Following on from last week's post, I thought we'd continue with marketing and publicity since it's such a massive topic.
There are a huge number of services out there who will try to convince you that, for a fee, they will sell your book. Most of these services are ridiculously expensive and don't offer value for money, so do your due diligence before making a commitment to spend.
This week I want to focus on some essential things you should have in order to successfully sell your book.
Firstly, you need your book to be well-edited and polished. Readers are quick to find typos and grammatical errors and one really quick way to get a lot of negative reviews is to publish a book that isn't well edited. This is especially important if you are self-publishing. If you have a publisher working with you, you will work with an editor, but depending on the size of the press, the number of rounds of edits and the time you get to complete them may not be substantial. Always do your own final pass before sending back to your editor or pressing publish on your e-book. And then, maybe do another one just in case... I find changing the font and the font size each time I do a pass helps me to find errors I may not have seen otherwise.
Another essential is eye-catching cover art that suits your genre. Make sure your title is in a readable font and that you can read it even if the cover is thumbnail-sized. Some covers look amazing when you look at them on your computer monitor in full-screen, but are illegible when shrunk down to the size it's displayed on a website and looked at on a mobile phone. Your cover is among your most important assets so it's worth paying for a good one if you're doing it yourself. If you're working with a publisher, you may not get a lot of input into the design, but it's important you're happy with it. You're going to be looking at it a lot!
The blurb for your book is also important even if you are planning only an e-book release. Make sure it tells your readers what the book is about without giving away too much of the plot. You want readers to be intrigued enough to want to read it. I find that a good guide is to allow your blurb to tease only the first third of the book. That way you're introducing the main characters, giving away the inciting incident and then teasing the reader with the possible consequences if the characters don't (or do) take action. You may want to write a few different versions and try them out on different people to see which gets the most positive response from readers.
A website is also an important tool. Make sure it's kept up-to-date and that there is a way for people to contact you. Include the most important information about yourself and your book(s), including things like the blurb, all sales links (don't just direct people to Amazon) and an author photo. You may also want to include a form so people can sign up to your newsletter (if you have one - and you should).
Social media is also a valuable tool for engaging with your readers and the wider writing community. Set up separate accounts for your author-self so your fans won't end up embroiled in the messy day-to-day stuff that happens on your personal social media pages. Curate what you post on your author pages so what you post will be of interest to your readers. And if you're not a keen social media user, pick whichever platform you like the most and only use that. There's no point having multiple accounts with little to no activity; better to do one thing well.
An author newsletter is another thing you really should have, and bulking up the number of subscribers should be a priority. To do this, you may want to offer something free to people who visit your website and sign up. A short story, maybe, set in the same world as your book, or something of that ilk. Just make sure it's not something your readers can find elsewhere - it needs to be exclusive to be enticing.
In terms of physical things you need, there aren't a lot that I would consider essential. Bookmarks with your cover design, website and social media addresses are a nice-to-have and relatively cheap to get printed. You can hand these out at events and leave them inside library books of a similar genre at your local library.
And once again, I think that's all we have time for this week. Next week, maybe we should talk a little about reviews and how to get them since reviews are pretty crucial for getting people to read your beautifully edited book with its gorgeous cover!