Books do not market themselves, nor do agents and publishers do all the work for you if you’ve gone that route. And if you’re a self-published author, that means most or all of the burden of marketing falls upon your shoulders.

This article talks about methods you can use to promote your book. One thing I want to point out is that it’s difficult to determine which methods pay off even after you’ve made them. Sometimes book sales can happen as a result of a combination of two or more different methods, and even after the fact, you may not know which methods played a role.

Most of these approaches are free, except for your time, so I say, try as many of them as you can.

MARKETING PLAN
It is advisable to have a marketing plan before you start, even if it’s a simple plan that evolves over time. Consider the following elements:

• Set goals for yourself — establish a number for the number of books you want to sell, earnings, number of books written, number of author interviews you do, number of guest blogs you participate in, Amazon ranking, number of hits on your website, number of Facebook “likes,” number of articles you write, and number of positive reviews you get.

• Know your target audience. What age are your potential readers? What gender? Are they likely to be from a specific geographic location? Do they have special interests?

• Know your competition. Find books similar to yours and read their reviews. See what others like about their books. Check out the author’s Amazon author page, their website, and their blog. See where their books are priced. Learn everything you can about your competition. Learn from their successes and their failures.

• Prepare a budget. There are lots of free resources out there, but it is unlikely you will be able to publish a book at no cost whatsoever. Consider these potential costs:

o Editing
o Proofreading
o Cover design
o Formatting
o Printing
o Distribution
o Advertising

• Think about your brand as you act upon your marketing plan. For authors, your brand is your name. Think about what you want people to say about you, and then behave accordingly. Be consistent within your website, blog, author profile, on-line discussion groups, and interviews. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

• And finally, track the results and revise your marketing plan as needed.

MEDIA KIT
Always have a media kit available to send to the media when asked or to hand out at book signings, speaking engagements, conferences, and any other place where there is potential for self-promotion. At a minimum, include the following:

• Book summary
• Press release
• Select book reviews
• Author bio and headshot
• Image of book cover
• Where to buy the book
• Author contact information

CREATE A GOOD PRODUCT
I almost hesitate to include this on the list, but more than once I have been asked to review a fellow author’s manuscript or published book, and it violates every writing rule on the books and/or it contains typos. At the very least, I recommend investing in a professional proofreader.

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