Outsourcing your book marketing tasks can help you from feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few tasks you can outsource.
Hopefully you’ve already set up a way to capture emails on your website and have a list of people waiting to hear about your book launch. A virtual assistant can put together an email template, add your content, and make sure it gets sent out.
Social Media Content & Activity
Hire a social media professional to design images branded to match your book cover image. The professional can also make sure your social media presence is active on a regular basis. The professional can do this by retweeting and sharing content, scheduling posts, and following appropriate accounts. Be sure you take an active part also in social media, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.
Website & Blog Posts
Hire a professional to create or polish up your website. A virtual assistant can use book excerpts to create and schedule blog posts for you.
You want to be sure to have a stock of visual assets to include book cover images, your headshot, an inventory of visual images for social media and any ads you plan to run. Visual assets may include video for a book trailer and book promotion and a virtual assistant to edit and post them to YouTube.
You will want to reach out to influencers, media, book reviewers, podcasters, and others about your book. These efforts can be managed by a publicist or marketing agency.
LinkedIn is my favorite social media platform for engaging with people and growing my influence with my community. I find I can connect and engage more deeply with people on LinkedIn.
I try to reach out to at least four or five people each week to make new connections and then follow up with at least one phone conversation each week. This has helped me build a community, not just of people who might do business with me, but also of other people in the industry I work in who may be good referral partners (my friendly competitors). I keep track of the people I talk with in a spreadsheet so I can refer back to it when referring to others. It also helps me monitor the effectiveness of my efforts.
One number on LinkedIn that I monitor is the LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI). The social selling index has been around for some time. It used to be available only to those who paid for the Premium account but now anyone can access their SSI. This is an algorithm that LinkedIn came up with after analyzing a group of top performing sales leaders and the results they achieved. The result is a score between 0 and 100. It was created by LinkedIn as a way for people using LinkedIn for sales to see how they rated. Of course most of my clients aren’t using LinkedIn for sales; but the rating can still indicate how well they are utilizing LinkedIn to establish their brand and build relationships. It’s something I track monthly for my clients.
A couple of months ago I decided to take a more proactive approach to see if I could improve my SSI score. After just a few weeks I was able to increase that score from 64 to 71. That score alone doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s important to note also where you are in your industry and network.
The formula for the LinkedIn SSI score is based on the 4 components of social selling, as defined by LinkedIn:
Establish your professional brand
Find the right people
Engage with insights
Let’s discuss each of those in a bit more detail and what you can do to increase your SSI score.
Establish your professional brand.
Be sure your profile is 100% complete with a profile photo (headshot), headline, and complete information that includes your keywords. When filling in your information, be sure to keep your customer in mind so they will want to contact you based on what you’ve provided. Include examples of your work in the Featured section – videos, SlideShare presentations, PDFs. You can boost your SSI score even more by publishing articles on LinkedIn and endorsing others. Also give and ask for Recommendations. All of this will help you become a thought-leader in your industry.
Find the right people.
I search for people in groups and through mutual connections. You can ask a first-degree connection for an introduction to a second or third-degree connection. Of course using LinkedIn’s paid Sales Navigator will increase the chances of this score being higher. If you use Sales Navigator you can unlock more of those who have viewed your profile and then potentially connect with them and their network. If you don’t pay for Sales Navigator, you are limited in what you see when you click on Who viewed your profile. For most of my clients who are not directly in sales, I don’t believe there’s a need to pay for Sales Navigator.
Engage with insights.
Do this by sharing conversation-worthy updates. Post content relevant to prospects and become a trusted source of insight. Participate in groups with thoughtful comments, questions, and content. Comment on other people’s articles and posts.
Strengthen your network by finding and establishing trust with decision makers. When you do invite people to connect, be sure to send a personalized note explaining briefly why you’d like to connect. Even a simple note such as, “We’re both in the ‘XYZ’ group here on LinkedIn and I’d like to connect to add you to my professional network.” Once you’ve connected, develop the relationship. Provide information they can use. Invite them to chat by phone or Zoom, assuring them it’s not a sales call. Here’s how I do that.
I have an interesting story to tell about using LinkedIn. Someone named Joe connected with me on LinkedIn and booked a complimentary phone consultation so I could answer some questions he had about using social media. Later he messaged me on LinkedIn because he needed someone in my area to do some handyman work on a property he owns in the area (he lives out of state). I was glad to send him the name and number of someone I know to help him out. For me this was the perfect example of using LinkedIn to engage and build community. Now Joe hasn’t paid me any money. He hasn’t become a client. But he was in need of a connection that I was able to provide. If he ever does need my services, or know someone who does, who do you think he’ll call? He did provide a wonderful review on my Facebook page as a result of the initial complimentary phone consultation we had.
Some people say consistently spend 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn and you’ll see the SSI score improve. Those same people say, “remember, it’s just a number.” I do check mine usually once a month and watch for the number to remain stable and rise. If it goes down, I don’t worry about it. But I do see why that may be the case so I can see were to focus my efforts to bring the score back up.
And, as one of my clients said, “if you think it’s just a tool to stimulate people to buy Sales Navigator, then fuggedaboudit!” (That’s how they tawk in the Bronx.) Can you tell she’s from New York?
Authors and book publishing industry experts, as well as everyone else, would no doubt agree that 2020 has been a challenging year. Yet, as one of my colleagues noted, since everyone has suffered in some way during the pandemic. It’s put things in perspective for us, helping us focus more on helping others.
In 2021 I want to focus on helping you, my readers and clients. One way I’m doing that is by introducing two new concurrent interview series in 2021. In 2020 I interviewed business podcasters so you could see if their podcast might be a good fit for you to be a guest on. You can read those interviews here. In 2021 the two interview series will be one with nonfiction authors and another with book publishing industry experts.
The Two New Interview Series
One series will start with authors I have worked with at some point over the past 15 years. In addition to providing exposure for those authors and their books, those authors will share how they weathered through 2020 during the pandemic and their favorite book marketing tip.
The other series is with experts in the book publishing industry will include editors, ghostwriters, publishing consultants, book coaches, and authors assistants. You will learn more about them and their business and find out if they are a good fit for you if you’re in need of their type of expertise. They will also share their favorite tip for using social media.
It is my hope that by highlighting the work of these authors and experts they might gain new readers and clients. And you will benefit by learning tips they share on book marketing, social media, and weathering through a pandemic.
Here are some of the people whose interviews you’ll be reading: Chrissy Das, Cristen Iris, Faith Wilcox, Jeanne Rodriguez, Anne Janzer, Laurie Buchanan.
If you know of anyone in the book publishing industry who would be a good fit for this series or a nonfiction author who launched a new book during 2020 amid the pandemic, please have them contact me.
Watch for our first 2021 interview here on the blog on January 5, 2021.
The end of each year is a good time to update your author bio. Your author bio helps potential readers learn more about you and why they should read your book(s). If you’ve written a new book this past year or received a book award, update your author bio with that information.
Here are some things you might include in an author bio:
Titles of your books
Book awards received
Work experience relevant to your book’s topic. (As an example, a client writing a book about coping with grief would include in her bio that she is a psychotherapist with 30+ years of experience in grief counseling.)
Something personal so your reader can get to know you better – perhaps where you live, that you’re a mother of three beautiful daughters, hobbies, or the inspiration for why you wrote your book.
Links to your website and/or social media platforms
It is a good idea to write a list of all the places you need to update your bio so you don’t forget. They might include your:
This should come as no surprise. Anyone with an interest in reading or writing, especially if you hope to build a career in “the biz,” has undoubtedly followed their fair share of wordsmiths. And sure, some of it is for networking purposes, and some of it is because they post a lot of marketing and publishing content that I find useful.
But by far, the largest group of authors I follow is made up of those that I simply like following.
Maybe they have a cute cat they’re always posting photos of. Maybe they offer relatable, encouraging insights into their writing process. Maybe they support the same political causes I do and I like how they articulate their convictions. Maybe they’re just funny, or have a unique way of expressing the feelings we all experience while trying to get through the day.
But here’s the crucial thing: of all the authors I’ve started following just for fun, I’ve gone on to purchase books from nearly every single one of them.
It’s a weird balance when you start using social media as a writer. You have work you want to promote, but you know that you can’t just post a stream of constant “Buy my book!” tweets. You want to be authentic and connect with readers. Yet at the same time, no one is interested in what you had for breakfast, right?
Like everything in writing, there’s a delicate balance to using social media. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that people are interested in the tiny details of your life — so long as you make it interesting.
Don’t just post a photo of what you’re up to; make a little joke in the caption, or ask a question to get people to interact in the comments. Also remember to mix it up! Living through a pandemic doesn’t always make for the most exciting social content, but whenever you find yourself doing something different or a little adventurous (going for a hike in a new location, or trying out a cool recipe), make an effort to record it.
Of course, “being interesting” doesn’t mean that you can’t do any kind of promo or marketing for your book. Obviously you’ll need to let your audience know when you’ve got a new book, when you’re running a sale or a giveaway, or even just when you reach an important milestone and want to celebrate it with friends and fans!
The important thing is that if you’ve built up an authentic audience, these bursts of news are going to be read by people who want to know about them. Especially if they’ve seen your progress as you’ve been prepping your book for release, the enthusiasm and support that follows will be a lot stronger and more effective than if you’d simply shouted into a disinterested void. I can’t even tell you how many authors I started following before they’d ever published, and eagerly pre-ordered their debut — so don’t dismiss the idea of building up your audience early.
What’s even better, the sort of audience you cultivate with genuine engagement is much more likely than a disengaged audience to tell other people about your books — and we all know that word of mouth is the best marketing of all!
So truly, if you’re ever feeling short on content to post to social media, just ask yourself: what would you talk about with a friend today? Because, in the end, that’s what you want each of your followers to feel like: a good friend.
Jenn Gott is an indie author and writer with Reedsy, so she basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books. She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance. You’ll find her on her website and over on the Reedsy blog, where she covers topics ranging from writing craft to how to launch a book for the first time.