All writers dream of creating an idea that is so profound that it lands us on the New York Times bestseller list. The problem is that becoming a New York Times bestselling author is a very difficult goal to achieve. Most people who choose to write a book will create something that they believe has the potential to be a bestseller. They work hard to publish it, only to watch it sit on Amazon collecting virtual dust.
That’s when they doubt that their idea is good enough to become a bestseller. But that’s not the case at all. Just about every idea is unique and has the potential to help a lot of people. The problem is usually not the idea itself, but the way the book is created. Here are some book promotional tools that you can use to help you sell more books.
DIY Tool #1: Start Early
It’s never too early to start promoting your book. A lot of authors will start promoting their book before they even start writing it. Start building your network as early as possible. I even recommend that you start looking for potential reviewers to pitch to later. Create a list of everyone who shows genuine interest in your book.
One of the best things about promoting your book before writing it is that you can keep your followers updated as you progress. Share the experience with them through Twitter, Facebook and even the occasional email.
As you progress, set significant milestones for each phase of your book. People love to feel as if they are an important part of your project. They really are important – in fact, they’re the most important aspect of the entire book publishing process! Some significant milestones include:
- Finishing the initial draft
- Completion of editing
- Signing a publishing contract
- Publication of Excerpts
- Release of book trailer
- Press release
You might even consider hosting some kind of live event for your local followers. The cool thing about hosting a live event is that you get to connect with your followers.
DIY Tool #2: Utilize Web Forums
Forums are an often underutilized area where self-published authors can promote their book. The trick is that you don’t openly promote your book on these forums. Your goal is to answer questions and provide useful information.
Start by researching different forums based around the niche of the book you’re writing. Make a list of two or three forums where you can commit some time every day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with more than three because your main goal is to be consistent.
Join the forums on your list. Don’t forget to fill out your profile. Your active goal is to help contribute to the forum but your passive goal is to generate backlinks to your website, so be sure to include your website in your profile. Additionally, create a catchy signature that also includes a link to your website. Your profile and signature are the tools used to get people to visit your website. Be sure to include the title to your book in your signature as well.
Start contributing. Reach out to people, answer questions or start interesting threads. I see so many people spam their links on forums as their way of helping. Don’t do that! Instead, provide useful information.
Quality is much more important than quantity. The rule of joining a forum is to give more and take less. Your overall goal is to contribute to members of the forums that you join. The more selfless you are, the more successful it will be for everyone involved. Remember, you are passively promoting through your profile and signature. The reason forums work so well is that the help you build trust. When people trust you, they naturally want to learn more about you.
DIY Tool #3: Create a Blog
This is also a step that should be taken as quickly as possible. In today’s world, blogs hold a lot of power. The trick to creating a successful blog is consistency and quality. Everything else is secondary to those two goals. If you create consistent content that is useful to your target audience, then your blog will be successful. Everything else you do will only add to its value.
In other words, your main goal is to create high quality content on a consistent basis. So start out by scheduling your blog posts. I recommend that you post once every week, since that seems to provide the biggest boost. However, depending on your niche you might only need to post once a month. I post once per month since I have several platforms that I contribute to. The key is to be consistent. If you post once per month, then be sure to add a new post every month. With that said, here is a step-by-step look at creating a successful blog:
- Choose a topic: Since you are writing a book, you already have a topic. The blog you create should be based on the same niche as your book.
- Create a Schedule: Consistency requires a schedule. There’s no way that you can be consistent without having a schedule in place. Set an overall goal for the number of posts you want to add. Then set up deadlines for each post.
- Incorporate Keywords: I don’t think you should focus on keywords for your first couple of posts. Just grow accustomed to providing useful content on a consistent basis. Once you have gotten used to posting regularly, you can start throwing in a few keywords based around your content.
- Always Proof your Posts: Never post without proofreading it at least twice.
- Connect: Connect with readers by creating an “About Me” page.
- Include a Call to Action: At the end of each post, include a call to action that tells readers exactly what you want them to do. Encourage them to leave feedback.
DIY Tool #4: Write an Outstanding Book
Writing a remarkable book is probably the most important aspect of becoming a successful author. I know that this sounds like a “no-brainer,” but you would be surprised at how many people get everything right except this. The truth is that if you write a poor quality book, it can actually hurt your credibility. Here are some tips for ensuring that your book is of the highest quality:
- Write first, edit later. When you’re writing the draft, don’t worry about editing; just write.
- Hire an editor. Once you have finished your draft, I recommend that you do a quick editing run yourself. Then you will need to hire an editor to take over. Writers are not capable of fully editing their own book because they are too close to it.
- Let friends review your book. Give it to a few of your friends to read and then ask them what they think. Just remember that you should take whatever they say with a grain of salt. Sometimes friends will lie to you because they think they are sparing your feelings.
Why would I mention the quality of a book in a report on promoting it? The answer is simple: a remarkable book will generate a lot of buzz. People will talk about it and recommend it to their friends or colleagues.
DIY Tool #5: Have a Positive Attitude
Book promotion is a bit like storytelling, except the story you are telling people is why they should read your book, why you wrote it and how the world will benefit from reading your book. Developing a positive attitude about book promotion is an essential step. Your audience is going to pick up on your attitude.
For example, some people will tell me that they hate marketing. It’s their least favorite thing to do. They want to be behind a keyboard writing all day, every day. As writers, we do not have that luxury. This is one of the main reasons some authors still cling to the whole concept of traditional publishing. Guess what? Even traditional publishers require authors to get out there and promote their book! If you want to be successful in the world of writing, you have to promote your book. So you have to learn to be positive about it.
I recommend affirmations. An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat several times a day in order to drill it into your head. The mind is a powerful thing but you are ultimately in control. So you can shift its focus. We will use affirmations to shift your focus from your hate of book promotion into a love for it. Some good affirmations include:
“I look forward to promoting my book.”
“I am excited about book promotion.”
“I am passionate about meeting all of my readers.”
Write down those statements every night before bed and repeat them three times a day: once when you wake up, once in the afternoon and once before bed each night.
DIY Tool #6: Create a Media Kit
This guide focuses on promoting your own book but traditional media still has an important role to play. Therefore, you’re going to need a media kit. This is pretty easy to put together though.
The first thing you need is professionally printed business cards. These cards should have your book’s cover on one side and your contact information on the other side. Never try to make your own business cards. Invest in the success of your book.
Next, you will need a high-quality headshot. You can pay a professional photographer to take care of this for you. If you can’t afford a professional, then you can try having a talented amateur do it. Your headshot should be taken in a well-lit area with a neutral background.
You also need to write a 100-150 word biography. This must be written in the third-person. The main purpose of a biography is to explain to a potential reader why you are qualified to have written that book. It proves to them that you have something of value to offer.
Finally, you will need a single sheet of glossy paper with your book cover on one side and a description of your book on the other side. You can also include a few short blurbs and recommendations from readers in the description.
DIY Tool #7: Create a Pitch for Your Book
You will need a synopsis and three sales pitches for your book.
Synopsis: Start by writing the full synopsis for your book. This can be up to a page in length. Make sure that you point out all of the key elements in your book. This is used on the book description page of your website.
60 Second Pitch: Narrow down your synopsis into a 60 second pitch. This will usually be what you include on the back cover of the book.
30 Second Pitch: Narrow down your pitch in a way that you can tell a friend about it in 30 seconds.
10 Second Pitch: This one is no longer than a couple of sentences. In fact, I usually write this one to use on Twitter so I keep it to less than 140 characters.
Practice your pitches on your friends and family first. Start with the 10 second pitch and if they show interest, move up to the 30 second pitch. If they continue to show interest, then you will eventually be able to give them the full 60 second pitch.
DIY Tool #8: Build a Website
Websites are so easy to create today that there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have one. In fact, you probably do. Now let’s make sure that you have everything you need on that website.
A Blog: This is the most important aspect of a writer’s website. Here, you get to interact with readers while sharing insights into your life. Make sure that you schedule regular content for your blog.
Book Excerpts: You will need to include excerpts from your book(s).
Links to your Book(s): You will be publishing your book onto several platforms so you need to include links to your book. Your website should funnel visitors to those platforms.
Media Kit: Include your entire media kit on your website.
Schedule of Appearances: Make sure your audience knows where you will be and when you will be there.
Biography: Your biography should be available on your website.
These are just the basics that are required. I recommend you include other tools such as list building giveaways and social media links.
DIY Tool #9: Get Book Reviews
Book reviews are the fuel that drives your book’s success. You should actually start getting book reviews before you publish the book. Here’s how you do it.
Six months before the release date, you should start asking people to review your book and send copies to any of them who agree. Some will ask for a printed version while others will just want the PDF.
You will need to reach out to reviewers and ask if they mind reviewing your book. Don’t be afraid to reach out to top reviewers on Amazon. It only takes a few minutes to put together an email and ask for reviews.
The real trick to this is the message itself. It needs to include a little about you, a brief pitch for your book and then close it by asking the reviewer to contact you.
DIY Tool # 10: Use Articles to Your Advantage
This tool is generally more useful for non-fiction books than it is for fiction, but you can theoretically use it for both genres. Websites like eZines and other magazines will publish articles, as long as you meet their submission requirements.
Don’t get too carried away here because you are essentially publishing an article for someone else. With that said, the purpose of posting articles is to funnel traffic from popular websites onto your book’s page.
Make sure that your articles are targeted to the same niche as your book and include the title of your book at least once within the article.
Always make sure that your articles are of the highest quality. You do not want to publish crappy articles. They will have the opposite effect on your book’s sales.
Finally, you should schedule your articles to appear at the same time as your book appears in bookstores. So if you’re publishing your book in April, then your articles should appear in April, May and June.
DIY Tool #11: Speak at Conferences
Most people see this and think that it’s not possible for them to speak at a conference. However, this is not that hard of a goal to accomplish and it has a huge impact on the sale of your book. Additionally, you will be able to sell copies of your book at the conference itself.
Just being a published author qualifies you to speak at a number of conferences. You should research conferences within your niche and contact organizers at least six months in advance. Start locally and work your way out. You might be surprised at how many writing conferences are being held locally.
Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to speak for free at first. Sometimes, you might be asked to pay a fee. I wouldn’t recommend paying someone to let you speak, but you can do it for free as long as the organizer agrees to let you make a short pitch at the end. Once you have a few conferences under your belt, people will pay you to speak at their conferences!
Prepare to give a 45 minute presentation. I recommend that you set up a structure where you speak for 30 minutes and then use the last 15 minutes to take questions. You will also need to circulate around the room in order to talk to people. You can hand out business cards or bring copies of your book to sell.
DIY Tool #12: Create Videos
Get a camera and create several videos of you discussing key topics in your field. Preferably, this is stuff that is mentioned throughout your book. Here are some basic tips for creating a video to promote your book:
- Start out each video by discussing your book and then get right to the content.
- Include a link to your book at the bottom of the video and in the credits.
- The link to your book must be simple so that a viewer can easily type it into their browser.
- Write a description for each video. That description should also include the title of your book, as well as the link.
Once you have recorded a video, post it to YouTube. Don’t forget to embed them on your website!