Your book is written. Your job as author is over; time to just sit back and let the fame and fortune roll in.
Well, maybe not yet. In many ways, to paraphrase the Carpenters, you’ve only just begun. If you want your book to be bought and read by the widest audience possible, you have to let readers know that it’s available, and that means marketing.
Publishers have departments whose sole purpose is to market books. They promote books through advertising and direct mail, conferences and trade shows. Publishers also arrange bookstore signings and send out review copies. There are marketing managers, copywriters, publicists, and designers who are paid to get your book noticed. While there are obvious advantages to this system, there is a serious downside: No one knows a book better than its author, yet authors are often out of the marketing loop at large publishing houses.
As a self-marketing author, you need to take advantage of the fact that you know your book, and you know who its audience is. The problem is, of course, how to reach that audience. Here are some ideas for how to effectively, and inexpensively, market your book.
It all begins with promotional copy. Condensing a 300-page book into 300 words is a difficult, but necessary, first step. Promotional copy should be brief, descriptive, and engagingly written. Revise, polish, and check your work for spelling and grammar. Your promotional copy offers readers and reviewers a thumbnail sketch of your book and should be used as a starting point for all marketing activities.
Once you have promotional copy written, it’s time to put it to work. Include promotional copy on the jacket and back cover of your book. With the right copy and an attractive design, your book becomes its own marketing tool.
Having your book reviewed is the best form of free publicity available. Although reviews are difficult to get, they are worth pursuing. Use your promotional copy as a press release and send it to any and all possible reviewers, from your local newspaper to The New York Times Book Review. Include information about yourself and where you can be reached. Try to target individual reviewers who might be particularly interested in your work.
Authors interested in marketing their own book will find most direct-mail options cost-prohibitive. However, flyers featuring your book can be easily produced and inexpensively photocopied. Give these flyers to friends and family, hand them out at work, ask your local bookstore to display them, pass them out to members of your reading group. Make certain your flyer includes ordering information, the book’s price and ISBN, and your web address (which should, of course, prominently feature your book).
Personal web pages are a great way to advertise your book. Include promotional copy, a cover image, and ordering information. Be sure to feature your web address on all promotional materials, both print and online.
Marketing your book can often seem like an uphill climb. With effective and polished promotional copy, the right amount of determination, and a basic understanding of self-marketing, however, you can make this hill much easier to climb. You’ve done the work of writing your book; now it is time to make your book work for you.