Written by Aimee Coveney
Many authors assume that if you take a traditional publishing route that you would receive a marketing service to get your book ‘out there’, so for some it is a shock when that assistance suddenly stops. Self-published authors have nearly always had to achieve this themselves or employ the help of a professional, but what works in today’s market and why? For years marketing professionals have turned their focus online to digital marketing as well as continuing traditional local and national media such as print or radio. The reason for this is the transition of where readers are finding information and the rise of eBooks. If you’re thinking of creating a strategy for your digital marketing, here are some tips on where to start and how to build long-term visibility.
A Professional Website
Author websites have been neglected for years due to the rise of free platforms such as social media and blogging channels. More authors are once again realising the importance of a central place to include their information statically, which is under their sole control and allows them to target their own reader with content and visual brand. Free platforms are equally important for other reasons, but you have little say over the way your content is shared, displayed or whether it remains visible.
Selective Social Media
Social media has long been considered a springboard for independent authors to make sales, interact and stay visible. It is however a long held debate as to whether it’s more beneficial to have an account on all major platforms or fewer. It is my professional opinion that it’s unrealistic for most authors to maintain more than several accounts effectively whilst living a life offline and making time for writing. It may be a quick process to post online, but social media offers so much more, and when researched in more depth, they can prove far more effective.
The demographic of each social media platform is very different and if your primary aim is to reach your readers, it is vital to consider which profiles they are more likely to be using and the genre of your work. Below is a simplified list to get your started.
• Twitter is a fast-paced platform for instant news and content sharing, which makes it ideal for browsing and connecting with users. Authors have maintained a fantastic network across Twitter for years, as have readers, book bloggers and the publishing industry. A typical user of Twitter is more internet savvy and below the age of fifty with an equal split of genders.
• Facebook has the benefit of a fairly even demographic of user, both in gender and age, attracting over eighty percent of eighteen to forty-nine year olds. It also has a wide location use, enabling authors to reach a worldwide audience with any number of genres.
• Instagram has a reputation for a younger audience and that is still true, though a rising number of over thirties have begun to influx the platform. There is a dominance of female users and combined with an increasing book community, it is ideal for genres targeting young adults and women.
• Linkedin’s identity lies typically with business professionals and as an author it’s ideal to have a profile and can be used effectively by writers in all areas. It is very simple to update your profile with new work and media attention to keep professionals in the industry up-to-date with your success.
• Pinterest has one of the largest gender splits of all social media, with a huge female base. Traditionally it followed a similar trend to other platforms, starting off with a younger demographic and has gradually built a more even platform across eighteen to sixty-nine year olds.
• Snapchat; the youngest of these platforms is a fast-paced, bite-sized way of sharing material and is highly popular among younger generations, with older users only just beginning to tag along. One advantage snapchat offers authors is its daily engagement rate, with many users spending time on the app multiple times a day.
• Goodreads is the major player in book orientated social media, offering direct engagement between writer and reader. This makes it ideal, if not vital for all authors to use. Its user is statistically more geared towards women, but does offer a demographic of users across a wide age range.
Reviews are key for both sales and pride as a writer and one way to gain increased exposure is to approach book bloggers either directly or through professional representation. Book bloggers are passionate individuals who provide honest reviews and share your work across their established platforms. Most have submission criteria and waiting lists, so it’s always worth the effort to research and remember that they offer this service for free. Having representation through your publicist or publisher is sometimes a quicker route to bloggers, as they will have built up a trust of providing quality books and arranging successful blog tours.
Interviews and Articles
Using the topics and angles of both your book/s and personal life can make ideal features for online magazines and media outlets relative to your audience. You may gain a better route to editors through a representative, but it is possible to submit ideas directly after some investigation into their guidelines. Building up a relationship with these organisations can also mean future material is published with ease. The type of media used can vary and provide an author with a wide range of material to use across their promotional platforms, including written articles and podcasts.
Much like Book Bloggers, Netgalley attracts serious readers; many of whom have a professional or high scope of influence to attract your future readers. Netgalley can be costly, so it needs careful consideration prior to using, but the rewards can be valuable. Netgalley may even be an option your publishing company or publicist can help with at a reduced rate, but it is worth checking prior success with titles in your genre as popularity varies greatly.
Engaging Your Audience.
It can be hard to resist the temptation to try and do as much as possible with online marketing, however it is more important to focus on where your community is collecting. Online media is a major part of marketing in today’s book industry, however ensuring it’s targeted to your audience is the best way to gain valuable engagement. Be consistent with creating buzz around your work as creating a quality following and building your online brand takes time. Becoming disheartened if something doesn’t work immediately can be a hasty mistake. Taking notice of your online analytics can also help you decide the best route to take in the future.
This article was originally published in Writing Magazine, May 2017.