What’s the Best Way for an Indie Author to Promote Their Book?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Maybe we should start with why authors want to sell their books.

Don’t give me that blank stare. I know it seems like a given but many writers go to all the trouble to put a book together then only do a little marketing. Either they are fearful of what people will think or they lack the skills to market, or maybe they wonder if they even should laud the praises of their own work.

Authors should not skimp on marketing.

If a person goes to the trouble of completing a book and then publishing it, whether traditional or Indie, it seems they should get it in front of readers. And at least that gives people a chance to decide whether they want to read it or not.  

Now that the why is settled, let’s look at what ways are best. Here are some positive steps to take in the promotion of your work:

  • Start by building a blog or website or having one built for you. You need a landing page for your readers to find you. Yes, it’s good to create an author page on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and other places but make sure if a reader Googles your name, they can find you.
  • Email list. You need to have an email list of your readers and potential readers so you can reach them with news. Not spam them with constant bombardment. My favorite way to accomplish this is with my email newsletter. And people love presents so be sure to include a gift for the sign-up: a recipe, chapter of a book, short story, etc.  (You can subscribe to mine here for an example plus get a gift of ten of my favorite recipes. 😊Just look for the pop-up.)
  • Social media. There are all kinds of social media you can market your book through. I’d pick two or three and build a presence. Remember to build relationships with people and your books will sell. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as my main three. Experiement and find what works for you.
  • Speaking/book signings. You’ll want to have a few events to allow the people in your area or areas you’re visiting to meet with the author. You can arrange to speak at a church, social club, library, or school. Make sure to set up a book table and sign books. Also have something set up to show people how to order the e-book if they’d rather read on the Kindle or Nook. Book stores are great places to have a book signing since your potential readers are already there.

Here’s our own Betty Thomason Owens at a book signing.

I also have four tips to speed up marketing:

    1. Be reliable and ready. Set up a pattern in the beginning and keep your name out there. You want people to know that you’re serious.
    2. Book links. Make sure you have book links on your blog/website, all social media, your signature in emails, and any guest posting you may do. If someone is curious, you want them to have a link to click on.
    3. Everyone loves a sale. I once bought a mystery e-book for 99 cents and liked it so much that I paid regular price for the next five just to see what happened. It really works.
    4. And finally, the most important tip of all: The Golden Rule. “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NLT) Be good to people. Sow seeds of kindness and I believe at some point you will reap a return. Build a network with other authors and promote them the way you would like to be promoted. It will bring a positive investment before it’s all over and you’re sure to make some lifelong friends.

Start today to put some of these principles in practice. Find what works best for you, then be consistent. The readers are out there and waiting for the next author to follow.

Show them where you are.


Writing Prompt: Jillian reached into the mail box and snatched the book-shaped package, clutching it tightly as she ran toward the house. She’d finally get to see…

Click to tweet: What’s the best way for an Indie author to promote their book? You might be surprised. #marketing #IndieAuthors

Social Media: What Do Authors Say About its Usefulness?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Authors, do you ever wonder if Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other modes of social media really make a difference in the marketing of your book?

I do. With the June 2019 release of my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, only a year away, I’m asking this question and many more. So I thought I’d take a few minutes and go to one of my favorite sources, Facebook, to see what others would say. The question I asked was “Which, in your own experience, sells more books. (1) Email newsletter (2) word of mouth or (3) social media? Or something else?” Here’s some answers by authors and readers…

Author Mary Watson Hamilton: At this point in my experience, online ads (Amazon, Bookbub, etc) have shown the biggest sales. Next to that, probably word of mouth.

Author Steve Watkins:  Felt need and discoverability sell books. It’s all about what happens on Amazon search engines. Social media will sell a few hundred books at best only if you’ve worked very hard and very smart with your marketing in the months leading to your launch. Sales over the long haul are all about what people are looking for in their searches. Speaking events will sell books if you’re with the right audience. Everything, of course, begins with solid, compelling text that has a voice.

Reader Rose Zemit: Word of mouth. When some one tell you about a book, I remember it and will likely buy it.

Reader Alaina Bryant Bowers: I’m not a writer but personally I buy more books if I hear someone talking about them, but also from social media.

hlcs.org

Author Sandra Backstrom Godfrey: Blitz. All of the above as opportunity comes across your path. Prayer for guidance.  I have a marketing coach. He believes strongly in attending conferences and conventions.

Author Bonita McCoy: Word of mouth. I’ve bought more books because they were recommended by a friend.

Author Shirley Crowder: Recommendation from a friend by either word of mouth, email, newsletter, or social media.

Author and Publisher Tracy Ruckman: Has to be—must be—a combination. One without the others isn’t as effective. But 2, 1, 3 in order of most effective.

Author Kathy Terry Houser: Word of mouth, social media, advertising. Go to local paper and get them to do a article on you and your book.

And the kicker is, as mentioned by Cathe Swanson, most word of mouth IS social media.

I believe social media is here to stay and as authors, we should make use of it in whatever way we see fit. Whether a little or a lot, it can make a difference in getting your name and book in front of a lot of people at once.

So get social!

Click to tweet: The question I asked was “Which, in your own experience, sells more books. (1) Email newsletter (2) word of mouth or (3) social media? Or something else?” Here’s some answers by authors and readers. #amwriting #socialmedia

Writing Prompt: It’s your turn. Tell us in the comments what sells books to you personally. Is it one of the ways mentioned above? Or do you have another answer? We want to know…

Where Should I Spend My Book Marketing Dollars?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hmm. That’s an interesting question. For the past 12 years, I’ve worked on perfecting the craft of writing, making connections, growing my blogs, and finishing my novel. The time for marketing is drawing near. My debut novel will release in June of 2019, so marketing is foremost on my mind at this time. (Besides my edits)

How should I invest money for the greatest return? Here’s a few of my ideas:

(1) Talk to my already-published author friends, especially those in my genre. People that have been there, done that, can share expertise to help me make decisions. Here’s what three authors have already told me . . .

Betty Thomason OwensOne way I will use to market a new release is through a paid blog tour. By paying for the service, the heavy work is already handled for you. The blogs will be scheduled and you’ll have help when the time comes for the tour.

  • What you get for your money: (1) A blog tour to generate publicity for your newly-released book. (2) Guaranteed reviews, though the reviews are honest, and not always positive.
  • What it requires from you: This is a 14-day tour, so it requires a lot of planning and work. You’ll need to supply books up front for the reviews, either Ebooks, or print, as specified by the bloggers. Total cost can run several hundred dollars, weighed against whatever sales are generated by the blog tours. For more information, contact: Celebratelit  
  • I also seek out venues like conferences, craft fairs, and other functions in the area. There is usually a cost to rent a table or booth, but the personal exposure is well worth the money. I almost always earn the cost back in sales. One thing to remember about these, always have takeaways, like business cards, postcards and/or bookmarks, and chocolate.

Suzy Parish-My favorite way to spend marketing dollars involves little to zero investment dollar-wise. Research charities to see if one has a mission that falls within the parameters of the theme of your novel. Develop a relationship with the CEOs of that charity, send them a cover letter explaining how your novel dovetails with their mission statement. Offer to promote their charity alongside your book, after sending them an ARC for their approval, of course! This can develop into a beautifully mutual relationship with Christ, the ultimate benefactor. Sales might benefit also!

Janie Winsell-There are wonderful marketing ideas for authors, but narrowing it down to my favorite is hard. I had to ponder this question and really look at all of my marketing research to come up with an answer, but I have finally come to the conclusion that giveaways are the best way to get attention for your book. You can give away a five-dollar Starbucks card or even a fifty-dollar Amazon card. You dictate how little or how much you spend, which is great. People respond better to marketing that gets them something for free.

Let’s say you want twenty people to like and share your post with the link to your new release, what better way to achieve your goal than by promising a giveaway of your book once you reach your target. Then, you have twenty people see your book, share your book, and twenty more of their friends do the same. Selling books is all about visibility. People have to see it to want to buy it!

(2) Read multiple blog posts and listen to podcasts. There are great sources of information out there. Here are three of my favorites:
(3) Make a plan. I’ll take the ideas I think I can work with, the ones that feel right and put together a strategy.  What do you think of these?
  • Local launch party
  • Blog tour
  • Book signings
  • Conferences
  • A social media blitz
  • Giveaways
  • Research charities
(4) Follow through. When the time comes, I’ll schedule my plan into my calendar and see what works. I’ll save all my information of how each marketing idea worked or didn’t so I’ll have it for my next book launch. It’s never too early to plan ahead.

Click to tweet: Where should I spend my book marketing dollars? Here’s a few ideas. #marketing #amwriting

Writing prompt: Please share (in the comment section) what your favorite way to spend marketing dollars, the one that works best for you.

Book Launch Party

Book Launch header picby Shirley Crowder

You have just hit send, and your galley edits are on the way to your publisher. Whew! You have about three seconds to relish the feeling of completion before you need to get back to the work of planning how to launch your new book once it is published.

While planning all the things you can do to help publicize the launch of your new book, consider planning a Launch Party aka Book Signing.

I felt a little awkward about throwing myself a Launch Party.

A wise friend told me to make it a time of praising the Lord for His leadership and the gifts, talents, and experience that enabled you to bring the study guide to publication. That, I could do!

Here’s what I did for the Launch Party. Hopefully these will get you thinking about things you can do for your Launch Party.

It is important here to tell you that the Lord has blessed me with so many very dear Prayer Warrior friends on whom I can call to help me accomplish so a myriad of things—including a Launch Party!

1.   Order Book Copies

Once you know when you will have the books in-hand, you can check venue dates and print your invitations. Remember to also have copies of other books you wrote on-hand. Consider offering a discounted price for those who purchase the book at the Launch Party.

2.    Venue

There is a wonderful chapel in our area that a dear friend owns and rents out for weddings, receptions, parties, etc. It was perfect for my Launch Party.

3.    Invitations

LuanchPartyINVI have a dear friend whose print shop is well-known in our area for producing wonderful invitations of all sorts. I kept mine simple as you see in the picture. I mailed some, hand-delivered others, and secured the jpg of the invitation to email to some folks and put on social media.

4.    Food & Drinks

sjc-cake-food tableI emailed some of my closest friends and asked if they would bring food items. I didn’t want a lot of different things, just a lot of a few things. We had sweet and salty and even healthy. Since I live in the south, sweet tea was a must. We served unsweet tea, lemonade, water, and coffee. Nothing fancy. A crew of friends came early to get everything laid out and ready to serve.

5.    Cake

If you are blessed to have a wonderfully talented baker/artist friend, you can have an awesome cake made! I wanted a Bible as the foundation of the cake as it is the foundation of our books. And, I asked that the Bible look tattered and well-used which you can see below.

Cake cu

On top of the Bible I wanted Harriet’s book on prayer and then Study Guide on Prayer (new book) on top.

Be sure to note the purple bookmark in the Bible, as well as the purple quill pen and inkwell.

6.    Decorations

White lattice and a little lace (as you saw in the picture above) made a great backdrop for the food/drink tables. Each table where people would sit had a centerpiece comprised of candles (the venue had on-hand) and purple paper flowers. A crew of friends came early to get everything decorated.

7.    Giveaways / Door Prizes

Each person was given a number for the door prize drawing. I gave away copies of all of my books and Harriet’s and a few other things. Before the drawings (we drew several numbers every half hour), I welcomed everyone and talked about the book or read excerpts.

As each person left, they took home a book cookie with the study guide title on it, These were made by another dear friend.

cookie pic

8.    Book Table

A friend manned the table and sales for me. I discounted all the prices. And, if someone brought their copy of Harriet’s book on prayer that the new study guide goes with, they received an additional discount on the study guide.

9.    Book Signing

A podium made a great place for signing books and having pics made with my friends.

signing podium

10.   Pictures

Ask several people to take candid pictures throughout the event. You may also consider purchasing some disposable cameras, placing them on the tables, and encouraging your guests to take pics.

 11.  Enjoy yourself!

With the right planning, you can spend your time visiting with your friends, signing books, and having your picture made a gazillion times!

Writing Prompt: Include Launch Party plans as part of your total plan for your new book. It will bless you and all those who are able to attend.

Click to Tweet: Make the Launch Party a time to thank the Lord for His grace that enables you to write, for a publisher who is willing to publish your book, for all the Prayer Warriors who have consistently prayed for you during the process.

Successful Marketing of a Collaborative Work

By Jennifer Hallmark

**Previously published on the Seriously Write Blog.

Congratulations! You’ve been asked to join a book compilation. Maybe a friend needs your short story that’s been sitting stagnant in that file folder for a short story collaboration. Or perhaps you’ve been asked to write a novella to go with a series on, let’s say romantic suspense. Or maybe like me, you’ve been asked to contribute to a book with nine other authors, each adding her style and character to make the story unique.

One nagging fear floats in the back of your mind, keeping you from sending that email with a resounding “Yes, I’ll do it.”

Marketing.

To many, marketing is the hardest part of being a writer, whether you write novels, articles, or blog. The thoughts of marketing a book that’s not totally yours can seem daunting. It can, however, be done and actually even be enjoyable.

Yes, I said enjoyable.

Let’s take Unlikely Merger, the third book compilation I’d been privileged to take part in. Here’s the blurb:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

It proved to be a great story. How could ten women and a publisher work together to make Unlikely Merger successful? The key was simple.

Teamwork.

Tracy Ruckman, former publisher at Write Integrity Press, said it like this:

“During our collaborative projects, we stress the importance of cross-promotion. Collaborations give authors a chance to focus their marketing on each other instead of themselves, and their efforts benefit everyone involved.”

It’s the golden rule of book compilations.

Or as it says in Matthew 7:12 in the Message Bible: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them…”

Our contributors invited each other to write blog posts. We shared each author’s social media updates: Facebook posts, tweets, Google plus, and more. We belonged to a closed Facebook group where we encouraged each other, shared prayer requests, and talked about the book.

In short, we esteemed one another better than ourselves. At the end of the day, each person was lifted up and everyone had a good time. Best of all, marketing had become a learning experience that we can carry to our next project.

Which for me was another compilation called Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage, which released in December of 2015.

It proved to be another opportunity to enjoy marketing. With a team.

The secret of significant and successful marketing.

Click to tweet: The key to significant and successful collaborative book marketing is none other than the Golden Rule. #kindness #marketing

Writing Prompt: Allie stared at the email. They wanted her to write a romance novella for a box set? Did they not realize her love life was…