Every author I know dreams of finding the perfect ‘set and forget’ book promotion.
I’m here with some bad news: it doesn’t exist.
Effective book promotion is about engagement and communication. It’s letting people know your book exists, what it’s about, and why they should read it… without stuffing it in their face and demanding that they buy it.
What many people don’t realise is that effectively promoting your book is a process, not an event. You cannot simply advertise it once, post it on Facebook and/or Twitter, then sit back to wait for the sales to roll in.
Personally, I’d love to think that everyone I know who sees my book will buy it, and that would flow on to lots of people I don’t know buying it. That isn’t how it works. The people you know are often less likely to be interested and willing to buy and read your book than complete strangers.
You’ve got to make them interested. Bait the hook the right way, and they’ll bite. But the bait that works for one won’t necessarily work for another. Effectively promoting your book is complex: you’ve really got to be exploring different angles and be patient enough to follow them through to see if they work. If they don’t, you try something different. If they do, that’s great – but that doesn’t mean those same things will work again next time.
As for what works, I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did.
I do know what doesn’t work, though.
Being pushy doesn’t work. Can you imagine how you’d feel if someone wandered around a bookstore holding a card in front of your face that told you where to find the book they wrote? Or if they followed you around, begging you to buy it?
Even worse, actually demanding that people buy your book is a complete turn off. Temper tantrums fall into the same category.
Making every social media post you ever write a “buy my book” post doesn’t work. Put that stuff on your page or author profile, share some of it by all means, but use your personal profile as exactly that.
Taking advantage of the kindness of others doesn’t work – well, it might for about 30 seconds, but once they’re onto you, even the most supportive friend will back away and wear a necklace made of garlic cloves every time they see you coming.
Abusing people and talking down to them doesn’t work. Those walls will go up faster than anything you’ve seen before. Not only will they not buy your book, they will tell everyone else what you said, and they won’t buy your book either.
Ignoring or dismissing those who help you along the way is entirely counterproductive. You’ll find yourself quite lonely and without the support you once enjoyed.
Assuming loyalty will not work. Sad to say, some people who know you in person might actually think that anything you write might not be that great. That doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent – but changing their perceptions is tricky. Humans are odd like that, and finding one who believes in you is like the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The only way to go about it is to build engagement and develop a reputation for excellence.
If you’re going to make the grade, your book needs to be top shelf: professionally edited, a well-designed cover, clean formatting, and engaging content. Without those things, your book might be good, but it’s competing with a market full of other good books that have had more time and effort invested in them to make them attractive to readers.
It takes time, energy and commitment. Sometimes it takes sheer grit and determination, but you’ve got to manage all that without anyone really seeing that part of the job.
But if you’ve got a story to tell, or a message to communicate to the world, there’s nothing stopping you. Just make sure you do it well.
That will give you the best possible chance of promoting your book effectively and successfully.