As a publisher, I send our authors a checklist of things they can do to help promote their book. I think it’s important to get our authors as involved as possible, partly because the more people helping out, the more people will be reached, and the more books we can potentially sell. Many of our authors have also published books or are in the process of publishing a body of work, so I also want to help them build their platforms.
I think this list can be helpful to any author, so I’m posting it below. Note: it’s best not to dive into all these options at once, because that can be overwhelming and end up not being helpful. Instead, if you’re starting from scratch, pick one or two options to work on first. Take time to build it up, and then choose whether or not to try out other options.
Promote all your work. If you haven’t already, consider creating your own website to showcase all your articles, books, and/or short stories. You can add links to your site so readers can easily purchase your work. If you know HTML and CSS, you can build your site and pay a small monthly fee to a web host. If not, no worries! There are many intuitive services, such as Weebly (free) or HostBaby ($20/month).
Blogs are a great way to gain a following or start building a platform. If you prefer short or image-heavy posts, consider signing up for Tumblr. You can also use WordPress or Blogger. All of these services are free. Both WordPress and Blogger are simple to use, but WordPress has more custom features. If you do blog, consider using a web analytics service, such as Google Analytics, StatCounter, or pMetrics to track unique visitors and see how much time people spend on your site.
If you don’t have a blog or don’t want a blog regularly, you can still be a blogger by doing guest posts on other people’s blogs. Find book reviewers and open up a dialogue with the ones you like, and then ask if you can write a guest blog. In your post, you can include shout outs or links to your books. To start, search the list of bloggers on the BookExpo America website. Remember, read their blogs first and be as personal as possible when contacting them. Also, try to start a conversation, and not just pitch to them. See where it takes you!
What would this list be without social media? Here is a list of some sites you can use and tips on how to use them.
Pinterest: A really visual, easy-to-go-viral social site. Upload images or “pin” them using the “Pin it” tool you can install on your browser. Add descriptions to each pin so people know what you’re talking about. Good for book covers, with descriptions to attract readers.
Facebook: The most popular social networking site, with 500 million+ users and counting. If you have a profile you can share status updates with links to your books or websites. You can also set up author pages to further promote your work. See Melanie McDonald’s Eromenos page for a good example.
Twitter: A great way to share links, promote books, and give recommendations. All tweets are limited to 140 characters, so use a service like bit.ly to share links. Bit.ly also tracks who clicks your links and other useful analytics.
LinkedIn: The most professional social network. Use this to join writer and author groups, find readers, and discuss writing and publishing in general. You can also post status updates and keep an updated and robust resume online, with links to your blogs and websites.
GoodReads: There are a lot of social sites for book readers out there, but GoodReads is probably the best and most well known. You can sign up for free and rate and share books you have read and books you’d like to read. If you have other books, you can sign up to be an author for their giveaways to gain more followers. Sites similar to GoodReads, if you want to check them out, include Shelfari, LibraryThing, and Anobbi.
FourSquare: This is an app that allows you check-in at places and show people where you’ve been. You can earn badges for the site. One example of using FourSquare for marketing could be to check-in at places mentioned in your story. For example, if a story is about a particular coffee shop in Portland, Oregon, you can check in there. You can also create make-believe places and check-in, such as Narnia.
GooglePlus: It’s not the most popular social site, but it can still work for you. You can create a circle of readers or people who like your work, and then post status updates about your publications to them. Or you can share links to the public in general.
Klout: This is a great tool to see how much influence you have in the social networking sphere. Once you sign up (for free), Klout will measure different aspects of your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts to see how many people you influence and to what degree. Warning: can be addicting.
Amazon is a great place to get user-generated reviews. This means anyone can rate and post a review of a book (and hopefully they like it 5 stars worth). The more 5 star reviews, the higher the book is ranked in Amazon’s algorithm, and more people are likely to hear about the book. So ask your friends and family to rate your stories!
There are many bookmarking sites out there that help people find new content each day. Remember to use good, relevant keywords.
Here are four big ones:
Digg: Sign up and upload links, along with short descriptions.
Stumble Upon: This site will lead users to random web pages. Upload a link to become part of the randomness.
Reddit: Another free site where you can upload and share links.
Delicious: Similar to Reddit and Digg, but you can also install and easy access tool in your browser to bookmark your sites (similar to Pinterest).
BookXtra is a new site that allows authors to get free exposure. Sign up and add extra marketing material, such as images, videos, extended author biographies, or anything else you’d like, to the site. This provides extra information to readers for free, as well as links to websites.
BookPulse is a free, new way to market books on Facebook. Sign up for an author page, and then add images, excerpts, reviews, polls, and even video clips. Any pages that are created before October 1 will remain free.