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How to promote my book online

As any successful author will tell you, the writing of your book is only part of your success. And some would even say it is a minor part of your success.

The key to building a successful publishing career is marketing. If you can do the right amount of marketing for your book, even a mediocre author can have a lot of success. In contrast, even the best author in the world will fail to build an audience for their work if they are not promoting themselves properly.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of good and bad advice when it comes to marketing in this day and age.  Advertising your book is not necessarily a simple practice. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of wasting a lot of money. For authors that are just starting out, you can’t afford to waste a dime.

So how do you promote your book, then? How do you avoid the risks of wasting money while still aggressively building your audience? There are a few tried-and-true principles of marketing that you can follow when you want to promote your book online.

Build an email list

Before you do anything else, stop what you’re doing and start setting up your email list.

One of the most valuable things you can do for your business is build an email list. An email list offers you a direct point of contact between you and your audience. You own that list, and you don’t have to worry about any algorithms affecting your ability to communicate with them.

This doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. There are many email services that offer free services to start with. But the key is to have a place where you can communicate with your readers directly.

Some authors think they don’t need an email list. Some of them may even be successful without one. But they are exceptions to the rule. If you don’t have an email list, you don’t have a business.

But how do you get readers on to that list?…

Offer something for free

Here’s where we get into a tactic that is often been argued and debated online today.

Should you give away a book for free?

I’m not going to debate that here. Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t. Some authors give away a book for free and do very well. Others don’t give away anything and do very well.

But here’s what I’m trying to tell you: you need to give people a reason to sign up for your email list. That might be a free copy of a book. It might be a discounted copy of a book. It might just be a special novella that you’ve written for the sole purpose of attracting people to your email list.

Others offer guides or maps or handbooks that might be related to their book series. No matter what you do, it has to be something of value. Create an offer that will attract people to your email list. That’s the only way you’re going to build it.

Start blogging

The returns on blogging aren’t what they were 10 years ago. There are a lot more places where people are consuming content online today, so the competition is fierce.

But content marketing is still very valuable in this day and age. And as an author, you’re already using words to get people to buy from you. Why don’t you use words to market your work?

You can blog in any number of ways. Some people blog directly on social media. Others blog on sites like Medium. Still others prefer to keep all of their content on their own blog or website.

There’s no wrong answer. But you need to be building an online presence in some way. That’s how you get your name out there, and that’s how you get your books more attention.

Plus, this also doesn’t need to cost much of anything. You can do this for free and over time, you build your ability to attract new readers with the more content you have available to your name.

Invest in paid advertising

This one is the hardest one to recommend simply because it’s going to cost money. But if you want to promote your book aggressively, there’s no way around it. You need to pay for advertising.

Before you decide where you want to advertise, you have to look at a couple of different things. First, where is your audience hanging out? Are they hardcore readers? Are they older? Think about where they might be spending their time online. Remember, most online communities offer paid advertising. Thinking about what your audience is will help you determine where you want to invest your money.

One of the most effective ways to advertise your books is on Facebook. This is because Facebook offers an elite level of tools designed to help you target exactly the audience that you are looking for. Facebook has a lot of information about their users, and you can use that to your advantage. Yes, many people invest money on Facebook to get nothing in response. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to invest your money. Rather, it just means you need to take the time to understand Facebook advertising and test your ads aggressively before you raise your budget and spend a lot of money.

If you offer your book through Amazon’s KDP select service, then you might want to consider Amazon Ads. Amazon loves to promote books that are exclusive to their platform, and you can get a lot of mileage out of a little bit of investment in Amazon Ads.

Get reviews

Most booksellers run on reviews. A prospective reader wants to know that people are buying the books that they’re interested in, and they want to know what to think of that book. That’s why Amazon highlights their reviews so much.

This is also one of the hardest tips to implement, because you need to get people to write reviews for your book. Maybe there are some friends or family that you can give copies to and they can write some reviews for you.

The key in all of this is to make sure that you are not trying to provide incentives for good reviews. This is against Amazon’s rules, and it can get you in trouble if you’re not careful. Instead, you can encourage people you know or people that you know have read your book to leave an honest review, regardless of how many stars they’re going to give you.

Even if you only have 10 or 20 readers, you can get 5 or 10 of them to leave reviews on your book, and that’s going to go a long way in establishing credibility for your brand online.

Join reader groups on Facebook

This is probably the most time-consuming of all the tactics listed here, but it can be very effective if you do it right.

There are communities online everywhere, but Facebook has probably the most active ones. Join some that are related to your genre. They might not just be about books, but also movies and television shows as well. Jump in and start participating in the conversations.

What you don’t want to do is spam these groups with posts advertising your books. It will likely get you banned from the group, and it will do the exact opposite of what you want it to do.

Establish yourself in these groups and become engaged as a fellow fan. You can organically introduce your books into conversations over time. But never put a link to your books in there unless it’s asked for by someone else. Start spamming the group with your book links, and you will lose all credibility and look like just an advertiser.

There are other ways to promote your book, like free promotion sites, and joint giveaways. But the key to remember is that there are lots of options to promote your book regardless of the budget you are working with. Take the time to learn them, do them well, and be proactive in promoting your book, and you can see your publishing career continue to grow over time.

Successful authors promote their books. If you want to be a successful author like them, then it’s up to you to take on the role of marketer with your business. Don’t wait for them to come to you – you find a way to get to them first.