There are many ways to promote your book, but in order to compete with film and video-games in a socially driven marketing climate you need to get creative. We'll show you how to take the reins of social marketing and get your book noticed.
1. Run a Developer Diary
A developer diary is a sort of public journal that shares the intimate details of your relationship with your book over the course of its creation. The possibility for content on this blog would be limited only to how much of your writing process you're willing to share.
Thoughts about certain aspects of your book, sneak peeks, cut content, and the less glamorous aspects of your book like the research or technical process books go through will all be interesting to an audience of potential writers and dedicated fans.
2. Utilize Viral Marketing
Viral marketing for books isn't especially difficult. One of the most successful ways is to pick apart your book for specific quotes or prose you find interesting and quoting it in conversation, naturally. This will create some really organic buzz that will get people interested in what you're saying that has the potential to turn people into new fans.
Another popular way to create some viral traffic is to take the above mentioned concept and apply your favorite quotes and prose over top of an image that is either used with permission or has an open license. Then distribute either on social networks or through chain e-mail.
Encourage friends, family, and fans to all do the same with their favorite quotes and have them share these image macros with their networks which will hopefully be passed around. Just remember to have the quotes attributed back to your book or else it will be difficult for others down the line to discover where the quotations came from.
3. Hold Contests
Holding contests is a fun and easy way to get some interest and is one of the more fun ways of promoting your book. Since everybody likes free things, holding contests like "Best Book Cover Design" or "Name My Character" contests for small prizes like a free signed copy of your book or some other token of appreciation is a great way to generate some interest over what you're giving away in the first place. Advertising the contest will actually be more effective than advertising the novel itself since more people will be drawn in by the potential to win something, but may end up staying because of genuine interest in you novel.
Other contest ideas range anywhere from naming your book, drawing fan art, or creating the best quotation macro and will all help to create some interest in you and your novel.
4. Offer A Digital Copy
Book lovers will tell you that sometimes it's really nice to have a nice, physical copy to hold in your hands while reading it but once the book is finished it becomes a bit of a burden. Digital is fast becoming the solution to the problem of old, unused books slowly taking up space, but avid readers will likely always prefer the ability to hold the book in their hands.
If you're self-publishing it's very easy to offer a free digital copy of your book with every physical copy purchased. If you're a published author it may take some work with your publisher to work out a deal, but agreements like the first several hundred books pre-ordered getting the digital copy is a good compromise. Allowing your books to be archived digitally allows for readers to pass the physical copy along to a friend or a library which creates new interest in your book and gives your book a much longer shelf life.
5. Give Your Content Away
This is probably one of the scariest ways to promote your book in this article but proven successful many times over. One of the problems people have with all media, book included, is that they are essentially investing in an experience that is either going to be good or bad. If it's a bad experience they are very likely to feel more animosity towards their purchase and as a result are going to be more biased when they share that experience with interested parties.
Either giving away parts of your book or the whole thing is going to give readers a lot more incentive to pick up the book and/or finish it. Allowing potential readers an offering better than the back cover will help them judge whether or not the book is for them and in some cases will get them hooked enough to buy the book to be able to finish the story.
In the case of giving the book away for free, the choice of buying a physical copy of the book at full price or simply asking them to pay as much as they want will reduce the negative bias towards the book tremendously and will leave readers with a wholly enjoyable experience. Giving the book away for free will also encourage new readers to read your story since it's already free which creates a steady flow of new, interested readers.
6. Have Your Work Reviewed
Reviews are a great way for people to get some valuable insight on what your book is all about. Find reputable reviewers and read up on what their criteria is for getting a review of your work done. There are special websites that will cater especially to reviewing the works of beginning independent writers.
You should also make every attempt to be interviewed by the publications reviewing their book since a healthy relationship with the press is just one of the many effective gateway to getting your book into the hands of new readers.
7. Utilize Social Networking Platforms
Social networking is the easiest way to establish some strong web presence for your book. Websites like Facebook, Google +, and Twitter will allow you to keep your fans up to date on projects you may be working on, when book releases are occurring, and other important information like tour dates, meet-ups and other fun stuff that is easily shareable.
Even if you aren't incredibly savvy with all forms of social networking, just having a well-developed page that people can reference, or share with their connections, creates some viral buzz for your book.
8. Host Meet & Greets
Meet & Greets are great if you have established a good fan base, particularly a local one, where you are able to plan small meet-ups at bookstores, cafes, and other small venues. At these meet and greets your fans are able to meet you, discuss your book or other books that are somehow related to your book.
At these meet-ups you establish a stronger bond with your fans and generate some interest with people who may not have known about you and just happened to wander into your discussion while they were out.
9. Attend Conventions and Conferences
Similar to meet and greets, but on a much larger scale, conventions are a great place to setup shop and meet with other members of the industry. Having your own vendor booth is a great way to put all of your literature and merchandise on display for fans and potential fans to get interested in. It allows you to sell a bit of your stock while also establishing that bond with fans as you sign their merchandise and converse with them about your writing.
Conventions are also invaluable for the amount knowledge that is shared between publishers, authors, and fans. Conventions host panels that allow authors and publishers to speak on subject relating to writing or the business of publishing books.
You should also bring loads of business cards to trade with members of your industry. Be it authors or publishers, establishing a friendship with these people will open doors that will allow you to take your writing to new places.
A combination of all these elements is not only a great way to sell merchandise and get your name out there to members of the industry, but it's also a great venue to sell your book and other merchandise you might have.
10. Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)
Alternate reality games, or ARGs for short, are the newest form of viral marketing that has come with the popularity of social media. ARGs are typically launched and played before the release of whatever the game is advertising to generate hype over the story and give a little bit of extra background information that ties in with the narrative proper.
What makes ARGs so unique is that readers from the real world are allowed to interact with the story's universe in some way which gives them a deep connection and richer experience. It also allows you as an author to tell a second story, maybe shedding some background information on your story that you weren't able to fit into the book itself.
Some examples of popular ARGs would be the game that was attached to The Dark Knight or the ilovebees.com ARG that was paired with the release of Halo 2. Both of these used mixed media such as websites, snail mail, and requiring players to solve puzzles in order for the ARGs to be completed.
Looking for more tips and advice? Check out the other articles in Bright Hub's guide, What You Need to Know About Self Publishing.