I'm a little over four months away from my book release and it's a crazy and exciting time! I'm working on edits, writing book 2, and prepping for my release. It's crunch time! I've been studying a lot and trying to gather as many marketing tips as I can. Some of these tips (in no particular order) are ones that you can start on before you even start querying, others you'll want to do closer to your release date. But whether you are a new writer, querying, or newly sold, these are helpful marketing tips to prepare you build your author brand. I'll post Part Two on October 2nd.
1. Join a writing organization
This is something I HIGHLY recommend as soon as you start writing. Joining the Romance Writers of America (RWA) was the single biggest influence on my writing career. If you write romance, RWA is the place to be! It's an incredibly supportive and educational organization. One of the best parts is that RWA has regional chapters so you can find monthly meetings near your home. They also have a YARWA subchapter for those of you who write YA. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is another great organization for those of you writing children's and young adult books.
2. Create a business plan
Regardless of where you are in your writing career, I definitely recommend doing this step early. In the beginning it will probably not be as specific as it will become as your career progresses. But a business plan is a great way to establish goals for yourself and to chart your progress. Your business plan isn't set in stone, it will change, but it can serve as a helpful guideline. It can also remind you of how far you've come on days that you may feel like your career is stuck.
3. Set up social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads)
Social media can be overwhelming, so you have to figure out what works best for you. Twitter and Facebook are staples. Facebook allows you to set up an author page. Tumblr is a great site if you write YA or NA because a lot of teens use it. Pinterest is fabulous for creating pictorial boards depicting your characters and your book's setting. You can also set up a Goodreads reader account. If you have a book coming out, you can create a Goodreads author account. Goodreads allows you to connect with readers, see what books are similar to yours, and honestly, it's just fun. It's a great way to see what books are popular and to find new reads. Some tips for Goodreads- never respond to a negative review, understand that it is primarily a space for readers, don't spam people with constant "buy my book" messages, etc.
4. TweetDeck is your best friend
I'm a HUGE TweetDeck fan. At some point, usually over the 1,000 following mark, your Twitter stream will probably become unwieldy. TweetDeck is an app that allows you to set up individual lists to follow. You can also set up alerts when someone tweets your name or your book title or anything else. TweetDeck is also helpful for following Twitter chats. You can create a list with the particular hashtag. And TweetDeck allows you to avoid the dreaded blue line that has come to Twitter.
5. Create a website or blog
You can use templates to create a free blog or website. I personally went with Squarespace and love it. I pay a monthly fee, but I'm very happy with it. Investing in a custom domain name is definitely worth it. You'll want this when you have a book release and you want to snap it up before someone else does! Domain services like GoDaddy and Hover will allow you to create a custom domain for a low annual fee. You want your site to contain links to all of your social media, information about you and your book, a link to your blog (if you choose to have one), a contact page with an email address to reach you and your agent's name, as well as a link to sign up for your newsletter.
6. Start an author newsletter
This is something you'll probably want to do closer to your release date. An author newsletter is a great way to get news out to your fans. Don't sign anyone up without their permission, but have a link on your site. I'm doing a monthly newsletter, but play around with what format works best for you. Sites like MailChimp provide easy, free templates and distribution mechanisms.
7. Host giveaways
Sites like Rafflecopter are the easiest way to run a giveaway. A copy of your book is a great prize for a giveaway. But, if you don't have copies to give out or you want to try something different, you can always do gift cards, e-readers, books from authors you love, etc. Be creative with your giveaway prizes. Giveaways are a great way to reach out to readers.
8. Reach out to bloggers
Book bloggers can be your best friends. They are passionate about books and are key to getting the word out. Research blogs and figure out which blogs read your category/genre. Connect with bloggers. Many will take review requests to review your books. Make sure you read their guidelines and follow any procedures they may have. Understand that bloggers are doing this because they love books and always thank them! You can also do a cover reveal or interview to help get the word out. Sometimes your publisher will already have these things planned or they may be things you do on your own. There are also companies that can organize blog tours and release day blitzes for you.
9. Look at paid ads
Close to your release, you may want to invest in paid advertising. In some cases your publisher may want to do this for you. In other instances it may be something you choose to do yourself. Ads can range in price so you want to look at what other authors are doing to see what works. Think about the ads you respond to. Facebook and Goodreads are two sites that offer inexpensive ads but you can also branch out. Be creative!
10. Research, Research, Research
Knowledge is power. Read as much as you can online. There are some great marketing books out there. Painless Marketing for Busy Authors by Valerie Bowman is one of my favorites. Look at what other authors are doing. Think like a reader. What do you respond to? Above all else, treat your writing career like a business. Learn the ins and outs of your industry.
Does anyone else have marketing tips to add? I'd love to hear them!
Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romance and Young Adult thrillers. Her New Adult debut, I SEE LONDON…, will be released by Harlequin (HQN) on February 1, 2014, followed by a sequel, LONDON FALLING, later in the year. She is represented by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook or on her own website.