Authors sit down to start writing and dozens of thoughts run through their minds. Character development, plot points, story structure, settings…. Not so many thoughts about marketing, though. Not that I can blame them — no one ever says “when I grow up, I'm going to write the next great American novel so I can learn how to market it.” Not ever. And yet, there are hundreds of authors out there now struggling to learn how to do just that. So I thought I would compile a list of all my favorite marketing tools for authors.
I made the mistake of thinking that I couldn't get a newsletter started until I had a lot of email addresses signed up. But at the same time, I also never asked anyone to sign up for my newsletter. I'm not even kidding — I sat with an empty, free newsletter service from MailChimp for almost three years. Well, almost empty — I did have one subscriber: me.
So, how has the newsletter become one of my favorite marketing tools for authors? First of all, it is a direct channel to connect to and engage with your readers. Book announcements, motivational tips, marketing tips, life story…anything I want to talk to my readers about, if I put it in my newsletter I get to communicate it directly to my audience rather than hoping they find it. And a newsletter is great because readers have opted-in to hear about your announcements. They signed up for it.
And let's not forget, all these other sites you're signed up on — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. — any or all of them could go down unexpectedly at any time. And if that happens, believe me when I say you will be happy and relieved to have a way to contact your readers to let them know where they can still find you.
Alternative Search Engines
We all know about Google, Yahoo, Bing and several dozen smaller search engines. You can submit your website to them separately in just a few minutes. Or you can buy ad space on any of them for added exposure. But there are other search engines you may not be aware of: Amazon, YouTube, and Pinterest. Not only are these sites indexed by the major search engines, but they act as search engines themselves.
This mean videos on YouTube, pins on Pinterest, and materials on Amazon will all work in your favor to help boost your platform across the internet. Search Engine friendly descriptions, high quality content, and lists will be your best friends.
Website or Blog
If you really want to show up on your readers' radar, a website or blog is really a good way to go. First of all, it's a place where you can connect to and engage with your readers. Your website is a natural spot to invite your readers to join you at all your other channels: to join your newsletter, find your new newest book on Amazon, and watch your latest book review on YouTube.
Not to mention how having a website or blog can really help you capitalize on search engine placement. And it serves as the perfect center for your platform's center. A reader finds you on Pinterest, the pin leads them to your website, your website invites them to your newsletter, Facebook page, and Twitter profile. It's symbiotic.
Bloggers and Reviewers
Connecting with bloggers for interviews, guest posts, and book reviews is a great way to build up some buzz about you and your books. Not only will bloggers and reviewers talk introduce you to their readers, but they will often link to your site. And if you didn't already know, the more sites that link to your site the better. You see, if they are linking to your site, then major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing believe your site is more important. And that helps you rank higher in their indexes, which in turn helps place you in front of more of your readers.
Marketers latched on to the power of social media marketing early on. As soon as the first companies saw the benefits of increased engagement with their clients, the potential for even better customer service, an entire industry was born. Companies everywhere started hiring social media experts to analyze their platforms and build them further. Social media managers began popping up everywhere to handle posting and replying to any comments. And someone had to teach them about all these things. It didn't take long for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs to catch on. Public figures, actors, and authors soon followed. Social media became a way to make friends with the audience, which became a way for the audience to opt-in to every update.
And my number one favorite marketing tool for authors?
You. That's right, you.
You'll no doubt notice a pattern in every one of these tools I've listed here. They are all channels that allow you to connect with your readers. Conversations, self-disclosure, updates: you are the most important marketing tool in your arsenal. Each of these tools requires you to function. And without you, they will all fall flat.