog post, How to Self-Publish on Amazon, for a detailed guide.
As you get to the end of the publishing portal, you will be asked if you want to join KDP Select. This is Amazon’s exclusive contract to have your book available only to them, and they will, in turn, offer it for free on Kindle Unlimited.
Though you don’t get the same amount in terms of royalties, it does give you more exposure. You just have to agree not to put your book up for sale anywhere else during this time.
7. Run Multiple Facebook Ads To Find What Works
Facebook Ads can seem daunting at first, but you’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.
One way to start is by “boosting” your posts. This means you’ll pay to have Facebook get that specific post out to more than just your followers.
When you’re ready to start ads, begin with four options, running them each for a week consecutively. They should be slightly different, with new pictures and wording.
After the month is over, look at the analytics to see what performed well and what didn’t.
By that, I mean you will no doubt see what demographics engaged with your ads. This might be men between 55 and 65, or young women in Arizona.
Facebook makes it easy to see how and where you are doing well so you can capitalize on that going forward. After all, they want you to succeed, so you’ll come back for more.
8. Consider BookBub Deals
BookBub is a terrific way to get your book in front of potential readers. They have millions of subscribers that open daily emails looking for something new to read.
I have to warn you that their prices can be high. But when you think of all the new readers you might reach, I think it’s worth it in most cases.
It’s also easy to create an ad, and they run you through it in sections.
I’ve had hit and miss luck with these, though I haven’t been willing to invest too much right now since I’ve been focusing on Facebook ads. Nevertheless, if you try it out and it works for you, let me know!
9. Consider Goodreads Giveaways
I’m sure you’ve heard of Goodreads, and it’s super easy to put your book on the site and claim your author profile.
If you already have an account, you’ve got a head start with connections. If not, start posting asap, offer recommendations, and leave reviews.
Just like Facebook and Instagram, you need to be active here to gain traction.
One great thing you can do with Goodreads is to run “giveaways.” This could be kindle copies or paperbacks, too.
You pay a fee, and Goodreads does the hard work. All you need to do is deliver the book in the end.
Below you can see some of the benefits of running a giveaway and the two options available to you:
10. Donate Copies of Your Book to the Library
Let’s be honest, once you hit that publish button, you ordered author copies for yourself, right? I know I did!
With Amazon’s KDP, you pay for the cost of the book, which is typically around $4-6 depending on the size and style you choose.
But, one great way to gain exposure is to donate some of those to your local library.
You’d be surprised at how many people still use the library - the kind of people you might not be reaching with online ads but the kind of people that might be in an avid book club!
11. Look Into the Indie Author Project
The Indie Author Project ( IAP) was designed to help small authors connect with libraries and readers.
You will need to submit your work and have it assessed in order to be accepted, but then, it will add your book to local libraries for greater access to readers.
Look over their submission guidelines here.
12. Enter Writing Competitions
Though you might not want to submit your new book to a competition, it is worth writing something new in order to get your name out there.
If you enter and win a few competitions, you can add those credits to your website and social media, and people that follow those things may read your work and seek out more!
13. Turn Your Book Into an Audiobook
This one is a must if you want to be relevant, and though you may think it’s going to be expensive, you might be pleasantly surprised.
I just recently began recording my own book into an audiobook, and though it’s time-consuming, it’s not costing me a fortune.
I didn’t want to spend hundreds on a microphone, just in case I decided this wasn’t for me. So, I bought this super simple, $30 Toner Mic with stand and pop filter, and it works so well.
I’ve been working with Audacity to record and edit - it’s a free software!
A few things to keep in mind before you start your audiobook journey:
- The sound of your own voice will be weird at first.
- You will get frustrated and “flub” over your own words.
- Learning how to use Audacity will be tough initially.
- You will need a small and quiet area to record.
- You will need a lot of water and lots of breaks.
- Decide early how you want to approach dialogue because “fake voices” are hard to keep going.
Alternatively, you can head over to Amazon’s ACX and check out their professional prices and offers. Or, Fiverr and UpWork are always worth a look, too.
14. Offer Your First Book for Free
When you first start out, I don’t think you should sell yourself short. You worked hard to write that book, and you deserve to get a fair price for it.
However, if you are unknown, sometimes, offering it for free is the only way to get your foot in the door. Then, once you have a few ratings and reviews, you can put the price up.
If this is the first in a series, putting your first book up for free is a great way to bring people in and have them shell out for the rest of the series.
It’s a clever tactic that might help you sell multiple books at once.
Here are a few of the questions I get asked the most and the best elevator-pitch response I can offer:
How Do I Promote My Novel?
To promote your novel, you need to be active as an author in various online areas. This includes joining Facebook groups, using Facebook ads, looking into guest spots on podcasts, and working on your author’s website.
How Do I Market My First Novel?
To market your first novel, you need to start with a well-designed and professional cover. Invest in something that will help your book to stand out. Offer your book on a variety of sites and use Amazon Ads to push it to readers. Also, reach out to reviewers and influencers for more exposure.
How Do I Market My Book In 2021
To market your book in 2021, research a variety of paid ads, including Facebook, BookBub, and Amazon, and run ads for a short period to see what works and what doesn’t. Also, consider having your book recorded into an audiobook, which is becoming more and more popular.
How Do I Create An Email List?
This is one you’ll hear a lot, but not one that people will actually explain. They’ll say, “Build an email list.” as if it’s that easy.
How?! How do you do that?
The truth is, even I don’t know. You just put a pop-up on your website and hope to the literary gods that people will give you their information.
How To Promote A Book
There are a lot of ways you can promote your work, and many of them are free. Unfortunately, most of them are time-consuming.
To promote a book, you need to be sure it is professionally edited and that the cover is perfect. Then, make sure you have an online presence, including an author’s website and social media following. Start with online ads and reaching out to reviewers before looking at guest posting on blogs.
Marketing is hard. Some might say it’s harder than writing the darn book!
The truth is, there’s no easy way to go about it, and something as crazy as Ice Planet Barbarians can suddenly become a best seller overnight, thanks to a few TikTok posts.
Just remember to give it all a go. What’s the worst that can happen?