Wait, Books Need Marketing? (And Other Promotional Mistakes You Make)

“Ask a Publicist”


At a recent social event, small talk turned to the basics—I was asked what I do for a living. I said I do publicity and marketing for books. The woman's response was representative of what I encounter almost every day:

"I didn't know books needed marketing."

I laughed it off then, but it's definitely not funny. I hear the same words from too many independent and first-time authors, sometimes when it's too late. (Yes, it can be too late.)

I get it, I really do… You wrote your book. You agonized over every last detail, you poured your creativity, talent, emotions, time, and brainpower into it, and you're finally publishing. You did it. Done. That's it. Your work is a masterpiece and you're ready to sit back and watch the sales shoot through the roof until you hit the Amazon Bestseller List.

Many authors mistakenly think that if their work is good enough, people will just find it, especially if it's listed online. With millions of book listings on Amazon and one million more published each year, your book will easily get lost in that jungle. So how do you get people to know about your book? The totally simple, yet totally complicated answer: Marketing.

Okay, so not everyone is clueless about marketing their books, especially the expanding number of DIY self-published authors, but even if you have ideas and know you need publicity and marketing, it's tough to know where to start, how much effort to put in, and how to measure results.

Sometimes you'll even have to take terrifying leaps of faith. (Try posting your first tweet ever and then checking your blood pressure.) And let's get real, so much information is available that it's difficult to know where to go for straight answers. Where do you turn?

My advice? Ask me! Yes, ask me for advice. Seriously, ask me anything. I'm an independent book publicist and I want to HELP you. Send your most burning book marketing questions to us on Twitter (@published) and I'll answer a new one for each column.

Our very first question is one I have heard too often:

I'm on Facebook with several hundred friends, and I post about my book weekly. Is this a good marketing strategy?

Posting on your personal Facebook account about your book to your 200 friends and family is barely marketing. Most of those people already know you've published or will publish a book, so unless they share your posts with hundreds of their friends and family (different from yours) AND those people like to read books in your genre, this strategy won't get you good exposure.

What should you do instead? First, create a Page for you as an author. A Facebook Page is different than an profile and can be used for promotions without getting dinged by Facebook. You'll need a banner image that matches or at least coordinates with your book(s) and a professional (looking) author photo.

The author photo is a must because readers like to connect with their favorite authors on a personal level. And it's especially true for fiction authors since they can reach celebrity status in readers' minds, and you want to reach that status too. If you use a pen name, consider creating an avatar.

Once you're set up with your new author Page, boost some posts about your book with images and really dig into targeting your audience. How do you choose your audience? This is where the marketing magic happens, and you put yourself in the mind of your target reader. Who are they? Besides liking books in your genre what else do they like?

If your book is fantasy, your target reader might also like role-playing games, or science fiction movies. If your boosted posts go well, consider doing Facebook ads, too. It's easier than you might think. Sure, it costs a little money, but overall, getting your book in front of well-targeted potential readers can be worth it.


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