February 11, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s no secret that the global health crisis has drastically impacted the publishing industry. With in-person events canceled and bookstores struggling to make sales, many authors are scrambling to find new ways to promote their books online.
Historically, book sales have risen despite economic downturns. More than ever, people are looking for information, entertainment and an affordable diversion while indoors.
While paperback revenues have been on the decline, e-book sales are rising. There is still an opportunity to generate profits, and an even larger audience awaiting when you shift your focus to digital promotions.
You don’t need to have a live release party or book signing to generate buzz for your titles. You just need consistent marketing and a little ingenuity.
Here are five ways you can promote books online during the global crisis.
1. Go on a podcast tour
Want to get in front of new readers at no cost and in perpetuity? Consider organizing a podcast tour.
Podcasts are an evergreen promotion channel with the potential to generate leads long after your episode goes live. Many podcasts have a loyal following, so an endorsement by the host will go a long way toward establishing credibility. Not to mention, appearing on shows expands your professional network.
Publishing schedules and timelines vary so to have as many episodes go live on or near your release date, aim to start doing interviews three to six months beforehand. You can pitch to appear on podcasts routinely through show websites and sign up for directory sites such as PodcastsGuests.com to make sure you are top on mind when someone is seeking an expert guest.
2. Send voice messages to reviewers
Reviews and social proof are crucial to ensuring your book has ongoing sales. Many authors spend a significant part of their budget on giveaways like gift cards and signed hardcover copies.
In actuality, what readers crave is a connection. If you want more engagement, consider offering your followers a personalized voice message via direct message or e-mail when they leave a review of your book and send a screenshot as confirmation. You may have to deal in the currency of time, but a custom message and genuine outreach takes no more than 30 seconds and can result in a fan for life.
3. Attend and host virtual conferences
With so many events going digital, authors can now get in front of large crowds more frequently without having to budget for travel expenses or time. Get your message out to new readers from the comfort of your living room, speaking about a related topic and plugging your book at the end to conference attendees.
Consider giving away a free chapter of your book after your presentation to anyone who signs up for your e-mail list. You can also offer a free 15-minute audit or consultation to attendees who purchase your book after the conference and send a receipt.
Another option is to host your own virtual conference based around the theme of your book. If you’re in the nonfiction space, this is a natural transition. If you have a book on wellness tips, for instance, you can host a virtual wellness event with guest speakers on various subtopics and offer a discount on tickets to anyone who purchases your book.
4. Start an online book club
A virtual book club is a great way to engage your community of core followers. You can offer a free digital copy of your book to anyone who signs up by a deadline and host live Q&A sessions each week.
This option works best if you have a backlist so those who participate in the book club will be inclined to view and purchase more of your work. You can also do this in collaboration with other authors, offering a different book every month and pooling your e-mail lists and resources.
5. Get social
The new wave of social media trends is increasingly friendly toward authors. Instead of the perfectly curated images traditionally rewarded by the Instagram algorithm, platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse are promoting substance over shine. If your book is informative, you can easily gain a following by sharing tidbits and excerpts on social posts to entice your followers to learn more.
Wherever possible use the “link in bio” option to funnel profile browsers to your books. Make sure you only share content that’s related to your genre, and add a clear call to action to encourage a higher click-through rate.
You can go live and do virtual readings of excerpts from your book. The content on these new platforms isn’t typically recorded, so there’s a sense of urgency for followers to tune in. End every live session with a quick note on where viewers can find your books if they want to learn more.
With more people than ever working from their laptops, there is an audience online for your books and related events. Authors and entrepreneurs who prioritize digital marketing methods and adopt new platforms have the potential to make this their highest-earning year yet.