Expose Yourself!: Five Tips to Successfully Market Your Book
Congratulations -- you've published a nonfiction book. But so have thousands of other writers this month alone. And with the explosion of self-publishing options in the last few years, putting your book on Amazon is like placing your prized needle in a haystack. More accurately, it's like placing your hay in a haystack. So how do you get your book exposure beyond your Mom's reading club and your own list of Facebook friends? The good news is that most authors don't know how to aggressively publicize their own books, or even that they should, so there's plenty of opportunity to separate yourself from the stack.
First, don't rely on your assigned publicist to do your marketing for you. Unless you're already famous, your publicist is about as reliable as that slacker lab partner you had in high school. Your book's best publicist is you. Think about it: You're the person most passionate and knowledgeable about the material. You're the person most invested in the book's success, and you're the person editors most want to hear from, not your publicist. So let your publicist do his/her thing if you have one, but also get busy yourself.
The following five tips (six if you add "write a damn good book!") were culled from my experiences as a new author, a public relations executive, and an author publicity consultant. The success of your publicity campaign is directly related to how much time and effort you personally put into it. But spend that time wisely.
1. It's not about getting people to buy your book; it's about getting people to promote it
Sure, you can sell a few copies at a bookstore signing, but if you want to reach people en masse, you need to find individuals and media entities with built-in audiences, or as they say in the publishing business, platforms: bloggers, podcasters, magazine and newspaper editors, and radio and television producers. When you find them, remember...
2. Don't sell your book; sell your mission
No one in the media is interested in selling your book for you, unless you have blood family in the media. Professional and amateur book reviewers will review your book if they feel so inclined, but your book has to get in a very long and competitive line. For the rest of the media world, you need to sell them on something more instantly interesting then the book itself: your mission. If you haven't already defined a mission, consider how your book uniquely and superlatively counsels people, fixes an institution, saves the world, enlightens the public, or performs some compelling function other than holding up short table legs and pressing flowers. A mission implicitly sells your book, while a description merely describes it, so work your mission into all of your marketing materials. When your mission is ready for prime time...
3. Turn your mission into a sellable article
Put your writer's hat back on and create a 500-word personal essay, list of tips, Top 10 list, or a self-quiz that showcases your mission and/or expertise. These pieces, unlike your book pitch, are appealing (and sellable) to local and national newspapers, magazines, media Web sites, and some radio shows. You can then mention (and link to) your book in your byline. Having clips like these instantly improves your media credibility. Some editors advertise their editorial needs on Web sites like HARO.com (Help a Reporter Out) and PitchRate.com. I recommend registering for these free sites to catch publishing opportunities. Remember: Any media mention is a marketing ally. And speaking of marketing allies...
4. The Web is your friend, but that doesn't mean you need to start a blog
Start by creating your own book Web page using a free or low-cost Web-building site (I use Yahoo, but there are others). You should also create a Facebook fan page, and "suggest" it to as many people as possible. If you don't know how to do that, consult your teenage kid, a friend's teenage kid, or a nearby college intern (and get used to some eye-rolling).
On your Web site, place your book cover, your blurbs, your bio, and your descr