When their first book appears, it may be natural for authors to imagine that the hard work is behind them. After all, they may have put months or even years of thought and effort into crafting that book. Surely—now that it is finally on the shelves and available for download—it is time to sit back and reap the rewards of their labors? Unfortunately, it is rarely as simple as that! If the first-time author is a celebrity, or if the subject is a celebrity, the famous name alone may be enough to have readers flocking to the bookstores to pick up a copy. However, the books of authors who are complete unknowns could easily languish undiscovered on the bookshelves and on the web, unread and unappreciated. The reason for this is easy to understand. Many books are published every day and if readers do not hear anything about your book, they are very unlikely to discover it for themselves. However brilliant or worthwhile a book may be, if readers do not know it exists, they will never be in a position to discover that for themselves. For the unknown first-time author, the really difficult work is just beginning when they publish their book. This is the time when they will need to direct their efforts into making sure that readers know that their book is out there.
Finding Readers Online
The first question the author needs to ask him or herself is: “Who is my ideal reader?” If their first answer is that their book is for absolutely everyone, they probably need to give the question more serious thought. Few, if any, books will appeal to everyone. While they may be loved and raved about by some readers, others will be completely unmoved by them. If they have a clear idea of the readers who will be interested in their book, this can give authors some valuable clues about how to reach out to those readers. There are many book review web sites and book blogs, so the author could set out by contacting those which are most likely to be of interest to his or her readers. The owners of the sites or blogs may be interested in reviewing the book or interviewing the author. They may even want the author to write a guest post. Another online resource which many authors, both new and well-established, use to reach out to their readers is social media. This may mean having a fan page on Facebook which readers can “like” or an account on Twitter for them to follow. It is worth remembering that there are also niche social networks, such as Goodreads, which is targeted specifically at readers. Another online method of drawing attention to a new book is by appearing as a guest on a podcast. There are many book-focused podcasts and they are often hungry for interesting author interviews.
Taking the Strain Out of Promoting a Book Online
While their book risks being overlooked if they do not make an effort to promote it, many first-time authors feel that writing articles and blog posts cuts into time that they would prefer to spend on writing their next book. This is especially true if they are self-published and have a lot of control over when their next book becomes available. They have a good point, as having several books available is good as it increases the chances that readers will discover one of those books and decide to seek out the others. For this reason, authors may decide to outsource articles and blog posts to writers who specialize in providing high quality content for the web. These writers can produce relevant and interesting articles design both to appeal to readers and to be discovered easily by search engines. Authors who decide to hire content writers to take on this work should be careful to ensure the company or individual they engage has a reputation for producing articles to a high standard. There are some content providers who produce incoherent, ungrammatical or otherwise substandard work. Even if their work comes cheap, it could do more to damage the author’s reputation than enhance it!
Offline Methods of Reaching Out to Readers
In the days before the Internet, authors promoted their books by stepping out of their homes and meeting their readers face to face. This is still one of the most impactful ways of getting a book noticed and sparking readers’ interest in finding out more about it. Depending on the nature of their books and the area in which they live, authors may find that much of this kind of promotion can be done in their home town or city. Offers to do a reading at a bookshop or reader’s group or, if it is a children’s book, in a local school could be met with open arms. Authors may even find themselves invited to speak to local writers’ circles about their experiences of writing and publishing their first book. The more people they convince to read their book, the more likely authors are to reap the rewards of the best kind of publicity of all: the personal recommendations of readers who loved their books and are excited to share their latest discovery with their friends and family.