Authors often ask, “When is the best time to start marketing my book?” Plenty of websites will tell you that you should start three to six months before the book is released. While this isn’t a bad strategy, the truth is, it’s never too EARLY to start marketing your book—and I mean never.
Yes, this means even if the book is just an idea. This is because a huge part of book marketing involves the author branding him- or herself. In this day and age of social media, instant fame, and the ability to easily make connections around the globe, it is not only advisable that authors learn how to personally connect with their audiences, it’s mandatory. With roughly five thousand books being released every day on Amazon, simply having a book out there with an unknown face behind it will not make you memorable and pull in readers.
This is where “author branding” comes in. This is especially important for nonfiction authors. If you’re trying to sell a book on parenting, you need to have credentials and identifiable proof that you know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, no one is going to trust you with their kids. Unfortunately, a bio in your book does not solely count as proof. Do you have a website showcasing how long you have been in this field? Degrees? A blog where you document true stories representing the work you’re doing? Local workshops? All these things can help when readers look you up to verify if you’re a credible source.
This rings true for fiction authors, as well, but in a different way. You’ll want to present even more of your personality. What authors do you like in the genre you’re trying to write in? What way can you show that you’ve been an avid writer for some time now?
Here are some steps you can begin taking to build an online presence and an author platform so that you can be known before your book even hits the proverbial shelf:
- Start off with a few social-media pages that best fit your genre. For example, a business author could make a LinkedIn and a Facebook page. You can go ahead and make pages for all the major sites, but really concentrate on one or two to avoid overextending yourself.
- Begin posting at least two to three times a week, if not every day. (To easily schedule posts, use a site like Hootsuite.) With so much content out there, it takes a while to build a following, and you also don’t want to have a dead page and lose followers. Post content that will either inform or entertain your future readers so that you will start gaining followers interested in your book before you even write it.
- Build a website where you can start posting genre-appropriate short stories to a blog to entice readers into buying your future novel. Include information on your site about who you are, who you read, etc. Showcase your dazzling personality!
- Connect with other independent authors. You’d be surprised how many fellow authors in your genre would be willing to give you a helping hand during your writing process—and even the marketing process. A little cross-promotion never hurt anyone.
- Build that email list (ethically, please!). You can create a newsletter sign-up on your website, or even link Mailchimp to your Facebook. If you’re wondering what you might include in your newsletter, check out this great article for ideas.
- Coordination is key. If you want to be a vampire-romance author, we need to see sexy fangs in everything you do. Not exactly, but you do want a similar look and feel across your social media, website, and any other content you produce. When you release your book, you want people to already know that you’re passionate about this topic and you’ve been at it for a while. You also want to be readily recognized.
These are just basic tips, but it’s where you’ll need to start when building your online presence. Just think about it: if you already have plenty of followers who you know are interested in your book genre, content that proves to them the quality of your book, and a solid email list, it won’t be a huge stretch to one day come out with a post that says, “Hey everybody, I’ve been working tirelessly on my cat-memes book and I think you all would really love it! Stay tuned for updates,” and then go from there. Remember that no one wants to be suddenly sold things by a stranger whose goods cannot be verified in any way. Also remember that marketing is a long and grueling process that can take eighteen to twenty-four months to start seeing any consistent results. Why not give yourself the best start possible?