It's up to you to market your book. Try getting on podcasts, in book clubs, and getting mentioned by people on Instagram and TikTok.
How To Market Your Book with Media Outreach
In previous articles, we've looked at setting up an author platform: reserving your domain name, which is your brand; setting up a website; and using social media. The next step is looking at how you can market your book using media outreach.
In this article, I'll look at several ways you can get publicity for your book by putting yourself forward.
Why you need to market yourself
In the world of publishing today, you have to do a lot of your own marketing. Unless you're a celebrity, or someone with a promising book (i.e. you've been paid a large advance), publishers are unlikely to do a great deal of marketing for your work. And if you're self-published, then all the marketing is up to you. You may have a publicist who helps a bit, but it is incumbent on authors to take the reins and seek out ways to get noticed.
We've already discussed things like websites, email mailing lists, and social media; but these only attract people who have already heard about you or your books. One way to get more attention is by putting yourself out there, contacting people who are interested in talking about books.
One of the best ways to start getting attention for your book is to offer to be a guest on podcasts. There are thousands of podcasts that focus on books (including the Write Now with Scrivener podcast, which I host), and podcasters are always looking for guests. Find podcasts that talk about the type of books you write, and email the hosts. You may be reticent at first, but if you can send a convincing email, along with information about you and your book, it can be easy to land interviews.
Start small; look for niche podcasts, and work your way up. Prepare a good press kit, and send an excerpt of your book, a bio, and offer to send the full book on request. Podcasters like interesting stories, so if you have one, highlight it.
Once you've been a guest on several podcasts, put links to the episodes in your press kit and on your website, so potential readers can check them out.
You can also contact local radio stations to try to land interviews. These tend to like to highlight people from their surrounding areas as human interest stories, even if they don't focus on books.
Note that it helps if you have a good microphone. I have interviewed dozens of people on my various podcasts, and I am always delighted to find guests with good audio; it makes the podcast sound much better. I recommend the Røde NT-USB Mini, which is an affordable microphone than plugs into any computer. Ideally, put it on a stand like this, or on a stack of books so it's close to your mouth, but not too close.
Book clubs are a way of reaching new readers. Whether they are local groups that discuss books in between sips of chardonnay or online groups that meet on Facebook or Zoom, these are groups of book lovers who are curious about new books and new authors. While many will focus on best sellers, some will appreciate new voices.
It can be hard to find book clubs. Websites like Bookclubs have lists of book clubs, and you can check your local library or bookstore to find in-person book clubs. Booksellers generally know about local book clubs. Think about driving a bit to neighboring towns and cities too.
One of the biggest shifts in publishing and marketing is the influence of book bloggers, which has taken a great deal of power away from newspapers and magazines that publish book reviews. While perhaps a bit less professional in their approach, book bloggers make up for it with the passion they share. Find the blogs that cover your genre of writing, and offer to send your latest book. Let bloggers know that you'd be available for interviews, and perhaps even offer to allow them to publish an excerpt of your book.
The best way to find book blogs is to look up authors you like, who write in your genre, and see where their books have gotten mentioned. Email the bloggers, and tell them about yourself; send a press kit, as for podcasters, and give them a reason, beyond just your book, why you are an interesting person worth talking about. And perhaps offer a giveaway for your book, so they can give a few freebies to their readers.
If you write non-fiction, offer a guest blog post to blogs that cover your topic. This doesn't work for all types of books, but if you've written about cooking, self help, or exercise, you may find websites that would be happy to get some free content in exchange for a link back to your website.
For both podcasts and blogs, don't send out mass emails. Podcast hosts and bloggers can tell when someone contacts them who has never listened to their episodes or read their blogs. Take the time to research your targets, and make your pitches personal.
While social media can have a huge amount of influence for some authors, for others it can be a dud. It doesn't hurt to get in touch with influencers on Instagram or TikTok to try to get them to promote your book. Some may ask for payment; it's up to you to decide whether it's worth the cost. (It probably isn't, but you never know.)
TikTok in particular is having a big effect on book marketing. It's a collection of niche communities, and if you can find the people who talk about your type of book, it could help you find lots of new readers.
All marketing is a crap shoot. More than a century ago, John Wanamaker, who opened one of the first department stores in the United States, said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." You may find that half the time you spend promoting your book is wasted, but the other half might compensate for it. So do everything you can to market your book; it could pay off.