Casey L. Bond and the Huntington Fiction Factory presents…
Marketing for Authors
May 9, 2019
As writers, we love to bring our imaginations to life with ink, paper and tiny pieces of our hearts, minds, experiences and souls. We are creators. We move from being writers to being authors once our work is published. But building a career as an author, isn’t as simple as writing every day. We have to market, and we have to do it well.
The following information is from my personal experience. You may have found success using other marketing methods and that is awesome! I hope some of these suggestions help you or spark new ideas to elevate your work and career.
So, who am I and why am I talking to you about marketing? What do I know about the topic?
*Co-host of On the Same Page (bookish talk show on Southern Ohio PBS filmed at the University of Rio Grande with fellow YA author Bryna Butler)
*2019 RONE Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy novel Glamour of Midnight.
*Author of award-winning novel series (The Frenzy Series, The Harvest Saga).
*Curator of award-winning book trailer (Keeper of Crows) created by Rebecca Ethington.
*Have made the Amazon top 100 YA Authors list several times.
*My books have made Amazon’s Hot New Release List and been #1 bestsellers on the site several times.
*Sold over 250,000 ebooks.
*Tens of Millions of pages read from body of work via the Kindle Unlimited program.
* In 2017, Frenzy was among five books featured in the Grammy Awards nominee and winner swag bags.
*In 2018, Glamour of Midnight was the featured e-book of the month for the kickoff subscription box @FaeCrate.
Note: The advice I’m about to give is based on the assumption that you’ve done the basics, which apply whether you’re traditionally or self-published, or whether you’ve written one book or several and need to refresh your marketing plan.
Marketing Tip #1: You are your brand. Protect it.
One of the first pieces of advice with regard to marketing as an author, and perhaps the most important that I can give you, is to market yourselves first! Everything you do reflects on your work. Everything. From what you write, to how you present yourself at signings, to what you post online, to your author brand.
Marketing Tip #2: Develop a logo (or two).
If I say Nike, I bet the swoosh comes to mind. If I say the word Twitter, I bet you think of a blue button with a little white bird in the middle. Disney? The castle pops into your head. Maybe even the font associated with Disney’s brand. An author logo is just as important.
You can use the logo on social media, on banners for events, place them in books if you’d like. Companies use them. I know some authors who have made and developed their own logos. I am not a graphic designer, so I hired one to make mine.
If you write in multiple genres, and this is what I’ve personally learned, it is helpful to distinguish one from another if the genres are very different. For example, an author who writes Young Adult might also want to write steamier Contemporary Romance. I’d highly recommend separating brands, and using separate publishing names so that fans can discern which they’d like to read. Of course, some will read all of it. But you might not want a young teen reading something that toes the line with erotica, for example.
Jennifer L. Armentrout, a very successful and prolific author from West Virginia, writes her YA under Jennifer L. Armentrout and her contemporary work under J. Lynn. Her brand is clear at all times and does not confuse readers who might prefer one body of work with another.
Bonus Tip: Some authors brand themselves through apparel. At signings, romance author Meghan March only wears red dresses. She’s well-known for only wearing them at author functions. She recently married, and even her wedding dress was red!
Another example is Jo Michaels. She wears a black cowboy hat to all events. You can find her in a crowd very easily, and hey, it looks great.
Marketing Tip #3: Headshots (Update them every few years).
You will need a professional photograph for social media, your website, inside or on the back of your book. Blogs may want to post your pic and bio when posting about your book! If you send a media kit or press release (we’ll get to that in a moment), you’ll need a photo to accompany it.
And you want to keep them updated. If you’ve been published for five years, chances are you look different than you did in the head shots you first had taken. People will expect to meet the person in the pictures you put out there.
Marketing Tip #4: Develop a website (and keep it updated).
There are plenty of free hosting sites for websites, and plenty of paid ones, so there is literally no excuse not to have a website and websites are crucial for authors. It’s a dedicated site for your books that people can search and find you and your work. A website is your marketing hub. Design it or have it designed well. Again, build the website around you as an author, not just a single book title or series. You are your brand…
Marketing Tip #5: Social Media is a must.
I recently read an article that indicated that 62% of adults have a Facebook account, 37% have Instagram, 22% have Twitter. If your audience is teenaged, you’ll want to focus more on Instagram and consider Snapchat.
Marketing Tip #6: E-mail Marketing/ Newsletter.
E-mail marketing is extremely valuable and possibly one of the most effective platform-building tools in existence for authors. You literally have a direct line to the inbox of readers who sign up to hear news from you. Please do not take that lightly. Don’t send thirty e-mails a month. Don’t send them if you don’t have news.
Marketing Tip #7: Amazon and beyond.
Your author page on Amazon is where readers can search your bio, your rank on the site, what books you’ve published and any that are available for pre-order. You can manage it through Author Central. You can even list appearances, signings and events and post book trailers via your author page.
Marketing Tip #8: Your Book’s Interior as a Marketing Tool.
If someone buys your book, reads it and loves your writing, they will likely want to know where they can find your other work. Make it easy for them. In the back of your book have an “Also by” section that lists your book, a “Connect with” section that lists your website, newsletter sign-up link with incentive, and consider adding a small amount of bonus content. (Some like to add the first chapter of the next book in a series, etc.) Book sellers have rules regarding how much content you can add in addition to the main text, so be careful. For Amazon, the bonus material must be less than ten percent of the main text.
Remember: A book’s interior can entice readers, or drive them away. Formatting is important.
Marketing Tip #9: Media Outreach.
If you have a publisher, they will likely develop a press release and media kit for you. If you do not have one or they do not offer to make these, you can do it and send it to local newspapers and radio stations. Some of them might announce new releases, etc. Even if they only do so digitally, it’s a win.
Marketing Tip #10: Paid Advertisements.
So, I mentioned Amazon ads above, but there are other types of ads authors can use. I would advise you to start with a low budget and see what works and what doesn’t before jumping in with a large sum. What works for one author or genre, might not for another. Here are some ads you can try to use to promote your work online.
There are other avenues to consider aside from online advertising. Some examples include:
Marketing Tip #11: Signings and Events.
Readers love getting books signed by their favorite authors. There are many ways to host a book signing. Here are a few ideas:
Some things you might consider purchasing in advance of events and to further market yourself while at them are:
Marketing Tip #11: Cross-promotion.
Online, you will likely meet several authors in your genre. Sometimes, you can meet them at events and signings. This opens the doors for friendship, and cross-promotion for both parties.
Every other author has their own readership. Some of those readers will not have seen your work and will be introduced to you through other authors. This is such amazing and important marketing and has certainly helped my career blossom.
Marketing Tip #12: Online Tours.
Book bloggers are crucial to an author’s career. If you look at most blogs, they have thousands of readers who follow their posts. If they are gracious enough to post about your book, or to even review it, make sure you thank them. You are your brand. And you want them to want to post for you again.
I work with a PR company who hosts tours for me. They have a large list of bloggers that they market my work to and several sign up to help me by sharing cover reveals, new release blitzes, or participate in blog tours or sales blitzes.
I can’t say enough how important it is to form relationships and rapport with bloggers. They have a direct following of readers in specific genres, depending on the blog itself and what they post most often about.
Marketing Tip #13: Reader Group.
If you are on FB, I recommend you make a group and invite readers to it. In mine, sometimes we have read-a-longs, chat about our current reads, post memes that relate to book genre or topic (i.e. vampires), and I can update folks about what I’m working on and what they can expect from me. It’s a place from which I can draw inspiration and hopefully drive excitement toward my upcoming work. You can host giveaways or special incentives.
I like to offer signed bookmarks to anyone in my group who leaves a review on one of my books on Amazon, Goodreads, or Bookbub.
But you can literally use the group to rally your troops. If it’s release day, I offer a small giveaway to entice shares. This gets my post on several timelines and they’re shared many times over. Word-of-mouth marketing is still crucial.
Marketing Tip #14: Bookbub Profile and Ads.
Get on Bookbub. It’s a paid advertising site, yes. And if you get the holy grail of an ad with them, it is more than worth the cost, which can seem pricey. Their newsletters are huge. They’re filled with readers who love to buy books at a bargain and do so by the thousands.
Beyond their ads though, you can claim a profile there and garner followers. Readers can recommend and review your work. They will even send a free new release alert to your followers on your behalf, as long as your release qualified. Specific rules are on their site.
Again, you’ll need a bio, headshot, etc.
Marketing Tip #15: Advanced Review Copies.
ARCs are important. I offer them to bloggers in exchange for a review on their blogs. I offer them to a select group of readers to bolster release reviews. Sometimes, I give paperback ARCs to instagrammers in exchange for them posting a stylized image of the book in their style.
Marketing Do’s and Don’ts…
Miscellaneous Marketing Ideas:
I know I blazed through this last section, but I could literally talk for days about this topic and we only have an hour. And there are approximately a zillion things you could do to market a book if you had the time and money to throw behind it. These are just a few that have worked for me. I hope you enjoyed hearing about some marketing tactics, some perhaps you hadn’t thought of before, and that you can put some of them to work for you.
Oh, did I mention that you are your brand? ;)
Thanks so much for having me. Feel free to contact me on social media or at email@example.com with any follow-up questions you might have.
-Casey L. Bond
Social Media Management site (Schedule posts with…) www.buffer.com
Stock sites for teaser images:
***Please note that you will need to consider the terms of licensure depending on your use of the image, and pay the appropriate additional fee if applicable.
Stylized photos for book promotion: www.theimageapothecary
Reader group example: https://www.facebook.com/groups/authorcaseybondreadergroup/
FB like page example: www.facebook.com/authorcaseybond
Photo editing sites for teaser or sale promotion images:
Amazon author profile dashboard:
Paid Ad sites:
Facebook (through your like page you can run ads and boost posts. I suggest the former.)
Amazon (through your KDP/ AMS dashboard)
There are literally hundreds of sites and most vary by price and genre. Please do your homework on them before sending your money. Ask friends if they’ve used them and had successful campaigns. The above-listed sites are those I have used and with which I have had profitable campaigns. Every book and experience is different, so I cannot, of course, promise you the same result.
Article about the importance of an Author Photo!
Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She likes goats and yoga, but hasn't tried goat yoga because the family goat is so big he might break her back. Seriously, he's the size of a pony. Her favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult fantasy and paranormal fiction, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page. And she hopes you love the worlds she creates and all the characters floating around in her head.
Casey is the award-winning author Frenzy series and fairy tale retellings such as Riches to Rags, Savage Beauty, Unlocked and Brutal Curse.
Learn more about her work at www.authorcaseybond.com.
You can find more information about Bond’s books via the following links:
Twitter & Instagram: @authorcaseybond
Bookbub Author Profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/casey-l-bond
Blog of Casey L. Bond, Author of Young Adult and New Adult fiction.