I was talking with a class that I was teaching this past week about marketing strategies and realized we haven’t had a marketing post in a while. Twitter and Facebook are what I think of as old marketing standbys, but there are other, more creative ways to market. Of course, as the kids say, YMMV (your mileage may vary) with all of them. Below is a summary of what we discussed.
Before I begin, however, don’t forget Martin Crosbie’s huge list of book promo sites.
And now, a few creative ways to market your book without constantly saying (or typing) “Buy My Book” (or the equivalent):
1. Live video Q&A sessions about the book. This can be done via Facebook, but I’m sure other options are out there. I’ve attended a couple of them, and they’re fun. I haven’t worked up the courage to do one myself, but it’s something that’s definitely on my radar.
2. Book trailers. I don’t see them as often as I used to, but I still make them for my own books and really do believe they can be effective. My first video trailer had over 1,000 views on YouTube before I had to upload a revision. I’ve made several revisions over the years, and unfortunately, unlike KDP, YouTube doesn’t let you upload revisions right over the original, so the original views always disappear. Even after multiple revisions, the trailer for my first book is sitting right now at 618. That’s a lot of eyes looking at it.
I don’t know how many views have translated into sales, but I also don’t know how many Tweets and Facebook posts translate into sales. I do know the views shown for my trailers come from people who actively clicked “play” in order to watch the video. I don’t know what Facebook counts as a “view.” I suspect it means my ad showed up on someone’s news feed, which isn’t the same as someone voluntarily clicking to see something.
Indies Unlimited also has a resource page for creating and marketing book trailers, of course.
3. Free short stories either posted on a website or sent out with a newsletter. If you use free short stories as a marketing strategy, consider writing them about one or more of the characters from your novel. This can drum up interest and make readers eager to find more. Also consider including a link to the novel (on Amazon or whichever online store you prefer) at the back of your short story. That way, when readers get to the end of your free short story, the ability to purchase your novel is only one small click away.
4. If you write a series, a map of the setting. I have a map of Cedar Hollow on my website. It isn’t as detailed and fancy as some maps I’ve seen for books in the speculative fiction genre, but my Cedar Hollow Series is set in the Appalachian Mountains. No fantasy creatures or strange worlds inhabit my little village. Even without otherworldly enhancements, it’s a creative way to give readers a visual to reference.
5. Correct categories and keywords. As I discussed in a previous post, on Amazon, some categories actually require specific keywords in order to get your book to the right place.
You can find lists of required keywords here.
While we’re talking about creative marketing strategies, we also need to revisit what not to do. Not all new writers know these things, and I still see and hear conversations fairly often about engaging in activities that can ultimately get an author into trouble.
Bad ideas include:
1. Swapping reviews with another author.
2. Asking a family member or close friend to post a review.
3. Deals in which you give your book away in exchange for a review. This doesn’t include review sites, obviously, but you can’t give your book away to newsletter subscribers or social media followers in exchange for a review. You can give it away and hope for a review. You can even ask for a review. but you can’t require one. This is because Amazon has a policy against compensating reviewers.
Amazon had been actively reinforcing these policies for the last couple of years because due to misuse and manipulation, their rating system was losing integrity. They’ll remove suspicious reviews, and if the problem warrants it, they’ll remove accounts. For a self-published author, getting removed from Amazon is a pretty big blow. Be sure to read their policies if you’re in doubt. If you have an Amazon-related idea or question, Amazon probably has a policy discussing it. You can see their FAQs for authors here.
These are a few of the ideas my students and I batted around; feel free to share your ideas or experiences in the comments.