Articles tagged "free book publishing"

Entrepreneurs: Publish a Book, Make an Impression

6 min read

Self-publishing has improved a great deal since 2002, when Lulu first broke the mold and began offer writers a means to publish without going the traditional route. Today, the book market is flooded with self-published titles. While many of these are story tellers seeking publication, there has been a noticeable uptick in the number of businesses and individuals using book publishing to promote themselves.

The published work takes on a different role when the book is a tool for promoting oneself or one’s business. The book is a mechanism to share expertise or knowledge, as well as promoting a brand. The book, in essence, becomes an expanded business card.

Imagine you’re an entrepreneur with an exciting new product. Or a speaker with knowledge valuable to a specific industry. You might attend trade shows or speak during seminars to promote yourself and the product/service you offer. And often times at these kinds of events, you’ll hand out numerous cards with your name and contact info on them. You’ll take in a variety of these cards from other interested individuals and organizations.

What happens to those cards? If you’re like most, the contact information and name go into a database, and they are added to your mail list. Because that is, in the end, the real role of a business card. Both parties are engaging in a tacit agreement to add each other to their respective mailing lists. This in and of itself is a great thing. You get to grow your mailing list and your get access to the content and information from the other party. Knowledge is shared and potentially both parties are better for it.

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Marketing Toolbox: 4 steps to long term success

9 min read

Marketing Toolbox, free self-publishing advice

In case you haven’t been following our marketing toolbox series, you can find the first part here and the second part here. In the first we looked at important steps toward preparing your marketing plan and your book release. Part two identified the keys to maintaining your marketing plan. In this final segment, we’ll look at the long term planning and steps you’ll want to take in order to keep selling copies after the initial promotional push.

Considered broadly, your long-term marketing plan for your book is actually pretty simple. Basically, you’ll just extend the initial plan to a less intense degree. Social media, emails, and consistently generating content for your author website/blog will still be priorities. This may seem obvious, but once that initial surge of marketing and selling ends, I’m guessing you’ll want a little break, then you’ll dive into your next project, be it writing, editing, or designing your next book. Eventually that book will be done, and you’ll start the process all over again. Right?

Well, sort of right. You don’t want to just stop marketing after your book’s release and initial push. Think about it from a reader perspective. For a few months or so, your readers see social media and email updates regularly, they buy a copy of your book (Yay!) and they are get to understand your author brand. Then all that vanishes. The might read your book and drop a review on your Lulu page, or maybe on the book’s Goodreads page, but they stop interacting beyond that. And they will stop interacting unless you keep prompting them.

So how do you keep marketing without a book to directly promote?

I’m glad you asked! Today we’ll focus on four points that can help keep on track with promoting your author brand, selling your book(s), and making the marketing side of self-publishing a regular part of the whole experience. We’ve looked at developing a plan and enacting that plan in our previous two articles, and much of what we touched on last week applies to your long term goals as well. The seven keys to following through on your marketing plan remain unchanged in the long term, and you’ll need to be consistently creating and sharing content across your platform.

Think about this article as a second guide to your marketing plan. You’ve laid out the initial plan, plotted the release of the book and the sales promotions surrounding the release, and you’ve begun establishing yourself as an author brand. The long term plan will be essentially the same in concept, though you’ll be stripping out a majority of the work and focusing on small efforts to keep your presence felt without overloading yourself.

In the interest of keeping your long term plan simple, we’ll look at four points of importance that can guide you as you continue to market and promote your book after the initial push. As I’ve mentioned in the previous two articles, these suggestions are just that: suggestions. Other factors may be more or less important based on your book, your market, and your goals.

One piece of terminology I’ll use today that you may be new (in publishing and book marketing terms) is follower. Of course, in social media a follower is anyone receiving notification or updates regard specific content. You’re mailing list, blog subscribers, Facebook likers, and anyone who can see your content when you make it available qualifies as a follower. Rather than thoroughly defining the group of potential readers you’ll appeal to with your efforts, we’ll examine how your strategy will apply to the broad group of followers you’ve connected with during your initial marketing efforts.

With that in mind, let’s explore how you can stay on track with your marketing and sales goals for the long term!

Content

We’ve talked a lot about this, but it bears repeating. Content. Content. Content. Post on social media. Write blog posts regularly. Send emails regularly. All of this trains your followers to expect content from you. Don’t lapse on giving the public what they want.

Content is the glue you’ll use to bind followers to your brand. All the initial contact may have been a result of a sale or a recommendation from someone you’re already connected with, or perhaps even in person signing or sales events. However you did it, you’ve got a list of social media followers and email addresses. You cannot allow this resource to go unused! Nor do you want to be posting on social media or email promotional content all the time. Email spam filters will start to absorb your correspondences, and social media users will begin scrolling past without reading or engaging with you.

You need relevant and quality content to keep your followers engaged. If they find you interesting, and keep up with your content offerings, they are that much more likely to notice your next book launch. Content can do this for you. Sharing interesting articles about publishing, writing, or books in general, writing blog posts that engage and reveal something about the life of an author, the way you write, or the publishing process, and even personal content like funny pictures of your pets or mention of other significant achievements in your life are all valid and useful pieces of content you can use.

Balance posting book and publishing related pieces with some personal stuff. Your followers need to get to know you, and your work. The more topical your content, the better, as it will speak to current and trending questions or concerns your readers may have about publishing and authorship. Think about it: your readers will almost all be just readers, but they will be interested in your process, how you navigated the work that goes into publishing, and they may even become interested in self-publishing their own work!

You may wonder how to keep a continuous stream of content flowing. That’s a great question.

The Market

I don’t mean the grocery store around the corner. I don’t mean just the sales pages online for your book either. The publishing market is a big and often shifting thing, encompassing publishing and book selling in all its forms. Scour the Internet for sites and pages offering industry information and newsletters. A couple of good ones include Publisher’s Weekly and Digital Book World. Another important site to keep an eye on is Author Earnings for sales trends and genre popularity tracking.

Keeping your eye on the market serves a number of important ends. As we’re assuming you’ve already written, published, and released a book, the ever changing trends in the market will help guide your future market planning, as well as providing data to understand what readers are looking for in books. Imagine you’ve written a mystery novel with strong romantic overtones. If you see that romance is much more popular than mystery at the moment, you might reconsider how you pitch your book. The book itself – the story you’ve woven – remains unchanged, but the direction you take with things like the market plan and cover design might change a little.

That’s one benefit of knowing your market. Another involves our previous point: Content. I may sound a little like a broken record here, but content is a vital piece of your author brand. Content marketing in general might be a popular trend at the moment, but for authors there will always be value in offering content. You’re a writer! It should be easy and fun to create small pieces of content to share with your followers, and as they come to know you and your content better, they’ll be eager to support you by purchasing your book(s)!

A good sense of the market can inform your long term strategy in more immediate ways. Think about it like this: let’s say the initial push is over, you’ve had some sales, and now you want to wind down those efforts and start working on your next book. The long term plan might be a couple blog posts a month, email newsletters to go with those posts, and once a day social media posting. Seems like a simple and low-effort marketing plan for a long time frame, right? But because you’re putting less effort into your marketing after the release efforts, you can benefit from a bit of careful targeting. Notice a lot of talk about books or readers in your genre floating around on the Internet? Might be a good time to send a promotional email to your subscribers or run a series of straight promotional posts on your social media to capitalize on the uptick in interest.

Overall, its just a good idea to be in the know as much as possible about the industry, the trends, and the genres that are selling well. Knowledge is powerful for a writer, and you can translate industry knowledge into content, marketing plans, and even a strategy for writing. If your goal is to sell copies of your book, you have to know the buyers and the other sellers you’ll compete with as thorough as you can. Then use this knowledge to appeal to the followers you have – they’ll appreciate your knowledge and your willingness to share it.

Relationships

If you follow the Lulu Blog, I bet you’ve seen the phrase “writing is a community activity” at least once. I tend to say it a lot. And for good reason. Writing may seem very solitary, but in reality its not. You write for an audience. Why, then, would you not want their perspective and advice while you write? Same with other authors. Yes, they might technically be “competition” in terms of making sales, but if you ever meet an author so cut-throat in their desire for sales that they eschew the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with their peers, I would avoid that person.

Building relationships is a common piece of advice you’d hear from anyone in any industry. Entrepreneurs – and make no mistake, if you’re selling your book and marketing it yourself, you are an entrepreneur – find their success not just through offering an innovative or highly needed product, but also by knowing the right people, and making the right connections. Imagine you met and exchanged contact info with a well known and popular author, as at a book expo or in store event. Then you release your book and offer to send that author a free company, asking very nicely if they might consider dropping you a review. If they like your book, they might even recommend it to their network of followers, and just like that with a simple meeting and an email, you’ve tapped into another author’s network and gained a wealth of exposure.

Relationships need not be so grand or one sided either. Forge bonds with other local authors and writing groups. Even if a portion of these connections share your social media, blog, or other promotional material, you’ll be extending your reach to their networks.

While you’re in the long term piece of your marketing plan, relationships are a great point of focus. Go to writing groups, other author signings at your local bookstore, and larger events like expos and conventions. Make the connections you’ll need to consistently grow your author brand and see increased sales with each subsequent book you release.

Time Management

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that the last step in your long term marketing plan is relevant to all aspects of your writing and book selling goals. But it is worth looking at particularly when it comes to the continual marketing of your book(s) and your brand. Managing one’s time is a challenge we all face in many aspects of our day to day lives.

You’re a writer, so it’s safe to assume you’ve got a good sense of managing your time. Finding the hours to write your book, edit it, layout it out, and all the other self-publishing prep works likely ranks you among the best at time management. It is even more important then that you do not let your marketing plan slip. Block time regularly to perform the tasks you’ve incorporated into your plan (social media posting, researching the industry, blogging, etc.).

Managing your time well, in an organized and consistent fashion, will keep you on track with not only your marketing plan, but also your writing.

The reason to bring this up specifically regarding the long term marketing strategy is because your work load will be shifting post release. For a period of time, you’ll be putting all your focus into selling and promoting your new book. Once that period ends and you transition to writing or editing your next piece, the time you spend promoting your book(s) and yourself will naturally decrease. But you can’t allow it to grind to a complete halt!

Plan time to make those social media posts, set aside time to blog weekly in your regular writing schedule. Consistency in your marketing, both for the book(s) you are selling and for yourself as an author, is crucial to maintaining an ever growing base of followers – the very people who will be the buyers of your next book!

Conclusion

If there’s one major take away from this series of book marketing, it should be PLANNING. Some authors will tell you they plan out their book from start to finish, others will write freely and let the story evolve. Be creative in your writing methods. But when it comes time to sell the book, the more preparation and planning you can dedicate to the project, the more successful you’ll be.

I cannot reiterate the importance of planning enough. Do not expect a great deal of success in selling your book(s) without a dedicated marketing plan. It might happen, but I would chalk that up to luck more than anything. Or maybe you’re the next Stephen King and your books are just so good they will sell themselves. But most of us are expecting reasonable sales – and to make that a reality, you need a solid plan in place.

Last thing I want to mention again. My strategies here and in the previous two pieces in this series are advice. No one plan or idea is a sure thing. And if your book or your audience seems likely to benefit from some unique marketing strategies that I didn’t mention, by all means explore them. More than any one piece of advice, marketing in the self-publishing world is about trial and error, being willing to put in the work, and consistently giving the audience you do have content and reason to keep an eye on you (for future sales).

Marketing Toolbox: The 7 Keys to Active Book Promoting

14 min read

Marketing Toolbox, free self-publishing advice

This is the second installment of our Marketing Toolbox series. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. Previously, we looked at the planning stages of marketing your book. Today, we’re going to look at enacting that plan, and how to stay active in your marketing strategy.

For this article, we’re going to assume you’ve laid out a marketing plan and reached the official “release” date for your book. Remember, because this is self-publishing, it’s easy to release a book you’ve already published. The marketing strategy is more about how you reach your readers than the official timeline for your book. So, working from the assumption that you’ve got a reasonable plan in place, you’ve done a book release, and you are beginning to follow through on the plans, what is your next step?

To understand how you should proceed, let’s start from the seven “Key” elements I identified at the end of our last Marketing Toolbox:

  1. Metadata
  2. Social Media
  3. An Author Website
  4. A Mailing List
  5. Events
  6. Books Reviews
  7. Book Cover

Most of these keys need to be in place or planned out fully before launching your book. What’s a book without a cover? But none of these elements–not a single one–is something you set and forget. Marketing is an ever changing process of trial, results, revisions, more trials, and consistent tracking. Before we dive into the seven keys above, let’s take a moment first to go over a couple of important terms.

Metrics –¬†Metrics, or Business Metrics, refer to quantifiable measures to assess your progress toward a goal. In the more business oriented sense, this usually means a sales figure or clients acquired over a period of time. For you marketing your book, you can assign a variety of metrics. Likes on your author Facebook page, subscribers to your blog, paperbacks sold; these are all areas you’ll want to see continual growth in. Assigning metrics gives you a reasonable means of tracking progress toward your goals.

Analytics – To track your growth, you’ll be studying your consumers (readers and followers) as they interact with you online. The Analytics of your blog, website, and the retailers through which your sales occur are all data you’ll want to capture. For example, let’s say you look at a three month chart of the page views across your blog. You see each new post with many views, a home page with the most views, and your “about” page with hardly any views. This could signal a need to redo the about page, or maybe consider moving valuable content off this page and onto one more often clicked on.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fancy way of saying “how easy is ____ to find online.” Anyone, be it an individual or a company, hoping to be seen online will need to understand how SEO impacts their search rating. At the most basic level, you want to use keywords to improve your book’s SEO. We’ll get into how you do that more when we examine Metadata below.

Seven Keys to Marketing Success

A fair warning. I’m going to point to seven elements of book marketing we’ve observed to be of the utmost importance. That does not mean these are the only pieces of a marketing plan, nor does it mean these seven items will always be the most important to you and your book. For example, if you’ve written a local history book about the region you live in and are familiar with, word of mouth may be the most vital marketing tool available to you. The book will appeal to a very specific audience, and you’ll need to engage that audience in the way that makes the most sense, both for you and for your book. Book marketing – and all marketing really – is a game of trial and error. The keys that I identified are those that have shown time and again to be important, but that in no way means they are the only ones.

Metadata

“Metadata” is defined as a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In a book, this refers to the information describing and defining your specific book. Metadata is version specific too, which means the metadata for a paperback version of your book will differ from the ebook version, and both will differ from the hardcover.

Your book will have a whole range of different pieces of information attached to it in the form of metadata. The benefit to you and your marketing plan lies in how you build this metadata.

First, let’s talk about keywords. These are words or phrases you associate with your metadata. If your book is about horses, you might apply keywords like horse, horseback riding, equestrian, and so on. To determine what keywords to use, you’re going to have to do some research. Start by making as long a list as you can of any word or phrase you associate with you story. And if you can, ask a beta reader for their list.

Now you’ll take this list, winnow it down to the best few, and start Googling. Tools like Google Analytics is a terrific way to gauge users coming to your site, but for keywords you’ll want to go ahead and search your terms in a variety of forms. Using the example above, if your book is about horses, you’ll want to think about how you can narrow the focus. Is it about horseback riding? Horse anatomy? Diet? The equipment horseback riders use? Then think about what specific questions or problems your book answers. Now you’ll be able to search those phrases and find other sites around the web using the keywords you’re considering.

From this information, you can review the other sites you find to see how they handle key words. Build your keywords from this info. Try to mix in both short terms (one or two word searches) and long terms (full questions or four plus word phrases). The short keywords will be broad and cast a big net, while the longer terms will answer very specific inquiries you expect your potential readers to search.

You can also get a sense of how people search similar terms with AnswerThePublic, a cool site that shows the questions other searchers look for, using your keywords. If you haven’t done some research into the keywords you’ll associate with your book, you won’t know if they are effective or not. One of the biggest mistakes an author can make when they are making their marketing plan is to neglect their metadata. Just because this data is behind the scenes, does not mean it’s unimportant.

Social Media

Social Media is a great means of engaging in continual, low effort marketing. Ideally, you’ll focus your media efforts on the kind of social media your readers are most likely to engage with. Facebook is the popular place right now, but you have to know your audience and their habits. Once you’ve pinned down the form of media, start posting frequently.

Not everything should be sales related either. You’re not just building a network of consumers for your product (books), you’re also establishing a following of content consumers. People love content. We’ll go into a little more detail in the next section about how to use content as a marketing strategy, but for social media in particular, you have a lot of leeway.

Go on Facebook and share interesting stories (ideally publishing or writing related, but not a requirement). Post often and when possible use video or photos to enhance the post. A few lines of text work best, while longer more in depth posts are likely to get glanced at and passed over. On a platform like Facebook, you want to establish your presence more than anything. You want your profile picture to become a familiar face or image for other users.

Alongside the efforts toward general recognition, you’ll be plugging in tidbits about your book, your publishing journey, and yourself. Establishing a following is about getting personal. People want to know people, and lining up followers from a social media platform gives you a venue to speak not only about the book you’ve written, but about yourself. Who you are, why you write, what you write about; all of this is interesting to people on social media, and will help build credibility for you when it comes time to sell your book.

While you’re going about building a following and generating content on social media, plug your book from time to time as well. Create Facebook events and invite your followers to signings or readings you’re holding. Post excerpts or reviews of your book. Sprinkle in advertising for your work, but don’t let it dominate your social media presence. You’ll have an author website for that.

Author Website

You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time developing a website. But you do want to have a website to direct your readers to. For some greater detail on the ins and outs of an author website, check out this post from the Lulu Blog.

In terms of your marketing plan, the author website is going to become your central hub. Anything you do across the web to market your book can link back to the website. You should provide plenty of teasers and excerpts from your book, as well as clear methods for buying your work. Lulu provides a HTML button you can embed in your website to “Buy Now” and direct your readers immediately over to your book in our bookstore. Something like this is key for your author website, as you’ll want to remove any obstacles to your readers purchasing your book.

Don’t think about you author website as just a store front though. It should be so much more. Ideally, your author site will become a destination for readers seeking your content. So you’ll have to supply their demand!

One great way to use your author website is to keep a blog. Similar to your social media postings, your blog need not be solely focused on your book and selling yourself as an author. Share your thoughts about the writing process, about the places you’ve traveled and your experiences. You’ll have a few purposes behind this blog: relating to your readers, sharing updates and sales about your book, letting them know about upcoming events and giving a retrospective on events in the past, and most importantly, creating value for your readers to come back to you again and again.

Modern online marketing plans tend to emphasize content and value over flashy catch phrases or amusement. As a self-published author, providing content is the most natural and simplest way to create a valuable reason readers should return to your site and social media presence. As with all suggestions, you’ll want to think very carefully about what your readers and potential readers look for in online content, and do your best to fill that need for them.

Mailing List

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful tools available for reaching and engaging an audience. So how do you use a mailing list to maintain a consistent marketing strategy?

Its actually easier than you’d think. You’ll begin by gathering contact information from readers. You can do this at trade shows and events by collecting business cards, and on your author website, probably by offering a subscription to your blog. As you begin the lead up to your book release, gather as many emails as you can. The mailing list you use should be ever expanding, so you’ll need to be sure to consistently post to your blog and send notifications, at least a couple times a month if not more. Use the mailing list for announcements of upcoming events, release dates, sales, giveaways; any excuse you can find to get into your reader’s inbox is worth considering.

Let’s assume you have a reasonable mailing list already. Now how do you go about effectively using this list? Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Nearly half of emails are opened on mobile devices – This is just a smart thing to keep in mind while creating your emails. Realizing that about half of your readers are going to view the email on their phone should prompt you to think about length and image size (if you’re using an image) to accommodate a phone’s screen size.
  2. Personalize without using a name – A lot of email tools provide code that will pull in a name associated with the email address. Don’t bother with this. It takes time and effort to gather names, and if the auto-fill code fails for any reason, the reader will see a strange intro line like “Dear [name here]”. Instead, look for other ways to personalize your emails. The best way to achieve this with your book marketing emails will be through content.
  3. Give them something – Content is king. If you’re sending a few emails a month, try to pair your next marketing email with a blog post. Now you can send a promo for your new book, alongside upcoming events, and a link to your newest blog post–you’ll have a content rich, high value email!
  4. Subject line – When you see emails in a list on Gmail or Yahoo or Outlook or on your phone, you see the sender and the subject line, as well as possibly a teaser. The subject line is critical, as this is what will push a recipient to open the email and read it, or mark it for the trash bin. While there is no magic formula, generally shorter subject lines are useful for getting the email opened, and longer ones work better for “click through” traffic, which means the recipient opens and follows a link out of the email and over to your content.

These are just a couple of important points to note. Email marketing is a tricky business, so you should just focus on getting something sent with regularity. Include content if you can, and offer the important information with minimal fluff. This includes a link to your site, an image of your book, a list of upcoming events, and possibly a positive reviewer comment or something similar. Now be consistent. Send emails often but not too often (once a week or so, but experiment and track sales trends alongside email and content offerings). To learn more about effective email marketing, check out this article from marketing company HubSpot.

Events

We’ve looked at the need for mailing lists and an author website, and in doing so we touched on the importance of content. You can get a lot of mileage out of a simple blog and excerpts of your book, but just as important are events.

Because you self-published, you’ll have a tough time getting your book in brick and mortar stores like Barnes & Noble, but that shouldn’t impede you from working with local bookstores. You’ll have to invest in some copies of your book to sell by hand, and you might be able to negotiate a deal to get a few on the shelves of your local book seller on a commission basis. Even if the bookstore isn’t offering you a great deal, I would take it. The exposure alone will be worth the small profits. And don’t forget, if you do get your book on the shelves of your local bookstore, snap some pictures and share it with your social media network, post about it on your blog, and list the bookstore as a location to find your book on your website.

You might also be able to schedule a signing with local writing groups or any organization that aligns with your content. Look around and don’t be shy to reach out and ask. Again, offer content in exchange for exposure. Give a talk at the local writing group on self-publishing. In exchange, you might capture some emails and maybe even a sale or two. And you’ll have the event to list on your next email.

Don’t underestimate the value of networking in person. Get some pictures if you can (content!) and meet people. Writing is a community activity, and without people connected to you in the community, you’ll struggle to make sales and get your book in new hands.

One last thought on events – trade shows and expos. Attending these events is absolutely worthwhile, but also expensive. So balance out any decisions regarding traveling and attending trade shows with the understanding that you’re not likely to recoup the expense in new sales, but you are likely to get some terrific networking opportunities. If you can afford it, definitely attend events like Book Expo America and Book Convention, but don’t go into them expecting to walk away with a massive number of new sales.

Books Reviews

Let’s say you need a new laptop bag to tote your gear back and forth to the cafe, library, or work. So you go to one of those big online retail sites (you know the one I’m talking about) and type “laptop bag” in the search bar. You’re barraged with a variety of products that fit your search terms. Hundreds of products. Maybe even thousands. Keywords will define relevance (hence the importance of keywords) but once you’ve narrowed the field to a few choices, how do you make the final decision?

One factor will be user and customer reviews. You might see a bag that looks perfect, but only has 2 stars. And the reviews point out flaws in the durability of the bag, something critical because you abuse your laptop bags. What appeared at first to be ideal is revealed to be a poor choice through reviews. Or imagine the inverse. You found a bag that seems boring and plain, but the reviews are stellar and speak to the quality build, the durability, and the price.

Book reviews work about the same. If readers find your book among others thanks to the effective use of keywords, you’ll need your reviews (and your cover, but we’ll touch on that in a moment) to seal the deal. Imagine a reader has your book and ten other books that came across their screen thanks to the effective use of keywords. This reader goes through and carefully reads the blurb for each book and narrows their list to three books. Now how do they decide? Well, in a perfect world, they would buy all three. But if they only want one book, they’re likely to look at the reviews next. If you have a few solid critical reviews and a decent star rating, you’re doing worlds of good for your book’s chances.

Have you ever noticed that New York Times bestselling books always point this out on the book’s cover? Or the pages of reviews prefacing the title page on a book’s interior? This kind of promotional activity is all thanks to reviewers taking the time to read and comment on the book.

As an author, you’ll need to solicit reviews. Some of this can be easy, by simply asking friends and colleagues to review the book for you. But don’t stop there. Its important to have some completely neutral reviewers. And there are plenty out there. Here’s a list of some popular online review blogs you can consider. Different reviewers may have different expectations, but do not be surprised if a free copy of your book is required. You may find some reviewers willing to take an ebook or PDF version as well, saving you on that expense. Regardless of the cost factor, you’ll do well to secure some reviews for your work. Studies have shown noticeable increases in sales for books with good reviews. Because you’re working on a smaller scale, this may not translate into a large uptick in immediate sales, but over the long term, having those positive reviews will lead to more interest and more sales, as well as prompting new readers to provide their feedback and get you even more reviews!

Book Cover

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I’m betting you’ve heard that idiom at least once before. Ignore it. While there might be merit in the meaning behind the phrase, taken literally it is absolutely wrong. Potential readers will judge your book by the cover, either actively or subconsciously. But they will judge.

Don’t despair. Knowing that readers will be looking closely at your cover, and that they will certainly be influenced by your cover, is something you can work with. If you know the cover matters, you know you have to put some energy and effort into creating a stellar cover.

We’ll look at some do it yourself cover advise a little later this month, and if you can afford to hire a professional cover designer, you should consider doing so. But for today, we’re going to consider more how you should utilize your cover as a marketing tool. This is actually pretty simple, though the effectiveness of this strategy will hinge largely on having a high quality, well crafted cover. So start there.

Let’s imagine you have your cover, and its awesome. It speaks to the audience you’re aiming at, it uses fonts and color combinations expertly, it just looks great.

Your cover is going to be the image that symbolizes and references all your marketing efforts. Posting on social media? Use that cover thumbnail. Writing a blog post? Cover thumbnail. Email marketing? Cover thumbnail yet again. Each time you drop that cover image somewhere, link it back to the book’s page on Lulu or your author website so readers can quickly learn more (and ideally make a purchase). The cover (and more than that, the front cover as a thumbnail image) is the go to image representing both your book and you as an author. Remember that. The visual is key both for reminding your readers of the book and pulling in new readers.

With your cover ready to go, you’ll want to use it as much as possible. A quality cover will draw attention when your book is in a list with other similar books. It will make your book stand out among the crowd. Which is what you want, right?

A lot of how you’ll use your book cover, and how effective it will be, lies in the professional appearance of the finished product. For that reason above all else, I say don’t skimp on your cover. After the initial push for sales and promotions following your release, the cover will be a lynch pin for your continued marketing efforts. You’ll use the cover as a visual cue and as a link/button to locate your book. Just like a strong subject line can power email marketing, your high quality cover will draw in new readers and give you and your book the recognition you deserve.

Up Next

Next week we’ll wrap up the marketing strategy series with a look at long term marketing strategies. In this, we’ll expand on the Keys in this article and think about how you can keep seeing consistent sales with reduced marketing effort as time goes by. It’s one thing to sell a lot of books on release, but its another entirely to have a book that consistently sells for years to come. That constant trickle over time is important to the continued success of your book and your author brand. So join us next week so we can wrap up this story and help you get your marketing strategy in place for the long term!

 

 

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