Book marketing must go hand in hand with author branding. Authors with a solid online platform appear as an authority in their niche or are able to influence their audience more easily.
The term “author platform” is so loosely defined that it’s a difficult concept to explain. But there are many elements that make up an author’s platform, namely visibility and authority. When people know you, when you are a reliable source of information, or when you have a visible presence to your target market, you have a platform.
In the days before Facebook and the Internet, building a platform was either for people who could afford it or authors who won over the gatekeepers. But times have changed. Everyone has access to tools; reliable marketing services are a Google search away; and authors can develop their platform by cultivating an online presence.
The Internet is a huge powerhouse for global business activity. This article aims to help you harness that power to market your book and your author brand effectively.
Facebook Marketing: Put the Book in Facebook
Facebook presents so many marketing opportunities and your content will almost always be delivered as easy-to-digest chunks.
The social network is the smarter and improved version of all social networks of days past. It has a clean interface and is streamlined to be user friendly to users of all ages. This is what makes it an interesting marketing channel—everyone uses it, from kids to grandparents. You will always find an audience for your book.
Before the Book Launch
- Let fans of your genre know who you are.
Actively participate in reader communities related to your book. Join Facebook groups, like fan pages, and befriend members of groups and pages. This part isn’t as easy as it sounds, because most Facebook reader and author communities are tightly knit communities. Especially in the case of closed groups, someone has to vouch for you so you can be invited. But communicating and building relationships with people with the same interests isn’t very difficult.
- Build a fan page.
Don’t rely on your personal profile. Your personal profile lets you stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, family, colleagues and former coworkers. While it’s a great way to keep people up-to-date, it’s not a business platform. No one likes the self-promoting, shameless advertising, I-will-tell-you-everything-about-my-life Facebook friend. Plus, Facebook pages are searchable on search engines.
- Pimp up your page.
For the cover photo, use an image related to your book’s subject matter or theme, and use your headshot or book cover for the profile photo. Take a gander at late author Anne Coppola’s Facebook photos, for example:
Cover photos should be 851px by 315px wide. If you upload something bigger or smaller than that, Facebook will automatically adjust or stretch your photo so it fits the required dimensions. Spruce up your page by uploading only high-resolution images.
Use a vanity URL. All Facebook pages can claim a unique Facebook URL. When you first set up your page, your URL looks something like this:
But that’s not very easy to remember. Once your page reaches 25 likes, you’re free to change this into a more memorable URL, such as https://www.facebook.com/GoneWiththeWindHeSaid.
- Keep a supply of pre-written posts.
This will help you create valuable content. Avoid exclamation points, bending the truth, shameless pleas and too much hype. You will only look like an amateur. Write posts that have value, such as tips, educational information, fun facts and entertaining posts. But make sure they’re relevant to your book.
- Schedule those posts.
Apps like Buffer and Hootsuite will give you a second set of hands – they will post your messages based on pre-defined schedules. You can send out posts while you’re asleep!
- Increase your fan base.
First, give people a reason to like your page. Provide value and benefits for following you. Topics that interest authors and readers include:
- Publishing tips
- Marketing tips
- Inspirational quotes
- Quotes from books and famous writers
- Interesting and relevant images
- Writing-related articles
Look up such useful information online. The Internet is a treasure trove of information. Don’t talk about yourself (because let’s face it, they have little to no interest in that).
People are naturally drawn to visual content, so post shareable images. Turn quotes into quote pictures and post “Pinteresty” fun pictures.
Next, invite all your friends to like your page, including acquaintances and those random people you don’t know. Invite the people you meet on reader communities. The best thing about these groups is that they’re all about networking and users often recommend books to other members.
Remember that you can only invite friends to click the Like button after the page has been created.
- Post teasers.
This can be in the form of book trailers, quotes or excerpts. The goal is to get your followers thrilled for the book launch.
- Hold contests.
One word: free. Everyone loves free stuff, and there’s nothing like a fun contest to rev up people to compete for prizes. This works best if you have a large fan base. Have the contest two weeks before the book launch. Here are some contest ideas:
- A book giveaway where fans can submit their name and you choose a lucky winner
- Merchandise design contest
- Topic for your next poem or short story
- For non-fiction, ask them to submit their best tips related to your subject matter
- Ask them to submit their favorite inspirational quotes
During the Book Launch
- Announce the release.
You’ve already updated your friends and followers about your book’s progress, so on the release date, you have an audience to whom you can talk about the launch.
Post a status update and the link where people can buy the book. Get your friends to help spread the word. Post excerpts from pre-launch reviews you’ve received.
Make sure your book’s sales page is complete and make it easy for people to access and buy the book.
- Hold a launch party.
This can be an actual party held somewhere like your house, a restaurant or a coffee shop. Or it can be a virtual party where you can host discussions, give away prizes, do an ask-me-anything session or link to a live video event.
If you’re new to Facebook launch parties, join one to know what it’s like and get ideas on what to do. Simply enter “book launch party” into the search box and choose “Events” from the category list. You will find a lot.
On your page’s status update field, click “Offer, Event +” and choose “Event”. Fill out the fields and enter the time and date. Upload a banner to create a stunning visual presentation. Don’t use the book cover only. Upload an image with the words “Book launch for [Book Title]. Come join the party” or something along those lines. On the description field, write what attendees can expect from the party. Include what prizes you’ll be giving away to give them more reasons to join.
- Have contests (again).
Consider these ideas when your book becomes available for sale:
- Get fans to snap and post a photo during any of your events and give them a gift as a thank you
- Fill in the blank – ask your fans to complete a sentence found in your book
- Ask them to tell their story about an experience related to your book
After the Book Launch
- Continue updating your page.
In fact, this should be an ongoing daily activity for the rest of your book’s life. Original content is a plus as it can elevate your authority in the industry. If you have a blog or website, share your content on your page. Cover subjects like publishing news and writing tips and share imagery. Also, author websites are crucial for an online campaign, and while social media is an effective marketing tool, it’s not equivalent to having a website, but this subject deserves its own post altogether.
Share relevant articles, infographics and images from external sources once in a while. Vary up your posts. You could annoy people if your book is all you talk about. Don’t forget to engage fans by liking and answering their comments.
There are prime times of the day to post on Facebook. You want your posts to be visible when your fans are online because you’re competing with hundreds of other stories. According to Buffer, the peak time for usage is between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m but consider experimenting with posting times to see what schedules have the most engagement. Most Facebook marketing studies suggest posting five to ten times a week, which is equivalent to one to two posts a day.
- Network with other authors.
By networking, you can gain marketing ideas, an entire support group and more knowledge about the publishing world. People are naturally inclined to engage in reciprocity with others. When you support other authors, they would be happy to support you, too. Find author groups on Facebook. There are lots of them.
- Post videos.
Share your book trailer, and if you don’t have one, there are plenty of other ways to present your content through videos. Record personal invitations to your events, tell your story, read a poem or a short story, read excerpts from your book, answer fans’ questions and read fan mail.
- Organize more contests and giveaways.
Keep the entry for contests short because people easily lose excitement for contests that go on for a month or longer. Most authors give away copies of their books as prizes, but you can give other goodies, such as merchandise. You can also give bigger prizes, like a bundle of must-reads or an expensive gift, by working with other authors and organizing contests together.
Deliver the prizes right away when the contest is over and announce the winner/s on your page.
Ideas for post-launch contests:
- Quizzes – ask weekly questions of get fans to solve a word jumble
- Best illustration of a scene in your book
- Costume contest – contestant dress up as a character
- Buy Facebook Ads
Can authors really benefit from Facebook ads? The short answer is yes.
Facebook has always been finding ways to monetize their website. They changed their algorithm so that only those pages that you actively interact with show up on your News Feed. The result is that your content will hardly be seen if your fans don’t engage in it. This prompts business owners to purchase Facebook ads and reach their target audience.
Ads are different from Facebook’s Boost feature. A boosted post will appear on your fans’ timeline regardless if they don’t interact with it, but there’s a caveat to this feature – you don’t reach an audience that may actually be interested in your content. So, the solution is ads.
Craft a creative and clever title and description for your ad to draw more attention. Link it to your Facebook page, website or blog, specifically your book or merchandise page. You want to make it simple for visitors to view and purchase your book.
Once you create the ad, you can specify the demographics of your target market.
- Create urgency.
Use time-limited giveaways, coupons, discounts or other treats, and make announcements such as: “Today is the last day to get a signed copy.” The goal is to motivate people to buy.
Get on Facebook even before releasing the book so that come book launch, you already have an audience to talk about it. Your Facebook marketing campaign won’t feel like an uphill battle.
Don’t stop the marketing. Consistency is important to make your book known to the world. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising for books, so get people talking about it.