8 DIY Book Marketing Tips to Help Increase Your Sales

Writing a book is hard. Marketing a book and maintaining sales long-term can be even harder. Some authors have the budget to hire marketing help or services, but many authors need free or budget-friendly marketing options. With a little time and effort, these 8 DIY book marketing tips can help set the foundation for long-term sales and success:

1. Identify your target readers and where to find them.

As much as we’d like it to be, your book is not for everyone. Some books may appeal to a broad audience, but most successful books appeal to a select or niche audience. Understanding your specific readers and knowing where to find them should ultimately drive your marketing efforts. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine who your target reader is:

• What problems will your book solve or information will it provide?
• Is your book meant to entertain? Who is likely to be entertained?
• What is your overall theme or message?
• Are there other books like yours on the market? Who is buying them?
• What are the demographics and psychographics of this group?  (age, gender, regional characteristics, lifestyle, interests, hobbies)

Once you determine your target reader group, figure out where they like to hang out and where they shop for books. Focus any marketing efforts on this particular group, including social media, events, advertising, and where your book is available for sale. A targeted marketing strategy is much more likely to be successful because you are promoting your book to readers that are already interested in your genre, theme, or topic.

2. Strengthen your author platform and brand.

Your author platform is your ability to reach readers. It acts as your foundation for building a larger readership long term and includes your messaging, branding, and communication strategies. Who are you as an author, and what perception do you want readers to have of you and your books? To create a meaningful author platform, you must put effort into both online and offline communications and initiatives. These include public speaking, branding, author website, social media, event appearances, and more.

Your author brand can enhance your platform and is more than just visual elements such as logos and colors; it’s your reputation. Creating an authentic brand that is a natural extension of who you are can build trust with readers. The more consistent you are across your website, socials, and promotional materials, the more recognizable your brand will become.

3. Optimize your online presence.

When people search online for books related to your genre, theme, or topic you want to show up in the search results, preferably toward the top of the list. So, how do you get there? By having a strong, online presence and implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO involves using tools and techniques to improve your discoverability online, which is the ability for readers to find you.

If you don’t currently have an author website, create one. You need a central hub where you can send readers to find out everything about you and your book/s. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but should include your bio, book/s and where to buy, social media links, and any upcoming events at a minimum. You’ll also want to make sure that your website copy includes relevant keywords or phrases that you think readers will use when searching for books like yours. A simple website can be created for free using platforms like WordPress and Wix.

In addition to a website, you’ll want to be active on at least one social media channel. Pick one that you are comfortable with or where you know your readers are present. When done effectively, social media communications and promotions can be an integral part of your book marketing strategy.

4. Create an author newsletter.

Email marketing can sometimes be more effective than social media networks and help authors build lasting relationships with a target audience. To start an email marketing campaign, you’ll first need to collect emails from potential readers – you can do this through social media, your website, or at in-person events. Next, you’ll want to find a platform to help you manage and send the emails (like Mailchimp or MailerLite), then set a realistic email schedule that you can maintain, and start planning content.
8 DIY, budget-friendly book marketing tips that can help authors connect with readers and sell more books.

5. Speak or blog about your book.

If your book’s topic or theme can be expanded upon in other formats, consider developing presentations or speeches. Speaking about your area of expertise or about your writing journey, whether in-person or through online conferencing, can be a great way to acquire new fans and sell more books.

If speaking isn’t your thing, you may find it beneficial to blog about your topic, expertise, or interests. You can add a blog to your existing website, link to a separate blog from your website, or even contribute to other people’s blogs. Sharing additional content through a blog is a great way to strengthen your online presence, keep readers coming back, and hone your writing skills.

6. Get more reviews.

Readers rely on book reviews to help them decide whether to purchase a book, while bookstores and libraries rely on them to determine whether to place a book on their shelves. The more positive reviews an author has, the more books he or she is likely to sell. Acquiring a large number of book reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon can be difficult, especially for new or unknown authors that are still building a readership. It can be done if you plan ahead and follow Amazon’s strict policies.

While consumer reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads are important, so are reviews from other sources such as reputable book bloggers and independent review outlets. These types of reviews bring credibility to your work and can strengthen your author platform and marketability. Great reviews can also help you secure speaking, guest blogging, and distribution opportunities.

7. Advertise.

Authors don’t always need to spend a lot of money to advertise effectively. There are many things you can do on online through websites and social media that cost you nothing but time and energy. However, if you’re looking to broaden your reach a little more quickly, you can put in a little bit of money to reach a wider audience and hopefully entice them to buy your book.

Online advertising can include ads on sites such as Facebook, Amazon, or Google, where you can create something more targeted and decide the amount of money you want to invest. The key is start slow and test the waters.

If you have a little more money to invest, consider advertising through your regional or local newspapers, magazines, and radio stations.

8. Broaden your distribution.

Most authors realize the importance of having their books for sale on Amazon, but what they underestimate are the untapped markets outside of Amazon. This includes independent bookstores, libraries, museums, and other retail outlets. Per book marketing expert and New Shelves Books Executive Director Keri-Rae Barnum, it's critical that authors reach these other booksellers to maximize their sales.

Some other distribution platforms to consider include IngramSpark, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital. Ingram's catalog, for example, is accessible to all of the major and independent bookstores. An aggregator like Draft2Digital can make your book available through Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and more. The more places your book is available for sale, the more you will reach new readers.

The most important thing to remember about book marketing is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to create awareness and build a following for your work. Once you’ve established a readership, you have to continue to nurture it and find new fans. By implementing even a few of the above tips, you will greatly increase your chances of connecting with readers, ultimately resulting in book sales. 

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