Building buzz is the art of creating talk…you want people to talk about your eBook. The more they talk, the more the word gets spread; the more the word spreads, the more champions you have to run in your race.
-Sarah Mae, How to Market and Sell Your eBook
I have several friends who are authors. Published authors. Of really great reads.
But not everyone knows their names.
And the other day, I realized that I had failed them. I had blogged about their books, of course. But I hadn’t even posted that review on Amazon.
I went straight to Amazon and reviewed their books post-haste. But it got me to thinking: what else could I be doing to help promote these books by my friends, by authors I respect?
In my parents’ and grandparents’ era, they relied on the reputation of the publisher, the well-known author’s name, when making book choices. But today? The power of personal recommendation is in the hands of the readers. You and I are the best advertisement for the books we read.
How can you promote books by your author friends? How can you create a buzz about your favorite books?
1. Buy their book.
If they offer to give you a copy, to keep or to borrow, accept it graciously. But remember that self-published authors pay for every copy of their book, whether they give it as a gift or sell it. So please, if it’s in the budget, offer to buy it. Unless they really want to give you a copy.
2. Read their book.
It seems a given, but please do read your friend’s book!
3. Review their book on Amazon.com and wherever else it’s sold.
Your Amazon review only has to be 20 words long. And those 20 words could go a long way towards selling 20 more copies of their book!
4. Loan their book to your friends after you’ve finished it.
Spread the buzz about your friend’s book. Pass it around. It will get more people talking about it and wanting to buy their own copies.
eBook? If it’s a favorite eBook, you’ve likely already printed it out and put it in a notebook — pass around the notebook! Amazon even allows you to loan most Kindle edition books once for 14 days. Just remember that even though it would be quite easy to forward the PDF version of an eBook to share it with friends, it’s not fair or legal.
5. Give their book as gifts.
If you love something, you’ll share it with your friends. And if you love your friends, you’ll give them books as gifts. And if you love your author friend, you’ll support them first when buying gifts, instead of turning to the local bargain bookstore.
eBook? Giving an eBook is easy — talk about the perfect last-minute shopping! Put it on a CD for your friend, print it out and put it in a binder, or have it printed professionally. Just remember that you need to purchase a copy of the eBook for each person who will own the book. You can even gift Kindle books straight to the user’s email address, with the option to schedule the delivery on their special day. For Nook or iBook users, a Nook or iBook gift card is your only option — but that doesn’t mean you can’t include a card with details about a book you know they’d love!
6. Suggest their book at your local or online book club.
If a whole book club decides to read a book, guess what? That means probably everyone in the book club will buy a copy! If you’re part of a book club locally or online, give a plug for discussing your friend’s book as a group.
7. Suggest their book to a local book shop.
Most bookstores have a “local authors” section — recommend your friend’s book for that spot. If your author friend doesn’t live locally, that doesn’t mean you can’t recommend their self-published book to your local bookstore. Just be sure to give the bookstore owner all the necessary contact information they’ll need to order multiple copies of your friend’s book.
8. Request that your local library order a copy of their book.
Many libraries have extensive budgets for patron-requested books. It doesn’t hurt to ask. And if they say no, you can always consider donating a copy and then telling your friends to be sure to check it out.
9. Rate and review their book on GoodReads, Shelfari, PaperbackSwap — wherever you talk about books.
Do you make your library list by visiting Goodreads? Do you use PaperbackSwap all the time? Make sure everyone can find your friend’s book wherever you look for and buy books. And make sure to rate and review it there!
“As a writer, you have control of the words you put on the page. But once that manuscript leaves your hand, you give control to the reader.”
If you’re a blogger…
- Offer to review their book on your blog (no strings attached).
- Ask if they’d be interested in providing a giveaway copy for your blog readers (offer to pay for part of it if they’re low-budget — if you love a book enough to buy a copy to give away, that will speak volumes to your readers).
- Offer to interview them for a guest post on another blog.
- Blog about their book again. Mention that you’re wanting to re-read it. Talk about the impact it had on your life. (But be honest!)
If you use social media…
Even if your favorite author isn’t online, that doesn’t mean you can’t harness the power of social media for them!
- Find the book on Amazon and click the “Share on Facebook” button (hidden below the “More Buying Options”). It will pop back up in your friends’ Facebook “sponsored” sidebar often. Amazon pays Facebook to feature books you like in your friends’ ads — take advantage of the free advertising for your author friends!
if the author has a Facebook page…
- Like, comment on (but don’t spam!), and share their posts. Often. The more fan interaction there is with a page’s posts, the more Facebook will show that page’s posts to others.
- Mention their page in your status updates by typing @ and then the name of their page.
- The single most important way you can help your favorite author’s Facebook page to succeed is to like and comment on their posts.
- Tweet the link to their website or book order page.
- Randomly talk about how much you love reading their book.
if the author has a Twitter account…
- Retweet them. Often.
- @mention them. Talk about how much you love reading their book.
More social media ideas…
- Pin the book on Pinterest (@mention the author if they have a Pinterest account).
if the author has a blog…
- Subscribe to their blog.
- “Like” their blog posts.
- Comment on their blog posts.
- Share their blog posts with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.
But what if I don’t like their book?
- Don’t do your review readers, yourself, and the author a disservice by being dishonest in your review.
- If the book had a lot of good points and you truly enjoyed it, maybe you can write a review focusing on the positive aspects.
- Be honest with your author friend. If you can’t write an honest review that’s anything but negative, it might be better not to review than to lose the friendship.
- Keep track of typos you find, so that they can fix them in the next edit.
- Offer to preview/critique their next book.
What if I am (or want to be) the author?
- Read Sarah Mae’s How to Market and Sell Your eBook.
- Read Michael Hyatt’s blog posts on publishing, especially his “Advice to First-Time Authors“.
- Follow Sarah Mae’s blog “It’s the Idea.”
- Contact the YLCF about featuring your book as part of next year’s March Of Books.
- Share this post with your book’s readers and ask them to follow the suggestions — your readers can be your best marketers!
Please comment with your ideas! What other ways can you as a reader help market and share your favorite books?
(Many thanks to Chantel Brankshire for the quote graphics in this post!)