Why is it important to market your book?
In addition to unique content, professional editing and appealing packaging, targeted marketing of one's own book is crucial to its success. Every year, more and more authors struggle to attract reader interest and get people excited about reading in the first place. Marketing your book: Learn the nuts and bolts here.
How popular is reading books, anyway?
At the same time, as an author you are confronted with the fact that reading has long since ceased to be one of the most popular leisure activities among Germans. Internet, television, PC/laptop, music and e-mails are at the top of the popularity scale. This has been shown for years by a corresponding analysis of the Foundation for Future Issues. Among the top 20 leisure activities of the Germans, reading books simply does not appear, instead mobile phone, radio, social media - and even drinking coffee or lazing around is preferred to a book!
Influence of the Corona pandemic on reading behaviour
In Corona times, books have increased slightly; 35 out of 100 respondents in 2021 said they read a book at least once a week. In 2019, it was still 30 out of 100. But the comparison to the internet is discouraging: this is what 97 out of 100 respondents used at least once a week in 2012. So the challenge ahead is twofold: to inspire potential book buyers to use their smartphones or laptops to read a book - your book, that is! out of your hand. That's why it's so important to actively market your book.
Your book must be findable
The so-called discoverability of the book is crucial here. Because a book that is not found by booksellers and the reading public, that does not "draw attention" to itself, is virtually non-existent. Only marketing actions that are carried out as broadly as possible on many channels and tell exciting stories will attract the attention of booksellers and readers. If these actions are well planned and make a book "visible", then with an extra bit of luck, book success will also set in. In the following, we will explain to you how to proceed step by step in order to market your book.
The basis: The marketing plan
What is a marketing plan?
It's never too early to start thinking about how to specifically promote your book. You should create a "battle plan" for future marketing efforts before or during the writing process. This "marketing plan" should outline, step by step, when and how you plan to promote your book. Not all marketing efforts are appropriate for your book and genre. A non-fiction book, of course, requires different marketing efforts than a book of poetry, etc.
Present advertising ideas clearly
You should therefore think in advance about which measures make sense for your book and define them in your individual marketing plan with precise ideas and dates for implementation. This is best done in tabular form. At the same time, it makes sense to seek contact with the press and bloggers as well as readers during this time, so that once you have finished writing your book, you can then also address an already interested audience.
For example, you can offer bloggers a reading sample that they post on their blog in advance - in return, you offer to host a reader giveaway on the blog after your book is released. Are you non-fiction or trade book authoryou could offer a pre-interview about your book in relevant trade media. If you have built up a target group and fan base early on, you can also directly distribute a book announcement to the appropriate target group when your work finally comes onto the market.
Before the start: know your target group
How can you narrow down and get to know your target group in order to market your book? Look at your book or book project with a little distance and a critical reader's eye. What genre and title have you chosen, and which readers are likely to be interested? Who does the style and presentation of the book appeal to? You may have already developed a reader avatar while writing, an imaginary persona that represents your ideal reader. You should analyze this avatar in detail and find out which channels your target group uses. Only then does it make sense to place marketing measures with this audience.
A conservative reader may prefer to look at the daily newspaper or television for suitable reading recommendations. Tech-savvy readers are more likely to browse social media, blogs, or book communities. A cookbook lover might like to search and post images on Pinterest. Don't waste your marketing ammunition on promotions that may not reach your target audience.
Continuity: perseverance pays off in book marketing
After the often lengthy path from manuscript about editing, book's typesetting and design of the Book Covers to print is done, authors are happy when their book is finally published. Often they then neglect how important the next step to success is: the marketing work. The new release of a new Harry Potter volume by Joanne K. Rowling may already be advertising enough. Rowling's fans quickly ensure a high circulation. But unfortunately, these are isolated cases in the industry.
A book only becomes a longseller if authors repeatedly draw attention to their work by setting off new marketing fireworks. Don't think big right away, but think about how you can take advertising measures at regular intervals: A reading on a book blog, a book launch in your local paper, a book signing at your local bookstore, a reading at the library... constant dripping wears away the stone. Every promotional activity leads to more potential readers finding out about your book, talking about it to others, who in turn ideally become readers of your book.
Book promotion means telling stories on all channels
Once you've started your marketing plan and narrowed down your target audience, you should think about the best channels on which to spread your efforts. Here it is important to be present on all channels that make sense for your book, in word, image and sound. The keyword here is cross-media marketing campaigns, i.e. communication with your readers via several linked channels. This should entertain readers, inform them and trigger incentives to buy. Offer your readers added value with exciting content about you and your publication. The more advertising channels you serve, the greater your reach.
How to advertise cross-media
For example, if you have written and sent out a snappy press release about your book, you can use the text of the release for other purposes as well. An interesting author interview with you should not only be published on your website. Author homepage stand. Also spread the word in all other appropriate channels, such as your social media platforms, book forums, the press, etc. Every time something is communicated about your book in print or digital media, radio, etc., you should also link to it through your Facebook/Twitter account, homepage, etc. So marketing your book means becoming the conductor of your publicity orchestra.
Inspire readers with storytelling
Use your storytelling talent to market your book, too. Advertising professionals speak in this case of Storytelling. Interesting questions for the reader might be: What challenges and experiences have I had in writing? What story or novelty am I announcing in my book? What does my book hold for the reader? Think about what makes your book unique and the "story" around your book that will appeal to and intrigue your target audience, especially emotionally.
Should I market my book online or offline?
As a sales channel for books, the Internet has by no means overtaken the retail book trade. The majority of books in Germany are still bought in traditional bookstores. However, purchasing decisions are increasingly being made online. Frequent readers of the fantasy and suspense genres in particular often and regularly visit the relevant book blogs, forums and reader communities.
So you should definitely take advantage of the opportunities that digital platforms, blogs, etc. offer you. From social media advertising to blog marketing to online readings or book trailers, the possibilities here are many and quickly implemented. Your acquaintances, friends and family, as well as your readers, can share and spread the word about you and your book. And even better: the measures can then also be well evaluated. You should flank advertising on online platforms with marketing measures in classic media.
Use multipliers: Press & Blog Marketing
Press, radio and television
Newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV stations are valuable starting points for placing articles about your book. Reviews in the press and book presentations on radio and television awaken the desires of other journalists who become aware of your book and would like to present it as well.
How do I create a press distribution list?
First, research appropriate media, news portals, and magazines or special interest magazines that your book fits. Prepare an e-mail cover letter about your book using the enclosed press kit. Included in this press kit is: a short announcement about the book, the Press release as a PDF file, a meaningful author image and a high-resolution cover image for the book. This cover letter should convince journalists that your book is worth reviewing.
Try to target the editors who are responsible for book launches. In this way, you can avoid your letter ending up in the mailbox of journalists who are not interested in it and do not forward your email. You can often find the names and contact details of the editors in the imprint of printed or online media. If not, ask for them by phone.
Start in the regional environment
When selecting the journalists to contact, you should not set your sights too high: It doesn't have to be the Frankfurter Allgemeine, DIE ZEIT or the Süddeutsche. Even well-known authors have a hard time placing a review here. Journalists from these national media are virtually overrun with review requests. Approach regional media first and present yourself as an "author from the region". Be confident in your appearance, but by no means pushy. Also offer additional material such as review copies, author interviews or book copies for raffles to market your book.
Blogs have become an important voice to book readers and buyers. As an author, you should take advantage of this. Announce your book release to bloggers who fit the theme of your book with a press kit. Offer literature blogs review copies in return for book reviews, as well as reading samples, author interviews, competitions and cooperations - or conduct a blog tour.
In a blog tour, several blogs present your book in different formats within a certain period of time: Book review, author interview, reading sample, competition and much more. ... For this, it is important to get several bloggers excited about your book in advance and to advertise it on other channels before and during the blog tour. It's very important to build a relationship with bloggers early on. There is nothing bloggers hate more than being randomly bombarded with material. If you want to enter into an exchange with a blogger and place something about your own book there, you should inform yourself exactly about the blogs and their target group.
Approach the target audience: Advertising on social media and in communities
Social media channels offer numerous opportunities for authors to market their own book, share and network with other authors, and connect and connect with readers.
How do I advertise on Facebook?
Create your own profile on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. and, if necessary, your own author page where you can communicate with your readers. Authors also have the opportunity to present their book through their own fan page. On such a fan page, you should regularly offer new "fodder" such as reading samples, short videos, etc., in order to create incentives to read. Fans can ask questions and contact you on your book page.
Even before the publication of your book, you can "antease" it on your book page, i.e. announce it in advance. Facebook also offers the possibility to publish ads or so-called sponsored posts on your page. It is also recommended that you join one of the author groups on Facebook. Get helpful tips there and talk about your book!
Serve other social media channels: Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest ...
Facebook is certainly the most popular social network. But the golden rule also applies to social media: Don't stay where you like in your private life, but where your readers are. On Twitter, for example, the key is to write regular tweets to your target audience. On Pinterest and the photo app Instagram, the focus is less on targeted textual communication and more on images and beautiful content. Here, it is important to place content with the right keywords or to refer to promotions.
Community building in advance
There are a number of portals, forums, author groups and book communities on the internet. These allow authors to network with other authors, talk about their book, and communicate with readers. Use these groups as a way to get yourself and your book known. Some of the most popular communities are Lovelybooks, aNobii or Goodreads. These are characterized by different focuses. Each of these communities is a nice meeting place for bookworms. New releases are posted here, rated, commented on and recommended. Authors can create bookshelves for their own books, organize reading rounds, write recommendations, be active in book groups and exchange recommendations with friends. If you are very active on Lovelybooks and the like, you can attract a lot of attention to your own book and market it successfully.
Book trade & events
It cannot be said often enough: the stationary book trade is still the most important distribution channel for books in Germany. Authors should know this - and use the opportunities that the book trade offers an author. That's why you should establish contact with booksellers, ideally by presenting your book in person. Start in bookshops in your regional area, where you can present yourself as a "regional author". In the conversation, highlight the special features of your book. In order to make an impression, your persuasiveness as an author is also important. You should be able to summarise your book topic in a few meaningful sentences.
A good opportunity to establish contact with the book trade is to organise an author reading or book presentation together. Offer booksellers your own copies to arouse initial interest and refer them to the order channels through which your book can be ordered (book wholesalers, publisher's delivery).
How do I organize an author reading?
An author reading is a great opportunity to get in touch with your readers personally. But a successful reading needs to be carefully organised in advance. You should think carefully about which bookshop might be suitable for a reading. Also think carefully about how you want the evening to go. When will the event take place? Author introduction, reading of which passages, should there be music? In order to bind readers and sell your own book, it makes sense to have a book signing after the reading.
It is also important to publicise the event to your reading audience in advance and to ensure that there are enough guests. Apart from bookshops, other places can also be suitable for a reading. Is your regional crime novel set in a pub environment? Then a bistro or a bar is a good choice. For your romance novel about a couple of artists, the local museum could be the ideal reading venue. A children's book, on the other hand, can be presented in kindergartens or schools, depending on the target group.
As an alternative to the traditional reading, there is the possibility of organizing online readings, and not just since the Corona pandemic. You can broadcast your reading via camera on YouTube, Google Hangouts, via the app Periscope or the streaming service YouNowwhich attracts younger users in particular. These online platforms and apps are making it easier and easier for authors to organise, finance and carry out a reading. At the same time, it is still possible to achieve enormous reach. Of course, you can ideally announce and promote such readings in advance on your social media channels.
Ideally, you should start thinking about your book marketing before and during the writing process. After all, your book is not only competing with other books, but also with new media that now dominate leisure time behavior. The sooner you start building a fan base, the better. The more precisely you can narrow down your target audience, the easier it will be to appeal to them. Book marketing means regularly and continuously keeping your book in the conversation, making it interesting again and again. Online advertising in blogs and communities and on your social media channels should be used just as much as addressing classic print media, radio and television. Also, try to tell stories around you and your book that stir emotions and stay in your head. Hang in there - marketing is a long road that requires a lot of patience, but it will also be rewarded!