Seeing people ask how to start, what they should do, etc. to promote themselves. Since that seems to be a regular questions, I’m going to write out my suggestions here.

Start slow

You won’t find a lot of ROI doing advertising, so you can (mostly) ignore it. If you don’t have the background for marketing / advertising, make sure you learn each area individually before you move on and add to your task list.

In general, you want 3 books in a series before you advertise; so for most people, it’s not worth it.

I say most, because there are a FEW tactics that can work with 1 book; but those require knowledge of the AMS and FB ads and newsletters to play with. So I’m not going to touch on them here.

The Basics of Promotional Items

The three things you want to start with is as follows:

  • author website. This should have information on you, books you released and future releases. Event and conference appearances and links to other social media. And, of course, a newsletter signup sheet and contact form.
  • a newsletter (and, preferably, a newsletter builder in the form of a short story, novella, etc. to entice people to sign up. Make sure to have a bonus short story / epilogue at the back of your books too that link to this newsletter)
  • a social media account that you like and will use and that your readers are on.

The Website

You want a website of your own. For one thing, it’ll be a central place for your readers to find out information about upcoming books. Most other methods (Facebook Author Pages, Goodreads pages, etc.) don’t really let you do that, especially if you don’t want to set up pre-orders.

It also lets you collect e-mail addresses with ease, which is important.

Lastly, it’s something you control. What if someone hacks your FB account and gets it shut down? Or locks you out? What if Amazon or Goodreads shuts your account down? All these things have happened to authors. Don’t assume you won’t have it happen to you and take control of your author career from the start.

The Newsletter

I always suggest creating a newsletter (Mailerlite is the current winner, though Substack or Ghost could work out depending on how you create newsletters). The biggest thing is that you have control and access to all the e-mail accounts, leaving you with the ability to ‘touch’ readers in a way that you can control, rather than the way that another company (Amazon, FB, Twitter, etc.) wants you to.

This is important, because again, you can lose access all too easily.

Work on building up your newsletter when you can, using Bookfunnel to get new readers via the short story / novella. There are newsletter promos you can join to do this. Once you’ve released a book, if you have a bonus epilogue, cut scenes, extra shorts, etc. – use that to attract your readers.

Make sure to seperate these two type of readers (the ones that go to your site / come from your books and the Bookfunnel freebie grabbers) so that you can adjust your marketing to them later.

Build your automation so that you can e-mail them when they subscribe without you worrying about it. To start, a simple thank you and an indicator of what the newsletter is for. Later, as you expand, you can add shorts and other series, you can extend the automation.

Frequency on newsletters is entirely up to you. I have other posts about newsletters, but basically – decide how often you can sustainably write newsletters and what you want to write and then tell the subscribers.

If it’s only when you have a sale or release, tell them.

If you want to send monthly newsletters with highly personalised stories, tell them.

Social Media Account

I say one, because having more than one can be a pain. If you aren’t naturally using one already, learning the ins and outs can be hard. If you can find one that is already in use by you AND that is also filled with readers, that’s a huge win.

No specific social media service is specified beacuse different groups and genres have different preferences.

Build the social media account, meet your readers and just interact as a normal person in the various groups. Some accounts require you to finnese them in different ways, but keep in mind your target audience.

For social media, just touch it once a day and interact on comments, other videos, threads like a regular joe to start. You can mention you’re an author if appropriate, but don’t go out of your way. If you like using that social media, it’ll help a lot with that, just make sure you don’t go overboard.

Realise that social media is not, for the most part, great at generating huge amounts of sales unless you’re a social media maven. And those who are great at it, often spend a lot of time on it. However, it is a low cost way (mostly) of promoting yourself which is why I suggest it.

The Schedule

Plan out your promos to some extent, but mostly, it’ll be simple announcements on your websites and your newsletter posting. I like Excel sheets with months in a row and what I’m doing in columns. Then just inputting that out and planning it that way helps me, since I know I’ll release a book in September, so I need at least a new release newsletter then, a blog post maybe 3 months before to announce the book, a month before for the cover reveal, etc.

If you also know when you’re publishing, you can start reaching out 3 months before to authors in your genre asking for recommendations, offering ARCs, etc. in hopes of having them shout you out.

Remember, you want something you can do on the regular. And that you can tick off. It shouldn’t be too much early on, with blog posts / website updates once a month, maybe a newsletter once a month and then 15 minutes of socials every day.

What Next?

Later on, you can add more; but those are the basics. You won’t get much ROI from advertising right now, so it’s best to keep focused on writing and unpaid promos.

I generally recommend learning basic AMS to set-up (budgeted!) auto ads. These can help a lot on launch month, and on the regular, dropping cost down to like $1 a day can keep your book in general circulation (especially if you use category ads for that).

Outside of that, paid newsletter promos will be your best for getting quick surges in sales. This can be good if your launch fizzles out, and you need to get your books on some also boughts. Newsletter stacking will allow you to refresh your book also boughts to some degree too, though that can be dangerous.

Lastly, look for free group promos. There are a ton that go around in different genres. Twitter is great for finding information on those events, but keep an eye on your genre and figure out when you can add yourself to them.

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