Writing a novel is a huge creative and practical investment, but the work (sadly) doesn’t end when you complete the last sentence, finalize the last edit request, approve the artwork, or even proudly cradle the finished product in your hands. That’s just the start of a long, complicated marketing process — something that’s sadly unavoidable unless you’re a celebrity author with a readership eager to grab anything you place on the market.
Since you’re reading this, you’ve likely already read this site’s piece on marketing your book after it’s done, as well as the follow-up on marketing a book you’re still writing. (If you haven’t read them yet, what are you doing here? Go read them, then come back here and continue.) Accordingly, we’re going to cover fresh ground here: novel marketing tips — in both senses of the word — that draw from the digital world to give you even more options.
Oh, and why’s the featured image a microphone? You’re about to find out! Here we go.
Drip-feed it as a freemium podcast
In recent years, the consumer market has seen a massive rise in product variety, all driven by intuitive digital tools and affordable technology making it comparatively quick and easy to be creative in whatever format you prefer. Most notably, the podcast has gone from a novelty to an everyday fixture in all areas of society. If you don’t listen to podcasts, you’re a rarity — and you’re missing out.
The freemium business model is all about providing something basic for free and charging people for anything beyond that, and it’s well-suited to a novel-length book. All you need is a decent microphone and a durable speaking voice (yours or someone else’s) and you can start recording segments of your novel. By releasing the first few chapters for free, you can get people interested in continuing the story, ultimately leading them to buy your novel.
Create and distribute character intros
Barring the unlikely scenario of your novel not containing any characters, you can gain a lot of headway by creating some character introductions and posting them on platforms of your choice: YouTube, Imgur, Reddit, etc. The format you use will depend on the platform, of course, but you can get creative in how you proceed.
Your goal with a character introduction should be to get across their main qualities and drives, and in the process lead people to empathize with them (and thus want to know more about them). You’ll likely have already done it in your novel, so make condensed versions. Any stylistic flourishes you can throw in will help: think about adding some illustrations, and even some animations if you have the necessary skills or know someone who does. You can also provide some very mild plot teases to get people hooked.
Try Amazon’s KDP advertising
Amazon’s KDP program (Kindle Direct Publishing) is great for self-starters who’d rather steer clear of traditional publishers, but the two aren’t mutually-exclusive — you can release hard copies and ebook versions through Amazon, or use KDP for an ebook version alongside a hard copy though another publisher.
What’s particularly useful about the KDP program is that it allows for conventional pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It isn’t going to have the effects of advertising through social media (or even AdWords), but it’s going to get you some added attention in a hyper-relevant area without requiring a large budget. Even a small boost will be worthwhile.
Produce some branded merchandise
This will be particularly viable if you did a lot of world-building in the process of writing your novel, because you’ll be able to take all the interesting concepts and images that didn’t make it into the novel and turn them into promotional designs for merchandise to give away. Simply find a branded product company in your area and give them some designs to turn into shirts, hats, etc., then look for places to give them away. Online, at a book fair, in a store — wherever you think you’d benefit from some added eyes.
Alternatively, you could aim for a promotional win-win in the form of a charity store. You don’t even need to know how to use tech software. You can buy a cheap store, brand it, install an odd-on that lets you dropship your branded items (no work or inventory needed), and pledge to pass all the profits to charity. You can even write about it in your blog, naturally!
Though authors from older generations are less likely to be interested in social media, there’s a very solid level of writer representation through social media channels such as Twitter, and it makes it remarkably easy to reach out to your favourite authors for assistance — if you go about it correctly, that is.
You certainly don’t want to directly ask for a plug, or be too forceful, or annoy them. Instead, simply select an excerpt from your novel to share with them, and be friendly. Pick something you think they’ll appreciate (if it was influenced by their style, then so much the better) and simply ask them what they think. If they have criticisms, then at least you can learn from them, and if they like what you sent them, they may well choose to share it with their followers. That’s a fantastic way to be introduced to an unfamiliar audience.