Marketing Your Book: The Basics
As a self-published author, it's up to you to do the marketing.
Fortunately there are plenty of resources available in print and online to help you promote yourself, the author, and your book. Here are a few basic tips to get you started.
Think about your audience.
Who are you trying to reach? Who wants to read your book? We'll be honest: Not everyone is going to want to read your book. This has nothing to do with you or your writing: readers just have different tastes, and not everyone likes the same thing. So save yourself time and effort by defining your audience (gender, age, interests, etc.) before you start promoting your book. Put yourself in the shoes of your potential reader, and imagine how they might see your book and your marketing efforts. What kind of advertising might appeal to them?
Start small, start local.
When thinking of means of advertising, think local: local press, local events (in as many nearby venues as possible), and local reviewers. Once you've established yourself in the local book market, branch out slowly to the rest of Canada, and then to the world.
Book launches and signings are a great way of getting your name and your book's title into the spotlight. McNally Robinson hosts over 400 book events every year, many of which involved self-published authors and books. If you'd like to learn more about booking an event with us, visit this page.
Having a positive review of your book in a journal, newspaper, or blog can spark widespread interest. Solicit news and review outlets (newspapers, literary journals, radio programs, bloggers, etc.) and ask if they'll review your book, or if they'd like to interview you about the book. Just keep in mind that you will need to send the reviewer a free copy of your book, and don't expect it back. Note: as a rule, some newspapers and journals do not review self-published books. Therefore it's best to contact them before sending them a copy of your book.
Be assertive, but not too assertive.
Put yourself and your book out there as much as you can, but don't be obnoxious, don't pester, don't "spam", and don't force your book onto people. Being too aggressive can put people off your book and, worse, your name, doing more harm than good. Instead, try to establish personal and meaningful relationships with readers, because if they like you, the author, they're more inclined to read your book.
Use traditional advertising.
Get an ad in a newspaper, literary journal, online (such as on literary websites or blogs), or aim high and make a television or radio ad. Just be prepared to pay for the ad space. Prices for ads vary, so you might want to "shop around" to find the best and most affordable option for you. Starting with small paid ads might be a good idea, and as sales of your book rise you can look into larger, more costly ads. You may also want to consider hiring a professional or enlisting the help of a skilled friend when creating the ad, because a poorly designed ad would be a waste of time and money.
Create a website with a blog.
Your website will hold information about you and your book(s), and a blog can let your readers get to know you better as well as update them on news about your writing. Make sure to update your site regularly (especially your blog—a stagnant blog reflects poorly on you as a writer), and make your content interesting. There are plenty of online articles, books, and courses to help you make your website and on how to properly manage a blog. If you're not tech-savvy, you will want to hire a professional to create your website.
Get on social media.
The easiest way to reach a wide audience is by having a Facebook and/or Twitter account. Reach out and interact with your audience, and let them get to know you. Having an interesting and interactive personality online can go a long way to drawing in potential readers. These accounts are free and simple to set up, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you use the services (including books and articles on how to best market via social media).
But simply having a Facebook or Twitter account isn't enough: you need to know how to use it properly as a marketing tool. There are many strategies on the best means of promoting via social media (for example, the "Rule of Thirds"), and some web searching will reveal plenty of articles and guides to help you. There are also many books available on the topic of social media marketing.
Do your research.
The tips outlined here are just the basics. To properly market your book, you'll want to do some online web searching (it's as simple as Googling "self publishing marketing"), or look for books that delve into the details of marketing your book. There are also experts you can hire to help train you or do the marketing for you, but again, you'll want to do the research on these services to find the right one for you.