How to Market Your Self-Published Book — that was the theme of the 2022 Local Author Expo at the Birmingham Public Library, which I was a part of yesterday.

The event gave me the chance to sell some copies of my book Find Your Way Back and tell local authors about See Jane Write. And three local authors offered their top marketing tips for independent authors.

Market Your Self-Published Book on Social Media

Judge Ruby Davis, Jefferson County District Court judge and author of the book Hearsay, stressed the importance of using social media to promote your book. If you’re having a book signing or attending events like the Local Author Expo, use social media to get the word out about those too. Even for folks who can’t attend, the post can remind them to buy your book online.

To be honest, I’ve been slacking recently when it comes to social media. But I’m going to get my acct together soon and be more intentional about when and what I post. And when I’m planning my content, I will be sure to include regular posts to promote my book as well.

Of course, I won’t simply post “Buy My Book!” over and over again. I’ll need to get creative. I could post excerpts or some of the writing prompts that are included in my book. Also, I could record videos of myself reading short passages from the book. Additionally, I could share the stories behind the stories and discuss the inspiration for different portions of the book.

Brainstorm ways you could promote your book on social media.

Find Your People

Poet Tania De’Shawn, author of the book be gentle with black girls, shared her thoughts on marketing too. “Marketing means connecting with the people your book is for,” she said.

She’s done this in part by hosting events related to her book’s topic — which is all about adultification bias, a form of racial prejudice where children of minority groups, typically black children, are treated by adults as being more mature than they actually are, causing their childish behavior to be viewed with malicious intent and ignoring the child’s needs. 

For example, she hosted a reading and panel discussion at the Birmingham Public Library featuring Alabama Poet Laureate Ashley M. Jones as the moderator.

And last month, I hosted a writing workshop at Forge Breast Cancer Survivor Center.

Another way I hope to connect with my readers is through book clubs.

Before you begin to create your book marketing plan, make sure you’re clear on who your book is for. Your marketing strategy should center on finding and connecting with your ideal reader.

Don’t Abandon Her

Keeping your target audience in mind can also give you the motivation you need to market your self-published book.

Tania’s words reminded me of a conversation I had earlier this year with a friend of mine.

Just before I released my book, I made a promise to myself that I would consistently and fervently promote my book for 12 months — not simply for the sake of book sales but to help build buzz for future opportunities. Though she’s a fiction writer, Jayne Allen inspired this plan. Through social media and book clubs, she built so much buzz about her Black Girls Must Die Exhausted books — which she independently published — that they were picked up and re-released by Harper Collins. 

But about a month and a half after my book was released, I was over it. Shiny object syndrome had me ready to move on to something. I didn’t think anyone had noticed I was no longer promoting my book, but I was wrong. A friend of mine did and she called me out. 

“You left her!” she said. She reminded me that promoting my book isn’t just about building buzz for myself but reaching the women I want to help. 

She asked me who I’d written my book for. I told her I wrote it for the woman who needed to be reminded that when all hell breaks loose in life that’s not the time to put writing on the back burner; that’s the time to write as if your life depends on it. I wrote my book for any woman who needs to remember that her story matters. 

“You left her!” my friend said in response.  “That woman you just described, you left her. Don’t abandon her.”

Whenever I’m ready to give up on promoting my book, I hear those words ring in my head.

Marketing v. Promoting Your Book

Author and book coach Dr. Fred Jones discussed the difference being marketing your self-published book and promoting your book. Promoting your book is simply telling people about your book. Marketing your book means you’re positioning it to sell.

He turned MARKET into an acronym to break this down more.

M is for message. Get clear on the message your book conveys.

A is for audience. Get clear on who your book is for.

R is for result. What result do you hope your book will get for your reader?

K is for kind. What kind of book did you write?

E is for embrace. Embrace that you are an author and that there is great power in the written word. Don’t take that power lightly.

T is for transformation. What transformation will your book bring about for your reader?

Dr. Jones didn’t shy away from money talk and he said If you truly want to make significant income, consider ways that you can teach others from your book. This could be through courses, coaching, or a conference.

All in all, don’t forget that your book is only the beginning.