Marketing books online can be a time-consuming task for authors and publishers alike, especially these days when there’s so much noise online. Not only do you need to break through the clutter, but you need to make sense of it yourself so you can keep up with the latest trends. Fortunately, there are tools available that will let you add more creativity to your book marketing and save you time without a huge learning curve.
Here are some free tools that will make your life a little easier:
If you’re building a platform online, that means creating a blog and social media profiles. People share content more frequently if it includes visuals — and social media posts that include images are more likely go viral. In fact, tweets with pic.twitter.com images are 94% more likely to be retweeted. But most authors are not graphic designers. It can be incredibly time consuming to create fancy images from scratch.
That’s where Canva can help. You can search from a library of images, backgrounds, layouts, and fun fonts to quickly drag-and-drop a unique design. They have templates for Facebook posts, presentations, posters, blog graphics, and more… even Kindle covers! That’s right – you can design your own book covers in Canva.
2. Pay with a tweet
If you’re giving away a free chapter on your website, you might ask site visitors to enter an email address in exchange for this chapter. Why not mix it up and have people pay with a tweet instead? This lets you use word of mouth as currency, which can be more valuable than collecting a single email address.
Pay with a Tweet automatically gives people access to your content once they tweet or post about it on Facebook, getting your book more exposure. It’s really easy to use, and is free for up to two campaigns as long as you only enable Twitter and Facebook sharing.
3. Click to Tweet
Click to Tweet is a free service that lets you add ready-made tweets to any online asset via a short URL or hyperlinked text. Upon clicking this link, Twitter spins up a tweet using your copy, and the user can customize the text if he or she would like before tweeting it out to the world. Click here to see an example of this in action!
There are so many places you can add these Click to Tweet links:
- At the end of each of your blog posts.
- At the end of a free chapter excerpt.
- In the header of your email newsletter.
- In your email signature.
- Below any announcement you make online.
Polls can be an important part of your social media strategy. They can help you get:
- Free feedback on anything. Ask for fans’ opinions on your cover design, character names, book trailer, and so on.
- Inspiration for your next book. Learn more about your biggest fans and what sort of books they might be interested in reading next.
- Fodder for your next blog post. Ask your fans something, and then write a post about the results.
PlayBuzz is a free polling tool that lets you embed your poll directly on your website or on a blog post, and there’s no limit to the amount of responses you can get. The embedded poll also comes with a social sharing button so fans can recruit their friends to answer your poll question as well.
5. Facebook Groups
You’ve probably heard a lot about creating a Facebook page for your author brand, but Facebook groups can be even more valuable, depending on your marketing goals. While Facebook’s algorithm notoriously hides most of your posts from fans unless you pay, you can reach group members without worrying about this algorithm. You can even create a new group for each of your books. Within your group, you can:
- Encourage members to discuss your book.
- Host live author Q&A sessions.
- Host contests and giveaways.
- Post exclusive content about your sequel or the next book in your series.
Twitter is an important part of your online platform, but it can be incredibly time consuming. Ideally you should be able to manage your presence on Twitter in 10–15 minutes per day. But using the Twitter website or mobile app won’t be enough to get the job done quickly.
TweetDeck is a free app that makes Twitter much easier to manage. You can install it on your desktop or use it as a browser extension. Here are just some of the ways TweetDeck will make your Twitter promotion much easier:
- Save searches for your name or books so you can monitor the conversation or reply to questions that crop up.
- Easily create and manage lists so you can monitor fellow authors, loyal readers, editors, and agents without sifting through your main Twitter feed.
- View multiple streams, search results, and lists in one view.
- Schedule tweets in advance so you don’t constantly have to check in.
A great cover design, title, and blurb copy can have a major impact on sales. So it’s important to easily test these elements prior to your book’s release so you can sell the most possible copies.
PickFu makes it incredibly easy for authors to test their book covers, titles, and blurbs. You can get results quickly since PickFu has an established testing audience, and survey respondents need to say why they made the selection they did — this way, you’ll know they didn’t arbitrarily choose one design over the other.
Here’s an example cover design test for Simply Austen:
See the results of this test on PickFu.
PickFu isn’t free — you can purchase polls a la carte for $20, and you’ll get 50 max responses per poll. Or you can pay $49 (three polls) or $99 (seven polls) per month, depending on how many responses you want per poll.
RelayThat is a web application that allows you to design one image that’s automatically adapted into different layouts for use on different platforms in just one click. When designing your image, you can choose from various premade themes (called “workspaces”) to get started on your design. These workspaces can be swapped out to achieve a variety of ad images.
An important thing to remember about social media marketing is that you shouldn’t be entirely self-promotional. If every one of your tweets or Facebook updates is about yourself and your own books, people won’t keep following you unless they’re the most loyal of fans. The 80/20 rule is a good rule to stick by: 80% of your tweets should be helpful or entertaining to your followers, and the other 20% can be self-promotional.
But it can be hard to get ideas for what original content to post next, aside from retweeting or sharing other people’s posts. That’s where Feedly comes in. It’s an RSS aggregator tool that lets you read all of your favorite blogs and online publications in one place. You can quickly scan your list of new posts each morning and choose the best ones to share with your followers. Then use TweetDeck to schedule these posts throughout the day.
Between writing your next book and marketing your published books, you’re probably extremely busy. Trello can help you manage your different to-do lists in a visual way. It’s a free time management tool that we use here at BookBub to track everything from our blog post ideas and personal to-do lists to development and design sprints.
Trello is also a handy time management tool for authors. I set up a personal Trello board to keep track of my writing and personal brand marketing activities all in one view. This not only helps me prioritize my tasks outside my day-job, but also helps me feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at my “Done” column. Here’s what my personal board looks like:
What are your favorite simple marketing tools you’d recommend to authors? Let us know in the comments below!
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