I’m asking because you’ve typed the final words of your manuscript.
Your proofreader has painstakingly examined your work.
Your trusted friends have given you enthusiastic feedback.
You’re ready to sell your book.
So, how are you going to make sure that people buy it?
New or self-published authors marketing their work must face a hard truth… even if you’ve written the definitive book on your subject, if you’re unable to grab the attention of potential buyers, it will be challenging (if not impossible) to earn the sales that you deserve without amazing book marketing strategies.
Your marketing strategy will make or break your sales, no matter the quality of your book.
As a professional media coach for nonfiction authors, I meet many of my clients after they have published their first book. Many are struggling to develop an effective book marketing strategies.
Through helping clients promote their books, I’ve identified the 10 key elements of an effective book marketing strategy that can greatly increase your chances of successfully building an audience. This article will cover each of them (plus one bonus ‘Not to Do’ that has wasted the time and money of many new authors).
10 Powerful Book Marketing Strategies for Boosting Sales & Marketing Yourself
Let’s get started.
1) Create Your Elevator Pitch
“What is your book about?”
This is by far the number one question any author will be asked – and answering effectively could help you get a new reader, agent, or even publisher.
The perfect elevator pitch is the core message of your book and it isn’t just a succinct description of your topic – it provides a compelling hook on which to snare the interest of the inquirer. Chances are, you are not the first person to write about your chosen topic.
Figure out what makes your book unique:
- Who exactly is your intended audience?
- What special knowledge or perspective do you offer?
- What makes your approach fresh or novel?
Do you offer an atypical perspective in a field not known for out of the box thinking?? Is your book structured in an unexpected way for books of its type? Do you have unusual expertise or a backstory that makes you especially well-suited to explore your topic?
For instance, an example I’ve used in the past is that of the lead coach.
Consider this elevator pitch:
“Books about leadership are usually written for those who already lead. This guidebook is for people who don’t yet see themselves as leaders but have something incredible to offer the world. Punctuating its practical advice with relatable, real-life examples, this book proves that true leadership is within anyone’s grasp.”
In just 49 words, this author elevator pitch does four things:
- Defines the intended audience
- Lays out the subject matter
- Lets potential readers know what to expect
- Highlights the book’s unique take
The best elevator pitches pack all of this necessary information into 50 words or less.
Here are some more examples to help illustrate the perfect author elevator pitch further:
“You thought that writing your book would be the hard part — but you didn’t consider the marketing. This refreshingly frank and irreverent how-to guide for self-published authors demystifies book marketing, breaking down strategic concepts into actionable steps and eliciting laughs along the way.”
“Cooking for your family on top of full-time work can be exhausting. This no-nonsense cookbook cuts right to the chase, offering simple, healthy, 3-ingredient recipes that can be batch-prepared. No ingredients over $10. No prep time over 20 minutes. Just fast, healthy, delicious meals that won’t cut into ‘you’ time.”
To summarize, figure out what sets you apart, and use that uniqueness to build buzz.
2) Build Your Website
A well-designed author website is absolutely vital and can be created quite affordably using a platform such as Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. It’s best to use your name rather than your book title as your domain name. If your name is not available, consider adding the word author before or after your full name.
These Sections are Must-Haves for Your Author Website
- Home: This sets the tone for your book, brand, and message. Have a professional photo of yourself, and a short video describing who you serve and what you do for them. Provide an overview of your book and use bright, attractive graphics that include its cover art.
- About: Include your bio and a professional-looking headshot. This can also go on your home page.
- Media: list links to media appearances and published reviews of the book. Create a Podcast One-Sheet to prepare hosts for interviewing you and showcase your credibility as a thought leader. Also put your headshot, bio, and book cover on this page to make it easier for media folks to get what they need.
- Book Details: provide a detailed description of the book, including blurbs from reviewers or influencers.
- Where to Buy: list retailers carrying your book and link directly to your book’s listing on their websites.
- Contact: give details on how to contact you for media appearances.
- Blog: publish news regarding your book, media appearances, and future work. Sharing articles related to your book’s topic will help your blog show up in search results, leading potential new readers to discover your website and work. Engage with readers who leave comments on your blog, and regularly end your posts with either a question for them to answer or a call-to-action.
Of course, author websites may include additional sections or combine the above in unique ways to support your book marketing strategies.
Nonfiction Author Website Examples
Each of these author website examples has the sections mentioned above. Be sure to use them for inspiration!
3) Start Your Email List
I affiliate with ConvertKit, which means I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase anything through the link below.
While it is possible to purchase mailing lists to kick off this book marketing strategy, I strongly discourage it. You’ll get far better results with a list made up of willing subscribers eager to learn more about you and your book topic.
Create an opt-in page on your website inviting people to subscribe to your list. Offer an opt-in reward, such as a nicely-formatted PDF download with interesting supplemental information about your book’s topic or a brief sample preview of your book. If you are self-published, consider entering subscribers into a giveaway contest for a free copy.
User-friendly email marketing tools such as ConvertKit make list management simple by offering autoresponders, scheduling, design templates, and opt-in forms that you can embed on your website to easily collect subscriber names and email addresses.
These platforms also offer personalization options and I recommend taking advantage of them — including a recipient’s first name in the greeting or subject line of automated emails has been shown to boost both open rates and sales.
Here’s an Opt-In Example in Action…
You can subscribe to my email list and get 3 Free, Customizable, Podcast One-Sheet Templates.
4) Leverage Social Media
Create profiles on the platforms most used by your target audience, but do not set up more accounts than you can keep up with. It’s better to have one or two regularly updated profiles than to have many with few to no postings. Make it easy for people to find your book sales page or email list opt-in via your profile, using, for example, your bio link on Instagram or pinned tweet on Twitter.
Design attractive and professional-looking banner and profile graphics using a free, user-friendly program such as Canva. Make sure to incorporate your book’s cover art. For banners, include an excerpt from a review and the logos of shops carrying your book.
Use your social media to tap into an already-existing community or build your own. Interact with other users, follow thought leaders related to your book’s subject matter, and share interesting articles related to your topic. This type of digital networking can be a great way to build your audience and fanbase.
Hashtags for Authors
Hashtags are an effective aspect of marketing. Used properly, they drive traffic to your post by tapping into audiences already interested in similar content. The book community has its own set of hashtags used by authors, readers, and publishers. In addition to genre-specific hashtags such as #selfhelp or #memoir, there are popular hashtags used to refer to the writing and editing process:
As well as book publishing and marketing:
You may also consider using #FollowFriday, #MustRead, and #ReadMore.
Using these often-trending book-related hashtags can attract new potential readers, but it’s also useful to include more specific hashtags related to your book’s subject matter. This is a hashtag strategy my friend Jenn Hanson-dePaula of Mixtus Media taught me in her article about new rules for using hashtags.
Also, spend some time researching the popular hashtags used in your field, but don’t focus solely on the most populated. For example, if your book is about travel, consider hashtags like #travelbug or #wanderlust rather than #travel — these hashtags are popular, but not so popular that your post will be lost in the shuffle.
Conducting a Google search for “popular hashtags for [your subject]” will usually bring up a decent list, or you can research posts made by other authors writing about similar topics to see which hashtags they are using.
Follow these Best Practices When Using Hashtags as One of Your Book Marketing Strategies
- Use relevant hashtags only
- Mix applicable trending hashtags with niche ones relevant to your target audience
- Be strategic with the number of hashtags you use
5) Use BookBub
Publishing your book electronically allows for a wider range of selling and marketing opportunities than releasing only in traditional print. Not only do a large number of readers prefer to download books to their devices, but many websites now exist solely to promote and sell e-books.
BookBub is a free service that works with retailers, publishers, and authors to help its millions of users discover new e-books based on their interests.
Through the platform, authors, publishers, and marketers can access tools to help them promote and sell effectively to the website’s international user base, including new release alerts, ad space, ‘featured’ placements, and promotional deals.
Authors can set up profiles on the site to connect with and request testimonials from their readers. This is a great way to build up a fanbase and boost your sales.
6) Write Another Book
Strategic book coach and author of more than 50 self-published books, Honorée Corder has long recommended that authors continue to publish new books. This not only creates multiple streams of income but helps solidify your position as an expert in your field. As she has quipped: “Every professional should replace their business card with an actual book.”
Currently, Honorée’s published books provide her with multiple income streams, allowing her to devote her time to creating more content, developing courses, and coaching authors.
Imagine how much time you could spend researching, writing, and promoting your work if you were able to give up your day job. Or, imagine how much more you could be earning at your day job as a recognized expert. Start that next book.
7) Publish Regularly
Keep your audience engaged via your social media, mailing list, and blog to make this one of your top book marketing strategies.
Post news regarding your book and media appearances, of course, but also share interesting content related to your book’s subject matter. For example: if your book is about yoga, share articles about yoga anatomy or interviews with well-known teachers. If your book is about running a restaurant, feature links to restaurants with unusual concepts or practices. Including related media like this makes your content feel less ‘sales-y’ and more shareable, and broadens your audience.
For your blog, publish occasional ‘round-up’ style posts linking to high-quality related content — these require less work on your part to create and tend to boost traffic. And don’t forget to engage with the people who respond to your content. This helps build rapport, trust, and a sense of community.
Now that we’ve covered what to publish, how often should you do it?
How Often Should Authors Publish?
- Social Media: around once per day.
- Email List: no more than 1-2 emails per week.
- Blog: at least twice monthly.
8) Get Valuable Endorsements
This is an effective book marketing strategy because every field contains influential people whose opinions are respected, and an endorsement from this type of influencer can boost your visibility and sales. (This is different from ‘influencer’ marketing, which I’ll discuss further below.)
Helpful Endorsements May Come From
- Other authors in your field
- Popular book reviewers and podcasters
- Thought leaders in your industry
Start building genuine relationships with these figures early. Connect on social media, share their content, buy and review their books, and interact when appropriate. Influencers deal with endorsement requests frequently and are more likely to consider giving one to a long-time follower who has supported their content so be respectful of them personally and professionally
When Asking for Endorsements
- Ask via email
- First, include a personal introduction
- Next, explain what your book is about (use your elevator pitch)
- Then, explain why you think the influencer would enjoy it (tie this into observations regarding their own work)
- Offer to send either sample chapters or the entire manuscript
- Let them know where their blurb will be used
- Provide a generous deadline
- Thank them for their time
- Continue to be respectful and kind even if they don’t give you an endorsement
You’re not guaranteed a ‘yes’ even when using the above guidelines. However, including these points within your initial request will give the endorser all of the information they need to make a decision without wasting their time with any additional back-and-forth.
9) Land Print & Podcast Interviews
I’ve said it before: a media interview is a marketing asset that somebody else pays to create.
So, get the word out: make it clear on your website and social media that you are available for interviews.
Ask friends to feature you in live videos on their social media or interview you on their blogs if your content is relevant to their audience.
Create a Podcast One-Sheet
It’s a very useful tool for getting the attention of hosts and influencing an interview’s tone and content. And, I have created 3 templates you can customize using a free graphics tool so that you’re ready to take action on this step! Simply fill out your information below and the templates will head straight to your inbox.
Craft a Successful Interview
A successful interview can translate directly into sales if you do it right. That’s why this is one of the most powerful book marketing strategies on this list.
Always end interviews with a call to action, directing the audience to your website or current promotion.
If you’re unsure of how to make an interview successful, my new Profitable Publicity course reveals how to:
- Use interviews intentionally to your greatest advantage
- Subtly guide interviewers into asking just the right questions
- Be prepared for the unexpected with ease and confidence
- Communicate in a non-salesy way that actually makes people want to buy your book
10) Master the TV Appearance
Great news about this book marketing strategy: you are one media interview away from a bestseller… if you know how to harness the power of an audience.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, a nationally-syndicated talk show showcases your work using the power of professional producers, talented editors, and a big promotional budget. A great appearance gets you exposure, positions you as a thought leader, and serves as a valuable asset for your future marketing.
A poorly-handled appearance… not so much.
While a TV appearance may seem daunting, the skills necessary to pull one off effectively can be learned by just about anyone.
If you’d like to learn all those skills and add tv appearances to your book marketing strategies, the next round of my Media Success Blueprint program begins soon. Join the waiting list today!
And One Not-to-Do…
‘Influencer’ Marketing Shouldn’t Be in Your Book Marketing Strategies
If you spend time on social media, you’ve almost certainly run into at least a handful of so-called ‘influencers’. The issue is that many are only self-proclaimed.
I’m not a fan of ‘influencer’ as a book marketing strategy. That’s because some of them have far less influence than they have you believe, and their follower counts do not always translate into sales. It doesn’t mean some folks aren’t legitimate and have active fan bases. I referenced them earlier in #8 when referring to endorsements. These are people with large followings who are genuinely making a difference. Often they are authors with a mission to make a positive impact.
Just watch out for the ones who are all image and no substance…
- Some pay for followers, so much of their audience is made up of bots
- Posts that are obviously sponsored tend to turn off potential buyers
- If you associate with an influencer who isn’t authentic, it can taint your brand and cost you book sales
As outlined in section 8, genuine endorsements from legitimate influencers in your field are almost always more impactful than paid promotions by popular ‘influencers’. Not to mention more personally fulfilling!
With these book marketing strategies, your “luck” with marketing your book will increase!
But if you really want to dial up your reach and your platform, then it’s time to learn more about how to use the media to create marketing assets. Check out my Profitable Publicity and Media Success Blueprint courses, as well as my private Media Success Coaching to take the next step toward getting the book sales you want.