Six best ways to easily promote your family history book

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14 March 2018
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Find out how to promote your family history book and secure strong sales figures with Belinda Griffin's expert tips.

Find out how to promote your family history book and secure strong sales figures with Belinda Griffin's expert tips.

In the April issue of Family Tree I reveal the truth about publishing your family history book. That is, publishing is not the finishing line but the starting gate, because book marketing and selling require considerable commitment and effort.

Don’t let that put you off, however. All you need is a solid plan to follow. Combine my article in the magazine with the tips here and you’ll be well on your way to publishing success.

1. Ensure you have a quality product

It should go without saying but far too many self-published authors skimp on the vital components of their book. It is essential that you invest in a professionally designed cover. Do not be tempted to put one together yourself as it is highly unlikely that it will be good enough to compete among the thousands of professionally designed covers already jostling for attention on Amazon and other retailers.

Likewise, you should invest in professional editing services. Depending on your writing experience you may need more or less input from an editor, but your manuscript should go through at least one round of editing to ensure the quality is top-notch.

If your book doesn’t look professional and is full of errors, making the reading experience anything less than perfect, you will be judged on that and may receive negative reviews. Reviews are an essential element of book marketing and selling, so you want to do everything in your power to ensure you are reviewed favourably.

2. Optimise your listing

When listing your book at online retailers it is important to take your time and make the best of what’s available to you.

Think carefully about your categories and keywords. Some book categories are easier to rank in than others, meaning your book will appear nearer the top of the list or even achieve bestseller status. Your keywords determine when your book will show up in customer searches, so ensure you are choosing words and phrases people will actually search for.

Top tip! Keywords can be word strings and phrases, not just single words.

Spend time crafting an enticing book description. Remember, this is effectively an advert, as potential buyers are making a decision about your book based on this short piece of writing. Don’t forget your author page either. This is where you can let readers get to know more about you and find all your books in one place.

3. Build your online author hub

It’s important for any author to build an online hub on their own patch of internet, or in other words, to have their own website. Facebook and other social media sites can be great, but they can change overnight, meaning it’s quite possible you can lose access to your hard-won fans overnight too.

Setting up a website these days doesn’t have to be scary and you don’t need anything too complex. Be sure to include details about your book and links to buy, as well as information about you and why you wrote your book, if that feels appropriate.

You can include links to your social profiles and I would encourage you to seriously consider starting a blog. Your website should also include prominent sign up links for your mailing list.

4. Build a mailing list and nurture your subscribers

It can feel uncomfortable at first, but every author should be building a mailing list, certainly if they plan to write more books. Email subscribers will be your most supportive fans and keen to hear what you are up to.

To encourage sign ups, offer a free incentive. This could be a short story, first chapter or, for non-fiction, a useful checklist or pdf related to your subject.

Be careful not to bore or annoy your email subscribers with sales messages. You should let them know about new releases or price promotions, but those shouldn’t be the only emails you send. Instead, share interesting news about your research or writing. Remember not to leave it too long between emails or your subscribers will forget who you are and unsubscribe.

5. Use social media wisely

Many authors make the mistake of using social media channels to blast out messages about their book. This rarely results in sales. Instead, use social media to make connections with readers, fellow writers and influencers who can help you with book promotion. Share interesting content from others and be sociable. If you blog, social media can help drive visitors to your posts.

6. Write your next book

Nothing sells backlist quite like frontlist! When publishing a new title, authors often see a spike in sales of their existing books, so if you want to give your book a boost, it’s time to get cracking with the next one!

For inspiration to take your story from that first germ of an idea through to marketing your finished book, read Family Tree's sister title Writing Magazine.

Belinda Griffin is a book marketing coach helping indie authors achieve greater book exposure and sales without experiencing overwhelm or burn out. Belinda runs SmartAuthorsLab where writers can learn about book marketing, reaching readers and building an author platform. Follow Belinda on Twitter @SmartAuthors.

Image copyright David Whelan