When John Grisham wrote his first book, he received a very modest 5,000 copy printing order. A Time to Kill would eventually be turned into a movie that starred Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock in 1996, eight years after Grisham secured that minor publishing deal.
How did he first start selling those books? By throwing a party for family, friends, and acquaintances so he could sell copies out of the trunk of his vehicle.
Now selling out of your trunk might not qualify as a great book marketing idea, but it can be effective. People like to meet authors. Personal connections make a story feel more personable. This leads to word-of-mouth marketing that can keep pushing sales until you start reaching best-seller territory.
There are plenty of simple ways that you can promote your book right now. Here are several ideas that you can implement today and for a very minimal investment.
#1. Create a website to promote yourself as an author if you don’t have one already. Have a blog on that website. Use current SEO techniques to improve site rankings so you can reach more organic traffic.
#2. If you have a website already, add a store to it where you can sell your book.
#3. Host contests on your website and social media networks where your followers can enter to win free copies of your book or other merchandise from you.
#4. Write a press release about your book. Distribute it to online outlets first, but don’t forget to send it to local media sources as well.
#5. Start an email marketing list where you send out a regular newsletter discussing your latest projects.
#6. Submit your website to directories and lists where there are companies and groups that are related to the genre of your book.
#7. Answer any questions you receive about your book on social media or your website in 24 hours or less.
#8. Create an RSS feed for your blog.
#9. Consider guest blogging for other author websites. There really is strength in numbers in the creative industries today. You can also reach out to other authors so that they can guest blog on your site as well.
#10. Create a forum that discusses the key topics included in your book. You can also join forums that cover this subject matter. Don’t spam the forum with links to your book. Become an active member to create organic interest in your story.
#11. Start a Facebook page and Twitter account that is about your specific book. This way you can separate your personal life from your professional life.
#12. Encourage followers and fans to post reviews and comments about your book on your website or social media pages.
#13. Create a hashtag for your book. Then use this hashtag every time you post or tweet something about your book.
#14. Build your own professional network. LinkedIn is a great place to connect with authors, agents, and publishers.
#15. Host chat sessions, Google Hangouts, Tweet-ups, and other online gatherings to answer questions from your fans and followers.
#16. Start a video blog on YouTube about what it means to be an author from your own perspective.
#17. Claim your author page on Amazon and make sure the bio is interesting to a potential reader. You can also register as an author on Goodreads and add the authorship widget to your site or blog.
#18. Hire a street team to promote your book locally by distributing print marketing materials, including posters, brochures, and other handouts.
#19. Ask to speak at local book clubs to discuss what it means to be a writer.
#20. Schedule a book reading at local venues. Take advantage of open mic nights at some establishments to avoid booking fees.
#21. Schools love to have authors come to talk to kids about writing. Just make sure your book is age-appropriate.
#22. Use a website like CafePress to design merchandise that helps to promote the title and branding of your book. Wear your merchandise when you go out in public.
#23. Donate copies of your new book to your local library.
#24. Create an affiliate program so that you will pay people who are able to generate sales for your book. You might also be able to join an affiliate program that will help to promote your book for a fee.
#25. Create a book trailer that can be shared on YouTube, your site, and on social media.
#26. Consider all forms of traditional advertising, including low-cost billboards that may be in your area, to spread interest about your book.
There are many great book marketing ideas out there. These tend to be the most effective and can be used with one another to create results. Then you just have to keep going. Keep working. That’s because the job of marketing your book never really ends.
Even when you’re a well-established author like John Grisham.