You’ve spent months, maybe even years, writing your book, engaging in what probably felt like a million rounds of edits until you finally reached the polished manuscript phase. You’ve painstakingly created a gorgeous cover and chose a publisher for your book. Now what?

I think most of us authors picture our debut novels flying off the shelves, rendering us instant millionaires. But, sadly this is often not the case. Being an Indie author, although it has its many perks, has one main downfall… marketing falls solely on our shoulders.

We are an unknown commodity the world has yet to discover, and it’s up to us to figure out a way to stand out from the millions of self and traditionally published authors out there, to gain exposure, and ultimately a readership.

It can be overwhelming. Believe me, I know. When I first completed Father of Contention back in 2018, I was like a babe in the woods, completely oblivious of my next step. I didn’t know where to start. Luckily I had help from the marketing team at Tellwell Talent, who graciously shared with me the top marketing strategies for Indie authors, and I’m excited to share them with you here. This is just a sampling of the many different marketing avenues, particularly the ones I’ve found helpful. This overview is more of a list of strategies, but I will delve deeper into each section in future posts, so stay tuned.

Marketing Strategies

  1. Build An Author Platform: As an author you are selling a product… you and your book(s). In order to stand out, you need to create a brand for yourself by building your author platform. This is where you decide if you’re writing under your own name or a penname, create a logo, set up a website where you can sell your books and attach all your social media links, and figure out what distribution avenues you want to use. Most importantly, you need to figure out the target market for your book and ensure you are marketing to the right group.
  2. Start A Blog: Now that you have a website, you need to draw people in on a regular basis. One way to do this is to start your own blog. This can be about writing in general, about a specific topic that is related to your published book(s), or you can have guest bloggers write pieces for your page. If people are regularly going to your website, they are more likely to purchase your books. It also helps you gain credibility as an author, and build a following.

3. Newsletters: It’s important to generate an email list so that you have a method of direct marketing. If you have a newsletter that people can subscribe to, then you can send them direct notifications on exciting new developments in your writing, events you’ll be holding, and new book releases.

4. Events: Sell your books and meet your potential readers in person. Events can include book signings at your local bookstore or library, throwing a release party for your new novel, having a vendor table at local craft shows and conventions, doing a public reading of an excerpt from your story, or giving lectures on writing or a topic that is related to your book.

5. Consignment: Contact bookstores in your area to see if they’d be willing to carry your books on consignment. Also, get your books into your local library. The more people who are seeing your books and reading your books, the more reviews you get, and the more awareness you create around your brand. This all translates into future sales.

6. Virtual Book Tours: If you can afford a real book tour, then great. Do that. But for most of us, this isn’t feasible, so a virtual book tour is the next best thing. There are several reputable companies that organize tours across different book blogs. Each blog will post about your book, either with spotlights, book reviews, interviews, excerpts, and more. This increases your exposure to new readers, and particularly hits your target market.

7. Press release: You have a new book, which is something to celebrate for your whole community. Reach out to your local paper or magazine(s) to see if they’d do an interview or attend your book launch. It’s professional to have a media kit when reaching out to different media platforms. This will include an author bio and headshot, your background story, detailed information about your book, any other books you have published, and book reviews.

8. Book Awards and Contests: Entering and winning literary contests will boost your reputation as an author and give you credibility. Book awards are also a great way to gain exposure.

9. The Bookish Community: There are many amazing bookish communities online that you can tap into that directly include your target market. Reach out to book clubs to see if they want to read your book, connect with reviewers to see who’s willing to write a review of your book, and give ARC’s to readers who are happy to post reviews before launch day. Nothing sells books better than other readers lauding your new novel. But bookish communities go even further than boosting sales… they give you valuable feedback, lend their support, and motivate you on your writing journey.

10. Advertising: Social media is a great way to advertise for free, but you can also pay for advertising or pay to boost specific posts that you want seen. Advertising can be online or in print.

11. Kickstarter: Kickstarter campaigns are helpful in funding the production of your novel, but they are also a great way to tap into a whole different readership.

12. Writing Groups: Check out online writing engagement groups, and join ones that are relevant to your genre. If you can’t find one that fits your needs, you can always start your own.

Most of these marketing strategies are free, but some will require a bit of money out of pocket. Before setting up your marketing plan, prepare a budget so you don’t get in over your head. Do you have to try all of these strategies? Of course not. Pick the ones that you believe will work best for you and suit your budget. The step I strongly suggest for all authors, though, is to stay engaged with the online bookish community. It’s a great way to connect with other authors and readers, make potential sales, generate literary opportunities, and… it’s free!

Good luck in all your marketing endeavors, and don’t forget to keep reading!

đź’‹ Lanie Mores