A point that I keep returning to on this blog is that to be successful as an author, you have to market and promote yourself.
Furthermore, it’s important to market early in the process, even before you publish your book. You want to come into launch day with momentum, and the way to do that is to build up an audience of readers eager to read your book.
You may be wondering: How do I promote myself online as an author? Where can I promote that I’m an author?
In this guide, I’ll get you started with tips and advice on how to do self-promotion, along with the types of websites and online platforms you can go to for promotion so that both you and your newly found readers walk away happy.
Advice for Forming Your Promotion Plan
Either take out a blank piece of paper or open up a new word processor document. You’ll want to brainstorm the ways you want to promote yourself and your work and pin down the platforms you want to use.
First point of order: where do you find books you want to read? In all likelihood, the book you’re writing is in the same niche that you read in, so by thinking about how you fill your bookshelf, you can retain the perspective of the reader so you can meet your audience from the other end of the bookselling process.
Beyond that, compare your manuscript to similar books (comp titles), then look up where their authors are promoting. Google will often pop up the major platforms that an author uses, and their website will often link the entire repertoire.
Even as you research other promotional models, reflect on the platforms you’d prefer to use. Every author has a different approach to promotion, so your strategy will likely be different than your competitors.
Once you’ve listed the platforms you’re thinking of joining, then comes another important part: choose only 1-3 platforms to promote.
You may feel some pressure to promote yourself everywhere. After all, they say that more is better. However, I urge you to resist this pressure. One of the worse things you can do as an author is to try to do everything, stretch yourself thin, and then burn out.
Instead, start with your foundational platforms. Take the time to master a website’s software and best practices and evaluate how sustainable your efforts will be on that platform. If you find a platform to be fruitless, phase it out. If you find success, maintain and build through that avenue and gradually expand your promotional network.
Platforms for Author Self-Promotion
Now, on to the online platforms. The following section will list both specific platforms and their more general categories. Websites rise and fall in popularity by the year (remember MySpace?) and some may even cease to exist (rest in peace, Google+). On the bright side, categories last a little longer, and the fundamentals of promotion transfer to any platform.
Let’s start with the social media platforms, the ones you’ve most likely heard about: Twitter and Facebook. While both of them are facing major competition these days, there’s a lot of established advice out there for how authors can promote on these two giants.
Twitter tends to be more fast-paced and concise, while Facebook tends to be more concentrated in groups with slightly longer posts. Facebook has also traditionally had a reputation of having an older audience than Twitter, although even Twitter these days is no longer as hip as its heyday. Overall, these two platforms have proved their staying power, so picking one or both comes down to which style you prefer and where’s your book’s audience.
For other social media platforms that are centered around text, LinkedIn is the prime candidate for business authors and professionals writing non-fiction. Reddit is also growing as being even more community-based than Facebook. Tumblr has waned in popularity but remains an option for writers with younger audiences.
With the above in mind, don’t write off the platforms that rely on images and videos. Meta/Facebook-owned Instagram has a “Bookstagram” community full of authors leveraging visuals for promotion. Snapchat is more insular but may be worth considering for YA authors.
And of course, there’s the newest big new thing in social media: TikTok. Traditional publishers have been taken aback by how effective “BookTok” has been at elevating backlist titles to young yet enthusiastic audiences. No one can predict if BookTok will continue to bear fruit for authors, but with video clips as short as 15 seconds, you would have the opportunity to push your book out in a fast-paced environment.
We’re not done yet: there are even more platforms beyond what’s usually considered social media. Amazon-owned Goodreads is designed for authors, in that you can claim your author profile, engage with readers with content such as author Q&A, and even run giveaways.
You can also start a blog and either set one up on your website (see below) or use a blogging platform such as Medium. Newsletters are also gold, with options out there such as Mailchimp and Substack.
And finally, I recommend that all authors at least build a website. Starting out, you don’t have to go with a paid option (although I still urge you to eventually pay money), but websites make for a reliable central hub that you can funnel readers to from external platforms. While social media websites may shut down, you always can keep your website.
There are thousands of more websites I’ve yet to mention, but that’s the beauty of the Internet. There are platforms for every niche, and new websites come into being and popularity by the month.
This is only the start of your promotional journey. I hope that I’ve given you plenty of pointers on how to launch your writing campaign.
Over to you: Where do you promote yourself online? What pieces of advice do you have on author self-promotion?
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.