5 Book Promotion Tactics That Really Work!

I’m so lucky to host Rachel Thompson this week! Enjoy her informative guest post about book marketing … here’s Rachel!

FIVE-_#5_OpAs a self-published author and social media/branding consultant, I often wear two hats: that of writer and that of marketer. This is not uncommon to all writers, really. In order for people to find out about our books, we have to promote them, build our author platform, and still find time to keep writing (never mind the hassles of real-life).

Because I initiate all my own marketing, I’ve been able to decide which directions to take that have the most effect (more sales), without a huge outlay of cash. I’ve tried it all. I will say now that you must invest in your writing career – nothing magically happens when you upload your book and sit back and wait to be found.

Crickets.

Molly asked me to share the top ways to sell your book – which book promotion tactics really work? But if I may, I’d like to step back and say that there is some background housekeeping stuff you must do first in order to make any promotion successful:

Know your keywords. This is ultra-critical for anything you do: Amazon, Google AdWords, SEO and SMO, tweets, blogs, everything! The very first exercise I give my clients is to identify six to ten keywords that describe their book, genre, and themselves (after all, people want to know who you are as a person, not simply a brand). Think critically about what you want people to know about you and share that.
Make sure your website and blog are up-to-date and fully optimized. If not, learn how to do it yourself or hire someone who knows what the heck they’re doing. This means using those same tags and keywords in every blog post, pic; making sure your social media buttons are prominently displayed. (Here’s a tip: Go to Alexa.com and see what your site or blog score is. The lower it is, the better.)
Have your social media reflect your branding. Be consistent across all platforms. I’m RachelintheOC everywhere (email, site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube…you get my point).

Okay, assuming all those ducks are in a row, let’s look at promotional techniques I’ve found effective:

1. Advertising: there are multiple ways to advertise your book. Google AdWords, Facebook, Goodreads, or other sponsored sites. I’ve tried all and have found, for me, that AdWords works best IF you can have someone who knows what the heck they’re doing to set it up for you (I use The AdWords Guy – full disclosure: he’s my husband – but his mind just works that way. Too much like math to me. Ugh.)

My best advice for AdWords is spend as little as possible on a daily basis – say $5.00 – and throw more in for a large promo if you can afford to.

I’ve also started more affordable sites (the Book Promo suite of sites which includes @IndieBookPromos, @BKPromoCentral, @YAPromoCentral, and @RomPromoCentral {erotica welcome also} – cost starts at $10/month); but there are lots of great book blogging sites where you can advertise for very little investment. Just look carefully at their views/month and Alexa rating before laying out money.

2. Sales Channels: One factor in my success is sending all readers to the same place (Amazon) to purchase my book. Now, I happen to be KDP Select (more on that in a sec), but even if you’re not, you can certainly utilize Amazon as your primary sales funnel.

How? Several ways. Twitter, for example, now allows you to add two URLs to your bio – I recommend your site and Amazon. If you use bit.ly to shorten your link, you can also customize it and track clicks! See what I did here for mine.

I also created similar links on bit.ly for my websites – so I can connect pix, for example, to my Amazon Mancode ‘product’ page (you can choose to feature one book or send them to your Amazon bio page which lists all your books).

Selling your book on your own site or blog is an industry no-no. Why? Well, look at Amazon’s daily visits vs. your own. ‘Nuff said.

3. Promotions and Copromotion: no person is an island. I often hook up with other authors in my genre or with whom I have a great relationship and do a pulse pricing campaign. Meaning, reducing the price for a limited amount of time, or if you’re KDP Select, going free.

Every author’s goal is to sell books, right? To quote Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

Of course, his intent was more altruistic. But is it really? By giving others press and promotion as I do what I’d do anyway, ultimately the reader benefits from the price reduction and exposure to other books they may love and pass on to others. Word of mouth still sells more books than any other way!

As for KDP Select: I enjoy the ability to lower my price for a week or go free completely for 1-5 days. The free option is helpful from a pure exposure standpoint – with the proper support (ads, guest blogs, tweets, shares, pins, etc. – you have a greater chance for more downloads which puts you on lots of lists and lowers (a good thing) your ranking.

You’re also paid on borrows. Sometimes it’s more than my normal per book payout!

4. Guest blogging: as you can see here with Molly, by developing supportive relationships with other authors, you gain exposure (and by having them guest blog for you, they gain exposure). That’s a win-win for everyone. Increasing reach is a terrific way for other people to find your work.

Some authors are hesitant to put themselves out there, or only want to focus on their own content. HUGE mistake. Why limit yourself?

In addition, you never know who is reading. Two agents have approached me after reading guest blogs I wrote and both the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Review picked up an article I wrote recently about bad reviews. I didn’t query them – they found me.

Finally, be open to having others guest blog for you. I started having guest bloggers every two weeks on RachelintheOC.com who share their personal, honest stories of experiences that have affected their lives. This is gives them an avenue to share their stories they might not have on their own and it’s a way to pre-market my next book of non-humorous non-fiction by creating a different tone to work (since most people know me as a humorist).

5. Book Tours: this tactic can be ineffective for these reasons:

• Some blog tour companies are better than others
• Some authors don’t get involved at all (leaving comments, helping with promotion, or connecting with commenters via Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest)
• It can be exhausting for the author

However, I do recommend it. There are some terrific blog tour companies out there that will affordably help you get more reviews and exposure. It’s also helpful to set up your blog tour around a promo – i.e., a blog hop, price reduction, contest, interview etc., to maximize exposure.

6. A final note: I highly recommend using Triberr to increase your reach and frequency. Some authors have tried it and left, deciding it’s not worth the effort to visit daily and approve posts. I’ve personally found it helpful to create a strong network of like-minded authors and bloggers to increase my reach and theirs.

Pick a tribe (or start your own) that reflects your interests. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s why you can leave a tribe if it’s not a good fit.

Okay, I gave you six ideas. Oh well.

I hope these tactics have given you some insight into what has worked for me and what I regularly recommend my clients do also. If you have further questions, please contact me at BadRedheadMedia (at) gmail (dot) com or visit my social media sites (see below). Connect with me!

About Rachel:
I’m a chick who writes stuff that makes you laugh. My book
A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list this past September (do you think they know I talk about sex? Shhh.). It’s since hit about oh, I’ve lost count. #woot! I’ve been nominated for Funniest Blog, Best Humor Writer & Redhead Who Makes A Killer Dirty Martini (okay, I made the last one up, but it’s true. Honest.).

I released The Mancode: Exposed right after Thanksgiving 2011 and by January, it placed in the Amazon Top 100 Paid! Two books of snarky goodness, baby.

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41 Responses to 5 Book Promotion Tactics That Really Work!

  1. Christine July 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. Great tips and ideas. I’ll definitely be using them!!

    • Molly Greene July 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      So will I, Christine!

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 8:30 am #

      I’m so glad you found some useful info in here, Christine.

      Happy to be here.

      Thanks to Molly for asking me :))

  2. Mandy Eve-Barnett July 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Some good insights here for a novice author…I will be delving into the ebook world in a few short months. I do use social media & have a blog too as well as writing groups on my facebook. However, these tips will come in very useful – thank you for your generosity in sharing.

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      Thank you, Mandy. I’m happy to help!

      I find it’s best to think of your author platform as a house, and all the different channels help to build the foundation.

      Best of luck!

  3. Dannie Hill July 30, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Great advise, Rachel. You are one busy lady and that’s what it take– that and knowing which methods to keep and which to toss. Thank you.

    About your bok, A Walk in the Snark– I’m a guy and I tried hard to hate it. But laughter kept getting in my way.

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks so much, sweet Dannie.

      Love hearing that (like a MAN), you tried to hate my first book, but couldn’t. That’s terrific. Maybe you can try to hate my second one, too (Mancode: Exposed).

      :)

      xo

  4. Paddy Cummins July 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Thank you for those brilliant promotional tips. My new book, ‘It’s a Long Way to Malta’ has just been published on Kindle. Your advice on how to promote it will be invaluable to me. I have already taken one suggestion on board – it’s ‘Free on Friday’. Thanks again.

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 8:28 am #

      I’m SO glad you found the article helpful, Paddy. And that’s so cool about going free — just be sure to do other stuff that day before, during, and day after — guest blogs, newsletter, advertising, promos. Just going free doesn’t guarantee sales.

      Best of luck!

  5. Christine Nolfi July 31, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    Rachel, thank you for sharing your wisdom regarding book marketing. Like many writers, I spend the bulk of my time creating the books and not enough time planning a sales strategy. Finding an appropriate balance is always a struggle.

    Molly, thanks for yet another informative post. xo

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 8:26 am #

      Thank you, Christine for your comments.

      It is a tough balance, no doubt. The more you learn about the selling and marketing end, however, the better off you are in selling more books!

      And that’s it, ultimately; helping others find out work.

    • Molly Greene July 31, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      I’m grateful that Rachel wanted to visit my blog, Christine! She’s a true icon on Twitter and social media, and I’ve looked to her as my guide for how to do a lot of things … and I need to email The Adwords Guy before all of you fill up his schedule!

  6. Laura Zera (@laurazera) July 31, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    This is a super fab post, so thanks Molly and Rachel.

    Question re: bitly — are you using it just to shorten and rename your book links, or did you create an account, and do you save bitmarks, link the bitly account to your other social media accounts, etc. too?

    When I went to bitly.com, I could see an option to log-in/create an account (which I did, but now don’t quite know what to do with it) or just to shorten a link (but wasn’t sure if I could rename it if I just used that one shortening tool).

    • Molly Greene July 31, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Great question, Laura, and something I’ve wondered myself. I’ve always known bitly could track links but never knew how to use it properly. Let’s see what Rachel says!

    • RachelintheOC July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

      I do have an account, Laura. I save my links in what they call ‘bundles’ — so for example, anything I customize for A Walk In The Snark goes into one bundle. Another bundle for Mancode: Exposed.

      They track clicks and you can see them in analytics.

      If you shorten a link, they give you the option to ‘customize’ it — I did that for my @RachlelintheOC Twitter bio: http://twitter.com/RachelintheOC.

      Does that help or answer your question? I find just clicking around and looking at all they offer is the best way to familiarize yourself with the site. It’s VERY helpful.

  7. andy holloman August 1, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    golden stuff from the lady with the the golden red locks

    write on

  8. Victoria Grefer August 2, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for this blog, Rachel! And for hosting her, Molly. I found it extremely helpful as a new indie author trying to break out and get my work known somehow

    • Molly Greene August 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      My pleasure, Victoria, I’ve told Rachel she’s welcome ANY time – we love her! And I agree, so much to sort throught as a newbie self-pubbed author. Will someboday just please tell me what to DO?! :-O

    • RachelintheOC August 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Thank you, Victoria.

      Sometimes social media can seem like a labyrinth, but I promise you, it’s not that difficult. It’s just a matter of learning the options out there. I offer lots of free tips on my BadRedheadMedia.com site if you want to check it out.

      You’ll do great. Just keep at it.

  9. Dianne Greenlay August 3, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Molly, thanks for hosting Rachel. This post is so helpful. Rachel, thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us. Your info is so specific that it can be put to use right away. I especially like the update on bit.ly. I had used it lots before their recent changes, and was confused by the changes (not so straightforward as it used to be, until you get used to it.), so your explanation was super helpful! And Rachel, keep up your great writing – anyone who can add laughter to this world should be considered for sainthood! :-)

    • Molly Greene August 3, 2012 at 9:21 am #

      Dianne, thanks so much for stopping by! Agree re: Rachel’s post and that “anyone who can add laughter to this world should be considered for sainthood!” Thanks again, Rachel.

    • RachelintheOC August 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Thank you, Diane. I’m so excited to be here on Molly’s blog and really happy you find the info useful.

      I certainly don’t feel like a saint, but thank you for the lovely compliment. Some people don’t get my humor but it doesn’t change my vision. I’ll just keep doing what I do.

      Best of luck to you!

  10. Anne Francis Scott August 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    Thanks for the great marketing tips, Rachel! Your advice has really given me a clear focus, which was exactly what I needed.

    I’m currently in the process of cleaning up/re-designing my blog, as well as putting together a marketing plan and budget for my paranormal mystery novels,The Lost Trilogy. So–your tips came at a great time for me.

    Thanks to the Bookish Man (Benjamin Wallace) for tweeting the link. And thanks to Molly for the hosting!

  11. MJ Porteous (@mjporteous) November 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Good stuff yet again. Thanks for the altruism!

  12. Robbie Cox December 29, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    As always, Molly, your blog offers great advice and much needed assistance. Thanks Rachel, for all of your advice and proven expertise. The best to both of you in 2013!

  13. unikorna March 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I have just made my debut in the publishing world and unfortunately I have no available funds to use for promoting my fantasy story. I was hoping you might suggest some ways to get new reviews.

  14. Kavion October 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    I’m working for an Author as his Director of Promotions and Sales. We are really committed to selling his book directly from our website, instead of driving customers to Amazon to purchase it. What has been most Authors experience with this approach??

    We offer a money back guarantee, and feel we can best manage any returns better than Amazon.

    Thanks

    • Molly Greene October 23, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Hi Kavion, I can’t answer your question, as most fiction authors want the exposure they gain from selling on Amazon. Direct sales via a website is more common for non-fiction authors, but I still have no stats. We’ll be interested to hear how sales go for you!

  15. Archer March 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    That is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

  16. Michael Christopher Carter May 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Excellent post. I am currently with authorhouse for two books. They decide pricing, marketing and I find it hard having the control I anticipated going POD.
    I am going to try KDP (or Createspace plus KDP-I can’t give up paper books so easily!) for my third book to be able to implement the great tips you have given.

    Thank you. I feel like I WILL get there!!

    Michael Christopher Carter

    • Molly Greene May 3, 2014 at 10:10 am #

      Thanks Michael, and best of luck to you on your foray into self-publishing!

  17. Anne Francis Scott May 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    I agree with Michael. This is an excellent post. When I published my first novel on Amazon (and other online retailers), I didn’t fully understand the power of the keyword phrase. Now, after doing my homework through Google Adwords, I’m armed with a much better understanding and am in the process of changing the keyword phrases, which are included in my book description and title.

    What a lot of work! Indie authors wear many hats, but I feel the independence is worth it.

    Thanks, Molly, for sharing your experience with us. And good luck to you, Michael!

    • Molly Greene May 5, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      Thank you, Anne! Yes, indies have a LOT to learn, and it seems to be changing every day. Best to your on your self-pubbing journey!

  18. carmen-francesca July 10, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Hi Rachel and Molly

    I own the rights to my previously published print books and I have been looking for tips for promotion in case I decide to publish the e-books myself.
    Many thanks for sharing your useful experience.

    Best to you, wish both of you health and success from Berlin!
    Carmen-Francesca B.

    • Molly Greene July 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Hi Carmen, and thanks so much! We’re pleased you found the post useful and wish you all the best with your future book sales.

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