Yesterday. Well, okay. Since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, the better answer is: right now. Yes, even if your book isn’t finished yet. When it comes to book marketing, you also have to market yourself. If your book isn’t out yet, you can begin building your author platform.
Without an author platform, you’ll be marketing into a big black void, and that’s never effective.
How Do I Market?
Marketing is more art than science. That means there’s no magic formula that says if you do tactics X, Y and Z, you’ll be successful. It’s more like try some of X, sprinkle a little of Y, add your own secret sauce, and hope it all works.
That said, there’s one thing you should always start with: your author platform. Without it, gaining traction or selling books will be next to impossible. The basics of your platform are your author website, your social media presence, and your local communities. Everything else you do will build on those.
When you begin thinking about how you’ll market your book, here are a couple questions to ask yourself to figure out what’ll work best for you:
How much time can I dedicate to book marketing?
Some activities, like social media, require a time investment on a regular basis to build your presence. Other activities, like setting up your Goodreads profile or doing a Goodreads giveaway, don’t require as much time and are a good way to get your book in front of readers. When you create a list of marketing activities you’d like to do, research how much time they’ll take and how much time you can afford to invest.
What’s my marketing budget?
Marketing should always be in your publishing budget. If you’ve got a tight budget, consider inexpensive or free options like social media, Goodreads, or blogging. If you have room in your budget, consider hiring a publicist to help. Often, what’s free or inexpensive requires a larger time investment.
Market Yourself and Your Book
Yes, marketing yourself can market your book. People buy from people they know. The idea behind marketing yourself and building your author platform is to become known, to get in front of people, and to make a lasting connection.
Marketing yourself is building relationships with people. Connect with them about things you have in common. You can do this at in-person events (e.g., book festivals, conferences) or online (social media, blogging).
When it comes to book marketing specifically, your strategy should change focus to getting the word out about your book rather than making connections with people. This is where advertising or publicity comes into play, and if you have a marketing budget, this is the time to make use of it.
First, though, there are always activities you can do for free. Blog about topics related to your book, such as the characters, the setting, or the research you’ve done. Post teasers and excerpts of your book on your blog. Reveal your cover on social media. Share short bits of information or create image quotes to share on social media.
Marketing isn’t about going around and telling—or even asking—people to buy your book. Marketing is about creating so much interest in your book that people want to buy it—they’ll make the purchase without you ever having to ask for it, or a subtle reminder that your book is available for purchase will be enough to make the sale.
You can also help create buzz with giveaways, through multiple avenues. If you become a verified Goodreads author, you can create a giveaway for a print copy (or more) of your book, which will reach potential readers. (Any time you give away a print copy, however, remember that you have to cover the book printing costs as well as the shipping.)
You can also host more informal giveaways through social media or blogs, and if you give away an ebook copy of your book, the only thing you’ll have to spend is the time to set up and host the giveaways. You can also consider paying for advertising, although you need to have an advertising strategy in place before you get started.
How Mill City Press Helps
Mill City Press offers a Marketing Consultation with our Publicist, which allows you to plan your book marketing strategy. Set your budget, establish objectives, and determine your level of involvement. For more details and other services, check out our marketing services on our services page.