Book promotion is an art and a science. A decade or two ago, most of the onus of promoting a book lay with the publisher. With the advent of self-publishing, and millions of writers producing hundreds of millions of books each year, book promotion responsibilities have largely fallen to the author, be they trad published or self.
So today on Daily (w)rite we have Elle Mitchell, who is a raw, character-driven dark fiction author and multidisciplinary artist. She has very useful pointers on book promotion strategies and tactics. Take it away, Elle!
It’s nice to think that readers will find our books, that we’ll end up a smash success overnight by just hitting publish, right? For a select few, that happens. For the other 99% of us, we have to find them. It’s not an easy task, mind you.
Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful way of getting sales. But you have to get yourself some fans first. That’s where advertising comes in.
Now don’t click away. Sure, I’ll talk about ads, but there are more options than just paying someone to put your book in front of people. Many ways give you full control.
The many types of advertising (because I use this word for anything that gets our books in front of readers):
- Paid advertising
The more books you have, the more money you’re likely to make. People love to buy a catalog. Given that it’s a native shop, they can one-click or add multiple to their cart all at once.
These are some of the most cost efficient ads available right now. The pay-per-click rate stays low, and the targeting is great. And when it’s wrong, you can correct it quickly and easily.
There are two extremely helpful courses to get you going on how to use these to the best of your ability:
Bryan’s Cohen’s Amazon Ad Course—The 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge (happens multiple times a year for free)
Kindlepreneur’s Ad Course—Always free and available
Genres: all can find a home, but non-fiction, romance, and mystery/thrillers seem to perform best
These are more expensive and a little more complicated to get started. Still, they can be extremely useful.
A detailed explanation of the types of FB ads can be found here.
Most authors I’ve spoken to haven’t broken even via Bookbub. That being said, it’s an avenue that can get eyes on your book. For some, that’s enough. For others, if they aren’t making money, they aren’t interested. You do you, is what I think.
Genres: all are welcome, but they come with a different price point
One of the most expensive advertising types on the market right now. It’s got the additional caveat of you having to submit your book and be accepted, unlike the others where you have the autonomy of just setting the ads up whenever. This is for people who’s books will be on sale or free.
Genres: all may find a home, but you’ll want to focus on subreddits in your genre (meaning, your genre may be too broad or too niche for Reddit to be as helpful as others); erotica, fantasy, and horror have been reported to do well here
You’ll need to know Reddit, be a part of the community—or at least have studied it some. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know if advertising there is right for you.
When you sign up to advertise with them, they have a step-by-step guide, which is extremely useful.
*Keep in mind that ad blockers often hide Reddit ads, unlike some other social media options.
- Instagram (in app)
Genres: all are welcome, but YA, romance, erotica, fantasy, horror, and non-fiction do best
These are complicated. You are essentially paying for likes and hoping for follow-through to your links. It’s useful to get new followers and put your book in front of eyes, but in terms of earning your money back… that’s hit-or-miss.
You sign up through the app, and the whole thing is extremely quick, easy, and intuitive.
One note: Once you choose a post to advertise, you may not edit that post. So be sure you’re happy with everything in it before making your ad.
- Social Media
For each of these, I’d recommend really studying your genre. See which platform works best for you. Not just that, what do you want to do. If you don’t like making videos, does it matter that TikTok is best for your genre? Honestly, no, of course not. You can’t kill your creativity for some views, because remember, you still have to put out new books or short stories or poems in order for any of these techniques to matter. So don’t go overboard trying to do what your “supposed to do” if you won’t enjoy it.
The most popular and widely used are:
- TikTok (app)
Short vertical videos (live, pre-recorded, stylized).
- Facebook (website & app)
Videos (live, pre-recorded) and posts (original content, re-sharing, memes, photos).
- Instagram (app & limited use website)
Photos (single, carousels) and videos (live, pre-recorded—traditional video or vertical Reel).
- Twitter (website & app)
Posts (original content, re-sharing, photos, videos).
- Mastadon (website alternative to Twitter; unsure if there is an app on the way)
Posts (original content, re-sharing, photos, videos).
- Threads (app that can connect with Instagram seamlessly) — Posts (original content, re-sharing, photos, videos)
- ARC Review Sites
These are exactly what they sound like. You submit your book before it’s published and reviewers read and rate or review it. Most cost money and each have a different time frame needed to be accepted—usually 2-3 months before publication. The rules are different, depending on the site. Most encourage reviewers to post on Goodreads or Amazon once the book is available, but some do not.
Some of the most popular are:
Suggestions of a few more websites found here.
Another way to advertise your book is to contact reviewers and bloggers yourself and ask them to read and review it—especially before it’s been published. The benefit of this is you get to choose people who you know are your target audience. On review sites, anyone who is on the site can read it. If your book is extremely niche, contacting reviewers may be best so you don’t see a low rating simply because the readers who found your work weren’t your readers in the first place.
A good jumping off place can be found here.
Don’t be afraid to scour Instagram or TikTok for reviewers. Just read their review policy before you email them. They are people too.
- Book Promo Sites
This is also what it sounds like. And honestly, I can’t say more than Kindlepreneur. This list is updated regularly and breaks the websites down by genre and cost.
Massive list found here.
- Newsletter Swaps
First things first, you have to have a newsletter for this step. If you don’t, maybe you should. I resisted for a long time, but I finally found a way that works for me. I do it twice a month on the same day and share similar things on those days.
The bonus of newsletter swaps is the exposure another similar style/genre author’s newsletter can give you. Offering a book or just sharing information about a book can get instant clicks. Also, remember we love those eyes. We need those eyes.
This is not for everyone, as some people want to read everything they mention in their newsletter, and you may not have time for that. But if it fits with your brand, it can be a good way to advertise.
More information found here.
Giving your work away for free is both gratifying and awful. Look, you worked hard on the thing, so you want to make money for it, right? Right. But also, who are you again?
People need to know you to love you. So freebies can help.
There are two ways that work best:
- Reader magnets
A free story or information packet given to your reader when they sign up for your newsletter
A free story offered on either your website or an external website
Some of the best giveaway sites are:
- LibraryThing (free)
- Goodreads (tiered cost for ebook and paperback)
- Storygraph (scroll down to the bottom to apply for their next time slots; tiered cost according to visibility; ebook and paperback option)
- ReaderViews (limited slots; paperback only; must be willing to ship to US and Canada)
- Think outside of the box
Okay, lastly, you need to read your book again. Look for what makes it special and utilize that.
Maybe making a “Which Character Are You?” quiz would be a fun an interactive way to advertise your high fantasy series.
Perhaps your main character is famous for her glasses. You can see about partnering with a local glasses company for an ad or a cross-promo on your social media profiles.
You really have to dig deep.
Personally, I made miniature crime scenes from my psychological horror novel, Another Elizabeth. I’ve also made embroideries of the cul de sac where a murder took place in my suspense book and jewelry with # beads for my horror reality show book. Crafting works for me because I love it and it’s engaging to look at. Find what fits with you.
No one avenue of advertising works for everyone—even in the same genre. Your journey is your own. Your book is unique, just like you. That means you need to make a plan that fits with your message, your brand, your time, budget, energy, lifestyle. I don’t subscribe to the idea that just following trends is a good idea. It may get you a rush of sales, but then you may fade into obscurity as another trend comes along. Be yourself. If following trends along the way feels right, do that too. But take a page from other unique authors and carve a space out for yourself.
I hope I’ve given you something new to think about. If you want to find me, I’m on Instagram more than anything else (I meant it when I said focus on the one or few that make you the happiest). Elle Mitchell/ @emitchellwrites. That being said, I have a profile everywhere, so follow me anywhere. If you message me on another platform, I’ll still see it eventually.
You can also find me on my website. Don’t forget to sign up for my twice monthly newsletter. You’ll get a free horror story straight away and more stories almost every month. I only share fun stories, updates on my novels, book recommendations, videos worth watching, and the occasional recipe. What can I say? I like to bake.
And finally, here is the synopsis for my latest novel, should you want to support me (and I hope that you do):
Another Elizabeth is a gripping literary psychological horror novel that readers will sink their teeth into.
Fans of dark humor and challenging fiction will be thrilled to delve into the mind of a deeply flawed disabled woman with a desire to kill.
Elizabeth Dauphine’s life is taking a turn.
She has three jobs, a boyfriend that loves her too much, and a recent diagnosis of Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She’s coming apart at the seams. Now all she cares about is keeping her promise to her younger self before her body fails her—kill without getting caught.
Can Elizabeth physically handle satisfying her urges and maintaining her carefully built façade of normalcy? And if so, will she be able to stop with just one victim?
*This is a dark book with many graphic situations. There is no sexual assault or rape. No animals are tortured or die.
As an author, how do you promote your books? Do you find Elle’s book promotion tips useful?
My literary crime novel, The Blue Bar is on Kindle Unlimited now. Add it to Goodreads or snag a copy to make my day. The sequel, The Blue Monsoon is up for pre-orders! And if you’d like to read a book outside the series, you can check out You Beneath Your Skin. Find all info about my books on my Amazon page or Linktree.
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