One of the tasks that I dread the most is marketing myself and my books. It feels weird to tout how “great” my book is or why “everyone should read it.” A lot of my writer friends tell me they have the same problem so I decided to do something about it.
Book Marketing 101
A lot of marketing revolves around the four P’s — Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. For authors, Product, Price, and Place are easy since that’s the mechanics of writing your book, pricing it, and then selling it online, or in book stores. The Promotion piece is the one area that can make or break how successful your book will be. Many fantastic authors have languished on promotion, and wondered why their book does not sell. That’s why it’s important, at least for me, to re-frame the promotion piece to switch from “look at me” to “look at me helping other people.” One way to do that is to Help A Reporter Out (HARO).
HARO is a free service that matches reporters with experts on a wide range of topics. Twice daily, HARO will send you an email with a list of queries that reporters need help on. If you see something that interests you, then you send them a pitch.
Often, reporters are looking for experts in a field to quote. If you have a book related to the topic they are interested in, chances are, they will use your quote. Even if you’re a fiction writer, there are often queries for how to handle the ups and downs of the creative process, book lists, self-employment, etc. The great news is that they will usually let you link to your book, and give you a byline. For me, this is the ideal situation for promotion since I feel like I’m helping someone rather than just promoting myself. It may seem like a subtle difference but, if you’re shy about self-promotion like me, this is a great way to warm up to it.
Reporters do require that your book be available for sale and they usually want an Amazon link or equivalent. Of course, you’ll want that, too, because, if your pitch gets selected, you’ll want those that read the article to know where to buy your book.
Like any kind of promotional strategy, consistency is what makes them successful. You have to put the effort in consistently in order to see any results. This means that, even if you don’t have the opportunity to promote your book with a query, you should respond to as many HARO queries as you can, provided you really can help out that reporter. For me, I made it a goal to respond to at least one query per day for 30 days. I know that might seem like a lot but the practice of pitching, coupled with the consistency, makes the overall effort per day hover around 15-30 minutes. That’s probably the minimum an author should devote to promoting their work.
Results for The Entrepreneur Ethos
As of this writing, I have been experimenting with HARO for the last two months. One big win I got for my book, The Entrepreneur Ethos, was being selected as the #1 Informative Yet Approachable Business Book To Read In 2019 by Boove, which I’m really proud of. That win came from me submitting 25 pitches to various reporters, and getting six of them selected, one of which was Boove. While not all of the accepted pitches talked about my book, they did link back to my website, and mentioned my name, which gives people more ways to find out about me and my books.
Take the 30-Day HARO Challenge
Book marketing is an important part of getting the word out about what you have created. If you’re like most authors, you probably find it hard to self-promote your book the traditional way. Why not sign up for a free HARO account, and pitch a reporter a day for 30 days? Not only will you be helping people out, but you’ll also be helping yourself. The practice of pitching yourself and your book will help you feel more comfortable promoting the great book you wrote. Who knows? ou might even branch out from there, and get interviewed on a podcast.
Jarie Bolander is an engineer by training and an entrepreneur by nature. He has published six books with his latest being The Entrepreneur Ethos, which shows how to build a more ethical, inclusive, and resilient entrepreneur community.
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