Often the difference between a successfully marketed book and one that struggles to gain any traction is the author behind the promotion. While it is time-consuming for an author to promote their work, the rewards can be well worth the effort.
In the first of a short series of case studies, we have enlisted some of our most successful authors to discuss how they have promoted their books successfully, including the techniques they used, challenges they encountered and top tips from their trial and error.
First up in our series is Kate Baker, author of Maid of Steel. Kate’s use of all the resources available to her to promote her book, as well as having the best time doing the promotion, has had some fantastic results from a Waterstones window display to radio interviews and podcast recordings.
Marketing Maid of Steel - Kate Baker’s approach to book promotion
I always knew my debut novel would need some sort of marketing plan. After all, I was an unknown author with a relatively small social media presence.
I knew about book Blog Tours and had heard great things about Rachel Gilby at Rachel’s Random Resources, so had already approached her via her website. She agreed my book was a genre she could work with and a month before publication day we booked a week-long tour with three bloggers per day to begin on the day of publication.
Luckily, the team at The Book Guild explained what else was available to me.
They produced an AI - Advanced Information – sheet and sent it to a list of over 120 magazines, newspapers, radio stations and bookshops. The list was bespoke for my novel and its setting, and my first request for an author interview was the Cork Echo! I ended up with three newspaper articles, four radio interviews and two podcast recordings, and only this last week another writer/book blogger invited me to be a guest on her site. What I soon learned was that exposure leads to other opportunities.
I was quite happy to walk into local libraries and bookshops and do some legwork in getting the book known locally. I feel that personal appearance, a smile and a little humility (without self-degradation) truly helped. Even my town’s Waterstones Manager held and studied the paperback I took with me and agreed to give it to his team to read. Two weeks later, I was offered a 14-day window display leading up to a 2-hour book signing. This is quite rare for an independently published book, but the incredible cover design, plus the feel of a traditional novel and, I’m sure, my enthusiasm, led to this incredible opportunity. In an independent bookstore, the owner and I were chatting when one of his customers walked in. She came over and loved the cover, listened in on my story about how the novel came to be and immediately bought a copy. She also mentioned she was a member of a reading group and would recommend it!
Separately, the e-book marketing team at The Book Guild exposed a whole new world to me. One of BookBub, Good Reads and particularly Netgalley, with its various feature deals. Also, price drops on Amazon for a week or so can really help with a spike in sales. The e-book readership is vast and worldwide. Applying for – and being offered - a Netgalley US Feature Spotlight meant my novel would have been seen by thousands of people across the States. Having earmarked some funds to go towards marketing, it made sense to me to spend a bit more and reach further afield than just the UK. A percentage of the total account holders requesting review copies is going to be more extensive with the larger membership pool in the States.
You can take advantage of these things even without having a social media presence. However, if you are happy to have accounts on, say, Instagram, you can bring people’s attention to your e-book’s marketing events and cast the net of potential readers even wider.
I do attempt to put a variety of content on my social media. I believe readers will soon be put off by constant ‘Buy my book!’ messages. Personally, I’d rather have a slower, organic growth of readership and prefer to have a thousand truly interested and engaged readers than ten thousand, some of whom will be bots or random companies who just do Follow-for-Follows sake. For me, it’s not about numbers.
I’ve had lots of fun with bookmarks, A6 cards, and window display posters – all produced by The Book Guild - and my biggest treat has been the book banner which can be set up at events.
Don’t underestimate how effective your own positivity can be. For example, I returned to an organization in Suffolk where I had attended some self-esteem courses six years before. They were thrilled I’d managed to write and publish a novel and invited me back to talk to the women presently going through the same course. The first session was oversubscribed, and I was asked back to do a second. To hear that I’d inspired others to follow their dream was both humbling and liberating.
While I begin to draft my second novel, the work with book one is far from over. I know that marketing will be ongoing.