The new reality in book publishing is that authors need to promote their own books. This is true for both self-published and traditionally published authors. Yes, traditional publishers may make some efforts to market your book, but the bulk of the work falls to the author; publishers expect this, and writers need to accept this.
Here are some thoughts about book marketing and promotion:
1) You Must Promote: As I covered in the introduction, authors must promote their books if they are to realize any degree of success. Accept this reality, and embrace it. Now the issue becomes how.
2) Follow What Others Have Done: Seek out other authors like you: others writing in your genre and at the same point in their career. Look at what worked for them, and emulate it. These things may also work for you. However, keep in mind two thoughts: 1) Only copy what worked; don’t copy what didn’t (it’s amazing how often people actually do this); 2) Don’t mimic an author who writes in a different genre or who is better known than you; their techniques may not apply to your situation.
3) Beware Wary of Courses: We gravitate towards success. When a best-selling author offers to share with you—often for a price—the exact steps he or she took to promote their book, ask two questions: 1) Is their situation the same as yours? 2) Have they done this more than once? This isn’t to imply that all book promotion courses are bad, but if the instructor hasn’t done this over and over for multiple authors, it’s more likely that their experience is more a factor of fate and not something that you can replicate. There are exceptions – but not often.
4) Make a Plan: As the saying goes, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” When it comes to marketing your book, don’t wing it. You must have a plan and you must execute it with precision.
5) Follow Your Heart: Sometimes you need to do what’s right for you and not follow conventional advice. If one method of book promotion will suck the life out of you, then avoid it. Don’t pursue a mismatched marketing plan that will leave you dry and wanting to abandon your art. Though this may mean fewer sales, it will also make for a happier you.
6) Individual Results May Vary: What worked for one author in one situation will work differently for you. Promoting books can be turned into a formula but success cannot. Success is a part effort, part plan, part circumstances, and part providence.
By approaching the marketing of your book with an informed perspective and realistic expectations, promoting your book can be less taxing and more productive.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.