News room: How to start marketing your self-published book

How to start marketing your self-published book by Sarah Juckes

Many authors we speak to hear the word ‘marketing’ and break out into a cold sweat. The good news? Anyone can market their books. All you need is hard work, perseverance and a clear idea of who your readers are. Good self-marketing is about exploring all the opportunities available to you in a way that fits in with your everyday life – whether that’s ten minutes a day online, or taking off on a six-month tour.

So where do you start with marketing? Here’s a simple 5 step plan that’ll set you off on the right track.

Step One: Break up your target readers

There are loads of people who are going to enjoy your book, and your job is to find them. First of all, write your title in the middle of a page.

Next – draw an arrow and write down your age (non-fiction), or that of your protagonist (fiction). This is one of your target reader groups.

Now, think about who else will enjoy your book. Does your book target any other age groups? What kinds of jobs will your readers have? What are their hobbies? If you have a theme in your book – perhaps a religion, a sport, a place – or anything at all – write that down, too. If you’re not sure, do your research with some creative Googling – who is reviewing and enjoying similar books to yours?

So, now you have an idea of who your readers are, how can you find them?

Step Two: Pinpoint where your readers are

For every target group you’ve just discovered, draw further arrows from them with details on where they hang out. Where do they discover books? Make sure you include both online and offline places. For example, you might find your teenage boy audience at the local youth club, as well as the local library’s YA Facebook group.

Which, brings us to:

Step Three: Start local

The world is a big place. Start small. Actually – start in your house. Think about which family members are going to read your book and recommend it to their friends. Now, expand this audience circle to your local area – and/or the area(s) mentioned in your book. You’ll be surprised how being a local author can improve your chances of getting local press.

Expand this even wider to your county/state. Then your country. Then your continent and only THEN the world.

World domination never happened overnight.

Step Four: Make a plan

Now you know who is going to buy your book and where you can find them, add these to a marketing schedule. Assign dates to contact each group individually, and try to coincide this with events and meaningful dates that are happening throughout the year.

For example, you might dedicate August to reaching retirees, as you know the local WI gala is scheduled for then. Leave plenty of time to contact the organiser and pitch your book to them for inclusion in the event. Don’t be afraid to get creative about author events – not every signing has to happen at a bookshop. Take your book to the places your target readers are.

Step Five: Create marketing material

In the next few years, you’re going to be talking about your book a lot. Make it easier on yourself by working on condensing your concept into just a few lines. This is often called an elevator pitch and there’s more help on how to create this here.

Also, create an easily-accessible folder on your laptop with:

  • A high resolution image of your front book cover
  • A professional headshot
  • An AI sheet (advance information) – this is a little like a press release. It’s a useful way for you to give people the details about your book – the blurb, genre, ISBN, publication date, publisher and author contact details – all in one go

Now the ‘marketing’ begins. Work through your schedule, hitting each of your target readers in each of the places you thought you might find them, and let them know about your book. Sure – as time goes on, you’ll find you were wrong about a few of these – maybe it’ll turn out that your ex-pat readers mainly get their book recommendations from Goodreads rather than local book groups, for example. This is all fine – don’t be afraid to get things wrong. Learn from your mistakes and update your schedule. This isn’t a fixed plan – it can adapt as you learn, grow more confident and start meeting people who open up doors for you.

The most important step – don’t give up. You can do this.

Want further advice on book marketing? Download our eBook here.

More information on book marketing:

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Written by
Sarah Juckes
Published on
Book marketing