When fiction writer Victoria Jayne shared her fiction book marketing tips in the Build Book Buzz Book Marketing Group on Facebook, I knew she had to write a guest post for us. I’m so glad she said, “Yes!” Victoria is a New Jersey native, avid romance reader, wife, mother, and Second Life role player. She is the author of The Prophecy Trilogy, a paranormal romance described as “sexy and enthralling” by one reviewer and “with a lot of action and off the charts chemistry” by One Book More. She began writing at 16 and her debut novel came out in 2018 after she committed to her NaNoWriMo 2017 project. Learn more at AuthorVictoriaJayne.com.
13 fiction book marketing tips from an experienced novelist
By Victoria Jayne
Just six weeks after my debut novel was released, my publisher ended our contract.
I believe it’s because I didn’t have the faintest idea how to market my book. I did nothing the first three weeks. I relied on my publisher to do it all. Major fail on my part.
When I finally got on board, I flailed. Completely out of my depth, it was too little too late. I believe my royalty check for six weeks was something like $80.
I had spent significantly more than that in poorly targeted ads for those three weeks trying to figure out marketing.
I had to learn about book marketing
Since then, I’ve read blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched YouTube videos on marketing. I’ve joined Facebook groups, polled Twitter, and sought help in forums and writers groups. I even commissioned someone from Reedsy to teach me book marketing.
In that time, I released two more books and have spent thousands on marketing as I fumble my way through the business aspect of being an author (I don’t know about you, but 16-year-old me who dreamed of being an author didn’t dream about spreadsheets and cost-benefit analysis).
I’m not a best-seller. I’m not a marketing guru. I’ve learned more about what not to do than specific strategies that work over the past three years. However, I am an author in the trenches.
Here’s what I’ve discovered
One of the best things I’ve learned about the author community is that we are here to help each other. We’re not in competition with one another. My reader can be your reader, too, and vice versa. The best resources authors have in navigating the business are each other.
In that spirit, here are my top fiction book marketing tips for debut authors
1. Create a website
I use Wix. It has a free option, but I recommend upgrading to get rid of the Wix branding. Most of the podcasts I listen to recommended WordPress, but I found it too complicated to use. It should include a mailing list sign up and a contact option.
2. Set up social media accounts specifically for your author persona.
The thing about social media is that it will not grow your audience. Social media is how you engage the readers you already have. However, if you’re looking to find readers, it’s limited in its uses. However, I do firmly believe you need to be there. Readers, when they find you, will look for you there.
I am a big believer in separation between your private and public selves. If you’re using a pen name, set up social media in this name so your readers can find you.
Here’s my take on the social networks:
- Twitter – This is for networking with other authors and, in my opinion, will not be helpful in sales. #WritingCommunity is my favorite.
- Instagram – Book bloggers/bookstagrammers are great to follow and you can build a relationship with them by interacting with them early.
- Facebook – Join writing/author communities to start networking early. Learn from those who are already there. Join reading communities and start networking with readers early. Once readers see you as a person, they are more likely to support you later when you’re an author.
- Goodreads – This is more of a reader-based resource, not a marketing tool. You want to be there, but you most likely won’t get direct sales from it. Readers will find you there, but there’s nothing proactive you can do for them to find you, in my opinion.
3. Create a BookBub partner account for authors.
This will let subscribers to the BookBub daily email newsletter find and follow you. As with other social networks, the more followers you have, the better of a marketing tool it is for you.
When you have a new release, BookBub email blasts your followers about your release. In addition, the BookBub deal newsletter for readers is amazing. It’s extremely competitive and expensive, but I’ve heard it’s worth its weight in gold.
4. Use Booksprout (there is a free account option) to get reviews.
You can quote these reviews in teasers later.
They have this option where you can get mockups of your book covers. So they will put your cover into a template of an e-book, paperback, or hardcover. They will do mockups for audiobooks and series clusters.
They also offer a bunch of creative art you can use for teasers and advertising when you get to that point later. BookBrush offers a free option that allows for a certain number of mockups per month.
6. Create a Canva design account.
There are free and paid versions. I prefer Canva to BookBrush when it comes to creating teasers and other designs meant to engage my audience. I find it easier to work with and it stores the designs I’ve made automatically and in a better fashion.
7. Use BookSweeps.
One of the most essential marketing tools you will ever have is your mailing list. This is the only way you will be able to directly communicate with your audience without the possibility of another platform’s algorithm filtering you out.
BookSweeps offers genre-specific sweepstakes geared toward either building your mailing list or your BookBub following. I do have to admit, you will get an impressive number of sign-ups (more than 800 both times I’ve done it). The list dwindles down due to unsubscribes and lack of engagement quickly, though. That said, I still recommend it as a starting point.
8. Sign up with Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin.
These are excellent tools for networking with other authors. You can join book fairs and participate in newsletter swaps. This means you will be tapping into other author’s audiences – getting your book in front of readers. Invaluable! Both of these options also offer newsletter building options as well.
9. Research book bloggers/booktubers/book podcasters in your genre.
Ask them to review your book. Make sure you comment and follow the comments when the content with your review comes out. Post it on your social media and in your newsletter when it comes out. Also, repost it a few months later.
Never, ever, ever pay for a review.
10. Research book blogs in your genre and pitch guest posts.
Share them with your social networks and in your newsletter. Also, share again a few months later. This should be free. I have never paid to do a guest post.
11. Sign up for a blog tour.
Silver Dagger Book Tours has a pay what you can option. I’ve used them twice and very much loved the results. Make sure you follow along your tour and post comments on each and engage with those who are there.
12. Don’t waste money on advertising, especially as a first-timer.
You’ll notice something lacking in my recommendations: ads. I don’t recommend them for a debut author who has one book to sell. They are a quick and easy way to spend money with little to no return.
They require a very specific set of skills. If you’re not targeting your audience correctly, you won’t sell anything. If you have the wrong graphic you won’t sell anything. If you have the wrong ad copy, you won’t sell anything. They’re hard.
13. Keep writing. Above all else, keep writing.
That means debut novels don’t earn what it cost to produce them. Self-published and traditional authors who make a living publishing do so after they’ve developed a substantial backlist.
So please, keep writing. Being an author is a marathon, not a sprint.
Market your books!
The reality of being an author is this: The majority of authors do not sell more than 100 copies of their debut novel in the first year.
If you want to do more than that, use my fiction book marketing tips and start promoting your novel. Then, please, report back here on your successes!
What’s your best book marketing tip? Please tell us in a comment!
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