The Twelve Days of Book Marketing

For this holiday season, a little book marketing cheer from us to you. Sing it with us now.

On my first day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

1 Online Giveaway

In an online giveaway, you give away something valuable as something people can earn or win for helping to spread the news about your writing. This can be a contest, where people get the prize by performing certain acts to help you, or a drawing where people do things to get entries in a lottery-style situation, and you draw at the end of the giveaway.

A well-run giveaway is one of the most effective, low-cost ways to bring new readers into your marketing funnels. You can read some solid general advice here, the specifics for a great contest here, and how to run a strong drawing here.

On my second day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

2 Guest Posts

The bad news about being a beginning author is that very few people care about you. This makes it hard to get new readers with your brilliant blogging, excerpts, and social media. A guest post helps solve that by putting your work on a stream that people do care about. Find somebody who writes in your area and has a blog, newsletter, or similar feed with plenty of subscribers. Reach out to that person and see what it will take to do a guest post. When they post your work, some of their readers will be impressed enough to check out your feeds.

Watch this training for the best ways to approach a blog about being featured on their site. Or take this course on going on a virtual book tour.

On my third day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

3 Live Readings

Using YouTube or Facebook, you can do a live reading from your work in progress, or a thematically appropriate work from your back catalog. Video outperforms images the way images outperform text, and live video outperforms pre-recorded by almost the same factor. Set up a time to do a live reading, let folks know it’s coming, then jump in and make it happen.

Live videos, especially on Facebook, are super-easy to put together. You just need your phone, a quiet space, and ten to twenty minutes of free time. Read this article here on some of the best practices for before, during, and after your first session.

On my fourth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

4 Hashtag Posts

If you’re not sure what a hashtag is, it’s that # before a bunch of words together with no spaces. It’s a way for people on social media to quickly search for things they’re interested in. If you post with appropriate, high-performing hashtags at least once each day, you’ll attract strangers to your work much more rapidly than  if you don’t. This works best on Twitter and Instagram, but also works on Facebook and YouTube.

For a deeper dive into hashtags, including a long list of perennially high-performing ones for most genres, read our article here.

On my fifth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

5 Books In the Wild

A book in the wild is a photo you post of your book out in the world. Some examples include:

  • Your book on a shelf in your library, or in a local bookstore
  • Your book on a table amid a pile of other books
  • A bookstack that includes one or more of your books
  • You reading the book, from the point of view of somebody else
  • You holding the book open as if reading, with something interesting in the background

This kind of photo gets the attention of your loyal readers, photography buffs, and bibliophiles in general. It’s shockingly effective considering how little effort it really requires.

Click here for a good training on easy tools for creating your book graphics, and here for more general advice about using images in your social media book marketing empire.

On my sixth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

6 SEO Hacks

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) used to only refer to Google, but now it applies to YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and almost everywhere else strangers might cruise the internet with the potential of finding you and your books. The more optimized your pages and content are for the most effective and appropriate keywords, the more strangers will find you. The more strangers who find you, the more leads you will generate. The more leads you generate, the more readers you’ll gain. The more readers, the more sales.

Read our articles here, here, and here about the best keyword discovery practices, and how to use those keywords to drive the maximum possible number of new people to your pages.

On my seventh day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

7 Honest Answers

This one is more for your existing fans than for brand new leads, but turning casual fans into raving, loyal followers carries a lot of rewards. What fans love best of all is peeks behind the scenes. They don’t just want to know your work, they want to know you. Posting an “Ask me anything” session, or recording a video about your non-writing life, or any honest, open communication turns those readers into passionate fans. Getting in the habit of this is gold for almost every working writer.

Check out our article here for some details on how to best engage in this way. If you have security or safety concerns, you might want to write under a pseudonym.

On my eighth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

8 Preview Pics

A preview pic kills two promotion birds with one stone. It gives the kind of behind-the-scenes access we were just talking about by showing your readers what you’re working on right now. Second, it builds anticipation for the eventual release of your work in progress. Both of these are powerful on their own. Combined, they pack a very strong one-two punch. This can be an image of some printed pages, or even a screenshot of your word processor. Whatever works best for you can work wonders.

On my ninth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

9 Posts on Progress

Remember what we said in the previous section about how posting a preview picture builds anticipation for your work’s release? That’s just one way you can use information on your progress to do that. Here are a eight more examples you can steal today:

  • A cover art reveal post, either for the complete cover or for initial concept sketches. (Bonus points for posting several options and having readers vote or give comments)
  • Posting your day’s word count, either just the numbers or in an X words out of Y format, with Y being the finished novel
  • Post a hint about what’s in the novel, such as “I won’t tell you too much, but I just finished the scene with a big surprise about Hero Protagonist finally getting revealed”
  • As you near launch day, post about the steps in the production process, such as “Today I sent my draft to my editor” or “Layout is finished! I love the proofs!”
  • Print your manuscript as you write it. Periodically post a photo of the growing stack.
  • A screenshot of any aspect of your work as it progresses. (Especially that wonderful THE END…with key surprises redacted)
  • Post excerpts of comments and suggestions from your beta readers, along with your honest emotions upon receiving them.
  • Record a video at the end of a writing session where you talk about how it went, and what you felt while you were completing key scenes

Posting on progress is part of any solid book prelaunch strategy. Read our post here about how it fits in that larger context.

On my tenth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

10 New Reviews

Reviews are one of the most important fuels that drive your book’s performance on Amazon. The more you get, and the higher the quality, the more books you will sell. Actively solicit reviews, both from trusted contacts and influential reviewers, to maximize your review mojo. Make this part of your routine for best results.

We write about the power of reviews, and how to get plenty for each and every one of your books, a lot. Check out our articles here, here, and here on different aspects of this important part of your book marketing plan.

On my eleventh day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

11 Books I Loved

Earlier, I mentioned that nobody cares about an emerging author. Your job is to make them care about you by engaging with them around things they do care about. Guest posts are one way to do that. Another great way is to post things where you’re talking about something they do care about: a book they already love. People absolutely love it when somebody else agrees with their opinion about a book, movie, or other piece of entertainment. So post a written or video review of a book you loved reading. Mention the author by name, and whoever recommended it to you.

If you’re really lucky, you won’t just get the attention of fans of that book. You might get the author’s attention, and that attention might come with them reposting your review.

Here's an example of a way to collect a bunch of quick book reviews together.

On my twelfth day of marketing, I showed to everyone…

12 Awesome Retweets

Retweets (or shares, on Facebook and Instagram) are when you take the content of one person and share it on your own feeds because it’s too awesome not to spread the word. You should always share content when it inspires you, but you can also take a strategic approach. Share work by authors above you on the food chain to get their attention, and the attention of their fans. Share work by your peers to help them out, and to encourage them to help you. Share posts by your fans to cement that relationship and make their days better. If you do all three at least once a day, you will find the breadth and depth of your fandom grows.

For more details on each of those three levels of retweet, read our article on social media strategy here.

Putting it all together

This kind of formula works not just for the holiday season, but all round. And you don’t even have to use this particular formula. The important part is you create a plan that involves consistent acts of marketing for your books, delivered in abundance and variety, over the course of several days. Then you act on that plan, executing it flawlessly and with disciplined focus.

When you’re done doing that, make another plan and do it again. Rinse and repeat, paying attention to which particular acts garnered the most attention and new fans.

Photo by Any Lane