The truth is... people need to know your book exists so they can buy it! Marketing means exposure. You need exposure to find new readers and generate your book sales. A super easy (and low cost) way to get exposure is to market your book online.
Tip #1: Promote your book BEFORE it is ready
It might feel daunting to begin with, but you really should create a website, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Think about your posts (the wording and the images... or videos!) - they should be interesting, genuine and as professional (in a friendly and engaging way!) as possible. Try posting on all these different channels... some will work for you, and some might not. It's handy to find out where your future readers are engaging with you. For Fi, it's been all of them!
The sooner you start, the better. The longer you build up your profiles and follower base, more people you can tell about your book when it launches! Try adding snippets of book illustrations, photos of you writing your book, or extracts from the story... you want to tell people about the inner workings of your self-publishing book journey. The longer you have to drip-feed your book to an audience, the nearer you are to a future purchase!
Tip #2: Social media
Facebook worked for Fi's self-publishing journey because it feels like a little community. Our Fi & Books Facebook page supports our illustrators, tells people about our future authors and informs everyone about self-publishing topics, hints and tips.
People like to buy directly from Facebook (yes, really they do!), so make sure you have a PayPal account so people can easily arrange payment. You can also reply to Direct Messages letting people know they can pay using PayPal when your book is ready. Fi has sold hundreds of her Once-Upon-A-Slime books from her Facebook page. Although it doesn't help with your Amazon ranking (which is also important)... you can always direct people to Amazon and ask them to review you! High rankings are great on Amazon.
If you are not sure about how your profile should look or what you should be posting about, do some research. Find some other authors who are similar to you and see what they have posted about. People are naturally interested (and nosey!) so if someone clicks on your profile they'll probably have a quick look over your last few posts too. Think about having a spring clean too and deleting any old posts that no longer fit with your author profile!
Hashtags are amazing for Twitter and Instagram. If you go to the search bar and type in #selfpublished #illustratorofinstagram or #childrensbooks you will find lots of interesting content. Try replying to those people, follow them and start finding new people to follow and interact with! Don't be afraid to start your own hashtag too, for example #fiandbooks or #onceuponaslime.
It's all about building a nice online community for your profile so don't feel self-conscious! We always respond to comments or followers with a little wave, or a "thank you for following!" and we tag people in our posts too. In fact... always remember to tag! If your comment is about someone else, or you're replying to a specific person then make sure you're tagging them in your post. Tags often lead to shares or retweets which is all good for your exposure!
Last but not least... Fi has always made a lot of book sales via school visits. Adding content to your social media about your upcoming school visits, or sharing photos from your latest school visit all helps teachers to find your profile. Although remember you can't show faces on your social posts without permission so it's better to take photos of you signing your book or doing your presentation rather than any photos of the school or children.
A random hint... weekends are good! Many businesses don't post on social media at the weekend but we get loads of weekend interaction! Our audience must spend their weekends faffing on social media :)
Tip #3: Blogging
If you have a website it's good to write blogs. You can also offer to write a guest blog post on someone else's website! Blogs help your website with its Google ranking and they're a nice place to share your latest news or self-publishing tips. If you add a new blog post then share the link on your social media to drive the traffic to your website (clever hey). Oooo and don't forget to add lots of nice relevant keywords into your blog post aka children's picture book, self-publishing, author, illustrator... this helps with your Google ranking too.
Tip #4 - Bookshop websites
If your book is printed and ready to go (hurrah!) then you can try and get it listed on some bookshop websites. Getting your books listed on other websites is key for online visibility. So... make sure you have some nice photos of your book front cover for you to send to the bookshop, that makes their jobs easier and keeps your brand looking consistent.
Tip #5 - Local news
It's always a good idea to contact your local newspaper and magazines to tell them about your book and your self-publishing journey. Lots of newspapers like running local interest news stories and you never know when they might decide to feature you! If you do contact the paper then make sure you have some good photographs of you holding your book cover (ideally professional headshots!) to send to the paper as that makes it even easier for them to run the story. Also make sure you mention how people can find you or buy your book... give your website address or your account name on social media!
Over on our private Authors Facebook page we have press release templates just for instances like this!
Tip #6 - It isn't just faffing!
It took YEARS for us to accept that the time we spent on social media wasn't just faffing and wasting time. We know that it feels a bit un-worklike sitting on your sofa posting images - but it isn't! This is your FREE way of communicating with all your future customers! Try and embrace social media, get some lovely images, create some smart graphics (ask a local designer to help if you are clueless, our sister business Fi & Becs does this all the time for businesses!) and have a go!
Good luck fellow book-publishing people!