Updated: 1/2/2021

Marketing is a subject so misunderstood that many authors find themselves demoralized when they post a Facebook ad and don’t magically wind up on the bestseller’s list. Newbie authors don’t know that marketing is a layered and complex process, I mean, people go to college to learn this stuff!

Case in point, author James Patterson, one of Forbes highest-paid authors, was the vice president of a marketing firm before becoming an author. Do you think this multi-bestselling author’s success was a fluke? Hardly!

Now despite what you may have heard, advertising and book reviews alone are not marketing. Marketing consists of production, distribution, and sales, so let’s break this down:

  • Genre: Book marketing begins when an author chooses a genre or topic to write about. The more popular the genre, the better your chances of selling well.

  • Packaging: By creating a book cover and interior that is competitive with what’s on the market, you increase your odds of success.

  • Distribution: You need to get your book to as many people as possible to get lots of sales. Many authors are going to Amazon, the largest online retailer to give their book the best shot at reaching as many readers as possible.

  • Sales: You need to generate buzz via advertising, reviews, media (both off and online), or by holding giveaways and contests.

Looks like there’s nothing to it, huh? Sadly, none of that is true. This is a complicated project to manage. It takes time management skills, coordination (team building), and business communication skills to succeed.

So how does an indie author win at this? Easy, we study the big publishers and learn from their mistakes by adopting what works for them and discarding what doesn’t. 

Secrets of the Big Five: The Soft Launch or Prelaunch

For those of you not familiar, a soft launch is where you put your book on sale, but tell only a select few like; reviewers, members of the media, and even newsletter subscribers. Some authors suggest taking a few months before doing an official push, just so you can get your ducks in a row. Here’s what an author generally does during a soft launch…

Look For Annoying Mistakes And Formatting Issues

When I published my YA novel, I found a grammatical error on the first page. Needless to say, I was very upset. I worked so hard on that darn thing and still, I missed things. Obvious things. If I had done a soft launch this wouldn’t have happened.

Start Collecting Reviews

Ever wonder why when a famous author releases a book, there are already 200 glowing reviews on Amazon? It’s because the book was already available for some time but kept on the down-low. A release date doesn’t mean, a book was actually published that day. A release date is more like a push date, where the author and or publishing house start their marketing bonanza.

Score Blurbs

Blurbs are different from reviews because blurbs are a seal of approval from someone significant in your genre or within the publishing industry. Blurbs almost legitimize your book if you’re an unknown. This is important for indie authors since the self-publishing stigma is alive and well. Finding a big name who is willing to give an opinion on your book is hard but could be worth it. 

Create Media Kits

Creating a media kit would have helped me and those curious about me. If you’re going to query book bloggers, journalists, or podcasters it would help if you gave them a link to your media kit.  This way they don’t have to Google you and get lost in a sea of authors.  

Schedule Social Media Posts

If you don’t use a social media scheduler for your social media accounts, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. These services can offer the ability to auto-post during peak hours on all of your social media accounts. This way you can schedule posts telling your followers about sales, interviews, or giveaways you’ll be doing. Priceless, for the author who is short on time and energy. Some social media schedulers offer services like analytics and even help with creating posts, though you do have to pay for those things in most cases.

Nonetheless, here are some options to choose from: 

Schedule Guests Posts & Interviews

This will take the most work and time, but it is necessary to find people who allow authors to guest post on their blogs. If you’re going to make this work, you’ll need to offer a sweet incentive, maybe a bribe, like a book for their audience, or offer them a favor, such as hosting them on your blog or podcast. This is totally up to you. 

If you want to find blogs that offer guest posts try this article on Website Hosting Rating where they list 200 sites that accept guest posts. Also, Self-Publishing Review listed 15 sites where authors can find guest posting opportunities. 

However, if you want to snag an interview on a podcast, I wrote a post called Podcasts That Feature Indie Authors.   

In Closing

I hope I was able to clear up some of the more common misconceptions about marketing. If you found this post helpful please like and share.