Whether you’re a self- or traditionally published author, there’s a wide array of marketing tactics you or your publisher can use to amplify a book’s exposure and reach more readers. To spark inspiration and get those creative juices flowing, we put together 98 book marketing ideas.
Some of these ideas can help directly increase book sales, while others may help expand your platform, which can lead to future sales. Not all of these ideas will be applicable all the time, but these can help you brainstorm when developing your own marketing plan.
Publishers, this is a great resource to share with your authors. If you’re collaborating with them on marketing efforts, this can help them brainstorm ways they can promote their own books alongside your promotional pushes.
Do you have any book marketing ideas that we left off the list? Share them in the comments below this post!
Know Your Audience
- Survey your audience. Ask questions about demographics, psychographics, and online behavior so you can better understand where to market to readers and what messaging they’ll respond to. Survey your existing audience and fans of comparable authors and books.
- Conduct reader interviews. Try to understand how your readers find new books to read and make their purchasing decisions. This will add qualitative color that can help you understand quantitative data you analyze in spreadsheets.
- Create reader personas. Write a short paragraph that describes each core group of readers you’re targeting. Refer back to it whenever you’re creating an ad, designing a cover, writing a tweet, or want a refresh on your audience’s motives.
- Create a list of target keywords. Compile a list of of search queries that your target audience is using to search for books. Use tools like Google Trends and Google AdWords’ Keyword tool to see which relevant queries are frequently used.
Create Your Online Platform
- Create an author website. Your site should be a marketing tool that serves as the hub of all your online activity, from blogging to selling books to emailing a newsletter to participating in social media. Use a platform like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix to easily build a site.
- Set up a blog on your site. Provide a “behind the scenes look” for readers by blogging once or twice a month. Fans will love the insight into your personality and writing process, and anything you post is fodder for your next email to subscribers.
- Link to your published books. Create a site page linking to your books to make it easy for readers to discover all the titles you’ve written. Include cover images, brief elevator pitches, and links to multiple retailers so readers can purchase your books wherever they shop.
- Brand your homepage with your newest release. Publicize your latest work on your website by updating the header or banners of your homepage so readers who visit will become aware of your new release. Consider including blurbs instead of a synopsis to intrigue visitors.
- Build a mailing list on your site. Include a simple form on your homepage, your website pages, and/or your blog’s sidebar asking for visitors’ email addresses. Collecting email addresses lets you build relationships with people who want to hear from you.
- Welcome new subscribers with an email autoresponse. When people subscribe to updates from you via your website, send them a welcome email including either a link to a permafree ebook, sample chapters, or some sort of freebie as a “thank you” for signing up.
- Customize your BookBub Author Profile. Make sure your BookBub Author Profile is up-to-date so fans and potential readers can learn more about you and your books.
- Claim your social media profiles. Grab your username on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, and About.me. Even if you don’t have active profiles on each site, at least claim your name and direct people who visit to your most active social media profile instead.
- Link to your website and BookBub Author Profile. Once you’ve created a website and claimed your BookBub Author Profile, make sure that people can find these assets by linking to them on your email signature and bio sections on your social media profiles.
- Create a video blog. Upload videos to YouTube and embed each video in a blog post. In these videos, you can answer fan questions, partner with another author to interview each other, list book recommendations, or do a short reading from an upcoming new release. Experiment with a few simple videos to see if you’re comfortable vlogging before focusing on production quality.
Design Your Book’s Cover
- Hire a cover designer. A great cover design can have a major impact on your sales numbers. For example, romance writer R.L. Mathewson went from selling five or six copies per day of her novel, Playing for Keeps, to over 1,000 per day by updating her cover design. It’s usually worth hiring a professional to create a polished cover that appeals to readers in your genre.
- Test cover variations with your audience. Have your cover designer create multiple variations and use data to choose your cover design. Test two variations against each other using tools like PickFu, UsabilityHub, or Playbuzz.
- Unify cover designs in a series. Create consistent branding between books in a series to make purchasing decisions easy for readers. A unified cover and title style often helps readers recognize connected titles and encourages them to purchase subsequent books.
- Re-launch a book with a new cover. Redesigning a book cover can be a great way to reinvigorate book sales. It gives you the opportunity to “re-launch” your book according to the ever-evolving tastes of genre readers.
- Add a blurb to your cover. If you’ve managed to secure a blurb from a well-known author, consider including it on your cover design. Try to use a short blurb so it’s easy to read and you don’t clutter your design.
Prepare Your Book for Effective Promotions
- Make book samples end on a cliffhanger. For example, on Amazon, users can download the first 10% of a book for free or read it on-site via the “Look Inside” feature. This gives you the opportunity to score a sale if the reader wants to continue after the sample.
- Cross-promote books in the back matter. Include a list of all your titles in each of your books’ back matter. Update this back matter whenever you launch a new release. If you have the time, create a version of your book for each retailer with retailer-specific links to each book.
- Include an excerpt in the back matter. Immediately after the acknowledgements, include the first chapter of the next book in the series, or one of your popular backlist books. Bookend this excerpt with links to purchase that book.
- Link to your mailing list in the back matter. On your “About the Author” page, encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list. If they sign up, you’ll be able to contact them any time you want to promote your backlist titles, new releases, giveaways, price promotions, etc.
- Optimize your book description. BookBub’s A/B testing shows that descriptions that include quotes from authors, awards, and language that caters to your audience (e.g. “If you love thrillers, don’t miss this action-packed read!”) have higher engagement rates.
- Include target keywords on product pages. Narrow down a list of 5-7 keywords your audience typically searches for, then incorporate these words into your description headline, description copy, and keyword sections on each of your retailer product pages.
- Choose relevant subcategories on retailer sites. By targeting the most relevant sub-genres for each of your books, you’ll increase your chances of being on the retailer bestseller charts for a specific category, which could drive higher sales volume. You’ll also avoid disappointing readers who were expecting something different.
- Tie different versions of your book together. Different authors and platforms use different systems, but find a way to connect your print edition with your ebook, audiobook, and international editions. This ensures that visitors to your product page can easily purchase the format they prefer.
- Link series books together by name. If you’ve published a book series, create a master name for the series and add it to the product’s title on retailer sites. This will help retailer sites make automated recommendations within the series, and help readers find more books in the series to read.
- Make books available for pre-order. On the retailers that allow them, you may want to get your future titles up for pre-order as soon as possible. This way you can include the cover of the next book in the back matter of your existing books with a link to the pre-order page.
- Make books available internationally. With growing book sales and millions of readers, international markets can be attractive targets for authors and publishers looking to expand their potential readership. Optimize your cover design for each region and reach out to relevant local bloggers who can help spread the word.
Create Box Sets and Bundles
- Bundle the first few books in a series. Include the first two or three books of a series in a box set to promote a full-price book later in the series. This can be a way to hook readers and make them invested in the characters so they’re willing to pay full-price to know how the tale ends. Promote the next book in the series in the box set’s back matter.
- Create a box set for standalones. Bundling standalones can increase loyal readership or drive sales of a new release if you launch your box set when your new release is published. You can strategically choose standalones to package together that include similar themes, whether by sub-genre, location, point in time, similar protagonists, holiday setting, or something else.
- Include exclusive content in your box set. Adding a novella or short story to your box set could entice readers to buy the box set instead of just purchasing the first book in the set. This may also help convince your existing loyal readers to purchase the box set in addition to the individual titles they’ve already purchased.
- Publish a multi-author anthology. Partner with other authors to create an anthology of novellas or short stories. If you promote the collection to your audiences, you can each increase your exposure by reaching the other authors’ audiences.
Prepare Your Book Marketing Assets
- Write a killer elevator pitch. Write a concise, snappy elevator pitch that shows what the book is about, what kind of world readers will be immersed in, why readers should care, and what accolades the book and author have received. A strong elevator pitch will make your book more enticing to readers deciding whether or not to purchase.
- Poll your audience to test marketing copy. Use polling software like PickFu to test variations of description or marketing copy and see which variation your audience likes better. Always test and optimize to discover what copy will resonate best with readers.
- A/B test marketing copy. Unlike polling, A/B tests give you quantitative data (i.e., the number of clicks). Use your email service provider to run A/B test emails and see which copy has the highest click-through rate, or use ad platforms like Facebook to A/B test your copy.
- Get blurbs from reputable authors in your genre. Blurbs can effectively catch readers’ attention, especially if they’re familiar with the quoting author or publication, and can help entice them to make that final purchasing decision. Our tests showed that book descriptions including blurbs got an average of 22.6% higher click-through rates than those without blurbs.
- Create images for teasers and quotes. You can easily turn your quotes into vibrant images using free apps like Canva. Publish these teasers to your website and social media accounts in the weeks and months prior to a book’s release.
Build Your Book’s Platform
- Make sure your book gets a BookBub New Release Alert. Add your book to your BookBub Author Profile as soon as the pre-order page or product page is live on retailer sites. This will ensure that your BookBub followers receive a New Release Alert when your book is launched.
- Ask readers to review your book in your back matter. A high number of reviews makes a book more enticing to potential readers. We found that when a book has at least 150 five-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, including the number of five-star reviews in the copy increased clicks an average of 14.1%.
- Provide advanced reader copies to relevant bloggers. Start getting reviews before your book launches. You can use tools like NetGalley or Edelweiss to find early reviewers, or reach out to relevant bloggers with a pitch on your book. While they can’t review your book on retailer sites until release day, they can post the reviews to their websites, blogs, or Goodreads.
- Offer free copies to Amazon top reviewers. Reach out to Amazon users with a “Top Reviewer” badge who’ve reviewed books similar to yours. They’ve proven themselves to be experienced reviewers — they know what makes a good review, they’re willing to take the time to write a truly helpful review, and they will likely have a quick turnaround on reading and reviewing.
- Run book giveaways. Book giveaways can take various forms, including blog tours or contests on your blog or Facebook page. Providing free copies to your most loyal fans in exchange for an honest review can help a new book get traction, plus it rewards them for their loyalty.
- Add a free ebook sampler to retailer sites. Upload the sampler as its own ebook with a separate product page and make it clear in the title and description that this is just a sample — the first chapter or first few chapters of your book — to avoid disappointing readers. On the last page, include a link to purchase the full copy.
- Upload a PDF sample to your website. Once people download it, it’s okay if the PDF is distributed outside of your control since it’s just a sample. In fact, you should hope it gets as many eyeballs on it as possible! On the last page, include a link to purchase the full copy.
- Create and distribute swag. If you can be creative and unique, swag can be an effective marketing tool, especially if it ties into your story in some way. Remember: everyone gives away bookmarks and bookplates. Consider your target audience, and think about what they would have a real use for that relates to your book.
- Sell themed merchandise on your website. Create custom t-shirts, coffee mugs, e-reader covers, jewelry, framed art, etc., and have them available for sale on your website or at events. Services like CafePress can help. Your most loyal fans might not mind becoming walking advertisements for a day!
- Submit your book for relevant editorial reviews. Many genres have publications like RT Book Reviews where authors can submit their books for editorial reviews. Some of these publications require submitting your book months before publication, so plan early!
- Submit your book as an award contender. Including an author’s awards in BookBub’s blurbs increases clicks an average of 6.7%. Find relevant or genre-specific awards and submit your book for consideration. Here’s a comprehensive list of 50 book awards open to indie authors. Try for recognizable awards such as RWA’s RITA Awards or the Edgar Awards.
Run Price Promotions
- Temporarily discount a backlist book to drive sales. Choose as low a price as possible to drive the highest volume of sales. 95% of bargain readers have purchased a book from an author unknown to them because of an ebook price promotion.
- Promote a full-priced book in the discounted book’s back matter. Authors see a 3x higher increase in sales of other books in their series if links are included in the back matter of the discounted book.
- Discount the first book in your series. Hook new readers into a series by pricing low. 77% of bargain readers buy full-priced ebooks, so getting them hooked on a series via a discount often leads to full-priced sales later.
- Promote your ebook discount with BookBub. BookBub lets you send your deal to targeted lists of millions of power readers. Partners reported a 196x average increase in earnings from a book during a Featured Deal.
- Create a permafree gateway book. For example, the first book in a series can be permafree as a gateway to the rest of your series — BookBub readers are 10x more likely to click on a book that’s offered for free than a discounted book.
- Run price promotions in foreign countries. Discounting your book in foreign markets can be a great way to drive ebook downloads and revenue in those regions. Also, when you submit your book for a BookBub Featured Deal, you can easily elect to run your promotion in our international editions.
- Run a price promo when you launch a new release. If you’re promoting a new release, running a price promotion for one of your backlist books can help drive sales for your new book. 89% of BookBub partners who used a price promotion to market a new release sold more of their new book after the promotion.
Get More Exposure Online
- Email your mailing list when your book launches. Reach out to fans who have opted in to receive communication from you. You can also reach out to them and let them know about an imminent release. Use an exclusive look at the first chapter to get them excited.
- Later, email the ones who clicked. The people who opened or clicked on the book launch email are the most engaged people on your list. They will be most likely to make the purchase or even write a review of the book. Reach out and ask if they’ve read it yet. Let them know you value their opinion and would sincerely appreciate an honest review.
- Later, email the ones who didn’t click. Don’t forget the people who didn’t engage with the book launch email — they cared enough to specifically sign up for your email list, but for whatever reason didn’t open the first email. Send them the first few chapters of the book for free and see if you can hook them a second time around.
- Promote your book on relevant blogs. Compile a list of book bloggers and reviewers who regularly review books, interview authors, or feature guest posts from authors in your genre. Coordinate with them to promote giveaways or publish reviews or author interviews.
- Sign up as a HARO source. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connects journalists with relevant experts, and you are the expert of your niche! By signing up, you’ll receive an email three times per day that includes media opportunities in which you could be quoted. Reply quickly for the best chance of getting selected for a quote in an article, and ask for a link back to your site.
- Partner with other authors to run themed promotions. For example, if your publishing imprint or group of friends has three fantasy books featuring fae, coordinate price promotions, themed blog posts, and social media parties. Packaging these books promotionally helps each book gain exposure across the other authors’ platforms.
- Create a relevant video series. Create mini documentaries on your book, or get more creative. For example, for a chick lit book featuring a hairdresser protagonist, create a cute series of hair tutorials featuring hairstyles from the book. For a middle grade mystery featuring a magician, create a magic trick tutorial series. Publish the videos on YouTube and your other social channels.
- Answer relevant questions on Quora. If you’ve written a nonfiction book or have become a subject-matter expert via research you’ve done for your fiction book, follow relevant topics on Quora and answer questions as you see fit. Include the link to your book in your Quora bio.
- Run a Google AdWords campaign. Target keywords that your audience would likely search for to find books similar to yours. Create several versions of ad copy within each ad group and let Google automatically run each variation and determine a winner.
- Time your campaigns with current events. If you can strategically promote a book during specific seasons, an annual event, or when something pops in the media, take advantage of that opportunity and be a part of the conversation.
- Link to your newest release. Find a high-visibility place to link to your book. Examples many authors choose include your personal email signature, Twitter bio, Facebook page bio, About.me page, and LinkedIn bio. Update these assets whenever you release a new book.
- Write and syndicate a press release. Create an informational press release announcing your new book. Link to both the new release product page and your own website for SEO purposes. Use a free press release distribution service to syndicate your press release to news websites and blogs.
- Reach out to the press. Email relevant media sites a pitch for your book and offer a free copy. Be sure to use a catchy subject line and opening sentence. Follow up by sending a press release and personalized letter with the book.
- Contribute guest blog posts related to your book. Reach out to blogs focused on your genre with recent posts, lively comments, and an active social media presence. If they’d like to accept a post from you, create valuable and original content, and carefully edit each of your posts to make sure you’re delivering polished content.
- Participate in relevant interviews. Agree to participate in interviews that would effectively reach your target audience. Interviews can be a great way to share your perspectives without needing to write much original content. Take advantage of these opportunities to increase awareness of your author brand and your books.
- Submit a post to Buzzfeed. Write a clever or funny tie-in to your book. The article you write can either be entirely about your book, a “which character are you” quiz, or a listicle indirectly related. For example, a romance author can write a post on “10 Sizzling Beaches to Read Steamy Romances On” and incorporate her book into the post.
Spread the Word on Social Media
- Host a release party on Facebook. Run a contest on launch day giving people many opportunities to win prizes, such as a free copy of your book, gift cards, posters, and more.
- Run targeted social media ads. Sites like Facebook and Twitter let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience based on preferences users have expressed on those social platforms. This lets you advertise the discount to people interested in similar books or genres.
- Brand your Facebook cover photo. 69% of readers use Facebook to find information about their favorite author, and 88% of readers follow their favorite author on Facebook. Update your cover photo with branding for your latest book to make sure everybody who comes to the page knows about it.
- Make your blog posts easy to share. Make it easy for fans to share your book news and other blog posts by optimizing each post for social sharing. Use tools like AddThis or ShareThis to add social sharing buttons alongside each post, and ClickToTweet to create clickable tweets.
- Make each social media post visual. Tweets with images get 150% more retweets, and Facebook posts with images account for 87% of total interactions. Instead of text-only updates, include an image photo of the book’s cover or a teaser quote. This will encourage fans to click, share, or like. Tools and image libraries like Canva, Shutterstock, and iStockphoto can help.
- Post behind-the-scenes looks on Instagram. Take artsy photos of your workspace, a character sketch you drew, index cards laid out for plotting, your cat lying on your notes, or something to show your personality and a peek into your mindspace when writing your next book.
- Run a participation contest on Facebook. Have fans share your post, comment on a post, or like a post for a chance to win a free signed copy of your book or a gift card, and cross-promote the contest on Twitter, Instagram, and any other social channel where you have a presence.
- Run a fan art contest. Get fans to upload their designs of one of your characters or a scene from your book on your blog or Facebook page — or have them share it using a hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Choose a winner to receive a prize (and then get permission to use that fan art in your marketing).
- Pin important updates. You can pin important announcements about new releases, sales, or contests to the top of your Facebook page and Twitter profile. You only need to post the content once, then you can simply pin it for higher visibility!
- Create Pinterest boards of inspiration. Stats show that about 70% of Pinterest members use the site to get inspiration for purchases. Create Pinterest boards showing off your workspace wish list, art that inspired you when writing certain scenes, or fan art for your books.
- Host a Q&A session on Twitter. Create a hashtag for the Q&A session — it can be a one-time occasion, or a monthly event. Promote the Q&A ahead of time so your fans know to either block the time in their calendar or schedule their tweets to post during the Q&A.
- Launch a Facebook group with other authors. For example, The Jewels of Historical Romance has a Facebook group of nearly 2K members that 12 romance authors created. They cross-promote each other’s books, hold monthly joint giveaways and contests, and announce new releases. It’s a free and creative way for each author to expand their fan base.
- Ask questions and encourage participation. The more your fans and followers engage with your updates, the more exposure you’ll get to their friends who see updates of their participation. So make sure to involve fans in a two-way conversation.
- Pre-schedule social media content. Doing social media marketing doesn’t mean spending all day online. Use tools like Buffer, TweetDeck, or Hootsuite to schedule your day’s or week’s social media content in advance. This will free up your time for writing and other marketing efforts.
Participate in Live Events
- Hold book signings at bookstores and conferences. Signings can help drive word-of-mouth exposure and reviews. Don’t feel obligated to give away your books for free. Many authors sell books during their signings. You can purchase an easy-to-use checkout tool like Square to process credit card transactions at a cost of only 2.75% per swipe.
- Give a talk at a relevant conference. Flex your public speaking skills. As a published author, you can talk about a variety of topics, including the subject of your book, your writing process, your publication journey, and the experience you’ve had promoting your books and connecting with readers.
- Participate on panels you’re invited to. If flying solo on stage sounds too intimidating, participating on a panel might be a more comfortable option for you. Speaking on panels at book conferences is a sure way to gain exposure to fans of the other authors on the panel, whether they’re readers at consumer conferences or fellow authors at writing conferences.
- Print business cards to hand out at events. Always carry around something to hand out to potential readers who want to buy your book later. You can create postcard-sized handouts or business cards people can stick in their wallets, with a URL to visit your website and purchase your books.
- Run a contest when you attend live events. Build buzz and excitement for your signing, session, or panel by offering a free book or giveaway to the first 5–10 people who arrive at each location. Announce this giveaway on your social profiles using the event-specific hashtag. Once other attendees see people flocking to you, they’ll want to see what all the fuss is about.
- Partner with relevant local organizations. For a middle grade book, coordinate with local PTAs to organize a school reading during a bake sale or book fair. For a thriller about racecar drivers, run a promotion with the nearest track. For a sci-fi book, sponsor a themed party or host a signing at a sci-fi convention.
Other Book Marketing Ideas
- Coordinate your marketing efforts in a single week. Bestseller lists are based on the number of units sold in a single week. Target a single list so you can optimize for its cycle. Focusing all your marketing efforts, including price promotions, social media campaigns, and emails to your mailing list in a single week can help boost your book on that list.
- Pitch your book as a holiday gift. Depending on the type of book you’re promoting, the giftable nature of a physical book may help boost print book sales especially around the holidays. Consider timing your price promotions and ad campaigns around holiday or special, relevant events to boost sales and visibility.
- Donate books to people who can spread the word. If you write middle grade books, consider donating a few copies of your book to a summer camp, children’s hospital, or school libraries. If you write books that appeal to an older demographic, donate to retirement homes, hospitals, and community centers. This can help spark future word-of-mouth sales.
- Measure the ROI of your campaigns. Analyze your return on investment for each campaign so you know what worked and what didn’t. Crunching numbers might not be as fun as writing your next masterpiece, but wasting money on campaigns that don’t work isn’t fun either.
- Continue publishing new books. Nothing sells backlist like frontlist! Continually publishing new books will help you garner a wider audience that will be interested in your other books.
What other book marketing ideas would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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