Corine La Font, Contributor
Of all the questions I have been asked, the most common is how can I market my book? And following hot on its heels is how can I market my book on a budget?
This question does not have a 'one Band Aid fits all' answer. Why? Because everyone has a different perspective on what a budget is and it is difficult to determine how much someone is prepared to invest.
Nevertheless, I will attempt to share some tips that I think you, as an author, can manage on your own and for those with which I think you will need help, I will provide a cost range so you can have an idea of the cost involved if it is above your skill set and you wish to outsource.
Let's start with the easiest and the most common:
1. Social Media: This includes the big guns such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter and, for you authors, I highly recommend spending time with the first two since that is where the professionals are and groups emerge. Pinterest is also one to keep a close eye on. These platforms have become the most intrusive of all platforms, in that they reach a wide audience, are interactive and can be used in a matter of minutes. No techie skills involved here like HTML or CSS; all you will need is dedicated time and effort, but if you want to go big with it, you may need to bring in a social media expert who knows how to help you to strategise to get the biggest returns for your dollar. If you're taking this route, be prepared to pay between US$25-$50 an hour or work out a monthly package which may be cheaper.
2. Virtual events: These include webinars and teleseminars. There are various technologies that can be used to facilitate these events which are effectively used to have greater interaction with your audience usually conducted for one hour. Conversion rates are high when you conduct a webinar because you get the opportunity to convince your attendees to take up your offer (product or service). There are some technical skills needed and some cost involved which varies from one application to another. The most common is gotowebinar (bit.ly/S6dkw3) which offers a 30-day free trial and Instant teleseminar (bit.ly/NmPz2u) which offers a three-week trial for US$1. Detailed preparation is needed to have a smooth and trouble-free virtual event. You will definitely need assistance on this one for it is not recommended to be the presenter and the moderator at the same time. Your audience will be able to tell and they will not return. Hiring trained help will cost around US$35-$50 per hour or a customised packaged can be worked out based on the number of virtual events you desire and its frequency.
3. Guest blogging: This one is super easy and all it takes is your dedicated time, just like social media and your love of writing. One more thing, you must have a website and social media in place before you begin. Guest blogging involves posting your blogs on a scheduled, consistent basis on other websites that are synonymous with your message and target audience. It takes time to source others who would be willing to host your blogs, and you need to decide early what they will be getting in return because no one does something for nothing these days. This is a great way to increase your visibility and promote your message, while subtly promoting your product and service by redirecting visitors to your website.
4. Website: I mentioned it above and will mention it here again. It is crucial for authors to have a website as a show of their professional presence and a platform from which to generate sales and to build their subscriber lists. I want to add that an author's website is not the same as any other website. There are distinct differences, in that, the layout, look, feel, and functionalities are not to be confused with a regular business website. Also, a Facebook page is NEVER to replace a website. The two serve different functions and complement each other. Authors beware! Using Wordpress is the go-to platform for building websites nowadays. Not only is it easy and user friendly, it is cost effective from free to up to US$90-$120 if you desire to purchase a premium theme. Pay US$10-$15 per annum for a domain name at www.godaddy.com or www.hostgater.com and you are on your way. Wordpress is generally a blog site but it is also used effectively for customising professional websites. Setting up your website can be a do-it-yourself job but you may need some help along the way. If you have a friend who has knowledge in this area, seek them out. If not, be prepared to pay up to US$400 to get your professionally-branded website done without losing sleep.
5. Live book signing: You need to balance your marketing by doing live events as well. Check your local listing for bookstores, libraries, charitable organisations, or any entity that fits your message and target audience and approach them to conduct a book signing, reading and even a giveaway or contest. Be creative with this one and make sure you have an objective and outcome in mind that is backed by a strategy or else the event will be a disappointing one.
6. Virtual blog tour/Virtual book tour: Similar to guest blogging, this requires you to find hosts, that is, someone who is willing to host your blog tour on their website. The number of hosts recommended is based on the duration of the tour which can either be 10-, 15- or 30-day tour and supported by a carefully planned social-media campaign. Dedicated time and effort on your part is a must and you will definitely need some support for it is a stressful venture that requires detailed planning, implementation and execution and most of all follow up. Cost ranges between US$50-$100 per hour or a packaged price can be worked out. This may seem pricey, but what you save is thousands more in travel cost, set up and refreshments to name a few of the expenses involved when you conduct a live book tour.
The above just represents six of the many creative ways a book can be marketed using either the do-it-yourself approach or with support. It's up to you to make the informed choice. What are you willing and prepared to sacrifice to market your book?
In the next instalment, two weeks from today, I will feature 'Creative ways to market poetry'.
Corine La Font is a Certified Author Assistant and Online Book Marketing Specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit her website at www.helpdeskja.com.