A few months ago I made the decision to jump into the treacherous waters of independent publishing. After shopping my novel around and being told that the YA (young adult) market had moved beyond fantasy novels, but noticing that the top selling YA books on Amazon said otherwise, it seemed like the right move.
The moment you decide to independently publish you become more than a writer. You’re a publicist and marketing specialist and it’s up to you to devise ways to get your book noticed and purchased. Of course, the biggest and most beneficial tool available is the internet. Over the next few posts I’ll share some of the social media tools I’ve used to promote my book.
So, I’m assuming your book is either already available in paperback and/or e-format via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, Goodreads, etc., or you’re approaching your release date. How do you spread the word?
Website – This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to decide what kind of site you’re going to have. Do you want to showcase yourself as an author and all the works you have/will have published? Or do you need a site that focuses solely on a single title? My novel is the first in a series so it made more sense to register a domain name that matches the series and then at any given time it could focus on the current/most recent book available and keep a sense of continuity.
Going a step further, think about the type of content you’ll be sharing. Do you want something flashy with links to where the book can be purchased? Or will the site be more informative? Because I write, love to write and have a heavy background in blogging, I knew I would work best with a site set up with a blog format.
Some writers like to post chapters of their book on the blog so people can read it for free and decide if they like it, or some do it to build interest. Personally, I caution against this. Every site where your book is available in e-format gives the reader the opportunity to read a sample before purchase. Also, I’m not a fan of giving away too much for free. Instead, I came up with posting prequel chapters before my book’s release. I picked a character met briefly in book one – but featured heavily in later books – and wrote a spoiler-free prequel chapter to whet the readers’ appetites. I didn’t post it anywhere else, which gave the added benefit of making the site’s subscribers feel like they were privy to special content.
Use your site to share news like where you are in the writing/publishing process or where they can find the latest reviews of your book and use it to post fun contests or giveaways to early readers. Finally, make sure you have a media section of the site strictly for links to press releases, interviews, and your author bio.
YouTube – You may be thinking, “Why do I need a YouTube channel for my book?” Why, for your book trailer, of course. Two weeks before my book was released, I shared the book trailer on my site, Facebook page and Twitter (more on those two next week.) Not only were people excited and impressed with the trailer, but I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I didn’t even know books had trailers.”
Much like a movie trailer, a book trailer should entice the viewer and make them want to purchase your book. However, unlike a movie’s trailer, you don’t want to take too much time to do it. Movies have endless images and sounds to work with and several actors to sell their product. There’s a lot to work with in putting together a memorable trailer. A book has, hopefully, a great cover. That’s it. I’ve seen book trailers that went on way too long and told way too much. And some of the really bad ones have gone on way too long and told you nothing. A solid minute to a minute and a half should do it.
Think about the important themes of your book. Pose questions in your trailer. Challenge the reader. Make them care, wonder, and want. Imagine a world where murder was legal. What would you do if you woke up and found you’d lost everything? What if you fell in love with your enemy? This text should be accompanied by music and images that set the tone for your book.
Make sure to include the appropriate keywords when tagging your video: the genre, the title, your name, and the central themes of the book (vampires, self-help, romance, comedy, etc.) Include a link back to your site. You can also use the channel to house videos of any web interviews or book signings you may host.
Here’s an example of a great book trailer for Robin Parrish’s Offworld:
Next time we’ll talk about using Facebook, Twitter, and book bloggers to effectively promote your book. And later, giveaways, contests, ads, and utilizing sites like Goodreads and Shelfari.
What have some of your experiences been in marketing your book or product online?