This is me about on year ago – when I still had long and brown hair. This is from my trip to Oregon to visit my aunt and cousins before I started my first big kid job as a Consultant. Well, that’s not my job anymore, but I’m excited to say I’m able to go back for my cousin’s graduation this year! Just booked the ticket!
As most of you don’t know, my cousin Jen is called my “mini-me” by all of our parents. Not only do we share a first initial and a middle name (her mom stole it from my mom) but we also have weirdly similar personalities. I might have to wait til June to go, but least I won’t be dying from frostbite.
No, this was not my first time seeing snow. Yes, I still fell every couple feet because this sheet of white was s-l-i-p-p-e-r-y
When I was in college, I majored in Finance with the School of Business. Numbers are my other love, and I work as an accountant as my nine to five. You can’t know finance without also learning about marketing and sales. While of course that doesn’t make me an automatic expert, I like to think that it’s given me a little edge on understanding how to work the business side of being an author. I’m actually using a lot of these practices for my upcoming trilogy, The Witch’s March. So, next year once those results are in, I plan to share what worked and once didn’t. Let’s get into those need-to-knows, shall we?
- It’s never a bad time to talk about it. For me, this is a hard one. As passionate as I am about my work, I clam up as soon as someone asks me about it. Being a writer gives me the shield of not being there to physically see their reaction. It’s not like actors on stage, that feel the awkward tension when their scripted joke doesn’t get the desired laugh. I’ve always like that about writing, but you simply have to be vocal about it. I’m not saying shove its way into every little conversation you have, but be open to talking about it. When the time comes where something’s said and you think “oh, now I could make a good segue”, do it. My best advice so you don’t feel guilty about constantly monopolizing the conversation into it all the time is finding a one to two sentence tagline to sell your book. Get them interested, and they’ll do the rest
- Figure out your budget. It sucks, but we don’t have an infinite number of cash to throw into promoting our books. Once you set your publishing date, decide then and there how much you’re willing to spend on promotion. Once you have that number set, look into the different costs of different strategies and decide which ones work for you. For example, as a Young Adult Fantasy writer, book tours have been known to have success for my genre so that’s where the main chunk of my money is going.
- It’s never too soon to start. The early bird gets the worm. That stands true for promotion too. I’m not saying throw all of your money into an unfinished project. Make sure that your book has its voice first. But once you know what direction your book’s going in, start talking. Have that line waiting for you once the figurative sale doors open.
- Go to where your target audience is. For example, Facebook is by far the most universally used social media with almost 70% of adults reporting that they use it – 94$ of 18 to 24-year-olds. Other good avenues are YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. If you want to stay away from the social media outlet, don’t.
- If you have a publisher, talk about promoting expectations. When you’re not self-published, a lot of this is thought of for you. While that’s nice, that doesn’t mean you just get to cruise through while the agency does everything. Talk to them about what they expect from you as far as press and make sure you have the support you need to accomplish it effectively.
- Get book reviews. Did you know that a Dimensional Research study found that 90% of those surveyed considered positive reviews when making a purchase decision? And guess what. The more reviews you have, the quicker you’ll shoot up that Amazon search ranking. Search for people who review your genre and apply to have yours read. Ask family and friends who you know plan to purchase to leave a review. It’s not annoying; it’s necessary.
- If the books a part of an established series, use it. If you don’t have the complete list of your series in every single book of that series, I don’t know what you’re doing. Of course when you’re still in the process of getting them published, you’ll have to go back and make some updates. Do it. It’s worth it. If it’s Kindle format, I’d say go as far as to put in the link right there for your readers to click and buy the next of the series. Make your series a unified social media account. A one-stop shop for your readers to find to learn where they can keep reading.
- Blast it on your website. If your thought to that was “I don’t have a website”, fix that. I will say that they are time and money, so don’t make one for every book and/or series unless you have the time and money to, which most people don’t. Name the site after yourself and then build small sections within your site for each book/series. Make sure to always include direct links to buy the book once that becomes available. Besides traditional ads, one way I’ve chosen to promote my upcoming The Witch’s March series is by posting relevant historic facts, as the series takes place over a large chunk of history from WWI to WWII.
- Test Your Title. Basically think of it as an ad or article headline. This is especially true in non-fiction books. Look up key title words in your genre and see if you can add them in. For example, fantasy loves the word “Queen” right now.
- Give them a little something extra. The best example I can give of this is what movie marketing teams thought of for post-theater money-making. When people stopped buying the VHS/DVD experience, what did they do? They added bonus material or footage.
Excuse my awkward selfie, but who else is excited to see Captain Marvel?! I’m treating myself to a nice introverted date and seeing an early premier tonight. I’ve heard some mixed reviews about the movie, but that hasn’t stopped me from being just plain excited. Finally, a Marvel female superhero movie! It’s only taken them 11 years of these films to make it happen…
What are you most excited about for the movie? For example, if you ask my friend Tj, he only wants to see how it’s adding to the Endgame plot XD
While it’s true that a series (or an author) with an active following has a bit more wiggle room for when they choose to publish, it’s an indisputable fact that the timing of when you publish will affect sales. Yes, most readers have one or two (or three) genres that they like to stay within, but why not have your book published at the right time? Like in the early summer months when they’re dreaming of their summer vacations? Or if your audience is YA, giving them self-help non-fiction for when they realize they get back into the mind-set of school? Or a self-help book when the new year is starting and they have resolutions to keep? Or even a cook book they decide they need because they’re trying to be healthy again?
Please notice that there’s some wiggle room of when to publish. Also, please note that if you’re doing a series, when to publish the sequel and so on should rely more heavily on when the first is published than the month. Also, please recognize that in addition to some genres appearing in more than one month, some of these items/genres might overlap in reference to your book (e.g. Romantic Fantasy), so when in doubt, choose the stronger theme of your book – or which one best fits with your timeline. Below I have the list, including some successful books published during the window:
January (“New Year, “New Me”)
February (Least published month adds to marketing visibility opportunities)
- Mystery (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn published on April 22nd)
- Women’s Fiction (The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton published on April 11th)
- Women’s fiction
- Biographies (Robin by Dave Itzkoff published May 15th)
July (similar to June but quieter month so similar visibility opportunity as February)
- Fantasy (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)
- Women’s fiction
- Political (Change We Can Believe In by President Barack Obama published on September 5th)
- Fantasy Sequel (Legendary by Stephanie Garber published September 29th)
- Debut novel
- Horror (Gilchrist by Christian Galacar)
- Cooking (holiday recipes)
- Non-fiction (established writer)
- Children (A is for Adorable by Elizabeth Sarpong published December 4th)
Fun little-known fact is that the holiday season is actually not the best time to publish. Some recent numbers show that there was about $3.5B book sales made in summer when there was only about $2.5B for holiday gift giving. With that said, don’t let trying to make all of this fit into your novel stop you from publishing at all. The best way to publish is to publish at all.