One of the most frequent questions I receive from new authors is: “How do I market my book?”
Sadly, the question is usually asked two or three years later than it ought to be. The time to begin marketing your book is at least a year (ideally two or three years) before it’s published.
The first step in marketing your book is creating a personal website or blog. As an author, your website is the front door to your platform. It’s the place where readers can find you and the things you write. Email lists, social media, and other ways to connect with readers are nice, but creating a professional-looking website and posting on it regularly are the first steps to building an audience that will buy your books. I learned the importance of having and regularly posting on a website by accident.
In 2009, (three years before my first book was published) I began a Google blog. I shared stories about the people I prayed with who were being healed. During the first year of blogging, traffic to my website was pretty dismal. With the help of Google’s search engine, the site had about 10 visits a day. Nothing to brag about, but the readers who did manage to find me became dedicated followers. This was around the time when Facebook was becoming popular.
In 2010, I began intentionally building a group of friends on Facebook who were interested in healing. I continued sharing stories from my blog with them. By the end of 2010, the blog was seeing around 100 visits a day. For the next two years, I continued building the audience and sharing articles from my blog on Facebook. By the end of 2012, when my first book was ready to launch, the website was seeing around 450 visitors a day.
Having that kind of traffic to my website provided an audience of readers who were primed for a book launch. I published my first book at the end of 2013 and it sold well, considering that it was my first book and I was a relatively unknown author. I made more than $25,000 in royalties from the book in the first year.
Here’s where dedication and a little hard work pay off. It’s one thing to set up a free website. It’s another thing to post 300 articles on it over the course of a few years. It takes that long for search engines to aggregate your stories and send readers to your website. Building a platform isn’t rocket science. But it does take time, and it requires persistence.
In 2014, I upgraded my platform. I migrated my blog to a self-hosted WordPress website and continued posting and sharing messages on Facebook. I added a podcast, which increased traffic by 30%. Today the website sees around 3000 visits a day. I self-publish through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and my books sell well enough for me to write full-time.
There are many components that make up a successful marketing campaign, but for an author, none are more important than having a personal website, where readers can check out your work, get to know you, and fall in love with your stories.