Marketing Tips for Authors: Go Digital. Start Early. Be Authentic.

Anyone who works in the book industry will tell you it's the people that make our industry so amazing. Everyday I work with publishers who are generous and smart and want to do right by their authors. So when I started working on a piece on marketing tips for authors, I decided to tap into the collective intelligence of our industry. I asked them, "What is the one marketing tip you would give to authors?" Of course as is their nature, they responded right away.

If you are an author or aspiring author, I hope you will find these tips helpful.

  • Maureen Donnelly, VP, Director of Publicity of Penguin Books advices that you, "Listen to your publicist. If you are a first time author, do as much grass-roots work for your book as you can. The build up will pay off."

  • Beth Gissinger, Publicity Director of Adams Media, seconds that idea. "Work as a partner with your in-house publicist.  Our time is short and our list is long.  Authors who take the lead on social media and grass-roots outreach will be well-poised to keep the promotion going once we've moved on to other books." Follow Beth on Twitter @bgiss
  • Michael Fragnito, VP, Editorial Director of Sterling Publishing tells us that, "You should know specifically what your publisher is planning to do. If you are not satisfied, then dig deep and buy your own publicity. Don't let the moment pass, because there is a very small window after the book is published."
  • Although I did not specifically ask for digital marketing advice, most of the people naturally leaned in that direction. The advice comes back time, and time again about developing a long term relationship with your readers.

  • Debbie Stier, SVP, Editor at Large and Director of Digital Marketing for HarperCollins says, "Find a comfortable way to engage and connect with your readers (ie not the megaphone), and then spend as much time as you possibly can doing that (online and irl). And start early (at least a year before your book is published). It's not a campaign; its a relationship." Follow Debbie on Twitter @debbiestier
  • Peter Costanzo, Director of Online Marketing, for The Perseus Books Group, also talks about the advantage of developing a long term relationship with your readers: "Unless you're planning to launch a robust, content-rich website with purpose, you'll most likely be better off directing your fans to Facebook where you can spend time engaging with your readers. Honestly, It's a lot of work and the reward of doing so may not be apparent for your first book, but it could develop into a great platform to help with the launch of your next one." Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterCostanzo
  • Kelly Leonard, Executive Director, Online Marketing, for Hachette Book Group gave a great, Twitter worthy tip: "Dig your digital well before you're thirsty: make connections with readers online far in advance of your book release." Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellyleonard
  • Aileen Boyle, VP, Associate Publisher, of Simon & Schuster asserts the importance of building empathetic dialogue with readers. "Talk about your book with passion. Be it a book on knitting, politics, or romance, if you as the author don't deeply care, no one else will either!"
  • Patty Berg, Director of Marketing, for Crown Publishers & Broadway Books tells authors to, "Be authentic in your Facebook and Twitter postings--when you post about things you care about, aside from your book, you develop a closer connection to your followers. They'll pay more attention when you DO post about your book because they won't feel like you're only just trying to sell it to them. And they'll be more likely to share or retweet your posts to THEIR friends because you've established a common ground."
  • In case you are wondering how to incorporate social media into your already busy days, Michael Taeckens, Online and Paperback Marketing Director, for Algonquin Books offers this tip. "Engage directly with fellow readers and authors on Twitter, Facebook, and your blog; consider your daily engagements there just as important as your daily writing routine." Please follow Michael on Twitter @AlgonquinBooks
  • I will end with a tip me: It is important for authors to start early and build a digital footprint. Engage in social media and be authentic. Make sure that you have a variety of places where you can share information, grow your features, publicize your book, and share your successes. Social media outlets provide more exposure for your book and help to establish a relationship with your readers. Publicity breeds more publicity. So, my advice is to chat it up, but remember not to be a living, breathing advertisement. My rule of thumb on sharing is a 4 to 1 ratio. You can post something self-promotional if you post 4 other non-promotional links that are helpful to your followers. The key is to build credibility. If you are looking for a way to get started, I wrote a blog on 5 Easy Ways to Build Your Digital Reputaion which might be helpful.
  • Bonus: Make sure your digital marketing plans are cohesive and customized for you and your readers. Your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, digital PR and email marketing should all play nice together. Establish your goals, and timelines and then monitor to see if you are on track. If things are not going as you expected, just go back to the drawing board and make some adjustments.

    To all authors and aspiring authors out there, I admire you greatly. You are the carriers of our civilization. I know the new world of digital marketing is intimidating and time consuming, but it is also rewarding and essential. I wish you well on your journey to meet your readers. If I can be of further help, please post a question below.

    Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a web publicity and social media firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. Founded in 1995, FSB's mission is to give authors an opportunity to promote their work to an eager, targeted audience online. FSB is based in the NYC area. Please engage with FSB on Facebook or Twitter. For web publicity and social media news, follow Fauzia on a new Twitter feed: @WebSnapshot