Authors, like any business, have shifted to online promotion. Since readers can live anywhere, learning how to promote from a distance will help authors not only today but as our new future unfolds. A group of awesome authors got together to brainstorm ideas. This is a list of the awesome ideas presented by the members of that group.
Book clubs are a great way to connect with readers, whether through extras on your website or in person online. The first step is to find book clubs. You can search for book clubs in several ways:
- Through social media
- Using a search engine
- Checking with your library
- Checking with your local bookstores
- Through big sites for readers such as GoodReads
A simple Google search of ‘online book clubs canada’ brought the following results
Once you have found book clubs that would be interested in your book, create a page on your website for book clubs and post useful ideas for them. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Have an interview with you about choices you made as an author or other topics that would interest book club readers and start discussions
- Design a printable book club pack with questions they can discuss (and even give them your answers in the back)
- Offer to do a Zoom call with them
- Give them your FAQs based on what other book clubs have asked you
- Offer to send them bookmarks if they post pics on social media of them with your book
- Offer your mailing list to stay in touch with them as you write new books
- Let them know where to find you – social media, website, your GoodReads page, etc.
- Let them give you a list of questions and then answer them in a video they can watch together
- Post about the characters in the book and their backstory or ask them what they think the backstory is for important characters
- Tell them everything they would want to know about a specific topic that is covered in your book such as DNA analysis or baking bread
- Give them activities to try. If a character in your book builds a bird house, give them a blueprint and instructions to build their own, or give a recipe from the book
What you offer readers and book clubs is limited only by your imagination.
No doubt, no matter what genre you write in or what themes you touch on, you can find a day or six that relate to your book. Find those days and enjoy developing ideas to contribute or ways to participate. You can find special days at https://www.daysoftheyear.com/
Hashtags let you and your readers find interesting content on social media. Hashtags are an excellent way to find readers, not to sell, sell, sell but to connect and develop relationships with readers and people who influence readers.
Here are a few ideas for hashtags.
The writing community has their own set of hashtags so authors can connect with each other. Here is an article that lists many well used hashtags.
Readers have hashtags that they use to connect with other readers. Authors can use them to connect with readers as well. Ensure you use the ones that relate specifically to your book. The idea is to narrow your reader niche, not sell your book to everyone on the planet. Here is a list of reader hashtags.
Another set of hashtags you can use relates to you and your book’s themes. Not only can you talk about your book using hashtags, you can talk about topics in your book that matter to you. If your book talks about romance and relationships, even if it is fiction, you can talk about romance and relationships online with experts, other authors, readers, reporters, or anyone who is interested.
To find these hashtags, explore social media. Look at what hashtags others are using that lead to conversations that matter to you.
Products and Gifts
Your book can lead to other products that you can sell or giveaway. For example, bookmarks are a simple and inexpensive gift to add to orders if you are shipping yourself. Bookmarks can also be given away to book clubs.
In person, bookmarks can be used instead of business cards. (We’ll get there one day! We may even be there by the time you are reading this!)
When thinking about making a bookmark, use your imagination. Look up ideas online. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Bookmarks you can colour
- Illustrations of characters
- Quotes from the book
- A bookmark a character would like
No matter what idea you dream up, don’t forget to add how to find your book and how to find you, the author.
Online Book Festivals
Look for online book festivals in which you can participate.
Here are a few to get you started:
Many more exist and even more are popping up.
The alternative is to put one together yourself with other authors. Look at the festivals listed above, and the types of activities offered, and put together an event that suits you and your readership.
When it comes to podcasts, you have two choices: be a guest or create your own.
Be a Guest
If you want to be a guest, you can search for podcasts for readers in general, by genre, or you can look for podcasts that cover themes you write about in your book or talk to the same audience your book attracts.
Here are a few general book podcasts:
General Reader Podcasts
As stated above you can look for genre specific podcasts as well. Here are two examples:
Memoir based Podcasts
Mysteries and Thrillers
And many more… look up podcasts that fit into your genre or a theme in your book.
Be an Excellent Guest
For every genre, you will find several podcasts you can approach. Before you approach them, I suggest you do the following:
- Listen to the podcast to get a sense of the host, the audience and if you are a fit
- Craft an idea of how you and your book might work for this podcast
- Have a one page or a media page on your website
- Look at the podcast website to understand how to approach the producer
- Approach the producer as requested and have ideas so they don’t have to do all the work
The more you can present yourself as an easy and interesting guest who understands what they are looking for, the more likely you will get a spot on the podcast.
Producing a Podcast
If you decide to create your own podcast, put a bit of thought into it before you start. You can approach a podcast in a variety of ways. You can have an ongoing podcast in which you need to come up with content ongoing, or you can develop a limited series that has a specific number of episodes. Both are perfectly good ideas.
Podcasts do not have to be expensive endeavours. You can use free opensource software such as Audacity https://www.audacityteam.org/ and learn to do it yourself. This is just one example of free software you can use. There are many more. Alternately, you can pay someone to put it all together for you. No matter what you do, spend a bit of time putting a plan together.
Here is an example of a author podcast by one of our authors, Janet Rollings Walmsely: anchor.fm/janet94
More Promotion Websites
An endless number of options abound for promoting your book. Here are a few more you can investigate yourself:
Social media is an excellent place to connect with readers, other authors, reporters, and subject matter experts. Authors often wonder what to post.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Post quotes from your book with images
- Link to your newsletters
- Tip Wednesday
- Book page with a quote from that page
- Photos from your book
- Photos with you and your book
- Photos readers have taken of your book
- Pictures, illustrations
- Secret messages
- New material
No matter what you post, keep the following tips in mind:
- Have fun; if you are having fun then so is your audience
- Use canva.com or similar to create fun images to post
- Know the demographics of each platform
- Post images! Images and video are an important part of all social media
- Add Emojis as they are also important
How to get started:
- Watch others and how they use that specific platform
- Be yourself, look at what others are posting, and join conversations
- Find hashtags that matter to you and your audience/readership
- Then, start conversations
- Ask questions
- Answer questions
Facebook has many options for an author, you can have an author page or a fan group. Pages and groups are different so you will want to spend some time exploring what is best for you. In short, a page is like your profile and represents public figures, businesses or organizations. They are public. Facebook groups are places people with similar interests can gather. Groups can be public, private or by invitation only. In a group, everyone can post or respond to everyone else whether they are friends outside of the group or not.
For more information you can visit Facebook’s page on the topic.
Other than running your own page or fan group, you can also join a variety of groups and participate. This is a good way to build relationships.
To get some great ideas for your own Instagram account, look at some of these awesome author accounts:
As with other platforms, you can create your own channel or be a guest on someone else’s channel.
If you decide to start your own channel, here are some ideas for videos:
- What is going on in your world this week?
- Reading from your book
- Discuss the characters
- Talk about/show any awards you have one
- Post clips of events you host or attend
- Talks you’ve given
- Podcast episodes
Your first post on your YouTube channel should be about what visitors can expect on your channel
YouTube video length – until your audience trusts you, they will not commit to long videos so have a few shorter video to let new people decide whether to watch, come back and eventually subscribe – the longer the video the less people will want to commit
Use hashtag #authortube to find other author channels as examples for your channel. Here is an article to tell you a bit more about #authortube
https://studio.youtube.com/ This is the link to upload videos, look at your channel analytics, etc.
Randy’s Channel for examples of what he is doing: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMamfNEZjh8ui2g_tdNySPA
Twitter is another platform that quite a few writers use. It can be a good way to drive people to your YouTube Channel as well to connect with readers and other writers. Another good reason to tweet: reporters are on Twitter so it is a good way to connect with them.
Building relationships on Twitter can feel challenging so here are some ideas to get your started:
- Follow people who interest you and talk about the things you want to talk about
- When someone follows you, follow them back if you think you might have things in common
- Tweet about things that interest you
- Tweet back to people who are starting interesting conversations
- Reply to people who tweet to you
- Find communities of people like you or like your readers
Endless Ideas and Author Education
For more ideas on publishing and promotion, check out the courses on Lynda.com. If you happen to live in Vancouver and hold a public library card, you have free access to Lynda.com.
I searched Lynda.com for book publishing and found over 2000 courses just on this topic. They are broken down by level of expertise and area of interest to help you find the course that best suits you.
Link to Contributors’ Published Works
If you want to know what other authors are doing or read some excellent books, check out some of the authors who contributed to this article.