So, I just got an email question about how to market a book. This is something that I am still trying to figure out. I have tried somethings, and I have not tried others. But one thing is for sure, marketing is very, very important. It is the only way you can reach your audience. The problem is there is no one marketing tool that works for everyone, and marketing campaigns can be costly. I prefer to do as much as I can for free. However, at first, there will be a gain in the audience, but not in funds. That is to be expected. I can only share what has worked for me, and what I hope to try in the future. Let me know if you want me to talk about anything else. Hope this helps!
WEBSITE vs BLOG
If you can have both, why not? A blog is basically an online journal, and a website is where all your work can be found. Because I have artistic abilities, both manually and digitally, I was able to put together my website without the use of ugly templates. I used Intuit Website Services (www.intuit.com) which is about $7.00/month for a basic package. However if you have no artistic ability, you will have to settle for one of the templates they offer. It doesn't make the website personal, but I learned how to use Intuit in a few days so it is one of the easier programs to use.
If this is something you can't afford, then just do the blog. Blogs are FREE!!! Blogs are easier to put together with many templates to choose from, and you can advertise on them. However, blogs do not have the layout that traditional websites have, because they were never meant to replace websites. They were meant to be writing tools.
FREE vs $0.99-S1.99 EBOOKS vs $2.99 AND UP EBOOKS
There is a general rule for how to price your books. Some people don't listen... They start off high, and wonder why they don't sell books. HELLO! PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE AS AN AUTHOR!!!
So, here is what I did. I wrote my novel, and before I finished editing it, I put it on a shelf. I then wrote a few short stories. I made sure that although they weren't novel quality, they were good. Then I gave them away for FREE which were basically my way of giving away writing samples. Then people can decide whether they like your work enough to buy your novel.
I would NEVER give away a novel that I spent a year writing for free. You worked to hard. If your work is always free, no one will pay for any of your work. However, you MUST sell it for cheap. Therefore, your first novel should be priced between $0.99-$1.99. This is the price brackets in which debut novels succeed. Now, don't expect to make millions of dollars. You only get a little less than half of book sales. So, if your book is $0.99, you stand to make about $0.47/book. Remember that you are laying the ground work to building your audience. That takes time! So, hang on.
After you have sold a few hundred books, put out your next book. Price that one a bit higher. However, honor the fact that people buy indie books because they are cheaper than traditional books. You will sell more by keeping the price low. Stay below $4.99.
COVERART and BOOK TRAILERS
People are ultimately visual. So, book covers and trailers are important. Because I am able to create my own cover art, I can make that vision that is in my head a reality. Not everyone has that ability. For those, there are places where you can buy stock images from various websites.
It only works to your advantage to make a book trailer. Don't you watch a movie trailer before you watch a movie? So, make a book trailer! There is an easy program to use on Windows called Windows Movie Maker. It is as simple as dropping the image into the slot and picking an effect. You can narrate or download some royalty free music.
BLOGGERS vs PAID REVIEWS
Reviews are important! When someone reads your book and leaves a review, it can sway the mind of any prospective reader. Now, sometimes a review is so bad that some people are curious and read it anyway. So, in that any review is a good review.
However, when good things are said about you, word of mouth spreads. So, it is important to get reviews from people who are considered the authority in the field. Indie Book Bloggers are everyday readers. The only difference is that they have a following. So, if they like your book, they will tell their audience. The con is their backlog. They have a certain amount of books that they have agreed to read, and it can take a year for them to get to yours so be prepared to wait.
Paid reviews are good, because they are better respected. There are some reviewers that are just not questions. If Kirkus says you wrote a great book, then your books is sure to be a best seller. The only con is the price. To get a review, one has to pay upwards of $500.00.
If you have the money, then go for it. If you believe in your work, why wouldn't you? It takes about $50-$75 to enter for some of the Indie Awards available. Your work is going to be read, and it stands a chance of being chosen for an award. However, there is no guarantee that your book will be chosen. But if it is, you can use that in your product description. Your readers will see that, and they will think that your book must be great.
I am a believer in other marketing tools such as flyers, bookmarks, postcards, etc. However, I am able to customize my image as an artistic person. If you can't do this, grab a few stock images and make a bookmark that in nice looking. People will not use something that looks like junk. If they do, they are not constantly looking at how nice the cover looks... How interesting the premise is... They are just using it without looking at it, and that is not what you want.
Plus, you have to know your market. If you are marketing to kids, give away bookmarks at a school or library or after school center. Know your market! Know your audience! Eventually, you can give away some of these items on your webpage to your fans. So, consider a small order at first. When you have a sizable fan base, then you can do one large order.