It’s SuperBowl Sunday, and I’m sitting next to my husband in front of the TV. . .but it’s the background noise I love, not the game itself. I’m trying to get some work done. For an author like me, “work” often means marketing and promoting my book by creating content and researching how to use TikTok to gain followers who will also become my readers.
I have done many things to promote my book. But I still feel like I haven’t done enough. I’m exhausted and want to focus on my next book (which is already underway), but I can’t help but think I need to do more, more, more, including write this blog post that will be featured on my author newsletter. I am not in the marketing profession; however, as an author, I must moonlight as my own literary agent and publicist. I am teaching myself about all of these tricks of the trade, and while I do feel like I’m learning, I also feel like I’m barely hanging on, like a sloth in its dark, lush tree canopy. Unfortunately, I do not have curved, twelve-inch claws; I must use my own strength and determination to hang on and climb up, up, up so that my books will sell, sell, sell.
I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned in case there are others like me who have published a book and don’t know what to do next.
Here is a “simple” list of the things authors can (and should) do when promoting a book. Many of these ideas take money. . .They all take time. Most of us do not have an unlimited supply of either, and we must be judicious when creating our promotional book tours and implementing marketing strategies. You might want to consider your budget and schedule before committing to anything, otherwise, you’re at risk of turning your author career into a very expensive hobby.
29 Things You Should Do After Your Book Launch
1) Research and enter reputable contests. Be aware of scammers and contests that are in the business of making money rather than celebrating authors’ work. You can expect to pay entry fees, but use caution. You might start by checking out this list of book awards to consider.
2) Sign up for a TikTok account and watch a few tutorials about how to create engaging video content. Here’s an article that you might find helpful.
3) Join a few (or several) Facebook groups for those interested and involved in topics discussed in your book. There are “Binders” groups for just about everything you can imagine.
4) Do some research about possible freebies you might offer to potential subscribers to your newsletter. My first one failed. It was a downloadable guide: 3 Journaling Exercises to Improve Your Life. I will try again.
5) Spruce up your website and newsletters with the goal of gaining more subscribers who are genuinely interested in your content. This alone will take you hours. If you have someone who knows their way around computers and coding, I recommend you enlist their help, even if you must pay for it. It’s well worth the cost (I did not hire anyone, and I will never get those fifty hours back). One of the pros is I can update my website whenever I want, which is a freedom I enjoy having. You, too, may want to learn how to create and maintain your own website. It’s a matter of personal preference. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, be sure to make your book easy to find by including links to your purchase pages on your website and by dropping those links like breadcrumbs on social media wherever it’s appropriate to do so.
I do want to caution you against promoting your book without also posting other content and genuinely interacting with others. If you do nothing but plug your book, you are likely to fall out of favor quickly as someone who is only interested in connecting with others who can do something for you.
6) Join forces with another author in your genre. Together, you can cross-promote and create content and classes potential readers will attend.
7) Design and order bookmarks as a business card to hand out to new people you meet wherever you go. I ordered mine from VistaPrint, and in general, I recommend them; however, some of their products are lacking in quality. Order early as extended shipping times can throw a wrench in your plans. I also used Canva, which I use for everything from creating social media graphics to designing the postcard thank-you notes I sent to my book launch attendees. I recommend signing up for an account—a basic account is free, but you can pay for an upgrade, which I have found very useful.
8) Choose your preferred social media sites to master, and focus your efforts there (Many say pick one or two because juggling them all can be overwhelming—I’m here to tell you they’re not kidding). Many say Instagram Reels are where it’s at—I’m here to tell you it might take some time to transition from static content to videos featuring people (i.e. yourself) and sound, which get more engagement. Here’s a link to an article that talks about these things in more detail. The most popular sites for authors seem to be (not in any particular order) Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
9) Get booked on podcasts. Get featured by bloggers. Become a blogger. Seek opportunities to be a guest blogger—sometimes you can do guest blogging exchanges, which is pretty much an “I’ll scratch your blog if you scratch mine” situation. By the end of March, I will have appeared on my fourth podcast. I did not seek out any of them; these results may not be typical. I had two people reach out due to my Facebook and Instagram engagement, and the other two are personal contacts—one is a former student of mine, and the other is a friend from college. There are companies who schedule and run blog tours, but you can also do some research and reach out to bloggers who blog about books in your genre or topics discussed in your book. Here is a link to an informative article about how to break into guest blogging.
10) Engage with other readers and writers on social media. Search for topics that interest you. Like, follow, and comment on their posts. Some will return the favor. Others won’t. Typically, you will follow 25-50% more than will follow you unless you start creating high-interest content and deliver often.
11) Contact bookstores about how you can arrange a reading or a book signing at their stores. Contact newspapers and bloggers about opportunities to be interviewed or featured in their work. Contact your college and inquire about reading and speaking engagements. Ask them to carry your book in their bookstore.
12) Follow other authors you admire, and learn from their posts and promotion ideas. One author who writes in my genre, and whom I love following, is Laura Davis. She seems to have her act together, and I find her content to be consistent, interesting, and inspirational. Her memoir happens to be outstanding as well, which only deepens my amazement. Here is a link to her beautiful website.
13) Write another book. The more books you sell, the more books you will sell. Readers who like your first book, will be eager to purchase your next, and your next, and your next.
14) Write relevant, high-quality essays, stories, and poems. Submit to well-known sites like Huffington Post, The New York Times, and others. One essay I wrote was accepted for publication by The Mighty, an online discussion and writing community focused on mental health. Centered on anxiety and the trauma I have experienced as the daughter of a mentally ill parent, my story garnered almost a thousand likes in just a couple of weeks. I haven’t yet taken the time to return to The Mighty in hopes of making more connections to help others and share the news of my book’s publication, but the article is one example of how I started getting my name and my story (and my writing) out there.
15) Offer to appear as a guest author at book club meetings for which the group has read your book. I will be attending my first book club meeting as a guest this month, and I’m pretty excited about it.
16) Read your contemporaries’ work, promote them voluntarily by engaging with and sharing their posts and writing glowing reviews of their work. This not only helps fellow authors, which is always a cool thing to do, but also, it leads to friendly connections. The more favorable connections you make, the more likely it is that your book will gain visibility outside of your immediate circle of family and friends.
17) Reach out to everyone you can to let them know your book is out. Send texts, emails, and postcards. Shout it from the rooftops. Talk about your book. Tell everyone: the post office clerk, the mail person, the cashier at the grocery store, your doctors and nurses, your yoga instructor, your child’s tutors, teachers, and coaches, etc., etc., etc.
18) Learn how to advertise on Amazon, Facebook, and other sites that will boost your content (your book). Here is a link to an article you might find helpful about advertising on Amazon.
20) Set up at book festivals, farmers markets, and fairs. Promote these events on your social media.
21) Set up an author account on Goodreads, and list your book. Encourage friends and family to post their reviews there and to shelve your book. Anytime anyone shelves or reviews a book, the update triggers an algorithm to make your book more visible to thousands of Goodreads readers.
22) Send thank you copies of your book to editors and readers who wrote testimonials or helped you polish your manuscript. You can send a book via media mail through the USPS for a fraction of the cost of sending it as first class mail.
23) Place free copies of your book in little free libraries in your neighborhood and region.
24) Apply for a BookBub Featured Deal to gain visibility and readers. Visit Bookbubpartners.com to set up an account, list your book, recommend reads, and gain followers. Here is a link to information about how to increase your chances of getting a BookBub deal.
25) Send a request to your local library, asking them to purchase your book. I submitted a request to my library about three weeks ago and haven’t gotten a response yet. Word on the street is a library is more likely to buy a book if it receives many requests. I can neither confirm nor deny this.
26) Continue seeking ways to get involved in groups and organizations, and continue to help others in their literary pursuits. Book speaking engagements, and become a member of local and regional writers’ associations.
27) Produce an audiobook as one more stage of the publication process to celebrate and promote. You can hire someone to do it or learn how to do it on your own. I’m leaning toward paying for studio time and a producer while I narrate my book myself. I don’t recommend this unless you have a lot of time and experience performing and reading aloud. You want your book to be done well. Maybe you are the right narrator for the job, and maybe you’re not…You might record yourself reading an excerpt and play it back for yourself and trusted friends and family who will let you know their honest opinions.
28) Create an interactive course on your writing topic. For me, this could be a course about how to write memoir. If you don’t consider yourself an expert in your genre, you might prefer to offer virtual webinars or a downloadable product related to another aspect of your writing/experience. For example, my book reveals my experiences with a mentally ill parent, homelessness, food insecurity, alienation, foster care, adoption, playing sports as a healing method, coming of age, and healing from trauma. I could conceivably offer discussions on any or all of these topics. I can’t promote myself as a trained medical professional or offer cures that aren’t backed by science, but I can do some serious research and offer my experiences and opinions to help others learn how to begin to understand their own experiences that may be similar to mine. I could also offer resources, such as links, to organizations that offer more information beyond what I can give.
29) Create a Linktree (sign-up is free!) to keep all of your important links in one place and to easily drive traffic to your book’s purchase pages, your website, your social media sites, and important causes related to topics discussed in your book.
I was aiming for a list of 30, but at 29, this list seems quite comprehensive. There are more things. . . there will always be more, but this gets you off to a robust start. Now, do you see why I’m overwhelmed? Some days, I can barely manage to shower and feed myself, let alone perform my paid work tasks and accrue a word count on my current work in progress—let alone tackle any of these other sidekick tasks that come with being an indie author. I do what I can, and I remember to rest and acknowledge that I asked for this.
I hope this post inspires you rather than overwhelms you. . .If you can do even one of the things on this list, that’s something. You can work slowly and build your cache of knowledge, promoting and marketing over time; it doesn’t have to be done all at once.
For more information about my book, please visit my website: LeslieFergusonAuthor.com.