It has been said that "selling your book is harder than writing it" and this is almost certainly true for the vast majority of authors.
As a new author, your two biggest problems are: 1) no one has ever heard of you, and 2) no one has ever heard of your book. You will have additional problems as well as these two (e.g. you have very few reviews, some people have left you bad reviews, there may be genuinely some bad aspects to your book, et cetera) but these two main issues are the most serious ones, and if you cannot remedy them then your book will be a flop from a sales perspective.
So, how do you and your book go from unknown to known? We have to tell you truthfully that it will not be easy. You will need to devote a great deal of time at least, and probably also quite a bit of money (at least £500) to make any headway at all. The process of becoming known will most likely be slow and arduous. There is no quick fix unfortunately and those who say otherwise (there a quite a few to found around the internet) are certainly exaggerating - unless you have big money to spend, and then it obviously becomes easier as you can take out ads in the national press which will speed things up considerably, but we are talking big money (£10,000 minimum) and even then there is no guarantee of success.
So, what can you, as an author, and we, as a publisher, do to get your book sales going?
Our directors and staff have considerable experience in trying, and often succeeding, in selling books. We have a very good idea of what works, what sometimes works and what never seems to. Accordingly, we have listed below some things that can be done. Which of those things we, or you, do will depend on a whole host of considerations. We are often asked if we offer "marketing packages" like many of our competitors do. We don't, and for the simple reason that "one size fits all" solutions rarely if ever work; every marketing campaign we design is therefore completely bespoke and will take into consideration the items listed below.
Points for authors to consider when planning a marketing campaign:
1) Budget - This is probably the most important factor as it will determine what may be possible (e.g. 2 weeks of Facebook adverts) and what may be impossible (e.g. a double-page spread in The Mail on Sunday every week for two months). There is no point in trying to follow a marketing plan which is clearly unaffordable from the outset.
2) Availability - Some authors are retired or don't work fixed, full-time hours for some other reason. This might mean that they could make themselves available on a "whenever basis" to interested interviewers, journalists, book store owners, groups (e.g. WI), YouTubers etc. It may also mean (subject to item 1 - budget) that they could attend book fairs (this usually involves travelling and staying in a hotel) or even appear on TV.
3) Confidence - This ties in with item 2; it is of no benefit being available if you just can't face the thought of public speaking. Sometimes, confidence varies by venue and/or audience. You might be fine talking to a radio host one to one in a studio, but far too nervous to appear on camera. You might be OK to give a talk to a local book club of 8 people in a library room, but you couldn't possibly stand up in front of 200 people at a conference. These of course are just examples, but serve to illustrate why packages frequently don't work - there is often part of the package that you either can't or don't want to do.
4) Timeframe - It is often cheaper to spread marketing over many months (e.g. you might place 5 monthly ads and get 1 free) and if we decide your marketing is mainly going to consist of speaking at meetings, talks and fairs it will necessarily be spread over many months as we will have to wait for the events to take place. If you are in a terrible rush to get sales, you will simply have to spend more money.
Marketing activities to consider:
1) Facebook - Paid ads can be very rewarding as we can specifically target potential buyers using Facebook's vast database. You pay for Facebook ads by both impressions (i.e. how many times your ad appears) and by interactions (i.e. how many times people click to go to your sales page). In terms of impressions, Facebook's algorithm allows very precise targeting, so if for example, you have written a book about whippets we can make it so that only people who are interested in whippets ever see your ad.
2) Other Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Gab etc.) - None of the other social media channels will let you do what Facebook will in terms of targeting, but they are still worth considering depending on the subject matter of your book. Our extensive database of hashtags lets us target posts very effectively to potentially interested people. Also, setting up marketing on the other social media channels is generally cheaper than using Facebook.
3) Google and other Search Engines - It is essential to have a Google page for your book. This will appear as a right panel (subject to your book having a discreet enough title - this is why we will frequently suggest to authors that they change their book titles when we publish) and will have links to enable readers to buy your book together with reviews.
4) NetGalley - This is the primary review site for new books and best used prior to or upon publication, both to get reviews before the book is widely advertised using paid-for ads and to provide some "hype" around the publication date. It costs money to use but we find it is very worthwhile as you should generate quite a few honest reviews. This will also tell you if your book has issues - which you, or we, can then fix before we start your main sales campaign and spend a small fortune on advertising.
5) Goodreads, StoryGraph, BookBrowse, Etc. - All such sites are both good sources of reviews and increase exposure at the same time. We will give you a list of relevant sites for you to register on as an author when your book is first published (we can also do this for you if you prefer for a small fee and hand over your usernames and passwords when set up).
6) Book Clubs and other groups - Distributing Review Copies of your book to local book clubs and other groups (e.g. WI) is a great way to get reviews and often also gives you the opportunity to attend a meeting as a speaker, get personal feedback possibly even sell a few books. As a Staffordshire based publisher, we have lists of, and contact with, many of the local clubs and will be able to introduce you.
7) Book Fairs - Book fairs are an excellent way of gaining exposure for both yourself and your book. There is always some element of cost to this; however, as publishers, we may have a stall that you can participate in at a reduced cost (or shared cost with our other authors) so it may not be too expensive. Also bear in mind that there may be additional costs of travelling and hotel accommodation if the fair is not in your local area.
8) Book Signings - Many independent book shops (yes, there are still some!) are glad to get people through their doors and will often be quite welcoming of even new authors if your book genre is a right fit for them. This is something we will generally happily help organise with you if you have a suitable shop in mind that is within your travelling radius.
9) Internet Pay per Click - Many internet sites, in addition to Google which allows ads to display from search queries, offer pay per click advertising opportunities. This type of marketing works best for books that are very genre-specific, for example, if you have written a book called Foolproof Methods for Netting a Big Carp, this would obviously generate more clicks on a fishing tackle site than on a general news site. If your book fits into a particular theme, taking up advertising space on a site exclusively dealing with that theme can yield very good results.
10) Newspapers & Magazines - We come now to the beginnings of the expensive category. Most of the methods above this one can generate results for several hundreds of pounds - newspaper and magazine advertising generally costs a lot more. Having said that, costs vary according to the distribution of the publication in question. An advert in a widely read national newspaper (e.g. Daily Mail, Times, Mirror, Etc.) will invariably cost more than in a regional newspaper. Similarly, a magazine with a very wide distribution (e.g. TV Times) will charge a lot more than a less widely read publication (e.g. Nexus), so care is needed to determine the best cost to exposure ratio.
11) Radio & TV - Both can be very expensive and we would generally not recommend these methods for new or unknown authors, although for very topical books or books with something astonishing to say, they may be worth looking at. Also, as per newspapers and magazines above, local radio might be a good option if your book features some type of local interest matter (e.g. a well-known historical building or local hero), but it would really need to be of appeal to a sufficient number of listeners to justify the costs.
12) Influencers - Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter influencers who have large followings (100,000 plus) can be a good source of book sales if you can get one to recommend your book in the right way, (e.g. "I just read Joe Bloggs new political thriller and I have to tell you it's a must-read"). It's typically not easy to get these sorts of people on board, but some are open to fee-based advertisement/endorsement so it's worth considering if you have the budget for it.
13) Advertising Agencies - Finally, for the aspiring author who has a BIG budget, the advertising agencies will (close to certainly) sell books for you if you can afford to hire one. Costs are typically upwards of £25,000 for anything like a decent campaign but they will get you results in terms of sales and exposure as they have the media connections. Whether you will sell enough books to get a positive return on your investment is by no means certain, but experience shows that they will get you exposure and sell books.
Thanks for reading and please don't hesitate to contact us to discuss further - even if you published with someone else!