Top Tips for Marketing YA books
There’s a popular theory in the indie publishing world that only sexy books sell. Well, that’s not true for me. I have tried writing in New Adult, a genre that allows you more freedoms than Young Adult because of the age of the characters, but they don’t sell anything compared to my YA books do.
I have also heard other authors say their YA books don’t sell as many copies as their New adult or adult books do.
Why is that?
I have a few theories myself. The following are my observations after being in the indie publishing world for 10 years. This is how I found success marketing and selling YA books.
Your Brand Is You
What is branding? Branding is more than what you write. Branding is also more than the colours you use.
Branding is a personality. Branding is YOU. You are your brand. Here’s a terrific blog on the topic of branding if you’d like to learn more: Building a Successful Author Brand and Marketing Campaign
I once asked my followers what things they attribute to me. What are the first things they think of when they think ‘L.L. Hunter.’
Love of wine
True crime documentaries
But branding is so much more than these things too. It’s also the fonts you use.
For example, I always use the Cinzel and Cinzel Decorative fonts when I create my marketing images. Some of my covers have this font too.
I can change them around depending on whether I am marketing my YA mystery series, (Cinzel) or my fantasy series. (Cinzel Decorative) I make all my images using Book Brush.
If you want to know more about fonts and when and how to use them, I love this blog post on typography tips and font pairings.
Have a Hot Cover That Is On Trend
The next, and probably one of the most important aspects to selling and marketing YA books, is having a gorgeous cover that’s on trend. I have recently started consulting, helping new authors with their brands, and I tell them this all the time: Research is key!
Research your chosen genre. Look at the covers in that genre, especially the ones in the top 20 on the charts.
What do they have in common? Here’s an excellent article with DIY tips on book cover design.
When I was in talks with my cover designer with the Ebony Angel series, my designer and I looked at the top books in my chosen genre (YA urban fantasy / paranormal romance) and included all the elements that made those covers eye catching and successful, while also making them unique to me.
To date, this series, with 3 books out so far, and 4 and 5 due out in April and September respectively, is one of my highest sellers. Why?
- I wrote in a popular category
- I kept true to my brand
- Had an eye- catching cover that was on trend
- Wrote in an existing world.
Expand Your Worlds
I write series. I write BIG series.
The Ebony Angel series is part of a huge universe of YA urban fantasy and paranormal romance books called the Nephilim universe. It features angels and demons in an academy setting. The Nephilim Universe has currently 15 books published, and I have plans to expand it to 20. Why?
Because it is where I make my money. My readers love my angels and demons and until they don’t love them anymore, I’ll keep writing in this world. Series is where the money is in my opinion. So, if you have a series planned, or are an author who already has one out, find a way to expand it. Write about secondary characters or in another part of the country in a fantasy world. Here’s an excellent article on marketing a book series series
YA Readers LOVE Book Signings and Physical Books
Second to eBook sales, where I make most of my money is at in-person signing events. I have been doing signings and conventions for about eight years now, and my sales only increase with every event. I love it when a reader whom I saw at the previous event comes back to say they loved book x, y, or z, and then buys the rest of the series.
One of the things I have learned is that YA readers love physical books. They love paperbacks and hardcovers. They love holding them in their hands and smelling them…
If you do one thing, PLEASE make your books available in physical formats!
One reason for this is if your target audience is teens, some teens don’t have their own bank account and access to buy eBooks. So often parents buy them physical copies of books. They also love sharing them with their friends online on their Booktok or Bookstagram accounts. If you want to know more about Booktok, read How to use TikTok to Boost Your Book Sales.
YA Is Not Just An Age
Young adult is more than just the age of the characters or the readers. It’s a feeling. It’s the theme of the book. It’s what the characters go through. What they experience.
I love the angst of YA books. The tension of having a crush, the heightening feelings, or young romance. Yes, teens may have sex (sorry, parents!), but the depiction, if any, in YA books is not as explicit as it would be in more adult titles.
One of the mistakes I often see with other YA authors, is that they are often confused as to what YA actually means, therefore, are totally missing the mark with their marketing.
Yes, you can target teens with your ads or your marketing, but adults also buy YA books (I prefer YA books over adult personally), so don’t forget that. For example, my biggest target market, the people that buy the majority of my books, are women between the ages of 30 and 50.
Go Where Your Audience Goes
Probably one of the most important aspects of marketing is getting your books in front of readers. And the main way to do that in this day and age, is social media. That’s why when I help other authors, I ask them this question:
Do you have an online presence?
If their answer is no, then I say well, go start an Instagram page, a Tiktok, or a Facebook business page ASAP! (Now, I am still learning Tiktok and had an aversion to it for ages because, well, it’s one more thing to manage, but it can be an excellent marketing tool). After all, you can’t sell books to nobody.
But you don’t have to have an Instagram, a Facebook page or even a Tiktok, do what’s best for you, but that’s where most of my readers hang out, and honestly, you’re potentially missing out on a lot of money by not having a presence on those platforms.
I started building my social media following ten years ago. I have a Facebook business page, a Facebook reader group, Instagram, Twitter, and now a Tiktok. I am in no way an expert in Tiktok so don’t ask me how it works or how to be successful. I am still learning, but my videos have had over 300 views each and growing.
Across all of my social media, I have almost 10 thousand followers. My readers are loyal, beautiful and veracious, and the majority of my sales come from social media.
What about BookBub?
I think BookBub is one of the most important tools for authors out there. If you are an author and don’t have a BookBub author account, go get one right now! Run, don’t walk.
Not only is BookBub a book review site, but it’s a site where authors can buy ad space to put their books in front of tens of thousands of readers. Unlike other social media platforms, BookBub is solely about books.
It has highly targeted categories for books. Authors can also target similar authors to them in the same genres and reach their readers. Authors make A LOT of money on BookBub.
Readers can also follow authors there, so that when authors release new books, an email goes out to their followers.
But the most important advice I can give to new and aspiring authors is, keep writing. Finish your projects, and stay positive. This business is a marathon not a sprint.
I am now a full-time author, but it has taken me ten years to get to where I am today. Work hard, stay humble, persevere and success will find you.
Article by L.L. Hunter
L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Eden Chronicles. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author.
She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next book, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Instagram @llhunter