MF 247 : Getting started on marketing your book
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
On this episode, we talk about some of the basics on marketing your book and why you should start early. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Part 1: Don’t put the cart before the horse when it comes to your book
I probably should have said this at the outset of the book-writing mini-series but this is not meant to be followed in real-time. Unlike the Poshmark series, which allowed you to follow the steps week-by-week, writing a book is a longer-term endeavor. The episodes are designed to be a reference as you hit certain benchmarks, not benchmarks for the week they are released.
Recently, I’ve heard from a number of you that you’re going to write a book. Congratulations! I am thrilled that the series as has inspired you to put your best thoughts and ideas out there on a topic. Many of you have come up with outstanding, creative and intriguing concepts and book ideas. And several of you have reached out to Megan to schedule consultation calls about editing.
However, while I applaud you taking the steps to think about the title, cover design and be proactive about finding an editor, make sure you have something to edit!
I know it’s exciting to conceptualize your book and start planning the launch strategy, etc. but before you get there, and before you schedule that editing call, work on the manuscript first.
For Making Fake Star Trek, I spent two years from ideation to co-writing the manuscript. We didn’t reach out to Megan until we had completed our first draft and done several passes on it ourselves. The same goes for you. If you contact Megan or any other editor too early (as in before you’ve written your book), they will likely tell you to come back. Go back to episode 244. An editor is there to help you get your manuscript to publishable quality. He or she is not there to help you conceptualize your book or tell you how and when to write it.
Before you jump to the finish line, get started. You may find that the book you’re writing isn’t gelling quite the way you want in which case you may have to go back and tweak the theme or concept. Life may also get in the way and it may take longer to finish the book or some other circumstance may alter the book itself, especially if it’s based on current events or a topic that is ever-changing.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of writing a book. Once you’ve made the decision, you’ll see visions of the paperback, imagining holding it in your hands or of people reading it on their Kindle devices. Just remember that you have to get started with, and finish the manuscript. This will take time, patience and going back to the drawing board.
Part 2: Except when it’s right to put the cart before the horse
Now, I’m going to switch gears altogether and tell you there is a time when it’s appropriate to “put the cart before the horse” when it comes to your book and that has to do with the marketing.
Once you get to this stage, where you’re knee-deep in editing; working with an editor, and formatting the files for publication, and you have a title and a launch date set, you should do what I didn’t do – start marketing your book.
This is one area where I fell short with Making Fake Star Trek. We did one or two posts on Facebook a few months prior to its launch but dropped the ball on the marketing until late in the game – as the book was coming out and once it was available for sale.
If you’re self-publishing or even if you’re working with a publisher, marketing your book will fall largely on you. So, the earlier you begin, the better off you and your book will be and the more momentum you’ll create for sales, reviews and word of mouth.
Grab the domain early once you have your title locked down. I did this the week we published our book even though we had the title set months before. I was lucky that the domain that matched the title was still available. Don’t do what I did and wait until the week of release to reserve the domain. Once you know the title of your book and are happy with it, grab that domain. They’re pretty cheap, usually $10-15 per year. There are two strategies you can employ with a book domain.
Redirect: You can have your www.<bookname>.com domain redirect to the Amazon (or other sales) page where your book is. This is the easiest way to use a domain.
Website: If your book is available for sale on more than one site, you may want to set up a simple landing page (a one-pager) with links to where the book is available. You can also add mail list captures, videos, or other information to capture the attention of prospective readers / customers. WordPress is great for this but if you’re not familiar or comfortable with it, Wix is a fantastic, low-cost option that’s user-friendly and rich with features.
In addition to the website, start reserving (or parking) the handles for various social media channels.
You won’t use all of these and I don’t recommend you try. You’ll be better off focusing on 1-3 channels at most rather than spreading yourself too thin on all of them. However, you should reserve or “park” many so you have the option later on.
Let people know!
Once you know when your book is coming out, start letting people know. In addition to your book social media accounts, use your regular ones to share this with your family, friends, and connections.
Pre-sales / pre-order (KDP)
On Amazon KDP, an author can set his or her ebook for pre-order up to 90 days before the official release. So, for instance, if your book is coming out November 1st, you could launch it now for pre-order, meaning people can but it today and have it automatically delivered on launch day. Some important considerations to keep in mind:
The launch date is firm so be sure you’re confident you can get your final manuscript done in time. If you cancel the pre-order, you won’t be able to set up another pre-order sale for one-year. Moreover, this just looks bad if you cancel, especially after people have ordered your book.
You can still work on your manuscript and make adjustments but it still has to go through Amazon’s review and approval process. KDP has deadlines with count-down timers so be especially mindful of these.
Pre-order is for Kindle ebooks only.
My recommendation is that you NOT do a pre-order if this is your first book. You’ll have your hands full just spinning all of the plates on launching the book, much less worrying about the benchmarks for a pre-order with a set launch date. Save it for a second or third book.
If you have your title locked down, grab the domain and social media handles. If your book is late in the editing stage and you have a release date in mind, start announcing it on social media and to friends, family, and followers.
Part 3: What I’m reading
Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World by Admiral William H. McRaven (****): a fantastic book and quick read, filled with important life’s lessons about resilience, overcoming obstacles, and achieving your goals all based on the small steps (such as making your bed) that you take each day. While the lessons are common ones that you’ve likely heard before, it’s the context that Admiral McRaven provides for each one that makes this book a worthy read. McRaven uses anecdotes and stories from his career and others in the Navy as illustrations that teach and drive the lessons home. The book is based on a commencement speech that Admiral McRaven gave at The University of Texas.
Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.
Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.
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