Monday, October 10, 2011

Tips on Marketing Your Novel

Below is a helpful list I compiled (using the brilliant “phase strategy” author Jessica McCann -- All Different Kinds of Free -- put together way back when I sold her debut) of the best tips on promotion I could find and think of.

I strongly encourage any author reading this post with any more tips and ideas to share – nothing is ever going to be comprehensive, but that’s really the fun part of marketing: finding new, fun and proactive ways to reach your audience!

AND – you’ll notice that there is a phase for all the pre-published out there too – oh yes: that DOES mean you need to start…NOW!

Pre-Sale Phase

•Get INVOLVED – not just with book signings and conferences, but with online groups and review sites. The biggest term to remember here: PAY IT FORWARD. NETWORK is a very close second.

•Go to and tweet when you’re reading a book; if someone is having a book birthday, congratulate them; if someone makes a sale, congratulate them; if someone is having a contest or wants others to post their book title as their twitter icon, participate. Get EXCITED for others sharing your journey and help them too – even if a fraction of them help you back, you’re better off than NONE of them helping!

•Join online writing groups such as , Romance Divas, YAHighway, and chat groups such as #YAlitchat on Twitter.

Immediate on Sale Phase

•Post news and update profiles: Twitter, LinkedIn, professional website, etc.

•Email announcement to friends, family and colleagues

•Email blogs (relevant to your genre) with 500+ followers to ask if you can guest post to share your success story (hopefully you FREQUENTED these sites during your pre-sale period)

•Announce to your social groups/network

•Start thinking NOW about potential guest blog post topics you could cover (i.e., if you had a historical fiction, you could write about how to research historical fiction; navigating career transition from X to novelist, etc.)

•Create a blog; if you’re skittish on venturing out on your own, get a group together, such as the ladies over at Let the Words Flow.

Top tips for blogging:

1.Keep the content useful and unique
2.Pick a reader-friendly layout – simple and eye-catching
3.Link to other blogs and posts when YOU post (it helps you get higher in the search rank for sites like Google – as does posting frequently!)
4.Add a personal touch
5.Post regularly (at LEAST once a week)
6.Use tags and keywords
7.Use images as much as you can – keep it visually stimulating!
8.Keep your titles simple and catchy
9.Get it out there – tweet/announce via website, etc every time you post!

Buzz-building Phase

•Media: Pitch local author profile to local magazines/papers

•Media: News release to local publications

•Online: add sample chapter to your author website, tweet link (check with your publisher before doing this to make sure it’s ok)

•Online: periodic genre and book-related Tweets (pub news, trivia, quotes from book, etc.)

•Syndicate your content so your ONE update appears in as many places as possible (here's a how-to guide)

•Online: periodic updates to LinkedIn profile with book news

•Online: Continue with current social media strategies to build followers & make connections overall (I love this chart on how to stay active and visible)

•Check out how well your efforts are doing – check your blog stats per post, for example, to see what’s resonating and working, and what is not. Other status checking sites: Clicky, Tweetmeme, YouTube statistics. Look at how many comments you get per post – are they interesting enough TO comment on OR retweet?

Pre-release Phase

•Book stores: contact any local independent stores that may want to stock copies

•Online: post book trailer to website and tweet link. Join and post to YouTube.

•Online: add "buy the book" links to website

•Print: Create bookmarks, postcards, flyers featuring cover art (mail to
personal/professional contacts, hand out at any events/conferences)

•Email: send update to personal/professional contacts

•Print: If possible, write guest posts and/or newspaper/magazine articles on ANY topic, and include your book title/release information in bio

•Online: Host book give-aways on Twitter (e.g. RT for chance to win advance copy)

•Join relevant conversations and chats to your topic – link relevant posts from other authors or bloggers to your website and accounts.

Release and Beyond Phase

•Book release event – book a local B&N or bookstore to host your event. Focus on stores that report to bestseller lists such as NYT (you can always ask an independant if they do or not, if you can't book B&N; here's a post detailing the bestseller lists, and a story/how-to on reaching the NYT list.)

•Book club meetings via Skype - conference in on misc book club meetings to discuss your book (promote this online – perhaps have a sidebar on your blog or website that announces your availability to join in on book club meetings)

•Compile list of local booksellers to approach; offer to sign print copies they stock, provide signed bookmarks to give away

•Submit your title for awards/contests for published novels

•Try Podcasting tips or other fun facts to supplement your novel (an audio recording): How to Create a Podcast (A Step-by-step Tutorial from


•Let everyone know it’s out - email friends and colleagues, post on your blog/website/facebook/twitter – and add a link to where they can buy it!

•Explore other social media possibilities -- Facebook page for novel, Amazon author page, Goodreads

•Consider getting URL (build simple site with book club questions/ideas, trivia/factoids, links to relevant info, etc. -- see for an awesome example)

•Guest blog opportunities (use your list generated early on!)

•Blog book tour

•Advertise any events on the Facebook/website

•Twitter: Profile picture will be cover of book, can host a Q&A session (#BOOKTITLE)

•Facebook/Website/blog: Profile picture will be cover of book, add author bio, news, blurb of book w/description of contents (link to where to buy, list other titles), host give-aways, contests, host a guest author – continue your networking! – with a tie-in subject, Facebook ads

Potential Events

Just because you’re published doesn’t mean conferences aren’t for you – they certainly are! Give workshops to gather attention to yourself and book (though don’t necessarily focus on YOUR book as the workshop – maybe an angle you used to write it, to help others out). WORD OF MOUTH spreads!

Put together a list of any local events to attend, including bookfairs you could set up a booth/table at, and reach out to conferences and offer to do critiques or workshops.

The most important thing is to keep it lively and fun!

Finally: create brilliant marketing plans your agent wants to share to give yourself an extra promo boost. ;)


  1. Thanks Natalie. You really show all of us how much of work there really goes into being a successful author. You know, at times when people ask me what I do and I say I'm a writer, they just smile like they feel sorry for me, like what I'm doing is not real. Maybe if I was published, you know I could hold a book to their face and say, "See? I wrote that. I promoted and marketed that and most importantly I had someone who believed in me."
    Thanks. Only going to work harder :)

  2. I need to bookmark this post. Super helpful!

  3. This will be very useful in the (hopefully) near future. But even so, I can start doing some of these right now.

  4. Great post, bookmark worthy :) Thanks!

  5. Thank you for such a straight-forward to-do list! I'll be printing this out for reference.

  6. This is an AWESOME post, Natalie. Thank you - I will pay it forward right now and share this post! :)

  7. A brilliant post, so helpful. Thanks, Natalie.

  8. Thanks for this list! Bookmarked it for future use.

  9. thanks for this very helpful post. The timeline will help me get started and (hopefully!) keep me from feeling overwhelmed. Thanks!

  10. Just came across your post as the result of a tweet from @elizabethscraig about another post.

    What wonderful and comprehensive information. One of the best things I've read recently. Thanks!

  11. I'd like to add a couple of (potentially) useful strategies: finding Facebook groups relating to your topic (my book is comedy travel writing, so I seek out travel related groups) and spend a bit of time hanging out, commenting etc. If you befriend the group's owner, or some regulars, you can easily offer them a free review copy - and they have a captive audience with similar interests to rave about your book to!
    The same works with blogs - write sci-fi? Send an email to Star Trek and SG1 obsessed bloggers, asking them if they'd like a free copy to look at. They probably get less hassle from authors than most book bloggers do - and of course, don't rule out those book bloggers either!

  12. Thank you, Natalie. You have an awesome site here. GladI found it!

  13. Found your site via Twitter (from someone who RT something you said). These are all amazing ideas, than kyou so much for sharing!

  14. Good and another post from you admin :)

  15. Awesome article and straight to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thank you.

  16. Hello, i am glad to read this post. I am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job.

  17. Compile list of local booksellers to approach; offer to sign print copies they stock, provide signed bookmarks to give away

  18. This is a great reference tool. It's hard when you're writing to remember all the other things we need to do!

  19. Super useful! I'm throwing ideas in a mega spreadsheet (and will likely need to take an entire week to sort through all them and make a plan) and included a bunch of these. Thanks!