To be a successful author, promote yourself and your books

When I saw this twenty-second TV ad from the “International Best-Selling Author” James Patterson, I just had to purchase the book. Not only was the book trailer thrilling, but the writer was JAMES PATTERSON. When I later discovered that this trailer was not for the book but for a summer 2015 CBS series based on the book, it did not change my decision to read the book.

Even though the trailer for Zoo was exciting, name recognition hooked me. I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan running to buy a copy of Mr. Patterson’s latest book.

As I thought about the effect this trailer had on my reading behavior, I concluded that to be a successful author, you need to promote both yourself and your books.

Promote yourself

“If you don’t toot your own horn, don’t complain that there’s no music.”
~ Guy Kawasaki, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

Most of us writers will never achieve celebrity status. With good marketing we can increase our name familiarity. Nonfiction writers can develop a niche market or become an “expert” on a topic. Fiction writers can become experts by researching topics relating to their fiction. For example, Susan Klaus, author of Shark Fin Soup learned about environmental issues and eco-terrorism surrounding the shark fin industry.

Use public speaking to promote your name. Contact  libraries, Kiwanis Clubs, schools, and conferences to arrange speaking engagement. List your speaking  topics on your Webpage. Consider presenting a Webinar. Offer to be a guest on radio talk shows and podcasts, and be sure to provide the host with talking points or a cheat sheet.

Brand yourself as an author with a professional photo, a color theme, or your full name.

Put your face and bio everywhere. Make use of author pages on Amazon, CreateSpace, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, and other online book vendors. Create author pages on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Set up an author Website, and include a bio page, links to your books, news and events, a blog post, a newsletter signup form, contact information, and whatever extras your readers may like.

Attach your name and contact information to emails, letterhead, and other promotional materials. Design author business cards, as opposed to ones about the books. Make up a name tag, and wear whenever you, the author are in public.

Promote your book

“You can write the most wonderful book in the world. But if people don’t know about your book they won’t know to buy it.”
~ Madi Preda, How To Promote and Market Your Book

Write a compelling back cover and book description. Give readers a reason for buying your book by telling them what they will get from reading it. If possible, use keywords in the title and in the description. Choose keywords that will lead readers and search engines to your book.

List your book on Listopia on Goodreads. Once your book is on a list, ask your readers to like it. The more votes, the higher up the list the book appears.

Consider starting a book discussion on Goodreads as a way to interact with your readers and create a buzz about your book.

Create a Facebook and Goggle+ fan page for each book. Set up a book Website. Include a book description, testimonials, links to vendors, and a newsletter signup form, a sample chapter, and a book trailer. Make it welcoming.

Consider creating a Pinterest board for your book or around the topic of your book. See Why Pinterest is important to indie authors. Even fiction writers can find topics for creating a board.

Promote both yourself and your books

I hope you agree that to be a successful author, you need to promote yourself and your books. If you promote just your books, you too may feel like Vladimir Nabokov, who said “Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.”

First, find the right mix for splitting your marketing time, effort, and possibly money. To do this, evaluate the success of each campaign. Which leads to more feedback, newsletter subscribers, reviews, or whichever criteria you select. Does blogging on your author Website produce better results than blogging on your book sites? Do ads for books spike sales? Do radio interviews increase your media followers?

Once you’ve analyzed the results of various promotional efforts, set a plan and a goal. For example, “I want to increase membership by 5%, or sales by 10%, by a certain date”. Setting these goals helps keep you on track and measure your success.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
~ Vince Lombardi

You may not achieve stardom like James Patterson, but, with a little effort, your star can shine.

Which do you promote more, yourself or your books? How successful do you feel? Please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

Adventurer and Author, I was born in Hartford Connecticut and now live in Sarasota, Florida.