As a freelance Internet marketer, I learned very quickly that I need to speak with everyone I meet, because you never know who has a website, or knows someone who needs help promoting theirs. As I spoke with my next-door neighbor last year, he told me that he’s an aspiring author who just secured an agent. Given my profession, I immediately started running through ways that I could help him out, and this is what I came up with.
Coming mainly from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) background, I had a dilemma. The first step with any SEO campaign is determining keywords. This involves determining which keywords a purchaser of your book might type to try to arrive at your purchase page. This is difficult for books because people search for books by 1) genre, 2) title and 3) author.
Unless the author has considerable marketing budget, I wouldn’t consider trying to get his/her book up for the keyword “young adult fiction”. Enough people search it, but it isn’t targeted enough to bring you sales from that search. Instead, I’d immediately start optimizing your site for both the name of the book and the author’s name. If the title of your book is fairly unique, this should be easy. Oftentimes ranking for your name is easy as well, unless you have an ultra-common name like Steve Smith or share a name with a celebrity (Sorry to all the Anne Franks, Jen Lopezes, and Steve Martins out there! I’m just the messenger.)
Using this strategy, you’ll be there for when someone hears about your book and wants to check it out. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently – books are shared in a huge way by word of mouth, so do whatever you can to facilitate that!
You’ll have raving fans of your book, so leverage those ASAP! Having a Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profile will make sure that when your fans talk about you, that you’ll 1) be involved in the conversation, and 2) you’ll be there for your fans’ friends to check out.
Don’t sit idly by and wait for them to build fan sites. Get in there and facilitate the conversation! That conversation will turn into curiosity which becomes sales.
Connect With Similar Authors
Is there an author who writes in a similar style that already has a strong following? Build a strong relationship with that author for effective cross promotion. Having an experienced author recommend your similar book over social media, mailing lists, and on their website will do wonders for you. Plus you’ll be giving the readers exactly what they want – a similar book to one they are already fans of.
Because word of mouth is so important for book sales, reach out to those whom readers trust. Simply searching for blogs that rank highly on Google for terms like ‘best new fiction books’ or ‘nonfiction book recommendations’, you can quickly find influencers in your genre.
Next, reach out to these influencers. Send them a copy of your book and encourage them to read and share. Their blog may have thousands of followers who may result in hundreds of purchases, and a lot of buzz.
I see book signings constantly at my nearby Costco and bookstore, so I have to assume they work. As a regular tradeshow exhibitor, I know the power of getting noticed. Get in touch with a good signage guy, and make a display that gets serious eyeballs. Don’t be discouraged if lots of people walk by without speaking with you or buying your book. They’ll take notice, and go out and look you up. Some will come back to buy your book, and others will purchase online, and it will be because they shared some form of connection with you, and they may soon become your raving fans because they want to be able to tell people that they met you.
If you have any more suggestions on marketing for authors that I didn’t cover, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear them and add to my recommendations to my neighbor.
AJ Wilcox is an avid Internet marketer and writer for the creative agency StruckAxiom. He loves exotic cars, running, and hanging out with his wife and 2 kids at his home in Utah.