In a market that is so rich with competition and variety, it is vital to fully market your image and specialism to gain an effective following. The literature market is very saturated, and thus it is important to focus on your brand. Creating a marketing brand will help gain pre-sales, sales and create a fan base. This is why authors should take the use of digital marketing seriously now to boost their branding.
Creating a marketing strategy plan is advantageous for preparing for the launch of a first book or rebranding when writing in a different genre. Creating a brand helps customers identify with you as an author and can increase your engagement rates. This is an effective process and guide to creating an online presence and embarking on your digital marketing journey.
- Firstly, create your digital presence.
- Secondly, optimise your presence.
- Thirdly, choose your social media presence.
- Fourthly, set up your posting process on your social media platforms.
This guide is going to detail a process for marketing a new book that is yet to be published.
Creating a digital presence:
As part of the marketing process, the first step is to establish a digital presence. This would be through creating a website. This can be done for free or paid. You will be able to create a well-made and clear website using free website builders to start off, but there is the option for paid websites which would usually have more personalization options, the option to purchase the Domain Name to access the website, and less branding from the website provider.
To start off with it may be best to use the free website builders as you can always upgrade at a later point when you have more financial backing for marketing purposes.
Free websites can be found through the following companies:
- IM Creator
A comparison of these websites can be found here.
Once you have decided which free website provider/builder you would like to use, you then need to step it up.
In order to set up a website you need to follow the following steps:
- Get inspiration for the structure and design of the website. Use this for choosing the template website you want to use.
- Choose a domain name or URL for your website, this is the address that is clicked on by potential customers to access your website. Your domain name could be based on the name you sign your books with; this way it will link any books you create rather than being linked to a particular series.
- Set up a web hosting provider for storing the files needed for your website. The free website providers will have information on web hosting for their specific sites.
- Install plugins to generate a higher traffic rate for your customers. Again, the free website providers will have information on plugin information. Make sure you install at least one plugin for search engine optimization. This is to help your target audience be exposed to your website through ranking on search engines.
- Create an author profile and get a portrait of yourself to be the homepage of your website.
- Fill in any details about any existing books and release dates of any future books on your website in a format you find aesthetically pleasing.
- Ensure that your site is set up to track the traffic coming to your site. This will help you understand where customers are accessing your site from. This will help you to analyse any and all marketing approaches that you take.
- Include a blog section to your website if you want to include blogs as part of your marketing strategy. Blogs are a fantastic way to help to continually engage your readers over time and it helps to optimise your website. Some blog topics can include:
- How to be an author
- How to write a book
- Best practices for setting up a writing station
- How to write a character profile
Within the set up of your website you can create an option of an Email Mailing list. This is a central account of people who are interested in upcoming releases, blog posts, news and any updates about you and your book. By adding this to your website it aids people who have an interest in your work to stay in contact and continue to be connected.
Optimise your digital presence:
When discussing optimising the digital presence we are talking about search engine optimisation. This means optimising your website so that it can rank as high as possible on different search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo Search etc.
To fully understand search engine optimisation, you can complete this google learning course which is free. Find this course here.
You can also utilise the Google My Business Account to assist with this optimization. This can be completed through following this link.
To improve your search engine optimisation through your own accord can be accomplished through ensuring that your website has links both internal and external. The internal links can be to other pages on your website, such as linking one book series to another which is similar, or linking a release date with a calendar of all future releases. The external links can be to other websites that are affiliated with your books. For example, if any fanfiction has been created for your books then you could link to them.
There is an option to optimise your digital presence through pay per click advertisements. These are a very common form of advertisement and can be really useful for driving more customers to your website.
Choosing your social media presence:
In book sales it is always important to get as high as possible pre-sales for upcoming book releases to get on author lists. This can be achieved through effective marketing. You want and need to drive as many people as possible to pre-order your book(s) so that you are more likely to get on an author list. This way the author lists can help in the marketing of your book in addition to the marketing that you are doing.
There are a variety of different social media platforms that you can be involved with, so it is important to decide where you want to focus your efforts. Here I will list some of the best social media options for authors and the best practise for how to utilise each platform. You can then choose which platforms are best for you and your aesthetic. The social media sites listed have options for free use for when you are initially starting your marketing campaign.
Facebook is a really good tool for gaining a customer base and introducing traffic to your website. You can set up a specific business page here.
Facebook is best used through graphics and images. This means posting pictures with captions to capture your audience and drive them to your page. Your page can then be set up to link to your website to help improve the traffic flow.
Facebook also has a “live” function which allows you to video yourself live straight onto your page. This can be a really useful tool for readings, updates, competitions and promotions. This is also a good way to connect to your audience and create a rapport with them.
A fantastic way to market your book through social media is to create a fan page or community surrounding the theme of your book or the genre. This way you can gain a social media presence who you can market towards in a simple setting, also your followers will then be able to invite other people into the community or group. This will develop your follower count and increase the word of mouth recommendations for your books.
Instagram is very similar to Facebook in that it is best to use photos and graphics, and there is a “live” function. These tend to get used together as they are very similar in their make-up. With Instagram there is a smaller focus on the captions used with the images and more of a focus on the hashtags used to caption the images. This is useful because anyone following the hashtags you list in your posts will be able to see your posts even if they don’t follow you.
A really beneficial use of hashtags is to create some focused on characters or elements of your book. This way you can combine hashtags so that more people will find the ones specific to your books/series and you can create something for your followers to use when they are posting about your books. You can also use your author name as a hashtag, this is great for publishers and reviewers to use in their posts about your books in order for it to get back to you and for you to then utilise.
You can set up an Instagram account here.
LinkedIn is a more professional social media platform and is currently rising in members. It is currently under utilised as a marketing and promotional site, but it is one to watch and maybe not overlook! LinkedIn offers a professional presence which allows for you to link your books to a more professional audience and to connect with other authors. More and more people are using LinkedIn for their career development and thus will look through the newsfeed and follow certain hashtags. Again, this is a great opportunity to link to other like-minded individuals. LinkedIn would also be a fantastic resource to engage with publishers, reviewers, journalists, etc. to help further develop your brand and reach.
LinkedIn would be a great platform to post graphics and images to, you can also link your other social media to LinkedIn to develop their presence. LinkedIn will allow you to link your website to the page so that you can continue building your traffic. This is also a great platform to advertise any blogs you create.
To build a LinkedIn profile please follow this link.
Twitter is another useful tool for social media marketing. The focus of Twitter is more on the words in a post rather than the graphics. This means that to best capture your audience on Twitter you need to be looking at creating tweets that are focused on representing your brand and aesthetic in the wording. Twitter is utilised a lot as a way of informing the public of news. This can be useful to your marketing plan as it can be any news that is happening with you and your books. This can be a great way to update your fan group about any updates with book releases, book signings, new series’, etc.
Twitter can also be used for you to post quotes from your book. This is a great way to spark interest in any potential buyers, especially if the quote inspires excitement or mystery! Again utilising hashtags on twitter will also be very useful for building a campaign around your book.
Another great tool for really using Twitter effectively is to take smaller snippets from blogs or reviews about you and your books and posting them as tweets. You can then add links to the full blogs/reviews within the tweet, this will help people understand more about the perception about you and your books, and it will help those that write these reviews and blogs to gain more readers.
To create your own Twitter site please follow this link.
YouTube is a great tool to start really communicating with your audience. You have a large variety of videos that can be offered in this format; however, they can be quite time consuming as a marketing option. If you are not familiar with video editing and using YouTube, it may be worth hiring a video editor. This could help you to learn what is required going forward so you can eventually complete video editing yourself or it could be a long term solution to allow a video editor to run this section of your marketing.
The different video types can include:
- FAQs about books and characters
- FAQs about being an author
- Readings of the book
- Upcoming releases and signing opportunities
- Vlogging the life of an author
You can utilise YouTube along with other social media platforms through using the social media platforms to gain questions to answer on YouTube and to engage with your audience.
You can create a YouTube account here.
The final social media platform to consider is Medium. Medium is a platform where you can post blog posts and social journalism posts to reach an audience. You could use this as a secondary location for any posts that you create for your website and your other social media platforms that would be suitable. Medium is more focused on lengthy text, so uploading graphics may not be in the best interest here. If you were to upload your blogs from your website onto this platform, this would help to get your blogs to reach a larger audience. You could also use this platform for creating short stories or trying out different character ideas and seeing the perception of the public.
Another great option for medium is to invite other bloggers to blog about your books. They can perform reviews, write fanfiction and write their opinions of the direction the books may be going in. These blogs would develop into exposure for your work and could lead to an increase in customer base from the other bloggers’ fan bases.
You can create a medium account here.
When deciding your posting process, you need to take into account a lot of different factors. Namely, how many posts per day/week, how to create graphics/videos, a sustainable posting cycle, and what scheduling platform you wish to use.
When deciding how many posts per day/week you need to consider the type of post you are making. If it is a 10-minute video for YouTube then you’re more likely to only want to post once per week due to the time taken to plan, record and edit the video. Whereas if it was graphic posts then it may be that you post a few each day, the usual amount is between 3-5 posts per day on standard platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc).
In order to create your graphics and/or videos, you will need to utilise different computer software/websites to make sure that the content is perfect for posting. There are a few different graphic editing and creating providers that are free and easy to use to begin creating content. These include:
For more information on these infographic creators please follow this link.
There are also a few different types of video creation and editing providers that are free and easy to use to begin with video creation.
For more information on these video editing providers please follow this link.
If you wanted to have all the social media platforms but prefer brand consistency, then you can use a scheduling program which will post the same content to all sites at a specified time. This is a great way to save time to post on as many social media platforms as possible. It also allows you to pre-plan posts without the need to manually post them each day.
This is also a great way to set up a sustainable posting cycle. You can determine the best times of day/week to post your content and then use the scheduling site to ensure that they are posted at the correct times. This will then ensure that there are no scheduling concerns for book tours or vacations.
Some examples of scheduling sites include:
A comparison and informative site on these can be found here.
When posting on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter it is really important to think about the posts you are making. You can utilise your graphical images and your book quotes by creating images with quotes on them to be posted, these can then be shareable content that members of your fan base may be more inclined to share with their friends/families.
It is also really beneficial to post links to blogs about your books or blogs that you have made. This is because you would be using your social media presence to drive more people to read through the blogs. For your own blogs, this is positive because it means they are likely to get more readers but for other bloggers’ work, you are helping them to expand their audience which may mean they are more likely to write more blogs about you and your work in the future thus expanding your potential fan base.
A great use of the “Live” video functions on Facebook and Instagram is holding contests. You can create contests such as getting readers to post a picture of them purchasing your book, you can get them to tag you in the photo and use a unique hashtag created by you. The prize could then be a signed copy, a video call, a gift voucher, just about anything to get interest from your readers! This is a great way to get trending hashtags and draw more attention to your books.
Creating a digital marketing plan and keeping to it is a great way to keep your audience and readers engaged. It can be hard to keep the interest of readers in between book releases and even harder to get them to read other series you have written. However, using engaging content and optimisation is a great way to engage your target audiences and become a better-known author.
By Daisy Burgun.
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