The surge in self-publishing over the past decade along with emerging forms of digital media has created an abundance of new titles from budding authors. These freshly minted professional writers are faced with a daunting task — they must provide the marketing support that they would normally get from an established publisher. Marketing an eBook is tough, but by using the Internet, authors can get just as much (if not more) exposure for their title(s) by developing a strong web presence.
Develop a Micro Site with Social Support
Letting out small bits of content from your title in online channels in advance of release not only builds buzz for your book, but it can also give you an idea of how well it will be received. You can easily set up a micro site for your title and post content for your target audience.
- Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog. Buy a custom domain name (ideally the exact same as your title) and 12 months of hosting. This task is a bit technical; however, it requires little to no programming knowledge, and there are tons of tutorials around the web on how to do it.
- Set up social profiles for your title. Make a Facebook business page, Google Plus Page, Pinterest Page, Twitter account and/or a profile on any other platform on which you think your audience is active.
- Depending on your genre, you can experiment with how much content to release and in what format. For example, if you had a title that teaches readers how to do things, you could release select excerpts for people to try. Be creative and choose small parts of the best sections of your title to share in advance of actually releasing it for sale.
- Build a following as much as you can before release. If you can create interest for your content and build a following on social media, when you actually do release your title, there will already be a segment of people interested in buying it. You can also share links to your book for whatever platform it is available for download on.
Strengthen your Overall Web Presence
It may not be a law at this point, but it is pretty safe to say that most people use the Internet when looking for information about something. Whether it’s about an author, a book or how to find that new Chinese restaurant in their neighborhood, people take to the Internet for the knowledge they need. As an author selling your work, you are a business owner. As a business owner, you need exposure to the audience you hope to sell to if you want to be successful. Unless you have 50 thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket for marketing and promotions, building a web presence online is the next best thing.
- Fill out your professional profiles completely. Include as much information about yourself and your work as possible. Use keywords that would be relevant to yourself as a brand or the books you write. Include links to your website if you have one (and you should), your books for sale, if allowed, and other profiles on the web.
- Include as many images as possible. Get professional photos taken or have someone you know take professional looking images of you for your profiles.
- Make your presence consistent. If an author is what you are, stick with that. Don’t have one profile say you are an author while another says that you are an aspiring photographer. It’s ok to have more than one interest, but for the purposes of online promotion, your audience needs to see consistent messages.
- Keep your personal and professional profiles separate. It’s fine to have a personal web presence that you don’t use for promoting your work. Just ensure that it isn’t connected to your professional profiles through links. You should also lock down any profile that you use for personal purposes. For example, if you have a personal Facebook account, change your privacy settings so that no one outside your friends list can see your profile.
- Build a blog and contribute to it on a weekly basis. A blog will serve two purposes for your online presence. It can establish you as an authority on the topics you know a lot about, and it can also help with your website’s visibility in searches. You should also create an RSS feed so that people can subscribe to your blog.
Make an Active Web Presence
When you build a presence online, you are essentially marketing yourself and your skills. Marketing is not something that is done once and then left alone. It is constantly evolving, and this is especially true for an online presence.
- Be active on social media no matter which networks you sign up for. If you only have a Twitter account, great! Make sure you are active on it and posting content regularly. Your blog provides great content to share on social networks. You should also share content that is attractive to your audience and that is consistent with your personal brand.
- Interact with people on your networks. If people comment on your posts (positive or negative), respond quickly. Interact with others’ posts by liking, favoriting, plus one-ing, or commenting as much as you can. Remember to be thoughtful when you do because quality is better than quantity.
Get your Book Reviewed
A really great thing you can do for a new title to get it more exposure on the web is to have a noteable blogger review it for you. Try to find someone who has a large and devout following and who is also writing about things related to your title. Reach out to them and ask if they will do a review of your book either after it is on the market or in advance of its release. Try to also get them to add a link to your title and/or your website in the post.
Getting a review on a decent blog can be far more powerful than exposure in mainstream media. This is because the quality of the audience is far better than in other media markets. You also have the opportunity to get direct traffic to your website or your listing on Amazon from a blog post.
Have Good Metadata
It doesn’t matter if you are selling eBooks or print books online, accurate and complete meta data will ensure better discoverability of your titles online. You might be thinking , “Hey, wait a minute, Matt — what does meta data have to do with an online presence?” In reality, they are not directly related, but when people use a search engine to look for your content, chances are far greater that you will show up as a relevant result to queries if you have good meta data. This data is the only information available about your title in a digital world. What’s more important is that it acts as a substitute for actually holding a book and looking through the pages to find out if you want to read it. A very comprehensive resource for meta data information is the Meta Data Handbook.
Developing a comprehensive and consistent online presence for your eBook is crucial to helping it sell. Even if you are working with a publisher, you must take an active role in promoting your title(s). Popular content management systems like WordPress make it super easy to set up a website or blog and look like a programming superstar. The addition of social media lets authors potentially reach thousands of people with a very small budget.
How do you promote titles online? Have you found success in using social media or other online channels to sell books?