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E2A 016: How to Promote Your New Book 

 October 6, 2021

By  Scott A. MacMillan

After the writing and publishing is done, next comes promotion. How will you let the world know about your newly minted book?

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host and author Scott MacMillan discusses the many promotional options available to self-published authors, and then walks listeners through strategies that really work.

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Episode Transcript

Scott A. MacMillan:      

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, Episode number 14

Mike Manz:                 

Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

The trek from entrepreneur to author begins as a private journey. As you travel down that authorship road, you'll then invite others to join you. Guides or Sherpas, seasoned experts who've been where you're headed and can help you get there quickly, safely, and far more effectively. We've covered that in previous episodes. In fact, I encourage you to go back and listen to those episodes again, if, and when you have a chance, but let's get back to our metaphor. Once you've traveled down that winding adventurous path, and finally reached your destination, you realize something. It's not a quiet, peaceful village with a small group of tight knit sages, smiling and nodding at one another. No, you've reached a bustling marketplace with countless merchants shouting over top of one another, competing for attention and selling their wearers with countless wide eyed and bewildered shoppers, struggling to know who's selling snake oil and who's the real deal.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yikes, so be prepared. It's a crowded space. Getting anyone's attention these days is pretty hard. We live in the information era. We are bombarded with content. It's everywhere we turn. Do you remember when we had to wait until 6:00 or 11:00 PM to watch televised news? It's actually hard to believe now, isn't it? The 24 hour news cycle is now the 60 minute news cycle. The internet changed the game. We're all programmers and news directors choosing what we want to consume, how, and when. You might be asking yourself, "Okay, Scott, but what does all of this have to do with promoting my book?" Well, quite a lot. Your reader's attention is maxed out. They can only take in so much and at some point, it all just becomes noise and there is a lot of it.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

So, your job in promoting your book is to carve out space in all that noise. When it comes to marketing your book, authors often go in one of two directions, some completely ignore it and others obsess about it. Now, fortunately, as we've outlined in this podcast series, much of the hard work of marketing your book is already done. From content to cover, you've checked the boxes. If you've followed along to this point, your book, once in your reader's line of sight will appeal to them and then deliver on the goods. So, the goal then in launching and promoting it is to get it in their line of sight and give your book a little shove so that it catches momentum. And the best way to do that is by focusing on your business, your customers, and your personal brand, and layering your book into all of it.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

The perfect time to prepare for your book launch is when you're working through the final stages of editing and publishing. In this episode, we're going to show you how to promote your book before, during, and after launch. I'm Scott MacMillan and welcome to this edition of Entrepreneur to Author. There are a few things we're going to discuss in this episode. The most important thing to remember is keep the end in view. What is your end game? What I mean is we're going through this exercise so you can leverage your book to augment and accelerate the brand promotion you're already engaged in and ultimately build your authority, which in turn, helps attract business and revenue. That is the end game.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

So, don't get lost or confused or frustrated in the actual process of promotion. It's simply a means to an end. First, let's talk pre-launch book promotion. That entails all the promotional activity you're involved in before your book is published. Think of it as a movie trailer, it builds excitement. Now, let's look at some of the things that you can and should do as part of your pre-launch book promotion. First off, embed your book into your business. Your book and your business should enhance one another, hand in glove. Okay, now let's get tactical for a moment. Here are some tangible ways you can embed your book within your business. Your website, both your business and personal brand website if you have one, should feature your book prominently.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Similarly, all your online profiles and bios should mention it too. Even though your book isn't published yet, it's fine to add author to your profile and even mention your book title along with coming soon. Again, think movie trailer. Within any mentions of you in social or traditional media, endeavour to include author of and your book title so audiences are primed that your book is on its way, and the same goes for blogs, op-eds, or other articles. Now there's a pattern developing here, where you go so too goes your book. A dedicated book or author website, or landing page within your existing site is also an important promotional asset for your book.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

It not only gives you a place to direct perspective readers, but also helps you capture and convert reader interest after they've finished reading it. Whether you opt for a dedicated book website or build a dedicated page within an existing site, the page should include the following, both the title and the subtitle of your book, an image of the front cover, the full description of your book, your author bio, and your author headshot photo. Links to purchase the book, usually redirecting visitor to retailer sites, or if you're selling directly from your website, connected into your e-commerce system, once the book is available, of course. And don't forget to include your contact information and social media links.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

A couple of other things that I recommend, an email opt-in form for prospective readers and a bonus resources section can be a great place to direct readers once they've read your book. Let's dig into those two a bit more. Email capture is something that you may already have on your business website. If you do, create a separate list specific to your book, then email your main list periodically, inviting them to join your book list, too. What this does is it allows you to provide recipients with more relevant updates without annoying those that may not want as many book specific emails. Now, here's another idea, consider having one signup form for people who haven't read your book yet and another one for those who have. Here's why, for those who haven't read your book yet, you can offer sample chapter as an incentive for them to join the list, a lead magnet.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

There's more to come on that. Those who have read it will be visiting your website for very different reasons, likely to learn more about you. They've already read your book, so sample chapters won't be relevant to them. All right, a little bit more about lead magnets. Even if your readers like you, and like what you have to say and what they've read so far, most will need some incentive to share their email address with you and opt into your email list. That incentive is called a lead magnet. Makes sense? Now, a lead magnet should meet three criteria. It must be, one, valuable, two, unique, and three, pre-qualifying.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Now, a two chapter sample meets these criteria for people interested in your book, but let's dive a little bit deeper as we consider what lead magnet might work for those who have read it. Okay, so, first, your lead magnet must be valuable to the reader. A lead magnet could solve a small problem for your reader or answer a question that they have maybe based on reading your book. Second, it should be unique, and that means it shouldn't simply regurgitate what you've already shared in your book. And as far as pre-qualifying is concerned, well, be strategic with your lead magnet. Make sure that it appeals to those you want to engage with, and maybe even repel those that you don't.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Bonus materials like worksheets, templates, or resource lists usually work well, same with free or trial access to digital courses or memberships and things like that. Okay, so, yes, you want your ideal reader to share their email address with you, but why? And I want you to give some thought to that question. Ask yourself, how do you plan to use that information? In addition to setting up the email capture capability, be sure to set up the email automation, to deliver your lead magnet to make good on your promise. And also, consider building a follow-up email series that works to move readers along your sales funnel, without you having to manually send the emails every time, because that can suck up a lot of time.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Here's another good promotional tactic, editorial reviews from a relevant influencer secured in advance of the release of your book and published at launch. These can be helpful in getting the word out, especially if the reviewer publishes it to their audience. But it's also a useful asset that you can use in promoting your book directly, adding it to your website, book listing, and so on. As far as finding those reviewers, start with your contact list. You might already know people with influence among your ideal readers. Then expand your search to industry publications and blogs, social media influencers, and complimentary businesses that also speak to your ideal readers.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Prioritize that list of reviewers and then reach out. Give them a brief introduction and a short note about why you're reaching out. Tell them why you're reaching out to them specifically. Give them a brief overview of your book, why you believe it's relevant for their audience. And that's important, and tell them what you want from them and when. Now, it's also wise to offer some sort of value for their audience members as well. And here's a hint, use the same criteria we discussed for lead magnets earlier for this too, because really, it is a form of lead magnet. Now, don't get discouraged if you don't hear back from them, you're not the only one asking for their attention.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

You're also going to have to share an early version of your book with these reviewers so that they can read it before it launches. These are what we call arcs or advanced review copies, but you can use these advanced copies in a variety ways. Traditionally, these would go only to book and media reviewers, like the ones we just discussed. In a coordinated launch, you'll want to get your book into the hands of media and influencers two to three months before the official launch. And that means sending them an early electronic version that may only have gone through a single round of edits. That's okay, just make sure that they know that it's still a work in progress.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

You can also use arcs to garner reader reviews and I'll come back to that shortly, but first, let's talk about media. As far as media is concerned, while they can kind of be a finicky bunch at times, media attention is great, but getting it is tricky. A newsroom full of journalists can be a hostile environment. They've seen it or done it already. And often, it's negative stories that they deal with day in and day out. So, when pitching your book to the media, it's very important to make your book and its subject matter relevant. Before crafting that pitch, ask yourself, what's the story, not the story in your book, but the story that they'll want to publish about you. Answer that question in a sentence. Seriously, that's going to help.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

 The answer you come up with is the meat of your pitch to the media. Be targeted. There are lots of platforms out there, but which media outlet is most likely to be interested? A personalized pitch is important too. Do you know anyone in the media business? If you do, you can start there. Do a little bit of homework to find out if the media outlet has a specific book reviewer, some do, who is it? And here's a great tip, does your book tie into current affairs or broader trends or could it? If so, that's a terrific hook for a reporter or assignment desk, especially if you can credibly speak to the issue or trend, which as the author of the book, you likely can.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Imagine being the go-to for media analysis when a new story explodes and it's related to your expertise and your book. That is promotional gold. Human interest hooks will also get a reporter's attention, especially if the personal story you're talking about can be shared by the person in the story. Reporters love a firsthand account. Also, in that outreach to the media, be clear and concise on when your book will be published. You don't want any missteps regarding media coverage. Now, if pitching to the media sounds intimidating or it isn't your cup of tea, professional public relations firms or publicists do media outreach all the time on behalf of their clients. They aren't cheap and there are no guarantees, but they know the routine.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Media side, don't forget to look at your existing stakeholders, your social media followers, email subscribers, viewers, everyone can get the word out. Okay, now let's talk about book promotion at launch time. When the curtain rises and it's time to present your book to the world, it's worth spending a bit of time and allocating a bit of budget to get the word out. You might consider price promotions and paid ads and maybe even a launch event. And you should definitely think about how you're going to garner reader reviews as those are particularly important, but more on that shortly.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

In person book launches, while they can be a blast, but they're not as common as they used to be. It's also rare that you'll sell enough books at the event itself to offset the cost. So, if you do plan to do a launch event, be clear about what you want out of it. At a minimum, it's a wonderful way to celebrate your authorship journey with people who are important to you and who want to support you, but it can also be a great way to bring together perspective clients with existing clients and that can have a much greater business impact. If you can increase the odds of landing some new clients based on that sort of interaction, then there's potential for a terrific return on investment.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Virtual book launches are certainly growing in popularity and there's no surprise there. And by using platforms like Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and YouTube, as well as Zoom Webinars and the like, you can draw in far more people than you ever could for an in-person book launch. That makes total sense. And it's also much less work for you and for the people attending, but don't take it for granted. If you want good engagement, you still need to plan a great agenda with valuable content and coordinated calls to action. Price promotions can also be a good way to get your book out at launch. To create a level of urgency, set a time limited promotional price for your book's ebook edition and then drive traffic to the listing.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

This can build a solid foundation of sales from the outset, often pushing your book up in sales rankings, right out of the gate. Okay, now I've mentioned reader reviews a couple of times, and with good reason. Reader reviews and the associated ratings are more important now than they ever have been. I don't know about you, but it's one of the first things that I look at when comparing books on similar topics. The first thing that people look at is the average rating for all reviews. Having a high rating is especially important early on because that's really all readers have to go on. The number of reviews will be the next thing that people will seek out. Obviously, the more reviews, the better. That means people are reading your book.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

There are generally four ways to get reviews once your book has been launched and it's a fairly straightforward exercise. The first is simply to ask your network. We all have a network of friends, family, and business associates. You can ask them to review your book. Secondly, ask readers in your book to leave a review. Just put the ask at the end of your book, just after the conclusion. Another great way to generate reviews for your book is by seeking out top Amazon reviewers. Much of Amazon's model is built on reviews and there's a whole community of people who review products and books a lot. Search for books on similar topics and then of the people who've left reviews, see which ones are serial reviewers.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Be sure to choose reviewers who seem fair and balanced in their reviews, then reach out and offer to send them a free copy if they'll consider leaving an honest review of your book. And finally, you can also use reader review sites. There are some online services where you can actually submit your book for review by readers. Some of these are free and others charge for the service, but as long as the reviewers themselves aren't being paid, other than receiving a free copy of your book, then that's fine and shouldn't go against Amazon's policies.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Now I'd like to talk about advertising for your book. While there may be other ad channels relevant for your subject or your industry, the three that you're most likely to use are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon. So, let's take a moment and look at each one. Facebook Ads are useful for finding people who fit your ideal reader profile and then driving them to your book listing page. Also, if you have an existing email list of at least a 100 people who are your ideal readers, you can upload that into Facebook Ads to create what's called a lookalike audience. Facebook then uses data from your email list to serve your ad to other people who are similar to those who are on your list.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

LinkedIn is a terrific tool for professionals. Mind you, the ads tend to be more expensive than on Facebook, but with LinkedIn, you can target an audience by industry, job title, company size, or interests, and all of that can be very useful, especially for entrepreneurs. Finally, Amazon Ads. If you've published through Amazon's KDP platform, Amazon marketing services can also be an effective way to drive traffic to your listing. After all, these are shoppers with buying intent, and that is a big plus.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Now, let's talk briefly about best sellers. Many first time authors have visions of their book hitting the New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Most are also quite realistic about the fact that that's unlikely. Hitting these lists requires a big marketing budget and a coordinated campaign to drive five to 10,000 book sales during one week at independent bookstores across the US. The actual methodology is cloaked in secrecy and is too complex to get into here, but I will share a link in the show notes to a great article for those interested in learning more. The good news is that bestseller status is within reach, even if at a smaller scale through Amazon's bestseller charts.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

But I'd argue that Amazon charts can be just as useful as the traditional lists are in at least two ways. First, Amazon is the undisputed market share leader when it comes to book sales. So, even though it only tracks Amazon sales, that's still a pretty decent sample. Second and most importantly, Amazon charts are niche way down, making them far more relevant for shoppers looking for books within a certain category. So, why is Amazon bestseller status more accessible? Well, Amazon lists are updated hourly, rather than weekly, like the traditional lists are. And that really works to your advantage. If your book sells the most copies in a category in any given hour, then it can rank as number one in that category.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

And while it's harder to maintain that status for an extended period of time, it's easier than you might think to rank in the top 100, the top 10, or even number one. To do this successfully, you need to first drive traffic to your Amazon e-book listing and then convert that traffic into sales. Now, what we do when we're running a campaign like this is we drop the price of the e-book and then drive traffic using paid ads and promotional partnerships, and it works reliably. Now, I have one quick word of caution about Amazon sales and every author's desire to make as many book sales as possible, right out of the gate.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

In all likelihood, family and friends will show support and want to snap up your book right away. And that's really nice, but there's a problem with that. Whenever somebody buys your book, Amazon tries to figure out why. Their algorithm notes where the customer lives, their interests, previous shopping purchases and so on, and then tries to identify similar shoppers to recommend your book to. Family and friends are usually not your ideal reader. So, what can happen if all the early buyers aren't your ideal reader is that Amazon can misinterpret who your readers are likely to be, and then recommend it to the wrong shoppers.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

This will likely resolve itself over time, but it's a bad way to start out. So, instead, drive friends and family to other retailers whose algorithms aren't as sophisticated or better yet, give or sell them one of your author copies. As far as ongoing marketing is concerned, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan. At least, not of dedicated, book specific marketing, and advertising after your book is launched. If you've embedded your book into your business, then it's usually not necessary and can too easily become a distraction. However, there are instances where a bit of additional promotion can help. If you're self publishing, that means you can also make updates to your book. If the changes are meaningful, maybe a relaunch is considered with a little bit of promotion, and of course, seasonal or topical promotion could also drive sales.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Can you capitalize on current events with your subject, changes in trends? These could be really good opportunities to build a tactical campaign, to drive additional interest in your book. And of course, if your business involves making public appearances, then do include your book in your speaker and media bios. Speaking engagements are also an excellent direct sales opportunity. So, once your book's been published, always have copies handy. That just makes sense, because you'll be able to make back of the room sales. In fact, I would argue that the single best thing you can do on an ongoing basis to promote your book is to use it as the valuable authority building asset that it is. Use it as a foot in the door to get yourself in the media, on stage at events, on relevant podcast, and so on.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

That results in a virtuous circle where your book gets you opportunities that build your authority, which in turn exposes your book and your business to more people, which make it even easier to get that exposure. Promotion doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it only gets easier over time and done strategically, promoting your book can actually be a lot of fun and hugely beneficial. So, when it's time to promote your book, remember this, while there's a wide variety of ways to promote your book, you have to keep the big picture in mind. If you've done the hard work of planning your book and setting it up correctly for distribution, then you don't need to spend your days marketing it in perpetuity. After all, you've got better things to do like running your business.

Scott A. MacMillan: 

Yes, there are times when a focus promotional campaign is worthwhile, like during launch, but your ongoing book related activity should be baked into your business model. Your book, your business, those two should compliment one another very nicely. Now is the time, time to write, time to publish, and time to grow. I'm Scott MacMillan, until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan


Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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