If you’re wondering how to best promote your book, look no further. Here are some book marketing ideas that I have used myself to promote my own young adult fiction novel that really work. I’ve also included some external resources I wish I had used so you have all the best strategies in one place.
Want to learn about my experience with writing and publishing a book? Check out my blog on “My Journey Publishing a Young Adult Fiction Book.” Let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
Hosting a Summer Internship
While I may not have had my dream book launch party — which you should totally consider — I did excel in marketing and selling my book.
When I first published my book, I felt like I needed some extra help. So, I hosted an author summer internship. I took on a couple of interns who helped me reach out to bookstores and libraries via email. Initially, I had meant to take on four interns for the following tasks… Reaching out for book sales, managing my social media, building an author website, and reaching out to film contacts.
While running an internship seems like a great idea for lightening your workload, it can be the complete opposite. I found it to be more work, but nonetheless a great learning opportunity. I was actually mentoring and coaching interns every step of the way, which helped me learn a lot too. But this can be an effective book marketing idea if you’ve got your mentoring skills down!
Tip #1: If you’re looking for help without mentoring people, opt for hiring experienced professionals instead.
Building an Author Website
Only two interns ended up joining, so I had to figure out how to make a website on my own. I used Anna David’s podcast episode from Entrepreneur Publishing Academy on easily building an author website.
Check out my blog “One of the Best Podcasts for Writers (And How to Publish a Book)” to learn about Anna David and her podcast.
My author/book website turned out quite lovely via GoDaddy. It’s super easy to manage, plus it gave me access to creating additional emails for my interns.
Tip #2: Create an author website once you’re published. No matter how simple it is. This is one of the best book marketing ideas since you can use SEO to get discovered.
For beginners, definitely use GoDaddy. But if you’re more experienced, WordPress is the best way to go. I use WordPress for this blog since my website building skills have become quite advanced. It’s kind of a beast, but there’s more room for creativity. If you want to save money, I recommend learning how to use WP through YouTube tutorials. But if you want a beautiful website or have any interest in building a blog, definitely purchase Christina’s Galbato’s Blogger Bootcamp.
An Unofficial Book Tour
At the end of my internship, I took some more advice from Anna’s podcast and went on a “book tour” of my own. This is how I got my books into bookstores and picked up book signings. Initially, my publisher New Degree Press got me started by reaching out to a few bookstores on my behalf. They even created an excel sheet for me to keep track on.
But what I found was that emailing or calling bookstores and asking them to stock my book only worked some of the time. Showing up in person was definitely the key to landing my book in so many stores. And it’s one of the best book marketing ideas you can use when starting off. It’s also a lot more simple than most people probably think.
Selling Books to Bookstores
Tip #3: Bring a copy of your book if possible. Head to the customer service desk or the front desk and tell them you’re a local author. Or send a family member or friend to do this. As long as your book is available for purchase online through a wholesaler (like Ingram) and is returnable, a lot of them will be super supportive and order copies!
Smaller bookstores may not always be able to do this. Sometimes they’ll instead offer consignment programs where the author pays to place their book in the store. While I’ve done this a couple of places to support those stores, I prefer to avoid this as it can get pretty expensive. And keep in mind, most places that agree to stock your book are only buying 1-3 copies on average.
Through this process, I got physical copies of my young adult fiction novel into at least 16 stores and 4 libraries across 21 cities and 6 different states (including Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, Missouri, and Minnesota), with online purchase available in a total of 30 bookstores — all of which are listed on my author website.
While you can plan a “book tour” for simply mapping out a bunch of stores to visit over a few days and do this, you can use this method on any vacation, trip, and in everyday life!
Being Hosted for Book Signings
Along with getting my book into bookstores, picking up book signings was fairly easy too. This is one of the most fun book marketing ideas that will connect you to new readers! Once a store agreed to purchase copies from me, they were usually open to hosting me for a signing too. I did get a much better response from Barnes & Noble locations rather than smaller, independent bookstores. Since I’m currently in the Seattle area though, a lot of the smaller stores just weren’t hosting signings due to COVID anyway.
Landing a book signing
Tip #4: To get booked for a signing, just ask! Different bookstores may have different policies for hosting. For Barnes & Noble, they typically will purchase an entire box of your books (roughly 25) and provide those for the signing. I’ve also seen some independent bookstores allow authors to bring copies themselves to sell, with the bookstore getting a percentage of the profit. Most will provide a table, but it helps to have your own “accessories.” For me, that usually means bringing my huge book poster with an easel, my special cup with the book cover printed on it, and custom bookmarks.
Should You always be there in-person?
Previously, I’ve hosted two book signings with Barnes & Noble — one in Seattle and one in St. Louis — and my parents actually sold a ton of my books at my hometown’s Edwardsville Book Festival through our public library. I totally had meant to be there but the original date was rained out. Either way, my parents successfully sold 25 hardcover copies of my book!
Being in book festivals is one of the coolest book marketing ideas because the type of people who attend are like, ready to buy from every booth. My parents sold out with an entire hour left!
Tip #5: While I always recommend being at your own event to sell books, a book festival is probably the one event that you can get away with not being there in-person since there are usually a lot of other booths. In cases like this, not only should you provide whoever is going to be there on your behalf with signed copies, but I recommend making a recording of yourself signing them like I did. It shows a personal touch to your readers and also assures them you actually signed the books yourself. Plus it shows that you actually care enough to send them a little message.
Speaking on Podcasts & Virtual Events
Another tactic I used to market my book was being featured on podcasts and speaking at virtual events. During the pandemic, this option became much more sought after for everyone, but getting picked up to speak on one of these platforms isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
So far, I’ve done a virtual book talk with Likewise, Inc., I’ve been hosted on an IG live virtual event by a fellow author & career coach, and most notably, I was hosted on my author mentor’s podcast (yes, the one I’ve been raving about this entire time, Entrepreneur Publishing Academy!)
Getting picked up to speak at a virtual event or on a podcast can vary by the person and platform. For bigger named podcasters like Anna David, you’ll want to establish a long-standing relationship with them first, getting to know their content and showing its value by using their advice. In time, sticking around can prove useful! Anna actually reached out to me and extended the offer, but if you plan to reach out yourself, take a look first at this podcast episode.
Along that line, I was picked up to speak on a fellow author’s IG live simply through my connection with knowing Anna and having been introduced to her at an event (so savor those connections you make!) Lastly, the way I found Likewise was by scrolling through Instagram and using hashtags to search for companies related to books. This was a wild goose chase almost, but somehow while spam DMing a ton of places, I got through to them.
Tip #6: Don’t be afraid to dive deep into Instagram to look for connections and DM people. And also, network with notable people in the publishing industry!
Hosting Book Competitions & giveaways
Getting your audience engaged throughout competitions and giveaways are more exciting book marketing ideas. Plus, they can help grab some reviews for Amazon, which is super important. I hosted a Book & Wine Giveaway last year and gave away 5 free copies of my hardcover plus a bottle of wine from my favorite wine club WSJwine.
A lot of the rules I incorporated came from Anna David’s podcast and online courses where I learned how to make an Advanced Reader Team. Typically, this is done pre-launch and works a lot better then. While I never got to implement this in time leading up to my book launch, but it’s definitely something I’ll use for every book going forward.
A Breakdown of How I ran the Contest
- Participants had to buy the ebook version for 99 cents on Amazon (which as an author registered with Amazon KDP you can control the price yourself). This rule was crucial because…
- It ensured that people who didn’t previously purchase a book during my presale campaign with my publisher had a chance to actually read the book if they wanted to.
- Doing this will “verify” that person’s Amazon review, which helps the algorithm generate leads to the book’s page!
- Then they had to leave a review on Amazon anytime before the deadline — I gave people roughly a month to finish.
- I encouraged people to leave a review whether they finished the entire book or not. If you think this sounds disingenuous, it’s probably because you’ve never published a book before.
- Reality is, most people — including your family and friends — are just not going to read your book, even if they did buy it to support you.
- Also, this is one of the top ways that authors rack up a lot of “buzz” on their book, although it’s typically done pre-launch so that once the book drops it already has a ton of reviews and kicks the algorithm into gear.
- I announced the winners through a recorded video that I posted on Instagram.
- To make it fair, I put the names of everyone who entered onto pieces of paper and put them in a bowl and then drew them out on camera.
- Since I have some video editing skills, I made the video more “professional” by adding a slide with the winners names, put some cool music in the background, and added a page at the end promoting my book further.
What I learned From This Giveaway
While this was a fun contest that did get me about 20 reviews on my book’s page, there were plenty of unexpected occurrences that made it not-so-fun for me as the host.
- Hosting a giveaway can be expensive.
- Luckily for me, shipping wasn’t the most expensive part since 3 of my 5 winners lived in the same state and I simply gave them their gifts in-person. But this is something to account for if you’re giving away a ton of copies.
- Apparently, you can’t ship wine in the mail.
- If you already knew this, then you’re much smarter than me LOL. Going back to my above part about being expensive… Since two of my winners were out-of-state, I had to re-buy their wines online.
- And then there was the hassle of not being able to find one of the wines since it was so “rare,” which was a bummer since in the winner thought he was getting this special bottle.
- Lastly, I had issues shipping one of the wines to Maine because of some weird state laws where this website couldn’t deliver it for weeks. It was a mess basically.
- Again, my edited video turned out blurry when posting it.
- Somehow I hadn’t figured out how to download the original high quality version from Adobe Premiere Pro and get it onto my phone to post — although nowadays, IG allows you to post from a computer.
Tip #7: If you’re running a giveaway, be sure you have a set budget. If you decide to ship wine, keep in mind you’ll have to order online unless you can deliver in-person. And I highly suggest making the announcement an Instagram Live, which can save and post to your feed.
Getting Press & Being Interviewed for Articles
Another great way to get exposure is getting press and being interviewed by local publications or journalists. One of the easiest ways to do this is to reach out to the university you attended for college and let them know you’re writing and/or published a book.
This got me two interviews, one with a freelance journalist in my former college town during my book campaign, and another with an editor from my college as the Alumni Day Program Featured Story. I was also able to land a spot in our school’s magazine for the “In the News” section for the Class of 2019.
You’ll also want to reach out to your hometown’s publication and/or your former high school. Even after moving away across the country, my hometown was still happy to share this news to our community. I was able to land an interview and a super detailed article in my hometown’s newspaper by having my mom reach out — since she still lives there it just made sense.
Social Media Strategies
One of the most obvious book marketing ideas is using social media. But there’s a lot more to it than just posting, although that’s a big part of it.
When it comes to posting, here’s what you should be sharing:
- Notable quotes from your book & fun character analyses etc.
- Upcoming author events (and pictures/videos at the event)
- Book giveaways & contest
- Articles you’ve been interviewed for
- Podcasts you’ve been featured in
- Awards you get for your book
Other Way so Use Social Media
- Dive into Book-Instagram, aka Bookstagram (yes, this is a thing)
- Search the hashtags #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagramcommunity
- In that first one alone, you’ll come across roughly 77 million posts that are from avid readers, writers, podcasters, and book reviewers.
- I recommend following and reaching out to roughly 100 notable accounts, usually book reviewers. And you’ll have a better chance of response when following accounts with only a couple thousand followers.
- Be careful to make sure they’re legit by checking how many comments they get or if they just pay for likes.
- Some of them ask you to pay for a review — I’ve done this a couple times and it’s only been useful once. And I did get scammed by a few. So I don’t recommend paying.
- Try to only find ones that simply ask you to send them a complimentary copy of your book for a review.
- Search for other relevant hashtags like #writers #bookreview #booklovers #bookblogger #bookrecommendations #newbooks #bookclub #yabooks #whattoread etc. to find other platforms.
- This is how I found the company Likewise Inc., who hosted me for a virtual event!
- Invest in Facebook and Instagram Ads to draw more attention to your book posts and find your audience.
- Your account has to be a business account, which you can convert in your settings and it will allow you to boost your post.
- You’ll be able to select your target location, demographic, and interests. Then you’ll choose how much you want to pay per day for however many days.
The Part Everyone Forgets About…
Lastly, an important piece most authors seem to forget about when it comes to marketing their book is how much money they’ll spend! I highly recommend making a budget prior to spending any money on ads, giveaways, and anything else. Like I discuss in the blog on my author journey, it can get pretty expensive if you’re not paying attention to your spending.
Want to know a secret tip I used for getting some of that money back? Head over to my blog “My Journey Publishing a Young Adult Fiction Book.”