A guide to marketing your debut novel

Congratulations! You have a book coming out!

So many authors toil for years on a manuscript and it’s incredibly gratifying to finally secure an agent or publisher. And many authors feel like when they have these people advocating for their novel, their work is over.

Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s true that publishers have marketing teams, their attention is spread over multiple authors and titles. You could be competing with very well-known authors for an already stretched marketing budget. When you’re a debut author, it’s unlikely that your publisher is going to want to invest too heavily in your novel.

Thankfully, there’s now more ways than ever that authors can take charge of their own marketing campaigns.

Understand your readers

Your target readership is something you should already be very familiar with; this would have been a big consideration when you pitched your novel to agents and publishers in the first place. Now you need to consider the best ways to reach those people.

For example, if you’re writing for the Young Adult (or YA) market, that age group will be very active on social media platforms. Conversely, if your target audience is older women who enjoy romance or family dramas, you could market your book specifically to book clubs. 

Developing an understanding of what is going to appeal to your future readers is an important first step in your marketing strategy.

Create an author website

This one might seem intimidating to the less tech-savvy writers, but don’t worry! You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy website and manage book sales yourself. You just need to set up an online home for yourself and your work, where readers can go to learn more about you, the inspiration behind your book, and find places where it will be stocked.

While an expensive e-commerce site isn’t necessary, it is important that your website look professional. Invest in your own domain name and seek help to set the site up if you need it. 

Author Website Checklist
  • Bio
  • Headshot
  • Excerpts from book
  • Reviews of book
  • Places to buy your book (bookstores and online retailer links)
  • Links to your social media
  • Contact information

Reach out to reviewers

Arranging for reviews used to be the domain of PR professionals, but now finding willing reviewers is more accessible than ever. A quick internet search will turn up hundreds of book review blogs and websites, and you’re sure to find one that fits your novel’s target audience.

Don’t be shy to reach out to these reviewers yourself. Offer to send them a free copy in exchange for a review published on their site. Make sure you check that they have a legitimate following – a review is useless if no one is going to see it! 

Some of these online reviewers have amassed huge audiences that listen to their recommendations, so it’s a very worthwhile exercise. Even if you think your book is too small and unknown to be considered, there’s no harm in reaching out and trying!

Use social media

Finally, it’s vital that authors have a social media presence. You don’t need to be active on every platform but aim to post regularly on at least one. Choose the platform where your target audience is most likely to spend time, and make sure you include links to your website and places to pre-order or purchase your novel.

It’s up to you what kind of content you’d like to share. Some authors include lots of their personal lives; others prefer to keep accounts focused on their books and writing. 

Make sure that you’re engaging with your online community and don’t be scared to jump into conversations! You never know – replying to a tweet might result in a book sale a few clicks later. 

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