Building a great product is the easy part. Selling it is the hard part. Every business owner on the planet is looking for better ways to tell people about their products and most importantly, get sales! This post is full of ideas for promoting your book, ebook, or whatever product you’ve got!

You will not succeed unless you accept that marketing and promotion are just as important as having a great product. If you aren’t interested in marketing a promotion, partner up with someone who loves it!

Before you do anything to promote your book, make sure that you’ve covered the basics.

  • Get a professional editor to help you polish your manuscript.
  • Get a professional illustrator or graphic designer to create your cover.
  • Get a professional book designer to set the text and create the book files.
  • Get a professional copywriter to write the sales blurb for your book.

No amount of promotion can save a rough, amateur book. If you’re serious about succeeding commercially, invest now in your book and reap the rewards later. Otherwise, you will be working very hard to sell something that repels customers.

Once your book is ready to be shown to paying customers the real work begins! As you read the following list, always keep your audience in mind.

  1. List your ebook with as many online retailers as possible – your book will be lost in the crowd if you only list it on Amazon.com.
  2. Ask all your friends and family to review the book.
  3. Write a newsworthy story that tells what your book is about, who you wrote it for, why you wrote it, the benefits of buying it, and how you came up the idea.
  4. Offer to do interviews with the media but beware… news coverage may have little influence on sales
  5. Give copies of the book to reviewers who are interested in your book genre.
  6. Ask readers what they thought of the book.
  7. Then ask the readers if you can use their testimonial on your website (you may have to hide their first or last name with initials)
  8. Then ask the readers if they would post a review on a retail site.
  9. Create a website about the book that contains:
    • testimonials
    • writing samples
    • cover art
    • the sales blurb
    • info on where to buy
    • an author bio
    • author interviews
    • blog posts
    • reviews
    • links to reviews
    • newsletter signup
  10. Build a newsletter list via your website and communicate regularly with your fans.
  11. Offer a discounted launch price with a definite expiry date.
  12. Give away older or smaller ebooks as a bonus.
  13. Work with other websites and create a contest where your ebook is the prize.
  14. Do testimonials for other authors and get on the backs of their books.
  15. Write guest blog posts for sites that your readers visit.
  16. If you pay for advertising, do split testing and keep what works.
  17. Hold a launch party – invite only or open to the public.
  18. Create a Goodreads account.
  19. Host Google+ hangouts and put the recordings on YouTube.
  20. Create a Facebook fanpage.
  21. Post 3 – 5 links of interest to fans per day.
  22. Do a Facebook ad campaign that is specifically targeted at people who like you book genre or subject.
  23. Create a Twitter account with a link to the book’s website.
  24. Find 500 websites that are sure to interest your audience.
  25. Post 10 links from these 500 websites on Twitter each day. Less than 10% of Facebook and Twitter links should be self-promotional.
  26. Create a YouTube channel.
  27. Create an author interview video.
  28. Create videos of fans talking about the book.
  29. Create a book trailer.
  30. Ask bloggers to post book excerpts.
  31. Ask podcasters to interview you.
  32. Ask radio shows to interview you.
  33. Ask related authors for reciprocal authors for Facebook likes and retweets.
  34. Actively blog on a regular schedule.
  35. Post great comments on other blogs and link back to you blog posts.
  36. Create a cool infographic that appeals to your audience.
  37. Participate in a popular forum that your readers frequent.
  38. Create your own forum if a good one doesn’t exist.
  39. Ask fans to post pictures of themselves with your book in 1) interesting places or 2) dressed as a character.
  40. Offer a free ebook (to help build your mailing list).
  41. Create and sell some cool merchandise using a Print-On-Demand service
  42. Do book readings and Q & A sessions at local coffee shops, libraries, and universities
  43. Give copies of your book away to libraries, schools, senior’s homes, and hospitals
  44. Host webinars on your book and topics your readers love.
  45. Create slides related to your book topic and put them on SlideShare.
  46. Videotape any speaking engagement you have and put it on YouTube.
  47. Whenever you write a blog post, create an audio and video version to podcast and put on YouTube.
  48. Whenever you post content online, make sure it is of value to someone.
  49. Create some cool promotional material like computer wallpapers, t-shirts, mugs, bookmarks, and paper posters.
  50. Set specific tasks and do them daily. E.g. write 1 blog post, post 10 comments linked to that blog post.

The above list should keep you very busy! Promotion is a full-time job. It’s something both self-published and traditionally-published authors have to contend with. Of course, it’s easier with the help of a publisher but they will only do so much to promote a book that isn’t Harry Potter. They do get books into stores but after that it’s mainly sink or swim. The author will still have to put a lot of work in to make sure the book succeeds.

Spend your promotional effort only on people who will see the value in your product. There may be a lot of people who would benefit from your reading your ebook but would never buy it.

If you want to stick to writing, you will definitely want to enlist someone to take care of the bulk of the promotional work.

Other thoughts

Press Coverage

Press coverage is very appealing because it’s free and it reaches a very large audience. The price of admission to the press is to have something that’s newsworthy. Editors are always on the search for great content to share with their readers. Unfortunately for them, they are bombarded with mountains of very boring product press releases daily. Think of the last news story about a business you read. It most definitely wasn’t about something routine like a sale at the local car dealership. If the dealer was giving away 100 cars on a first-come, first-served basis, this promotion and the ensuing pandemonium would make the news for sure. You don’t have to do something crazy, but you do have to tell your story to editors in an appealing way that sounds like news!

Online press coverage is no different. You must have a great story that blog and media site editors will want to share with their readers. Tell them something really interesting about why and how you wrote it. Do not just send them a sales blurb announcing that the book is now in stores.

Advertising

Advertising is the second traditional option. It’s not free and it requires careful planning if it’s going to pay off. Established companies (think car and soap) with tons of profit throw money towards advertising with the goal of getting their name out there. This is a suicide tactic for any small business with a specialized product. You almost never see book publishers advertising because they know it doesn’t give them a good return on their investment. Instead they rely on live author events and buzz from their readers.

You should only advertise if you can reach a very specific target audience. Google Adwords and Facebook are the best platforms for targeted ads. You will waste all your money if you do not choose your ad text wisely. Someone interested in horses may not care about horse books. Someone interested in horse books may not care about your horse book. Target your ad at someone who is already looking for your book specifically, e.g. horse dressage book for beginners.

Key to Promotional Success

Always offer value – editors and readers want something they can use to improve their lives.

TIP: Marketing doesn’t have to eat up all of your time. John Kremer has written up a sensible approach to book marketing while still having some time to write.