You’ve written the final page, so now it’s time to market your book.
All marketing helps, but you’ve left it a little late. You’ve missed many opportunities to build your readership and make sales, even before you’ve finished writing.
Marketing while writing builds a virtuous circle, and positive feedback loop. Your potential readers become interested in your book, and their interest and feedback inspires you. Not only do you get more ideas for your book, you get more ideas for marketing. You’re more likely to meet a publishing deadline (even if it’s your own), because you’re eager to turn that reader-interest into book orders.
A bonus: you can take pre-orders and make sales before publishing day.
Market your book while you’re writing to win readers (and make sales)
- News works better than blatant promotion—almost anything about your book can be newsworthy.
- Ask for help (example: “which cover is better?”): think engagement and social media.
- Images attract attention, so use them.
- Think content. Everything’s content. Your research is content, as are your notes, and of course your drafts.
1. Your book is news; so is anything related to it
When I’m mentoring social media professionals, I encourage them to think: news.
News sells. Be informative, rather than overtly promotional. Tip: subscribe to the Publishers Lunch newsletter; it’s free, and helps you to start thinking of your book as news.
News to be aware of and promote:
- Announce your book: fiction or nonfiction? What’s it about? Why are you writing it? Progress?
- You’re writing a specific book. It has a genre if it’s fiction, and subjects if it’s nonfiction. Anything related to those genres/ subjects is newsworthy, so talk about the news on your blog and on social media.
- Always be positive and upbeat. Everyone has challenges. Treat your challenges as positive experiences.
2. Images get attention, so use images prolifically
We’re writers, but your aim is to market your book, so you need images. I adore Canva (affiliate link), but you can get free images from many sites. Unsplash is useful, as are similar sites which offer royalty-free images.
Explore Instagram, using hashtags like #booklaunch, #newauthor (if that’s you), etc. A few minutes on Instagram will help you to build your hashtag list—and yes, use hashtags to market your book while you’re writing.
If you’re not using Instagram, consider creating a profile there. Many authors use it to get attention. Authors even have their own #bookgram hashtag, with millions of followers.
3. Everything related to your book is content
Content you can use for promotion includes:
- Notes you’re making;
- Research and ideas;
- Other authors;
- Books you love in your genre/ subject area;
- Snippets of content and quotes from your book…
Avoid thinking of book marketing as something that’s large, and overwhelming. Rather, think of it as one itty bitty creative task at a time.
Let’s say you found a fascinating fact while researching your book. How long would it take you to grab an image, then add the fact, your book’s title or working title, and your name to the image?
Initially, it might take you half an hour, until you get your bearings. Soon it will take you ten minutes. Either way, you now have a marketing asset you can use and reuse.
And speaking of titles…
4. Create content around your book’s title
Brainstorm some titles, then create an image from your two favorites. Ask your audience on your blog, or on social media, or on a forum, to choose the title they like best.
Thank any respondents, and ask them why they liked the title. Do they read the genre (fiction) or about the nonfiction topic? Which books are favorites?
5. Cover images are great for engagement, so use them
Developing a cover? Ask your designer to create at least two designs, so you can use them for marketing.
Post the designs to your blog, a forum, or Instagram. Ask people to vote for their favorite design.
You could also create a couple of quick book covers yourself, using a Canva template, purely to market your book.
6. When writing fiction, use your characters and plot for marketing
When you write a novel, you’ve got character studies, ideas, draft scenes, scenes you remove (never delete, just move the scenes out of your project folder into a “removed” folder), plot ideas, backstory…
In other words, you’ve got a cornucopia of material which won’t appear in your novel. Use that material to market your book. Create blog posts, images, social media content…
7. Writing nonfiction? Post research and early draft excerpts
If you’re writing nonfiction, all feedback is valuable. So don’t be shy to share your ideas. Your ideas are promotions’ gold. Maybe your book will go viral.
Brilliant marketer David Meerman Scott offers his excellent ebook, The New Rules Of Viral Marketing, for free. Read it. You’ll find many ideas you can use to market your book while you’re writing it.
From the ebook:
One of the coolest things about the Web is that when an idea takes off, it can propel a brand or company to seemingly instant fame and fortune. For free. Whatever you call it—viral, buzz, word-of-mouse, or word-of-blog marketing—having other people tell your story drives action. One person sends it to another, then that person sends it to yet another, and on and on.
8. Got beta readers? If not, search for them
You need beta readers. You’ll find prospective betas among the people who respond to you.
Be grateful for any response. If someone agrees to read a draft chapter, or an Advance Readers Copy (ARC), they’re absolute gold. Any person who reads for you is giving you their valuable time, thoughts, and energy.
What if you don’t want to market your book while you’re writing it?
Hmmm. That used to be my attitude: I avoided talking about any book I was writing.
Then I created social media content for a ghostwriting client while I wrote a novel for him. He posted the content right throughout the writing process. The novel had lots of pre-orders. It built his mailing list. It sold way better than the client’s other novels and gave his other titles a healthy sales’ boost.
The moral of the story? Market your book while you’re writing it.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.