Perhaps a dozen times a week, authors ask me some variation of this question:
What is the best way to promote my book online?
It’s quite simple, really. This is all you need:
- An audience
- A vehicle to reach that audience
Even semi-popular publications, whether in print or online, have an audience. However, buying ads in those publications can be quite expensive. If you can only afford to buy one ad in each of them, you’ll end up with a lot of money going out and few to no book sales coming in. Why? Because you’re only getting one shot at reaching each of their readers.
What is one-shot book marketing? It’s when you go to a great deal of time and effort to promote your book in a way that results in potential customers only seeing/hearing/reading about your book ONE TIME, in a very brief moment, in the middle of an otherwise hectic hour, in just one day out of their busy year.
What if you could create your OWN publication, control all the content, own your own growing mailing list (your fans!), send out each edition of your publication whenever you want, and run ads for your own books as frequently as you want? That’s the answer I give authors who ask me about the secret to online book sales. Publish your own ezine! But, more on that later.
Sadly, many authors think an ezine might be too hard – too much of a commitment. They believe hunting down a popular publication, bartering for or buying ads, running one-ad-at-a-time, and starting the process all over again, week after week, is easier. Trust me. It’s not. Yes, an ezine is a long-term commitment but you’ve spent a long time on your book and if you are committed to promoting and profiting from it, an ezine is the way to go.
If you think publishing your own ezine sounds daunting, keep reading.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Here is a list of things I never do to promote my books because the time and effort, which equal money, and any resulting book sales, almost never bring in a net profit in the end:
- book signings
- marketing to libraries
- marketing to other retailers
- marketing to other distributors (all our BookLocker.com books are available through Ingram anyway – they’re the biggest, don’t force me to offer a huge discount, and also don’t force me to accept returns)
It’s very discouraging to me when I tell authors exactly what steps to take to promote their book, yet they insist on taking other avenues, and then come back to me later, complaining about things like this:
- They spent weeks arranging a book signing and sold two copies.
- They spent hours landing, preparing for and participating in a radio interview and sold zero copies.
- They participated in a phone or written interview by email and sold zero copies.
- They mailed out thirty review copies and got zero reviews (and, of course, sold zero copies).
- They sent out 200 fliers to libraries and sold zero copies.
- They did any number of other things that only exposed their book to each potential buyer just one time (yes, only one) and they still don’t understand why few to no copies of their book sold.
Potential readers must be exposed to your product/service several times before most will click (or pick up the phone, or drive to the bookstore) to buy. This is a proven fact in marketing and you’ll be able to prove it to yourself quite easily if you take my advice. Advertising professionals can’t seem to agree on a specific number of impressions but, plain and simple, the more you’re exposed to an advertiser’s message, the more likely you are to buy.
Why do companies run the same advertisements every single month in the same magazines? You know they’re expensive so the repeat ads tell you they obviously work!
Why do other firms run the exact same TV ads during the same shows, week after week? Heck, some even run the same ad multiple times during the same show! No, it’s not just because they got a buy-one, get-one-free special. It’s because they know they must give most viewers repeat exposure to an ad before those customers will buy that product.
Successful advertisers follow this principal in all forms of advertising, including television, print and online.
Am I suggesting you buy multiple ads to promote your book or other product/service? No, not at all. What I’m suggesting is you create your OWN media product, collect your OWN list of customers, and expose them to your product on your OWN, at your convenience and on your time-frame.
YOUR OWN PROPERTY AND YOUR OWN LIST OF FANS!
I’ve been telling authors this for years but I’ll keep saying it because IT WORKS.
Creating a free ezine that features quality editorial on a frequent basis is how you attract and keep fans – fans that will want to start buying your books after they get to know you. People who might hear about you through another publications have no idea who you are. Publishing your own ezine, week after week, builds readership (your fan base). Your fans will learn all about you, will trust you, and will want to buy from you far more than they’ll want to buy from a stranger. Furthermore, they won’t forget about you because you will be reminding them about your book(s), week after week.
HOW TO GET SUBSCRIBERS
You’re probably thinking, ‘Well, if advertising in other publications doesn’t work, how am I supposed to get subscribers?’ Here are some time-tested ideas:
OFFER A FREE PRODUCT
Yes, you absolutely should utilize other people’s media properties…but not to sell books. You want to try to get their readers to become YOUR readers. SELLING to strangers is difficult. GIVING them something for free is easy. For a decade now, I’ve been giving away a free ebook, How to Be a Freelance Writer (Includes Paying Markets) to new WritersWeekly.com subscribers. That’s my hook for getting people to sign up to our mailing list. You can and should do this, too. If you are giving away something for free, you also have a better chance of getting free mentions in other ezines, on radio shows, and more.
RUN A CONTEST
Doug Clegg is a master when it comes to book marketing. He’s the first one I heard about who ran a contest where the winner would be featured, and killed, in a future Clegg novel. For horror/fantasy fans, WHAT could more fun than that?!
Doug is currently running a contest where one of his subscribers will win a free Nook or Kindle. This is the second time he’s running the contest so the first one obviously worked! You can see how he does it, and enter the contest as well, HERE.
Offering something for FREE to another publication’s customers will pull that customer to your website. They will then be YOUR subscriber and you will then have FREE access to them. They will become your fans and you will be reminding them about your book(s) on a regular (I recommend weekly) basis.
FREE PRODUCT/CONTEST = MORE SUBSCRIBERS FOR YOUR EZINE = REPEAT EXPOSURE TO YOUR BOOKS = BOOK SALES
Again, here are the steps to take:
- Come up with a unique contest or a free product to offer (an excerpt from your book, a small, stand-alone book, anything at all that you can afford to give away for free). IMPORTANT: Remember to ONLY put people on your list who have requested to be on your list. Spamming destroys reputations.
- Start creating and distributing a quality ezine. I cover this topic in detail HERE.
- Put your issues online and distribute via email on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis (I recommend weekly).
- When promoting through properties not owned by you, promote your FREE product whenever possible. Don’t try to sell books. Instead, try to get new subscribers. Book sales will naturally follow.
- Continue to build up your readership and continue to write books for that same audience.
Yes, it really is that simple.
For more online book marketing advice, please see my 11-part series HERE.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker. WritersWeekly is the free marketing emag for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is one of the top-rated POD publishers in the industry.
Is there a specific topic you’d like Angela to cover? Contact her at: angela – at – writersweekly.com