In today’s publishing landscape, authors must develop and implement an effective marketing strategy for every book launch. Finding strategies that work, identifying the ones that don’t, then making necessary adjustments for the next launch will help get your books in front of your ideal readers.
Every time I launch a book, I learn something new about marketing. I’ve also made plenty of mistakes along the way. Before my first book was published, I mistakenly believed “everyone” would want to read my work. In reality, there’s an ideal audience for each book. Understanding who your target readers are and what they’re looking for when searching for their next book is the foundation for your entire marketing strategy. For more information about how to build your author brand, there’s a helpful article on branding your author website.
Based on my experience launching five independent and five traditionally published contemporary romance novels, here are my eight favorite book marketing strategies.
Creating Images with Book Brush
Effective marketing starts with an appealing book cover, ad copy that hooks your reader, and a strong call to action. Book Brush is an excellent tool for designing a variety of social media images. Here are the images I create with every book that I launch:
- Cover reveal
- Another image featuring book cover + reminder to pre-order
- An additional post specifically highlighting the book’s first line
- A strong 5-star review from an early reader
Remember to include a call to action with every post and include the release date, your website, and a prompt to pre-order or purchase the book. Here’s an example of an image I created using Book Brush to promote the launch of my most recent novel:
The sky is the limit when using Book Brush for designing images that complement your marketing strategy. Here’s an article featuring images for specific launch phases.
Guest Posting on Blogs
In today’s fast-paced world, humans are constantly inundated with sensory input. It’s challenging to catch your ideal reader’s attention and persuade them to “stop the scroll”. That’s why it’s super important to create content that helps build relationships. You want your audience to know you, like you, and trust you enough to buy your book. Writing guest posts for blogs with an audience that includes your current readers (or helps reach new readers) is an effective marketing strategy. Sharing your knowledge helps build your reputation as a trustworthy source in the industry.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Readers are huge fans of free books. The key here is to adopt a win-it-before-you-can-buy-it approach. You want to give away books before your title is available for sale. This helps build excitement for the book’s release date, and helps your readers feel appreciated because they’re receiving early access to your book. Here are a few of the giveaways I’ve implemented as part of my book marketing strategy.
- Giveaway for newsletter subscribers: nurture these loyal fans by giving them an exclusive giveaway. This means they win something non-subscribers can’t. Signed advanced copy of your book, merch readers love, gift cards to book subscription plans and other authors’ books are all great for giveaways.
- Social media giveaway: Facebook groups for your book’s genre are an ideal place to give away an early copy of your book. These readers are fans of what you write and more likely to read your book and perhaps share a review. You can host a giveaway on your own platforms as well.
- Goodreads giveaway: your mileage may vary regarding the effectiveness of a giveaway on this reader-centric platform. For some authors, it’s cost prohibitive. For me, the investment is worth it because of the exposure my book receives when readers enter the giveaway. Goodreads makes it very easy to host and implement the giveaway. You have the option to give away paperback or Kindle copies. Here’s a screenshot of my recent giveaway for An Alaskan Secret. I ran the giveaway for 2 weeks (during the month just prior to launch), over 2,000 people entered, and I gave away 5 signed copies.
Sharing Book Recs
Recommending other authors’ books is an easy way to connect with your audience. Readers want to know what you read. I suggest using Book Brush to create an appealing image. It’s an efficient tool with tons of pre-made options, or you can create your own custom design. Use an eye-catching background that compliments the book you’d like to recommend. Then share the image on your social media platforms. It’s up to you if you want to share a review and a star-rating. BookBub and Goodreads are also wonderful avenues for recommending books.
Here’s an image that I created with Book Brush to highlight 3 books I wanted to recommend to my audience.
There is a vibrant niche of the Instagram community known as Bookstagram. These are voracious readers. They are passionate about sharing their book recommendations, discussing their love for the printed page, and they showcase books in aesthetically pleasing ways. Using genre-specific hashtags, you can find Bookstagrammers who like to read what you write and publish. Focus on building relationships first. Interact with their content. Share their giveaway posts. Ask thoughtful questions to provoke more conversation. The investment will be worth it. When it’s time to find reviewers for your next launch, these are the readers you’ll reach out to.
Newsletter Swaps & Group Promotions
If you don’t have a newsletter subscriber list yet, it’s never too early (or too late) to start. Collecting readers’ email addresses in an ethical manner allows you to reach out to them via their inboxes on a regular basis. This is far more effective than relying on social media to get your books in front of readers.
Learning to grow your subscriber list can be intimidating. Thankfully, there are lots of authors who want to grow their lists as well. First, connect with another author who writes in your genre. Then offer to “swap” promotional space in each other’s newsletters. This works especially well if you each have a free book or a book on sale. Ideally, you will both benefit from exposure to the other author’s audience.
The same concept applies to group promotional opportunities. However, swaps and group promotions run more efficiently when integrated with your newsletter provider. Check out Story Origin and Bookfunnel for more genre-specific swaps and group promotions. Both vendors host and conduct these marketing services for modest fees.
If you need excellent tips on how to use Book Brush to design your newsletter, check out 5 Tips for Designing Author Newsletters.
Regardless of the number of books you publish or the publisher you partner with to launch your books into the world, the person who cares the most about the success of your launch is you. Eventually you will need to invest in advertising your books. Here are 5 methods I’ve used to advertise during the pre-order phase of the book launch, during the first week the book is on the market, when I need to reach new readers, and when I need reviews. I’ve also run Facebook ads to advertise my free novella (lead magnet) to s-l-o-w-l-y grow my newsletter subscriber list.
- New Release for Less with BookBub
- Amazon advertising
- Facebook lead generation ads to promote my lead magnet (free novella)
- Instagram advertising
- Publicity tours for book reviews and audience exposure
Engaging with readers and authors on TikTok
TikTok has become a significant part of the publishing landscape. It’s a powerful tool for helping people find the kind of books they love. Readers create short-form videos showcasing everything from their favorite tropes to their aesthetically pleasing bookshelves. I’ve found TikTok to be a fun and entertaining way to connect with both authors and readers. If you’re just getting started with TikTok, focus on being an engaged member of the community, as opposed to approaching the platform as someone with a product to sell. Connect with other book lovers by liking videos, leaving comments and sharing their TikTok videos on your social media platforms. Learning to use TikTok requires a unique skill set. It takes time, but in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile investment. This is a space where readers have proven that they want to buy and read books, so it’s important for authors to be active in that space as well.
For more information about how to use TikTok, check out How to Use TikTok to Boost Your Book Sales.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy. Every book launch will be slightly different from the last one. Each author has a set of skills and a budget that will influence their marketing plans. The goal is always to use the resources you have to build a meaningful connection with your ideal readers, and hopefully convert those readers into loyal fans who will keep buying your books.
Article by Heidi McCahan
Heidi McCahan began dreaming up stories as a little girl. Now she writes uplifting, inspirational romance novels set in small towns. Heidi’s a huge fan of coffee, dark chocolate, and reading books with happy endings. She’s originally from Alaska, but currently lives in North Carolina with her handsome husband, three amazing boys, and the world’s greatest goldendoodle.
Heidi loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website, www.heidimccahan.com.