From 2018—2019, the novelist Ellie Marney wrote a monthly advice column for Australian Self Publisher. Below, we have reprinted the third instalment in the ‘Self-publishing essentials with Ellie Marney: promotion, marketing and all that jazz’ series, in which she provides tips on how to create a ‘promotional footprint’ for your book.
Welcome back! In the first article in this series on book marketing, we explained the difference between promotion and marketing, and why it’s good to have a marketing plan. In the second article, we talked about the things that make you and your book stand out from the crowd, and how to develop those things organically to create a ‘promotional footprint’. Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of promotion …
Book promotion: the basic field kit
Here’s a few things every writer should have, if they want to coordinate a marketing plan for their book:
- a static website, where readers can find your contact details, a bio, a newsletter sign-up form, and a list of your books (and links to buy them)
- an email newsletter, which you can use to send out information and develop a loyal fanbase
- a Facebook presence, whether that’s on a page or in groups
- one other social media presence, on whatever platform you prefer (and typically enjoy).
Those are the absolute minimum requirements for implementing book promotion. You might want to add to them with a Patreon, a YouTube account, podcast broadcasts, or whatever takes your fancy, but remember: everything you utilise takes time (and sometimes money), and it’s not necessary to be everywhere (that’s exhausting). Just use the promotional platforms you feel comfortable with. But these four things offer the most utility and flexibility for basic promotion.
Unpacking your field kit
Your website: Don’t worry about making it super fancy! Just make sure that it looks professional and that it displays your books and includes buy links. Definitely have an author bio on there, and a way for people (like readers, librarians, booksellers and event organisers) to contact you. Include a newsletter sign-up for readers. Feel free to add a blog component, or a page with your news and events, or a link to your podcast etc, but those things are largely secondary. Not sure how it should look? Check the websites of authors whose work you read and enjoy, and compare notes.
Your newsletter: It might seem old-fashioned, but an email newsletter is the number-one tried-and-true best way to establish (and communicate with) a loyal base of readers. Find an email service that suits your budget and your needs, and send out monthly updates, snippets of work in progress and special offers. Check out Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque for a complete newsletter strategy.
Your Facebook page: Some people hate it, but if you want to use Facebook advertising (which generally has good return on investment), you need to have a Facebook page. For more info on Facebook for authors, try reading this article by Jane Friedman, and for Facebook advertising, read Help! My Facebook Ads Suck by Michael Cooper.
Your social media presence: You do need another place to establish a public profile and send out your message about your book to a wider audience, so choose a social media platform—I recommend Instagram or Twitter, but it depends on you and your audience. If you’re having a hard time deciding, think about your audience and where they’re likely to hang out online. Above all, make sure your social media platform is one that you enjoy using, or at least have a preference for.
Your author platform
The field kit just described is your basic author platform for promo. The golden rule of interacting via your platform is simple: be yourself. While your platform is for promo, it shouldn’t be a long stream of ads—in fact, don’t do that. Readers and fans want to get to know you before they click on a buy link for your book, so concentrate on connecting with people in a genuine way. Try this article by Nathan Bransford for social media tips for authors, and if you’d like to know more about author platforms, Dave Gaughran has written a useful article about them here.
But what about the book?
Well, the cool thing about being a self-publisher is that there are a number of variables you can control, and most of those are about your book. These are the things we’ll talk about in the next article—see you then.
Ellie Marney is a teacher and hybrid YA author. She lives in Victoria with her family, and her latest book, None Shall Sleep (Allen & Unwin), was published in September 2020. Find her at www.elliemarney.com or on Twitter or Instagram.