Whether you’re an author, a marketer at a publishing house, a publicist, or anyone else looking to sell books, there’s a wide array of book marketing tactics you can use to amplify a book’s exposure and reach more readers. To spark inspiration and get those creative juices flowing, we put together 140 book marketing ideas you can try today.
Some of these ideas can help directly increase book sales, while others may help expand your platform, which can lead to future sales. Not all of these ideas will be applicable all the time, and we encourage you to consider the impact each might have before deciding where to invest your time. But we hope these ideas will give you plenty of options when developing your own marketing plan.
Publishers, this is a great resource to share with your authors. If you’re collaborating with them on marketing efforts, this can help them brainstorm ways to promote their own books alongside your promotional pushes.
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This guide covers every stage of book marketing, from researching your target audience all the way through to engaging an established fan base. Use these links to jump to a specific topic so you can browse the ideas most relevant to your upcoming marketing planning!
Identify a target audience
- Conduct reader interviews. Learn how your readers find new books to read and how they make their purchasing decisions. This will add qualitative color that can help you understand the quantitative survey data you analyze in spreadsheets.
- Write reader personas. Write a short paragraph that describes each core group of readers you’re targeting. Refer back to it whenever you’re creating an ad, designing a cover, writing a tweet, or want a refresh on your audience’s motives.
- Create a list of target keywords. Compile a list of search queries that your target audience is using to search for books. Use tools like Google Trends and Google Ads’ Keyword Planner to see which relevant queries are frequently used.
Build an author platform
- Set up a blog on your site. Provide a “behind-the-scenes look” for readers by blogging once or twice a month. Fans will love the insight into your personality and writing process, and anything you post is fodder for your next email to subscribers.
- Add a mailing list signup to your site. Include a simple form on your homepage, website footer, and/or blog’s sidebar asking for visitors’ email addresses. Collecting email addresses lets you build relationships with people who want to hear from you.
- Link to your website and BookBub Author Profile. Once you’ve created a website and claimed your BookBub Author Profile, make sure that people can find these assets by linking to them on your email signature and bio sections on your social media profiles.
Design a book’s cover
Optimize a book for effective promotions
- Link to your mailing list in the back matter. On your “About the Author” page, encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list. If they sign up, you’ll be able to contact them any time you want to promote your backlist titles, new releases, giveaways, or price promotions.
- Include target keywords on product pages. Narrow down a list of 5-7 keywords your audience typically searches for, then incorporate these words into the description headline, description copy, and keyword sections on each retailer product page.
- Choose relevant subcategories on retailer sites. This can increase your chances of being on the retailer bestseller charts for a specific category, which could drive higher sales volume. You’ll also avoid disappointing readers who were expecting something different.
- Tie different versions of a book together. Different authors and platforms use different systems, but find a way to connect a print edition with the ebook, audiobook, and international editions. This ensures that visitors to the product page can easily purchase the format they prefer.
- Link series books by name. If you’ve published a book series, create a master name for the series and add it to the product’s title on retailer sites. This will help retailer sites make automated recommendations within the series, and help readers find more books in the series to read.
Prepare your book marketing assets
- Test copy variations by polling readers. Use polling software like PickFu to test variations of description or marketing copy and see which your audience likes better. Always test and optimize to discover what copy will resonate best with readers.
- Create images for teasers and quotes. You can easily turn book quotes into vibrant images using free apps like Canva, Design Wizard, or Book Brush. Publish these teasers to your website and social media accounts in the weeks and months prior to a book’s release.
Run a preorder campaign
- Link to a preorder in previous books’ back matter. This lets readers order it as soon as they finish the previous book, without having to remember to buy the new book when it’s available for download. Include an excerpt of the upcoming book in the back matter, even if it’s unedited, to provide a sneak peek.
- Offer free swag in exchange for preordering. This gives readers an extra incentive; they may need an additional nudge since they can’t get the instant gratification of reading the book right away. In these promotions, have readers email a copy, screenshot, or picture of their receipt to receive the swag.
- Use crowdfunding to reward readers who preorder. Sending swag packs via mail can get expensive, so crowdfunding can be a great way to offer exclusive content. This could include short stories, author commentary, deleted scenes, or high-resolution posters.
Get more book reviews
- Provide advanced reader copies to relevant reviewers. Start getting reviews before the book launches. You can use tools like NetGalley, Booksprout, or Edelweiss to find early reviewers, or reach out to relevant bloggers with a pitch on the book. While they can’t review books on retailer sites until release day, they can post the reviews to their websites, social pages, blogs, or Goodreads.
- Ask readers to review a book in the back matter. A high number of reviews makes a book more enticing to potential readers. We found that when a book has at least 150 five-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, including the number of five-star reviews in the copy increased clicks an average of 14.1%.
Launch a book and build buzz
- Brand your homepage with a new release. Publicize your latest book on your website homepage and social pages by updating the header, banners, or other images to increase awareness among visitors. Consider including blurbs instead of a synopsis to intrigue visitors.
- Link to your newest release. Find a high-visibility place to link to your book. Many authors choose to include links in their personal email signature, social media bios, author bios, and back matter. Update these assets whenever you release a new book.
- Add a free ebook sampler to retailer sites. Upload the sampler as its own ebook with a separate product page and make it clear in the title and description that this is just a sample — the first chapter or first few chapters — to avoid disappointing readers. On the last page, include a link to purchase the full copy.
- Sell themed merchandise on your website. Create custom t-shirts, coffee mugs, ereader covers, jewelry, framed art, etc., and have them available for sale on your website or at events. Services like CafePress or Redbubble can help. Your most loyal fans might be excited to become walking advertisements for a day!
Run price promotions
Get more online exposure
- Email your mailing list about a book launch. Reach out to fans who have opted in to receive communication from you. You can also let them know about an imminent release. Use an exclusive look at the first chapter to get them excited.
- Later, email the recipients who clicked. The people who opened or clicked on the book launch email are the most engaged people on your list. They will be most likely to make the purchase or even write a review of the book. Reach out and ask if they’ve read it yet. Let them know you value their opinion and would sincerely appreciate an honest review.
- Later, email those who didn’t click. Don’t forget the people who didn’t engage with the book launch email — they cared enough to specifically sign up for your email list, but for whatever reason didn’t open the first email. Send them the first few chapters of the book for free and see if you can hook them the second time around.
- Promote a book on relevant blogs. Compile a list of book bloggers and reviewers who regularly review books, interview authors, or feature guest posts from authors in your genre. Coordinate with them to promote giveaways or publish reviews or author interviews.
- Partner with other authors to run themed promotions. For example, if your publishing imprint or group of friends has three fantasy books featuring fae, coordinate price promotions, themed blog posts, and social media parties. Packaging these books promotionally helps each book gain exposure across the other authors’ platforms.
- Run a digital advertising campaign. BookBub Ads, Amazon ads, Facebook ads, and other social media platforms let you target ads to a fine-tuned audience based on preferences users have expressed on those platforms. This lets you advertise the book to people interested in similar books or genres.
- Time book promotions with current events. If you can strategically promote a book during specific seasons, an annual event, or when something pops up in the media, take advantage of that opportunity and be a part of the conversation.
- Find relevant guest blogging opportunities. Reach out to blogs focused on your genre with recent posts, lively comments, and an active social media presence. If they’d like to accept a post from you, create valuable and original content, and carefully edit each post to make sure you’re delivering polished content.
- Participate in relevant interviews. Agree to participate in blog or podcast interviews that would effectively reach your target audience. Interviews can be a great way to share your perspectives without needing to write much original content. Take advantage of these opportunities to increase awareness of your author brand and your books.
- Publish short stories or essays to a serial fiction website. This is a great way to get exposure to new audiences and test what resonates with your readers. On some serial fiction sites, you can even monetize your work! Some sites are heavily focused on specific genres, like Radish (romance) and Royal Road (fantasy and science fiction). Wattpad and Kindle Vella are options that are open to stories in all genres, or you can use membership services like Substack or Patreon to write whatever you like!
Spread the word on social media
- Make your blog posts easy to share. Make it easy for fans to share your book news and other blog posts by optimizing each post for social sharing. Use tools like ShareThis to add social sharing buttons alongside each post, and ClickToTweet to create clickable tweets.
- Run a fan art contest. Get fans to upload fan art of a character or scene from a book on your blog or Facebook page — or have them share it using a hashtag on Instagram or Twitter/X. Choose a winner to receive a prize (and then get permission to use that fan art in your marketing).
- Ask questions and encourage participation. The more your fans and followers engage with your updates, the more exposure you’ll get — their friends will see their comments in their news feeds. So make sure to involve fans in a two-way conversation.
- Pre-schedule social media content. Doing social media marketing doesn’t mean spending all day online. Use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your day’s or week’s social media content in advance. This will free up your time for writing and other marketing efforts.
- Pin important updates on your feed. Most social media platforms let you pin important announcements about new releases, sales, or contests to the top of your profile. You only need to post the content once, then you can simply pin it for higher visibility!
- Host a release party on Facebook, Discord, or another virtual platform. Run a contest on launch day giving people many opportunities to win prizes, such as a free copy of a book, gift cards, posters, and more.
- Run a trivia contest in your newsletter or on social media. Have participants email you the answer, where each correct answer is worth points. Send winners a free book or a creative prize. Readers love a fun challenge!
Host author Q&As
- Stream a Facebook or Instagram Live video Q&A. When you begin a live stream on Facebook or Instagram, people who’ve liked your page receive a notification that you’re streaming live. Afterward, the video is available for anyone to watch on your page, and they’ll see the comments come in as though they’re watching live!
- Host a Q&A on YouTube. Have fans send questions directly via Reddit or email, and answer them later via a live or pre-recorded video on your YouTube channel. This twist on the traditional Q&A is an innovative way to keep readers engaged.
- Host a Q&A on TikTok. One way authors engage the thriving #BookTok community is by starting discussions around their books and publishing journeys. Post a video explaining your Q&A topic and have readers comment with their questions. You can answer them directly in the comments or create a new video with your responses.
Build reader communities
- Create an author fan club. Fan clubs are groups where readers can congregate without the expectation of helping with promotional activities. Fans can interact with the author, discuss books, and have other fun conversations with like-minded readers.
- Host a read-along group. Create a virtual book club where participants read a designated number of chapters of a book per week and discuss them in the group. Having the author participate in the group is a great incentive for fans to join the conversation.
- Post short videos to connect with your fans. Use YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram Reels to create short videos answering fan questions, interviewing other authors, listing book recommendations, or reading from an upcoming new release. Experiment with a few simple videos to see if you’re comfortable with being on camera before focusing on production quality.
Create box sets and bundles
- Bundle the first few books in a series. Include the first two or three books of a series in a box set to promote a full-price book later in the series. This can be a great way to hook readers and make them invested in the characters so they’re willing to pay full price to know how the tale ends. Promote the next book in the series in the box set’s back matter.
- Create a box set for standalones. Bundling standalones can increase loyal readership or drive sales of a new release. Strategically package standalones including similar themes by subgenre, location, point in time, similar protagonists, holiday setting, or something else.
- Include exclusive content in a box set. Adding a novella or short story to a box set could provide an extra incentive for readers to purchase (instead of buying the books separately). Existing readers might also purchase the box set for the bonus content they haven’t seen before.
- Sell your box set on your own website. Create box sets (or discounts on box sets) that aren’t available on retailers to bring fans to your store.
- Bundle your audiobooks. You can repeat any of these bundling strategies for your audiobooks! For example, discount a limited-time deal on each book in a series, or combine several titles into a single audiobook.
Participate in live events
- Hold book signings at bookstores and conferences. Signings can help drive word-of-mouth exposure and reviews. Don’t feel obligated to give away your books for free. Many authors sell books at their signings — purchase a checkout tool like Square to process credit card transactions.
- Participate in panels you’re invited to. If flying solo on stage sounds too intimidating, participating in a panel might be a more comfortable option for you. Speaking on panels at book conferences is a sure way to gain exposure to fans of the other authors on the panel, whether they’re readers at consumer conferences or fellow authors at writing conferences.
- Print business cards to hand out at events. Always carry around something to hand out to potential readers who want to buy your book later. You can create postcard-sized handouts or business cards people can stick in their wallets, with a URL to visit your website and purchase your books.
- Run a contest to draw people to your event. Build buzz and excitement for your signing, session, or panel by offering a free book or giveaway. Announce this giveaway on your social profiles using the event-specific hashtag. Once other attendees see people flocking to you, they’ll want to see what all the fuss is about.
- Partner with relevant local organizations. For a middle grade book, coordinate with local PTAs to organize a school reading during a bake sale or book fair. For a thriller about race car drivers, run a promotion with the nearest track. For a sci-fi book, sponsor a themed party or host a signing at a sci-fi convention or local Comic Con.
Other book marketing ideas
- Pitch a book as a holiday gift. Depending on the type of book you’re promoting, the giftable nature of a physical book may help boost print book sales, especially around the holidays. Consider timing your price promotions and ad campaigns around a holiday or special, relevant events to boost sales and visibility.
- Donate books to relevant organizations. If you’re promoting a middle grade book, consider donating a few copies to a summer camp, children’s hospital, or school libraries. If you’re promoting books that appeal to an older demographic, donate to retirement homes, hospitals, and community centers. This can help spark future word-of-mouth sales.
- Regularly refresh your metadata. Choose 3-5 keywords that best reflect the content of a book based on current trends and how readers are now searching for that content. Swap these keywords into your metadata (such as in the keyword fields and description).
- Continue publishing new books. Nothing sells backlist like frontlist! Continually publishing new books will help you garner a wider audience that will be interested in your other books.
This post was originally published in March, 2020. It has been updated with new ideas and examples.
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