- A popular blog
- An email list with thousands of subscribers
- A Twitter account with a good number of responsive followers
- A YouTube account with a significant amount of subscribers
…or any combination of these (plus audiences on other platforms).
However, we all need to start somewhere, and if you don’t yet have a promotional platform, this post is all about building those platforms so that you don’t need to depend on Amazon to promote your book, but can drive sales of your book whenever you choose.
You could of course pay for advertising to get your new book in front of people, but this post will instead focus on free methods for capturing people’s attention. And since with non-fiction there’s tremendous income opportunities far beyond book sales (courses, consulting…), promotional platforms can be used for a lot more than just driving book sales.
Promoting Your Book Through a Minisite or Promotional Page
The core of your promotional platform is your own website. Some people advocate creating a new site to promote each book you write. However, such a site would generally only be two or three pages, and such a small site isn’t going to get any traffic without advertising. So let’s put this minisite idea aside for now.
Since it’s recommended you publish multiple books on related topics, and especially if you’re offering courses and other offers related to those books, having a site you build up significantly about the topic, with lots of great content, well, that can work very well to attract visitors and create new readers and customers.
It’s vital you publish fantastic free content on your site regularly as this attracts visitors through:
- Social sites (as people share your content)
- Links from other sites when they recommend your content/site
This all helps build up your platform, and is known as content marketing.
An example of a site that supports sales of his books is by Steve Scott.
Getting Interviewed on Podcasts for Rapid Publicity
Millions of people listen to podcasts every day, and there’s podcasts on every topic imaginable. Whatever you write about, you’ll find relevant podcasts for that topic.
So just like people listen to the radio when whatever they’re doing doesn’t require 100% of their attention, more and more people have replaced that with podcasts. Either through iTunes, or by simply downloading audio files from websites.
If you’re a first-time author, wait until your book is published before you start contacting podcasts. Because their priority is that you provide great content to their listeners.
You can promote a little bit, but it’s all about providing value, to help make that podcast great. Then people listening will want to find out more about you, and a percentage of them will become customers.
Or if you already have books published and have established platforms, it will be easier to get the attention of podcast publishers since you’ll have credibility you can leverage.
And that’s what’s so important — coming across as credible to the podcast owners so they feel confident that you’ll provide value to their listeners. If your first podcast goes well, it will then become easier as you can mention that to new sites you contact.
So simply contact podcast publishers, through email, or even through social channels like Twitter or Facebook. Don’t bombard them, but try to get their attention, and it certainly helps if you listen to their podcast and become familiar with them before you contact them.
As a podcast interview example — returning to the example of Steve Scott, he was interviewed on Smart Passive Income about how to publish for profit.
While posting fantastic content on your own site is absolutely vital if you’re looking to build up an audience, publishing incredible content on someone else’s site gets in front of their audience, and can attract new website visitors, book readers, and customers to you.
Be aware that guest posting on a low traffic site won’t give you much benefit. And this is especially true if the link to your site (or book) is at the bottom of the article you publish, rather than at the top. Sometimes this will be negotiable, other times not.
But you really want to aim for getting published on very high traffic, high quality, and relevant sites. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but the rewards can be significant.
In some cases emailing sites directly about this may be required, but in fact many sites often publicize the fact that they’re looking for new writers, so often searching Google for “write for us” and some keywords relevant to your market, can bring up some useful results.
For example: write for us habits
New York Times bestselling author Chris Brogan wrote for Lifehack and he says “…It was most definitely one of the pivotal points in my blogging career because it exposed my ideas to lots of sympathetic and interesting people…”
Have Active Social Accounts and be Part of the Conversation
If used effectively, social accounts can reach a wide audience, present you with a lot of credibility, and drive book sales and create customers.
In this section I’m referring to the main text and image social networks like:
You can see hundreds of social networks listed here.
Now, it’s been said that:
- Facebook is for traffic
- Twitter is for networking
Obviously that tweet can be taken with a grain of salt, but since it comes from someone whose website gets millions of visitors every month from Facebook, there’s more than likely a kernel or truth in it.
So different social networks are for different purposes, and be sure to publish great content to them (this is easy if you’re writing great blog posts), become part of the conversation in your market, and in time you’ll get seen as a thought leader and influencer.
Use the Second Biggest Search Engine in the World: YouTube
A five minute video can get tens of thousands of views, and send visitors to your website and to your book page on Amazon.
Now consider if you have 100 videos on YouTube.
Okay, some are going to do well, whereas others are going to be largely ignored, and you generally can’t predict success, so if you take this promotional approach then being prolific is important.
But with so much traffic on YouTube, if you can come up with relevant video ideas that can funnel traffic from YouTube to your site and books pages, that can help attract a lot of readers and customers, as long as your YouTube account is tightly relevant to your books and site.
It’s important to realize that your audience may not spend a huge amount of time online, so podcasts and guest posts may pass them by entirely. Not everyone has a smart phone, and even those who do, many of them aren’t that interested in constantly browsing the internet.
So speak to them where they are. This includes radio, newspapers, magazines, even television.
You can start by contacting your local papers and your local stations, get some media experience, and grow from there. You can of course contact journalists and publishers yourself, or hire a PR professional if the cost is justified when factoring in your publishing goals.
For example, this author had a full scale publicity campaign that helped with sales, but not to the extent expected. However, the credibility that comes from being on the radio, in newspapers, and even on television, can open a lot of doors.
Drive Huge Sales With Timed Promotions
Using your existing platform (if you have one), and promotional partnerships with other sites and authors, you can get a lot of people promoting your book all on the same day, or at least the same week.
And often such timed promotions offer the customer a bonus bundle if they buy from Amazon within a certain time.
To receive the bonus bundle, the customer often needs to forward their Amazon receipt to a special email address, and in return they get tons of valuable bonuses sent to them as downloads.
This helps focus the customer to buy now rather than later.
And the reason for this is lots of sales in a short space of time can get your book to number one on Amazon, or at least the top of your category. This is hugely credible to help with future promotions (“#1 bestseller”) and also builds momentum for your book right from the start.
An example of a bonus bundle can be found here. As you can see, the bonuses get more and more valuable as more copies are purchased, with larger offers being aimed at businesses.
Get Lots of Reviews by Giving Away Copies
A book without reviews doesn’t get much attention, since it’s a risk buying a book with no reviews as you’ve no idea what you’re getting. But if no one buys the book, you won’t get any reviews.
So it’s vital you jump start the process by giving out review copies. This forces you to make the book the best it can be in the time you have available before launch.
And your book can be given to top reviewers in the market, to friends, associates, fellow authors, review sites…
Ideally, if people post their review on Amazon and also talk about your book on their site or social channels, that’s ideal. With this in mind, it’s vital to start the relationship building process for reviews long before the publication date.
An analogy I like to use is that each of your books is a fishing rod in a river. With one rod, you may catch a fish occasionally. And of course in this context a fish is a book sale.
But with multiple fishing rods, you catch many more fish. Obvious, right?
Well, having multiple books has a multiplier effect since it casts a broader net to attract readers. It’s also likely that readers who like one book are interested to see what else you’ve written. And if you write numerous books on related subjects, you’re likely to turn a reader of one book into a reader of several.
And although you can’t predict this, with enough books published (as long as the quality is high), one may well become a breakout success, and totally change the scale of your book sales. So again, being prolific is hugely important.
Why Your Email List is One of Your Most Valuable Assets
One of the most powerful assets you can build online is an email list of subscribers who enjoy hearing from you.
You build this list by offering visitors to your website a gift (ethical bribe as it’s known) in return for becoming an email subscriber. They have the option to take themselves off the list instantly of course any time they choose, since you’ll be managing your list through a service like MailChimp.
You can also segment your lists by:
- Free subscribers (no purchase history with you)
- Book customers
- Course and consulting customers
This can help you target offers for different audiences.
However, what a lot of people do wrong with email lists is just send out promotions. Well, if you subscribe to a newsletter and only get offers, why would you stay on the list?
If you blog regularly, you can email your list once or twice a week sending them to your latest blog post, or the best blog post of the week perhaps.
This way they enjoy hearing from you since you’re providing value, and you’re sending them back to your site each time, which makes them more likely to take up one of the offers you advertise on your site.
And if you don’t overdo it, you can also send offers direct to your email subscribers. That can be hugely powerful, but it’s generally best if it’s a special offer. Sending run-of-the-mill offers to your list may burn them out and then they stop reading your emails.