Marketing a book has changed radically in the past 20 years, and it seems that today, online book marketing is the way to go.
In the past, hard copy was the format, and strict marketing rules were followed. Advertisements, radio talk shows, book tours, direct mailings, etc. were the norm.
Things have drastically changed and you, as author, need to adapt in order to maximize your book sales. Today, you need to do online book marketing.
Today, I am going to deal specifically with online book marketing, and by that, I mean internet and mobile. This is where the greatest sales trends are heading, especially mobile. If you are smart, you need to catch the top of that wave.
That is not to say you won’t ever sell a hard copy of a book again; this is simply where I believe that you will sell the most books overall (plus you will make more money selling online than through traditional outlets).
If you publish an eBook, then sell it online. Just makes sense.
Before you write or publish anything, you need to develop the mindset that this book is your small business. Yes, I know—books can speak of your soul, bring your subconscious being into the realm of heaven, etc. etc. Unless you write as a hobby, all of that is well and good, but those thoughts will not further the sales of your book.
Think of your book as a product, as something you must sell in order to be successful. When you think like that, you automatically begin to think of your audience. What do they wish to read? What information do they want? Fill those needs, and you sell books.
How to Get Started in Online Book Marketing
There are a number of sites online to show small businesses how to get started, and that is the info you need to gather for the launch of your book.
One site in particular that I like is www.udacity.com which is a site of free courses. Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur guru, hosts “How to Build a Start-Up” and although it pertains specifically to tech start-ups, you can apply those same principles to any small business start-up.
Think about your audience and their needs, then fulfill them. That equals success!
Now that you have established the audience you are writing for, develop your marketing plan. How are you going to get information about your book to your prospective audience? In this blog, we will be discussing some of the possible venues, and I recommend that you pick and choose the ones appropriate to your audience.
After writing your book and before publication, ask other authors or experts to read your manuscript and write a quote for you that you could use in your advertising. It never hurts to have an expert in the field LOVE your book and tell others to be sure and read it. It is another arrow in your quiver.
Know How the Internet Works
You will benefit immensely by getting very familiar with how the web works, traffic measurements (analytics), and search engine optimization (seo). You don’t have to become an expert, but you should have a working knowledge of what each of these things are and how you can use them for your online book marketing.
This is now your place of business, so get to know all of the tools available to you.
Hands down, the number one thing you should do for your online book marketing is to build a website for your book. Find a host for your site.
If you have no programming experience, one of the determining factors of a web host should be simple templates for building websites or simple programs for you to use. Investigate carefully, for each web host will offer you different programs. Also make sure they offer technical support 24/7—believe me, you will need them at 2 am one morning!
Most of them offer a free domain name. This is your URL or web address. You want to own this, and the url should include your book name (ie. www.SusieQsfirstdinnerparty.com–not a real website). By owning this domain, it automatically becomes a marketing arm of your new business. Try for a .com before any other ending—that is most common. There are a number of good web hosts for your author website.
I am going to recommend something that will cause you to initially tear out your hair (as I did), but in the long run, you will really benefit from your efforts. Choose your web host, then choose Word Press to build your website.
This is free software that you can use to build your own website or blog site. Watch this video to understand this powerful software that is available to everyone: http://www.wp101.com/videos/what-is-wordpress/ You will find this process difficult at the beginning, but as you get into it, you will find plug-ins and widgets that will enhance your site more than any website template.
There are also support pages for any of the free Word Press themes. When having a problem, I often just go to Google and ask a question about my problem. Pages of solutions will pop up, and I have always been able to find something that works. I can also find videos on YouTube which explain different aspects of the software.
The best part about Word Press is that Google (75% of all searches) and all other search engines can read it more easily than any other web software. That means that if you do everything correctly, you will probably end up pretty high in the searches. I am not going to say Word Press is easy, but it will serve you incredibly well if you persevere, which makes this free software quite valuable for us entrepreneurs.
Pages to add to your website would include a page on your book, blogs, teaser chapter of the book, other info about the topic that makes you an “expert” in the field, activities such as quizzes or games, giveaways, etc.
Pages are only limited by your imagination and how much work you want to do on the website. Keep adding and changing things, though, for search engines love active sites and they will keep coming back.
Don’t Overlook Social Media for Your Online Book Marketing
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media can also help get word out about your book. Don’t worry so much about selling your book, as giving out information that will make people want to buy your book.
Did you write “100 recipes made with lemons?” Then talk about the history of lemons on Facebook, pin lemony things on your board in Pinterest, Twitter about lemons—see where I am going with this? You talk about the topic, and then—oh, by the way, I have a new book on lemons. . . Or put your book title and/or website url in your signature so people will see it after you say something about lemons!
Take your current email address list, add to it, and tell everyone that your book is launched, but don’t pester them. Let people sign up for regular announcements from you.
Referring back to our lemon book: do you have a new lemon cake recipe to share? Send it to your email list. ALWAYS give them an opportunity to unsubscribe or you will be held responsible as a spammer, and that is not a nice thing to be.
The possibilities for marketing online are endless.
You can make videos pertinent to your book topic and post them on your website, on YouTube, and on other video sites. You can network with friends, other authors, the subcontractors on your book, or professional contacts. You can join communities, discussion groups, comment on blogs or other websites.
Remember, though, no one likes for you to only sell your book. That is not acceptable web behavior; you need to give away enough information to make them want to buy your book. Again, that signature line can be a valuable, subtle sales ploy.
Many online booksellers welcome an author page on their sites, so don’t overlook this free source of advertising.
Here are a number of websites that you might find helpful. If you should have others to suggest, please comment below to share with all of us.
Some other resources for online book marketing:
(I also suggest that you google topics of particular interest to you–research, research, research!)
www.udacity.com free courses offered online for a variety of subjects
www.wordpress.org homesite of Word Press with tons of info and links here
http://www.wp101.com/videos/what-is-wordpress/ great video explaining Word Press
www.Lynda.com pay site ($25 month) with a ton of courses that might help you. You can sign up for a month at a time.
http://publicityhound.com/blogs good blogs on internet marketing
http://www.stepbystepselfpublishing.net/reviewer-list.html At the top of this website, she is selling a book, but scroll down and find an extensive list of places that review books.
http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/05/05/how-to-sell-self-published-books-read-this-first/ Catherine Howard tells it like it is. Your book is a product that you have to learn to sell. She has some good comments here that will benefit you.
http://www.amarketingexpert.com/eight-steps-for-successfully-marketing-yourself-online/ Good comments on all of this marketing takes time, relationships, etc.
http://www.spacejock.com.au/MarketingYourBookOnline.html Spacejock has done the work for you. Here are forum lists, author page lists, etc. of websites that will be valuable for you. Another good read.
http://worddreams.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/17-tips-on-how-to-market-your-books-online/ Another list of marketing ideas for you. Some will work.