Our last two posts have been on the theoretical side of marketing promotions, the tools that you need to have a proper promotional strategy and the kind of things you need to build out the promotional calendar.

This week, we’re going to talk about what I think should be the core part of any promotional toolbox.

Author Website

Firstly, you need a place where your  readers can find you and, just as importantly, find information about your next book and their release dates.

Read that again. That is the most important information your readers are looking for when they come to your website. You need to let them know when book 2 / 3 / 4 / etc. is going to be released and when / where they can buy those books.

Everything else is superfluous unless you are trying to make yourself the brand.  In that case, then, yes your website will need to have your branding content on it (pictures of your kittens, the food you cook, daily musings, etc.).  

For most though, you’ll need:

– a contact page

– series page with links to where to buy your book

– new release information

That’s it. I use WordPress myself, and use a bunch of plugins. You can add things like Google Analytics and the Facebook Pixel as well as Amazon Associate accounts to your website to add information, and they are all useful. But not necessary. Those 3 things? Necessary.

Lastly, a website is a great place for you to start converting browsers looking for information into newsletter subscribers. There are numerous ways to integrate website forms, most of them really simple.

A Newsletter

Next up, you need a newsletter.  I’m going to recommend that you use one of the newsletter systems out there – like Sendfox, Mailerlite, etc. This is because they are set-up to handle mass e-mailing and to deal with the privacy and other legal concerns about e-mailing people (e.g. did you know that you need to have an address on your newsletters that people can send mail to? Yes, really.).

I generally recommend that you create 2 mailing lists. The first is the organic mailing list, those people who subscribe to your newsletter off the back of your books, off your website or facebook integration.

The second mailing list comes from use of other mailing list sites like Story Origin or Bookfunnel. You’ll have to build that list slowly, and generally, you’ll have to build it via giving away free books, chapters, novellas or short stories. 

We’ll discuss stuff like that later, but realise you want to separate these lists. The reason for the separation is simple – you get different levels of open rates. One list you want to safeguard with your life, the other is more likely to have individuals who are (overall) less interested in you.

Check out Tammy’s “My Mailing List Sucks” book for more information.

A Social Media Account

If you’re a beginning author, realise that the vast majority of the time, spending money to promote your work is going to be a negative ROI. There are ways around that (AMS can be good at that); but in general, without multiple books and multiple books in a series, you’re going to be losing more money advertising.

In that sense, building a social media account and interacting like a consumer of the social media with potential fans will be the cheapest and most cost effective manner.  I don’t mention which social media site to use for two reasons:

– your personal inclinations are important. If you use FB, that’s where I’d point you at. If you use Reddit, the same.

– where your target market hangs out. This might not be the same as above, though you’ll find quite often with the larger social media systems, that there will be groups. The size of those groups will vary. 

Example – I really don’t think there’s a huge LitRPG group in Pinterest. I might be wrong… but I doubt it.

One thing to consider is to look up the demographics of each group. Pinterest leans more towards women, Facebook these days is filled with older people and TikTok is where the young and cool are right now.

In either case, remember to be part of the community first, join the various subreddits, Facebook groups, Twitter conversations, etc. as a regular part of the community before you begin advertising. Being genuine will make your social media promoting work much better rather than running in and dropping a post. That’s a VERY good way to get yourself banned.

Amazon AuthorCentral

Yes, yes, Amazon is evil and a monopoly, etc. But it’s still a good idea to make sure you claim your own books on Amazon AuthorCentral and make sure all your books are set-up there. It’s also useful to keep an eye on your books and make sure they are all listed as a series and all your paperbacks & hardcovers and audiobooks are linked. All this can be done via e-mails to the contact form (or phone calls if it’s really big). 

And that’s it. Those are the basic tool. Later on, you’ll want to start looking at advertising, which we’ll talk about. I’m going to cover most of the common options later on, but if you’re just starting out, the above is the minimum I’d recommend you start with. 

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