It’s the holy grail for busy writers. Building your audience in advance of publication, so that when you launch your book, there’s a steady stream of interest and sales.
But for self-published writers who have day-jobs, kids, and a million other things going on, this can seem like a mammoth task. Without chunks of time to devote to plans and action, how can you go about building your audience?
Don’t despair. You can make an impact in as little as 30 minutes a day. Here’s how.
You know the phrase – slow and steady wins the race. It’s the same with building your audience and promoting your book. It will take time. If you chip away a little at a time, you’ll be making good ground before you know it.
The tips in this blogpost will help you with focus and planning. If you’re after practical ideas on how to go about your marketing, check out these blogposts too:
7 Strategies to Sell More Books (Every Self-Published Author Needs To Know)
What to include on your author website
Three ways to use Twitter to spread the word about your book, without being salesy
How to make your Amazon author page work hard for you
3 top tips to make blogging easier
1) Don’t wait until your book is published before marketing it.
If you’re writing your book at the moment, or in the process of having the cover designed, manuscript edited, and interior formatted, NOW is the time to start building the excitement before launch.
Lots of authors publish their book and expect a surge of sales. In reality, the sales of your book are likely to build gradually. The best way to help this happen is to have your audience waiting for your book’s release.
If you’re concerned about the publication date slipping for reasons beyond your control, don’t worry about being less specific about the release date during the early marketing stages. It’s perfectly fine to say, ‘to be released in early 2016’ or ‘publication in Spring 2016’ etc.
If you are tackling your marketing in small 30 minute chunks, this is even more reason to start as soon as you can.
2) Have clear goals about what you want to achieve
Think about it. When you take a drive in your car, how would you get to your destination if you didn’t know the route? The same applies here. You need to know where you want to end up to plan how to get there.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible, and adapt as you go, depending on what you find works best. But you need a basic plan of your goals.
Try writing your goals down in succinct points. Then write down the steps you can take to get them.
For example if one of your goals is to create your own author website, start by writing down each step you need to take:
Step 1 – research available URLs (the ‘www.’ name of a website)
Step 2 – find out about hosting (this is where the files for your website are stored online)
Step 3 – decide whether to have a self-managed website like WordPress, or hire a web designer
Step 4 – decide how many pages you want on your website
Step 5 – write the content for the homepage
Step 6 – write the content for the purchase page
You get the idea.
If you’re working in 30 minute chunks per day, break the steps down into baby steps. This way you can actually achieve a step each day.
For more about creating your author website, read our blogpost here.
3) Commit a small amount of time every day
Even 30 minutes a day will all add up. Once you have your list from step 2, commit to actioning one point each day.
And the operative word here is COMMIT. No excuses. Find a 30 minute slot in the day, that you know that you can keep. It may mean sacrificing your favourite TV show once the kids are in bed. Or getting up 30 minutes early while the house is quiet.
If you booked an appointment at the Doctors, you would do everything in your power to keep it, and get there on time.
Treat your 30 minutes with as much importance as any other appointment you make.
4) Don’t just focus on selling, focus on building a relationship
Many authors feel really uncomfortable when it comes to promoting their book. They don’t want to come across as salesy or pushy.
It may help you to focus on building a relationship with your potential audience, rather than treating it as a sales task.
If you build a great relationship with people and get them interested in you and your writing, you probably won’t need to do any selling at all, apart from providing information on how they can buy your book!
5) When it comes to marketing messages, one size doesn’t fit all
Your audience will exist in various places. Take some time to brainstorm who your target audience is and where you can find them.
Tailor your message to your audience, to make sure it’s appropriate for the medium and keep it engaging.
If you’re preparing your marketing in small chunks, just work on one message at a time.
This will keep you and your message focussed.
6) Document your progress
Make a note of every milestone you achieve. If you’ve written 500 words today, keep a tally. If you’ve managed some ‘likes’ on Facebook, keep a record.
If you’re like me, create a calendar, or a list that you can tick off.
Looking back at these achievements will really spur you on, and you’ll see how much progress you’ve made.
7) If it works, do more of it.
Although sometimes it’s hard to track success back to a specific activity, if something seems to have a positive effect, do more of it!
I know this sounds obvious, but if you only have a short time each day to dedicate to marketing, then it really counts.
Have you Tweeted something that’s been re-Tweeted loads of times? Then experiment with another Tweet of a similar nature to test what your audience likes about it.
Or perhaps you’ve sent out a press release and had some coverage in a local newspaper. Keep in contact with the journalist who included your content. Make them the first journalist you speak to in future.
What has worked for you when it comes to building your audience? Leave your answers in the comments section below.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.