Marketing Channels for Writers

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How you market your book will depend on how you’re publishing your book. For those who are self-publishing, you’ll likely run all of your marketing campaigns for your book. This post is going to assume you’re responsible for your own book sale growth. Even as a traditionally published author, there’s always more you can do to market your book yourself.

Before diving in, the most important part of marketing is having a product you’re proud to sell. Make sure you have beta readers, editors, and a cover design that you’re excited about.

You’ll naturally want to promote your work if you feel it’s ready to be seen.

The second most important part of marketing is knowing your audience:

  • What books are similar to yours and who’s reading them?

  • What’s their age range?

  • Is your audience a particular gender?

  • Where do they buy books?

  • What format do they prefer reading (print or digital)?

  • What podcasts are they listening to?

  • What do they read online?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you connect to readers more effectively. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll want to learn about different marketing channels for engaging with your audience:

Content Marketing and SEO

Creating content is an effective way to have your audience find you, rather than the other way around. Simply by publishing your advice and knowledge, you can add value for people in your community and, possibly, create a sale down the road.

While you could create content on social media alone, it helps to have an author website, so when people want to learn more about you, they can find:

  • A synopsis of your books

  • How to purchase your books

  • Access to your advice (your blog)

  • Links to your social media platforms

  • Contact info

Your website doesn’t have to be complex. My first writer website was a WordPress site, but I later realized that a WordPress site wasn’t the best route for me. Now, my website is a Squarespace site, which allows me to switch themes, add new elements, such as a newsletter, and track analytics in less time.

When you create a website, you don’t have to create a blog, but having a blog will help you connect with new readers and provide more value to your audience. It’s important to consider how you want to spend your time: a lot of writers skip a blog so they have more time to write fiction.

I’m planning on writing a longer post related to SEO for authors, but for now, here are some content tips to help you get started:

  • Ask your readers to subscribe to your newsletter

    • The key to doing this correctly is to provide real value to your subscribers. You don’t want to collect emails to only market your books. What other content can you put front-and-center in their inbox?

  • Go to BuzzSumo and search for who has tweeted a particular article, follow them, and when they follow back, send them a DM about your content.

  • Provide a guest post for an influential book reviewer and ask for a book review in exchange.

  • Reach out to bloggers who are creating “best of” lists, such as “Best Poetry Books in 2019” and ask to be included.

  • Create a “blog tour” where you guest post across influential sites and promote your brand.

  • Contact podcast hosts you love and ask if they’re interested in having you as a guest.

  • Reach out to magazines and write a piece for them. It doesn’t have to be the New Yorker — you could write for your alumni magazine instead. Or brainstorm even further: does an organization you were a part of have a magazine or online publication?

Social Media

Social media use will differ from author to author. Here are some of the questions I often hear from other writers:

Do I need to be on every platform?

No, you don’t have to tire yourself out by posting everywhere. Find 1-2 platforms where you feel you engage the most naturally. These platforms are where you’ll spend your free time, so play around and see where you feel the most aligned. For me, it’s Twitter and Instagram.

Should I cross-post the same content or make every tweet and post unique?

You can cross-post the same content, but often the same people will engage with you across platforms, so I recommend spending extra time to make your posts unique. But there will certainly be times when it makes sense to post the same, or similar, content across multiple platforms.

Do I need a Facebook author page?

If Facebook is your preferred social media platform, then I recommend it. Your publisher may also recommend or require it.

However, if you’re not going to post content on your author page, then skip it.

Do I need to post every day?

You can post multiple times per day, but this isn’t necessary. There are plenty of writers, like Cal Newport, who aren’t even on social media and have amazing book sales and reviews. In fact, the argument can be easily made that your time should be spent writing, not tweeting #amwriting.

What if I already have a personal Twitter or Instagram?

You can have more than one account! My Twitter is all about writing and it’s my only Twitter account. However, for Instagram, I have a private account for personal photos with family and friends, and a public Instagram where I post about writing.

I also recommend tracking numbers related to your social media use:

  • Number of posts per month

  • New followers per month

For my business, I have one google sheet where I track all numbers that matter on the first and fifteenth of every month, including the above social media numbers.

The numbers you track are the numbers that will grow.

Because you’re focusing on certain numbers, your mind will automatically think of new levers you can pull to increase them. That being said, I recommend using the “Company of One” mindset when it comes to growing your numbers.

Here are some other tips:

  • Join Facebook groups related to your industry and engage.

  • Add your book to Goodreads, ask your friends to review it, or add it to their “Want to Read” list.

  • Consider having a Public versus private Instagram.

    • How many times per day or per week do you want to post?

    • How many new followers do you want to gain?

    • What writer hashtags will you use?

  • Participate in social media events like #askanagent and #1linewed.

  • Consider how you can use hashtags to market your book and brand. For example, I organize all of my #1linewed posts on Instagram under the hashtag #kasiawords.

  • Use a social media tool like CrowdFire or Twitly to unfollow people who haven’t followed you back.

Paid Ads

If you can, I recommend setting aside budget for paid marketing. Here are some platforms where you can advertise:

If you’re not familiar with how to run a pay per click (PPC) ad, there are courses online that will teach you. Here’s the Google AdWords Course. It takes time to learn, but can be a highly effective way to drive traffic to your site or your book’s Amazon page.

One of the best ways to do this is launching a competitor campaign in Google. If your audience is currently reading “Girl on the Train,” you can bid for that as a keyword in Google and your ad will show up at the top of the page. What’s unique about this idea is that not many writers do it. The lack of competition means it’s cheap and your ad will stand out.

You could also hire marketing or PR specialists if your budget allows. Reedsy offers a community of professionals that authors can hire, including designers, PR experts, and editors.

Public Relations

Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need a PR expert to help you land a spot in a high-traffic publication. Tools like HARO (Help a Reporter) allow you to pitch directly to journalists based on the expertise they need for an article. Here’s an example of a post you may see:

Books To Give To Your Mom (Fupping.com)

If you find a post you want to reply to, send the contact an email. Here’s the template that I use to reach out:

Hi {First Name},

I’m a {title with link to your website} with {knowledge in subject matter. Be sure to sell them on why you are the best person to provide advice}.

In reference to your query on {subject}, I can {answer query requirements}.

{Provide 1-3 tips with a few sentences describing each. They will likely use this verbatim.}

Would you be interested in talking to me further about {subject}? Please email me or call me at {contact info}.

Sincerely,
{Your Name}
{Title, Business with Link to Website}

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Organize your family and friends in an email list so you can contact them when you want to recruit their marketing efforts. To help, they can:

  • Recommend your book to a book club.

  • Put your book front-and-center in bookstores across their town, or leave your book in coffee shops and little free libraries around town.

  • Review your book on Amazon and Goodreads.

  • Post about your book on social media.

Affiliates

Popular bloggers want to write about up-and-coming books because it shows they’re on the cutting edge of what’s new. You can recommend that for every book you sell as a result of their website, you’ll give them a percentage of the sale. This is an effective affiliate strategy because it makes them invested in helping you sell.

For this to work, you’ll need custom tracking URLs. Reach out to me if you want to learn more about setting this up.

Speaking Engagements & Podcasts

People want to connect with writers who are the face of their brand and excited to talk about what they’re writing. To get in front of more people, you can:

  • Create your own book tour at indie bookstores.

  • Organize a speech at your alma mater.

  • Create a podcast tour where you line up several guest spots on podcasts you love.

Next Steps

This article provided a long list of ideas, but you shouldn’t necessarily use all of them. To figure out where to start, I recommend prioritizing the ideas that will have the most impact and that resonate with you and your brand.

You’ll also need to further brainstorm each marketing idea. For example, if you’re interested in a podcast tour, which podcasts come to mind? Potentially your immediate next step is researching and listening to more podcasts.

Find the areas where you have the most value to offer and prioritize the list in terms of time spent, budget, and projected impact on book sales. I highly recommend Trello for organizing tasks, prioritizing, saving notes on each idea, and creating deadlines for yourself. You can reach out here if you have any questions.

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