Blog posts, tweets, and press releases, oh my! When marketing your book you can feel yourself drowning in options and advice for which marketing tools are most efficient, which will reach the most people and which you can incorporate into your daily life without going insane or draining your bank account.
But one of the simplest ways to market your books, is with your own books.
To Begin: Market Yourself with A Quality Product
Okay, producing a quality book isn’t the point of this post (I’ve already ranted on about that last week). But part of any marketing plan is to present your best side to the world. This is why each book you put out needs…
- To be well-formatted – Whether electronic or paper, your book needs to be a pleasant and smooth experience for the reader. Hard-to-read fonts, weird margins, glitchy e-books tell your readers you don’t care about their reading pleasure and they will quickly not care about you. If you don’t know the basics of formatting, hire someone or take the time to learn.
- To be mostly free of spelling and grammar errors – People will look past one or two mistakes, but if your book is full of them, they will assume you are a hack, they will not continue reading and they will not seek your books out again.
- To have a professional-looking cover – If it’s not in your budget to hire a cover artist, learn how to manipulate stock images and text (hint: you can even do most cover work in Word, if you’re patient). Remember, thousands of writers are using the templates available through publishers such as Createspace, and most are very, very, very dull and do not stand out from the crowd. Unless you can find a way to make that template cover POP in a unique way, don’t use it.
Simple Marketing: Using Your Books to Market Your Other Books
When you do have more than one book, you can use each of those books to promote your other books. And no, this isn’t some huckster’s trick. Nearly every book you pick up will have an “Also by the Author” page. This page is typically in the front after the title and copyright pages. If you’re not super famous or write on a variety of different topics, an “Also by” page clues readers in to your other work and hopefully sparks their curiosity.
Free marketing bonus: This single, front-of-the-book page announcing your tomes will even appear when people sample your book on sites like Amazon or Scribd.
More Marketing Within Your Book
But don’t stop at the beginning. At the end of your book, include an “About the Author” page where you again list your books. This is especially handy with e-books, where readers may not necessarily return to the front of the book to search for your “Also by” page. E-books also have the handy dandy feature of clickable links, so be sure each of your titles listed links to the book’s page on your website.
Note: I would advise against linking to a sales page on Amazon because it seems a bit desperate and is a major faux pas if you’re also putting your book on iTunes or Smashwords. Link instead to your website and provide “Where to Buy” links there.
It Won’t Work Unless It’s Updated
Listing your books within your books won’t do much if you don’t keep the “Also by” and “About the Author” pages updated. Each time you put out a new book, take the time to revise your other books to include the new book’s title in your lists and links.
This regular updating of your print books is super easy with POD publishers like Createspace who allow updates at any time and who don’t charge for changes. E-books published through Smashwords and KDP can also be changed at any time without cost.
Unfortunately, some POD publishers such as BookBaby do charge for updates and those charges can really add up, so you may only want to update your highest selling titles. This is one reason why it’s very important to read every scrap of the terms of agreement and rules of use before signing up with a publisher.
Marketing Bonus: Pre-Promoting With Updates
Want to promote the book you’re working on? You can use your updating capabilities to market your book before it’s even out. Again, you need to have already written one book for this to work. Once you have a close to final draft of your next book, add the first five to ten pages (or first chapter) to your previous book. Only add these if they are free of spelling and grammar errors! This is a great way to promote a series.
Note: When doing this type of pre-promotion, don’t stick the new book into every one of of your older titles. The new book excerpt should match the genre and audience of the book it is added to. For example, I wouldn’t add my current work-in-progress, The Voyage: Book Two of The Osteria Chronicles, to my gardening book Going Native. I would add it to the first book in the series, The Trials of Hercules.
E-books are very amenable to this type of pre-promotion because adding the extra pages won’t (or shouldn’t) change the price to produce the book. With print books, you may be treading a fine line. Every extra page will add to production costs, and adding too many extra pages can affect your ISBN information, meaning your book could require a new ISBN. If in doubt, ask your publisher.
Do you use your books to market your books? If not, does it seem like something you would consider? Feel free to share your tips and comments.