I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.

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The eleventh contributor is U.S. author Eric Praschan and he’s here to talk about becoming book marketing.

Standing Out and Filling Your Plate at the Crowded Banquet—Book Marketing by Eric Praschan

Today, the publishing world is a giant banquet hall filled with food as far as the eye can see. Thanks to the dynamic changes in the industry within the past several years, every author has gained entrance to the feast. Accessibility has never been greater, but since everyone is welcome to the party, it’s getting a little crowded in here and visibility is tough. Is anyone feeling a little claustrophobic? We’re all excited to be invited by our party’s co-hosts—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and others—but the culinary delights are being snatched up by deep-pocketed VIPs, leaving the rest of us to scramble for the scraps. How do we get noticed, and how can we get our share of the prized morsels?

For many authors, book marketing is about as fun as a visit to the dentist’s office or scrubbing the toilet clean. Months of sweat, toil, and passion have been poured into writing the book, and now, of all absurd things, you’re telling me I have to spend twice the sweat, toil, and passion in hawking the book to uninterested people like a used car salesman? Oh, the humanity. This is the conundrum facing every author who enters the party in the giant banquet hall. Everyone’s invited once they’ve written and published a book—whether by traditional or independent means—but marketing is what separates the authors who grab fistfuls of chicken wings from the buffet table from the authors who are left standing with empty plates. And yes, in this strange metaphor, the chicken wings equal book sales. What can I say, I’m a food guy. If only book sales actually came with different dipping sauces. Mmm…tasty. But alas, I digress.

Whether you are traditionally or self-published, you’ll have to market your book in some way in order for it to be successful. If there was a magic “Market Thyself” button that authors could push which would cause publicity elves to scurry about the earth and upload your book to every e-reader device, I guarantee you that you’d already know about it—and everyone else would already be using it. I’m sure someone somewhere is working on an app for that. Maybe when the iPhone 7 comes out. Until then, we still have to market our books.

So how can an author get some meat, potatoes, and a slice of pie on his or her plate at the banquet without losing a limb in marketing expenses? Good news. You don’t have to take out a second mortgage to market your book. You don’t even have to sell your old record collection. Go ahead and keep those golden oldies. Vinyl will make a comeback and you’ll be ready with a victory soundtrack. Dear author friend, take heart. You are a fearless, bold pioneer, and you can take a step toward seizing those tasty menu items at the banquet (yes, still talking about book sales) once you start using some of these marketing recipes:

1. Social Media. It’s free, it’s easy, and everybody’s doing it. That sounds like a slogan for bad teenage behavior, but it’s actually good in this case. Social media is crucial to driving book sales. Creating a unique Facebook author page is helpful so readers can “like” it and receive updates about your new book releases and other information. Interacting with readers through posts and comments is vital in maintaining connectivity with your readership and building buzz for your books. Having a Twitter account is also useful, but it’s important to use it as a social tool, not merely as a platform to promote your books. Through Twitter, you can connect with your fans and build an interactive readership.

2. Website. You must have a website if you are an author. Period. Readers want a home base where they can go to find out more about you, your books, and everything related to you (without seeming like too much of a stalker, of course!). Your website is where you can update content on your blog, book releases, photos, and other personalized information that helps readers relate to you. Don’t underestimate the power of your website as a marketing tool.

3. Free Amazon reviews. Getting reviews for your book can be one of the most difficult tasks. You click “Publish” and watch your book go live on Amazon and then hope people will find it, buy it, and post 5-star reviews, right? But how will they actually know about it? You can help tell them. Amazon has an upper echelon of customer reviewers—everyday people like you and me who buy products, use them, and post reviews about their experiences—and these people have written so many quality reviews that they are included in Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers and Amazon’s Hall of Fame Reviewers club. You can look through this list and find people who review books in your genre and contact them to request a review of your book. This is a great way to receive many free, quality reviews. Plus, if that person is ranked as an Amazon Top 500 or Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer, it will indicate that in their review, which will add credibility to your book on Amazon. This process can take some time and effort, but it’s worth it if you get some quality reviews out of it. Amazon posts this exclusive list at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers.

Once your book reaches 25 reviews, Amazon’s complex algorithms go to work and Amazon begins advertising your book for free. If you’ve ever searched for products on Amazon, you’ve seen this in the “Amazon Recommends” section or “Customers who bought this item also brought this item” section. The more reviews your book has, the more visibility Amazon gives you because they know customers will be more likely to buy your book. If your book starts selling well, they’ll even include it in email ads they send to readers based on browsing history and book genre interest. That’s invaluable free advertising from the world’s largest online retailer.

4. Free blog reviews: Another great resource for free reviews is book bloggers. The literary community is filled with wonderful people who love to read and post their reviews of books on their blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, and other online forums. Here are two websites where you can find bloggers accepting book review requests: http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/

5. E-book promo sites: In the vast cyberspace universe, you need a helping hand to get noticed, so the following websites exist to give your book a boost. Some sites are inexpensive, while others cost more but have a larger social network and will generate more sales for you. Make sure to do your research and figure out what you want so you can get the biggest bang for your buck. Those chicken wings are waiting, and an e-book promo site just might help you sneak past the surrounding bodies so you can snatch up some of those saucy treats for your plate:

1. Author Marketing Club: http://authormarketingclub.com/
2. Awesome Gang: http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
3. Bargain eBook Hunter: http://bargainebookhunter.com/contact-us/
4. Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/submit-your-free-kindle-days/
5. Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/home/
6. Books on the Knob: http://blog.booksontheknob.org/
7. Daily Free eBooks: http://www.daily-free-ebooks.com
8. Digital Book Today: http://digitalbooktoday.com/12-top-100-submit-your-free-book-to-be-included-on-this-list/
9. Digital Ink Today: http://digitalinktoday.com/
10. Digital Inkspot: http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com/
11. E-book Deal of the Day: http://ebookdealofday.com/
12. Ebookshabit: http://ebookshabit.com/
13. Ereadercafe: http://www.theereadercafe.com/
14. eReader IQ: http://www.ereaderiq.com/contact/
15. Ereader News Today: http://ereadernewstoday.com/ent-free-book-submissions/
16. eReader Utopia: http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.com/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
17. Free Book Dude: http://www.freebookdude.com/p/list-your-free-book.html
18. Free Booksy: http://www.freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
19. Free Kindle Books and Tips: http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/for-authors/
20. Indie Book of the Day: http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
21. Just Kindle Books: http://www.justkindlebooks.com/
22. Kindle Book Review: https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-books/
23. Kindle Daily Deal: Email Phil at thekindledailydeal@gmail.com
24. One Hundred Free Books: http://onehundredfreebooks.com/author-free-kindle-book-submission.html
25. Pixel of Ink: http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
26. Snickslist.com: http://www.snickslist.com/books/place-ad/

There are other marketing methods you can try, including varying the price of your book from time to time, making your book free for a period through KDP Select, and, of course, having a press kit for your book when contacting bookstores, newspapers, TV stations, or other media outlets to request readings, signings, or interviews (for tips on making a press kit, see the following links: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/04/23/press-kit/ and http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/03/book-marketing-your-online-press-kit/). The key is to be fearless and willing to experiment. Even if a certain method doesn’t work, at least you tried it. Then you can try something else. Marketing, like book writing, is an organic creature, not an exact science. What first looks like failure is only success waiting to happen. You’ll only know what works by first trying what doesn’t work. Be patient and persistent. Breathe life into that marketing creature and see if it survives. You can always resuscitate it if needed by using a different method. Sometimes a little book CPR is good for the soul. It helps clarify why you wanted to write it in the first place—the love of it.

Most importantly, believe in your book. Act like an extrovert even if you aren’t one (that’s what I do)! Put yourself out there and be brave. No one will know about your book until you tell them. Most often, you probably think people won’t be interested, but I bet they’ll be fascinated and inspired by the fact that you’ve written and published a book. You are a creative person, and that’s beautiful. Never forget it. Someone creative once inspired you to write, and now you can creatively inspire someone else. That’s a treasure beyond price.

Well, folks, the feast is in full swing, and it’s a free for all at the food tables. Don’t get left behind! You may feel outmatched, but don’t dismay. We’re all in the same room, we’re all struggling for visibility, and we’re all facing the same challenge of fighting and hoping against obscurity. But we also have the same opportunities and resources available to us. So be encouraged. You’re not alone, and you’re not the only one who feels invisible at times. Let’s shake things up and make some friends at this banquet. We don’t want anyone to go home with an empty stomach. Now, is anyone hungry, or is it just me? Enjoy the feast, friends!

Author Bio:
Eric Praschan has been writing for more than 20 years. He holds a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Theological Studies. He has many years of experience in drama, music, teaching, and higher education. He is the author of the Amazon bestselling suspense novels Blind Evil and The James Women Trilogy, which includes Therapy for Ghosts, Sleepwalking into Darkness, and The Reckoning.

He loves suspense fiction books like an addiction. Some of his hobbies include watching college football and monster movies, listening to rock music, and playing basketball. Eric lives in Columbia, Missouri, with his wife.

Website: http://www.ericpraschan.com
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Praschan/e/B009AEAM46/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricPraschanAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericpraschan
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6536969.Eric_Praschan