How to Market a Book: A Guide to Self-Published Book Marketing

Congratulations are in order if you’ve written a book – that’s no easy feat! If you’re reading this post it’s because you want to know how to market a book so you can get it into the hands of people who would love it, right?!

For self-published authors, how to market a book can feel like navigating a jungle in which you have to cut your own path with a dull machete: without the right tools, that path may zig and zag rather than take you straight to a clearing where there are blue skies and waterfalls.

With constantly changing social media landscapes, competitive review processes, ever-evolving search algorithms, and the other Amazon, it can be hard to see the rainforest for the trees. Use the strategies outlined in this blog post to prepare you for your marketing adventure, and know that there’s always a unicorn to help, too.

In case we’re meeting for the first time, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Emily Reagan. Since 2009, I’ve been navigating the world of online freelance marketing and collaborating with successful business owners and solopreneurs. Today I teach online marketing to virtual assistants and marketers in my Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School and I run the Digital Marketer’s Workgroup for serious freelancers who have high-level skills and marketing specialties. 

Modern marketing demands a presence across multiple channels – social media, email, content marketing, you name it. It’s a complex dance if you want to be omnipresent, and let’s be honest, it takes two to tango. That’s where hiring a marketing specialist becomes a game-changer. If you need help marketing your book, there’s a unicorn for you! We have workgroup members who love working with authors and have experience in this genre of marketing. 

Now let’s get down to business.

How to Market a Book: Start with Your Audience

First things first, identify your target audience. Imagine you’re at a giant party, but instead of mingling with everyone, you find people who geek out over your nerdtastic collection of dinosaur figurines. They’re excited to hear about your trove and can’t wait for you to reveal your tiny museum quality velociraptor replica. That’s kind of how you market a book. In this crowded online space, shouting about your book to everyone won’t lead to sales: you need to focus on building a connection with your target audience.

Who are those ideal readers waiting to be captivated by your work? Are they history enthusiasts seeking an immersive medieval adventure, science fiction aficionados yearning for a journey to a distant galaxy, or mystery lovers who devour cozy cat novels, finding comfort in their heartwarming plots and feline sidekicks? Understanding your reader profile will allow you to craft targeted messaging that resonates with their specific interests. A romance fan who thrives on happily-ever-afters might be turned off by a grimdark fantasy with a bleak ending. The busy professional with limited reading time might be intimidated by an epic biography of Napoleon’s exile to Alba. Know your audience so you can market your book to them.

Build a Website and Your Author Brand to Market Your Book

A website is a valuable tool for self-published authors. It’s a marketing home base that you have complete control over, where readers can learn about you, your book, and your upcoming projects. You can include excerpts, testimonials, and even a captivating bio.

Start blogging so people can get to know your writing, your personality and really connect with your work. If you’re neither techy nor a visually gifted person then hire a web designer to get you set up. Blog posting is pretty straightforward. That said, if you’re a writer who just wants to write and you can’t imagine doing website-related tasks, there’s a unicorn for you.

Pro Tip: Enhance Your Website in These Ways

  1. Optimize for Search Engines (SEO): Use relevant keywords throughout your website to help readers find you online.
  2. Integrate Social Media: Add buttons and links for readers to easily follow you on social media platforms.
  3. Include Calls to Action (CTA): Tell readers what you want them to do, like buying your book, subscribing to your newsletter, or contacting you.
  4. Drive Book Sales: Have an option for visitors to purchase the book on your site or provide a direct link where people can purchase the book through your chosen online retailers.
  5. Capture Email Addresses: Build an Email List! As a writer you have the capacity to slay all day when it comes to nurturing your audience through email. Email marketing has one of the highest ROIs (return on investment) so start building your email list.

Investing time and effort into building a professional online presence can help you connect with readers, promote your book, and establish yourself as a professional, polished, deliver-the-goods author.

How to Market a Book on Social Media

Get social in a way that feels authentic to you and your brand. You’re not writing a novel here. Pressure’s off. Social media is where your personality and brand voice come into play. It’s your online persona, all about you and the kind of stories you tell. If your book is a side-splitting comedy, your social media posts might be funny memes and witty observations. If it’s a complex historical fiction, you could share interesting facts and tidbits from the era.

The key is to be yourself and connect with your audience on a personal level. Offer them something valuable beyond just “buy my book!” Maybe you share writing tips, host discussions about your genre, or even run fun contests. By building an author brand that resonates with your target audience, you’ll naturally attract the readers who are most likely to become fans. This is how you market a book on social media in a way that feels natural. Your audience will see you as someone they like, and when your book comes out, they’ll be excited to crack the cover!

The Best Way to Market Your Book On Social Media: Rock the Tok

TikTok has become a surprisingly powerful tool for marketing books, particularly for certain genres, thanks to a combination of factors including its massive reach and algorithm. Unlike other platforms, TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes showing content to users even if they don’t follow the creator, as long as the content aligns with their interests. This allows #BookTok recommendations to reach a wide audience of potential readers.

⚡️Related Podcast: TikTok Content Creation & Growth Strategies for Service Providers with Helen Polise #205

Listen to my Unicorns Unite Podcast where we explore the secrets of repurposing content for effective social media marketing.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | iHeartRadioAmazon


How to Market a Book on Amazon: A Self-Publisher’s Must-Haves

Amazon is a jungle with a bounty of resources but one that you don’t want to get lost in. These are things you should pay attention to help you stand out and get noticed:

  • Cover Design: The Alluring Shop Window – Your book’s cover acts as a visual billboard in a crowded marketplace. Invest in a professional, genre-specific cover that entices potential readers and accurately reflects your book’s content. It’s the first thing people and you want to stop the scroll and get noticed.

  • Keyword Optimization: Get Found in the Jungle – Leverage Amazon’s search engine algorithms to ensure your book is found by its target audience – it’s your marketing GPS! Conduct thorough keyword research or hire an SEO specialist to identify the terms readers use to discover similar titles. This is not the place to be overly clever with your wordsmithing – be strategic and use relevant search terms that people would actually use to find a book like yours.

  • Book Description: It’s Your Captivating Sales Pitch – Here’s your chance to use your magic and show off what you can do! Set the tone and draw in readers by crafting a description that’s engaging, spoiler-free, and highlights the thrilling problems your characters face (and conquer, obviously).

How to Market a Book on Amazon and Feed Their Algorithm

For self-published authors who don’t have a big publishing brand to vouch for them, it’s important to go the extra mile to build credibility and trust with your target audience and Amazon so they’re more likely to show your book to people. Spend time investing in these areas:

  • Reviews: Social Proof Builds Trust – Encourage honest reviews from fellow authors, bloggers, or even beta readers. Authentic reviews build trust and significantly enhance your book’s discoverability.

  • Strategic Sample Chapters: A Sneak Peek into Your World – Let readers skim the first chapters and engage with your book. A well-written introduction can serve as a powerful hook, enticing readers to delve deeper.

  • Amazon Author Central: Leverage Amazon’s dedicated tools! Set up an Amazon Author Central account and create a killer Amazon Author Page so people can get to know you and read what you’re up to.

  • KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing): Post your books on Amazon’s Kindle Store so you reach a wider audience. You can earn up to 35% of the price of your book as royalties and the KDP Select program offers free Kindle promotions, countdown deals, and Kindle Unlimited. This allows readers to borrow your book for free which can increase exposure.

How to Create Some Buzz for Your Book’s Launch

If you want to know how to market a book: it’s by creating excitement! BUT you need those other marketing pieces in place. Here are some extra cherry-on-top marketing moves to create some buzz:

  • Launch Campaigns: Plan teasers, sneak peeks, and countdowns to build anticipation. Utilize all your marketing channels and incentivize pre-orders.

  • Media Exposure: Craft a media kit and reach out to relevant publications, reviewers, and organizations. Consider guest blogging for wider reach.

  • Harness Reviews: Encourage reader reviews on platforms like Goodreads or Amazon for social proof and to attract new readers.

  • Influencer Outreach: Partner with bloggers, podcasters, and social media influencers in your genre to spread the word through reviews or interviews.

  • Virtual Events: Connect directly with your audience through book launches, Q&A sessions, or live readings on platforms like Zoom or Facebook Live.

  • Book Clubs: Get your book into book clubs and provide discussion guides to enhance the reading experience and spark conversations.

Further Reading:

>> Types of Virtual Assistants

>> When Is It Time To Hire a Virtual Assistant?

>> Hiring a VA: What Tasks Should You Give Your Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant?

>> Discovery Call Questions to Ask a Virtual Assistant

Grab my free VA Hiring Guide for tips on finding your perfect-fit unicorn digital marketing assistant!

How to Hire and Work with a Virtual Assistant

The Takeaway:

Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep writing and putting your work out there where people can access it. Invest in your marketing platforms, build your audience, stay creative, and don’t be afraid to have fun! With a little effort, you can get your self-published book into the hands of readers who won’t be able to put it down. 

Remember that in marketing content is king. People devour content; blog posts, guest articles on relevant websites, and even captivating snippets on social media. Share your knowledge, showcase your writing, tease your story, and establish yourself as an authority in your field. The more valuable content you provide, the more readers will be drawn to your book. If you need marketing help, reach out! We have experienced marketing specialists in the Digital Marketer’s Workgroup who know how to market a book, build websites, manage social media, optimize for SEO, grow an email list, and help writers and authors build their brand.

Share your job in my community of vetted & trained marketing assistants at:

-Emily, Digital Marketing Consultant and Implementer

Emily Reagan is a mom of four, milspouse, freelance digital marketer and Virtual Assistant coach who has helped 400 go-getters, including military spouses, stay-at-home moms, and professional women learn in-demand skills and find flexible remote work as digital marketing assistants and specialists. She’s shared 2,000+ job leads with her freelance marketers & VA community.

Ask her any questions over on Insta @emilyreaganpr

“I help smart women learn the in-demand digital marketing strategies and profitable tech skills to get hired as a unicorn digital marketing assistant.“

3 ways we can work together:

Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School with Emily Reagan

1. Do you need to acquire digital marketing implementation skills and build your workflows so you can solidly put yourself out there for work? Check out the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. (It only opens once a year so jump on the waitlist now!… I also share job leads with my students so it’s a gateway for anyone who wants to build a freelance business that gives them flexibility and meaningful work). You can also choose to go through the self-study program now. Enroll here.

2. Already doing the work and have clients? But need more clients and a better referral network? Apply for our Digital Marketer’s Workgroup. This is a tight-knit community of freelancers like you, supporting each other. Plus I’ve shared 2000+ job opportunities with this community.

3. Need to hire a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant? Submit your job opportunity here. I’ll share with my workgroups totally free.

Yes, you really can work online.

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These are the tasks that new clients are constantly asking for help with, and skills that they really need to find in a virtual assistant. Get access to this free download right now. Then make sure your own VA toolkit is up-to-date and relevant, and decide where you might need to invest in new growth and development for your biz.

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Meet Emily

Emily Reagan is a jill-of-all trades when it comes to digital marketing and techie skills. She’s worked as a behind-the-scenes digital marketing implementor and strategist for a decade for online biz owner clients.

She’s a mom of four, Air Force wife, and founder of the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School, where she teaches smart women the in-demand, highly-coveted digital marketing skills to get flexible, online work.

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