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Seven Steps to Successful Online Book Promotion

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April 30,2014


By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

You've done the research and now you're implementing your strategy. Do you know if it's working? The truth is, we sometimes get so caught up in the "doing" that we don't take time to see if we're spending our time wisely.

It's important to know how to evaluate your marketing, and this is something you'll want to assess on a regular basis. Not sure how to proceed? We've got 7 benchmarks you can use to determine if your marketing efforts work - or not.

1. What's the (real) Goal? You can only learn what's working if you have established goals. While book sales can be one goal, there are many other objectives you should seek. Here are a few:

a. Use your expertise to your advantage. Become known for what you know, reach readers, expand your network. This works even for fiction authors - what kind of research did you do for your book? That could be an area to develop yourself as an expert.

b. Become More Discoverable: Work on ways for readers to find you; the buzz word in the industry is "discoverability." What that means is you want there to be multiple ways for readers to learn about you and your book online. You can achieve this through blogging, blog tours, guest posts, and social media, for starters. Blogging may seem less sexy than, let’s say, posting pictures to Instagram, but it’s still one of the best ways to get found.

c. Get more People to Your Site: Whether it's through regular blogging, or being active on social media, or (preferably) a combination of the two, you want to encourage people to visit your site more frequently. Google rewards this by making you rank higher in search, which makes you easier to find online.

d. Personalize Your Strategy: There's plenty of great advice out there, but in the end, you need to think about what's best for you and your book. Where are your followers online? That's where you should be, even if the latest hot thing is Pinterest. Take time to track down your readers and connect with them.

2. Don't Wear Blinders: Marketing has a greater chance of success when you diversify. You need to do different things over a period of time before you really see results. If Facebook marketing is good for you, fine, but what else can you do to get yourself out there? Whether you’re writing articles, scheduling speaking engagements, or holding author events - make sure your marketing plan includes variety.

3. Set Benchmarks: Once you know what you're going to do to market yourself, you need to set goals. Remember that social networking is just that - it's participating in the online conversation. That means your social media goals have to include more than just the number of fans or followers you have.

4. Create a Marketing Plan: I know this is a term many authors hate: marketing plan, but it’s really necessary if you’re going to move ahead in efficient ways. Now, when I say marketing plan I don’t mean some long, complicated plan that’s 70 pages long. I mean an outline of what you’re going to do and when. It can even be as simple as setting a half a dozen goals for yourself a month and making sure you hit those goals.

5. Focus: While authors want readers, who else can you include in your network? Think about booksellers, book reviewers, interviews, speaking events, bulk sales - you'll reach each segment in a different way but it's important to have this goal in mind before you start marketing. This will help you stay focused and ensure that you are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to promoting your book.

6. Evaluate Effectively: You need some metrics to determine if you're spending your time wisely. For instance, consider these methods:

a. Are you getting retweeted? If you're on Twitter, a sure sign of success is when your tweets get retweeted. You can use tools like to review your stats. In general, you'll want to see a few retweets and new follows each week to know that your Twitter strategy works.

b. What's Your Website Activity? Are more people visiting your site? If you're getting yourself out there successfully that will lead to more website (or blog) traffic. Free tools like Google Analytics can help you learn more about who visits your site, when, and how they find you.

c. Are You Getting Site Links? Look for incoming links to your site. Before you start marketing, see how many links you're getting; then once your marketing is underway check these stats on a regular basis so you can chart the change.

d. Is Your Mailing List Growing? If you've been reaching out to the right people, you'll see an increase in your list. An email list is a valuable marketing tool, and it’s something that you own. Make sure visitors to your site can sign up for your list easily, and promote your list via social media for additional sign-ups.

7. Cultivate Industry Contacts: Don't think of them as competitors, and use social media to make contacts with writers in your genre, other authors, and industry experts, etc. It's a great way to meet a lot of people and network. Enterprising authors find ways to cross-promote successfully, whether it's simply sharing each other's social media content or something more elaborate like collaborating on a blog.

Many authors end up frustrated when they start marketing their books because they feel like nothing is happening. But without a written plan, defined goals, and an evaluation system there's no way to know if your marketing efforts are growing your presence online or simply stagnating. These tips are designed to give you a means to measure your marketing activities. That way, if it's working, you can keep moving forward; if you aren't seeing results, you can change course.


Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.


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