If you are new to independently publishing your e-books and are looking for information on how to market your book successfully, you might be bewildered by all the different advice floating around, some using very scary-looking terminology. Don’t worry- you are not alone. In this post, we are going to talk about some interesting marketing strategies and also simplify some of the jargon for you. We are great believers in the power of blogs and other online influencers to gain visibility and sales for your books.
Wise people may say never to judge a book by its cover. But we all do. Your cover is the first thing a potential reader sees of your book and she does build her first impression based on that. No wonder then that authors and publishers spend a good deal of time and money in getting the cover right. Cover Reveal is a way to capitalize on all that effort. It is precisely what its name indicates – a way to reveal your cover. How do you do it? Basically your cover is posted on a number of blogs with a blurb, and other relevant links.It creates a blitz. You can also give it another push by adding it to different social media outlets. One fun way of gaining social media visibility is to ask all participants of your cover reveal, including your friends, family and well-wishers, to change their profile photo on facebook, twitter etc. to your cover for the day of cover reveal.
This is typically a pre-launch exercise to generate some buzz before you launch your book.
Blog tours are more involved and typically span one to six weeks. In that period, you get featured on a different blog everyday. You might be writing as a guest blogger, or give an author interview, or in some cases your e-book can be reviewed by the host. You gain exposure to the readers of all these blogs. It creates buzz in that period and builds momentum for sales.
This marketing tool is used post launch of the book and is aimed at generating actual sales and further reviews.
Review Tours are similar to blog tours, but they are focused on getting your book reviewed in specific blogs. This takes more effort on the part of the hosts and is also riskier, because there is no guarantee that all of them would like your book. You can take the risk sportingly and let them post their honest reviews. Or in most cases the participants will agree to not post their review if it is negative. You should never try to bribe or coax someone into giving you a positive review. That usually backfires.
How do you prepare for these events?
Two important keys to success-
- The Participants – Locate and request the blog writers/owners to host you.
- Your Content – What will go on the blogs of the hosts?
The first question is – who are good candidates as participants in these tours? The answer is simple as well as complex. Theoretically, it is simple. You want to be invited on blogs that attract your target audience. These might include-
- Blogs of other authors in your genre.
- Blogs that review books of your genre.
- General publishing and books related blogs which might attract readers or reviewers.
You can even have participants who own relevant facebook/linkedin pages or twitter profiles.
The complex part is identifying and recruiting these participants. You could try to recruit them on your own, or work with a company that provides blog tour services. The choice depends on whether you have suitable contacts and the time vs. money tradeoff. We will discuss later what are the things to keep in mind while hiring a company that specializes in this type of online marketing.
It is important to give your tour participants an incentive to host you. The best thing you can do is provide incentives to their readers. Apart from the copy of your own books, more general incentives like a gift coupon from Amazon or an e-book reader are pretty common. The gifts typically are for randomly selected commenters on the post about your book. You can have separate gifts for each stop (each blog that hosts you is called a “stop”), or a combined your gifts across all the stops, or a combination of the two (gifts for each stop as well as a blockbuster prize for all of them).
You must be certain that you have suitable content prepared for whatever marketing event you participate in. If it is a cover reveal, then a great cover with a blurb is a must. If it is a blog or review tour, then content that you would be putting up on those blogs should be written way in advance. In some cases, the responsibility of creating the content lies with the hosts, but you will need to work with them and make it as easy for them as possible. Make sure the following is included in all the content you present-
- A link for pre-ordering or buying the book from a trusted retailer
- A link to your author website/facebook page/twitter profile
- A link for the subscription form to your newsletter (Check to see if there is a possibility of embedding the form in the content itself)
- A link to any other promotions going on for your book that readers may be interested in. (For example a goodreads or librarything giveaway.)
Even when the content creation is the responsibility of the host, you must work with them to make sure that it is ready in time and also to ensure that the essential content listed above is available.
Choosing a service provider
If you are going for a paid service provider to organize your tour or cover reveal, you should ask for the following information-
- Examples of coverage from their earlier tours.
- Whether they specialize in your genre (they might not have a focused enough list of participants)?
- What kind of help they will provide in creating content?
- How they coordinate with the participants to ensure that content is put up in time?
- What the minimum number of blogs they guarantee that you will be hosted on and what is the refund policy if the number is not achieved?
You must also prepare a realistic budget and do the calculations on how many sales you need to recover the amount spent. If you are writing multiple books or a series, you might want to treat the first effort as an experiment and repeat it only if it works for you.
The power of the Internet lies with its immense reach and its ability to influence the public in many ways. People are no longer just influenced by a few journalists at coveted publications. People like you and I now go online and have our own circle of followers. As authors you can tap into an abundance of readers through the distributed influence of your tour hosts. With careful planning and preparation, you can get extraordinary results. The sky is the limit.