How to Market Your First Book: 8 Tips 

Whether you're working with a traditional publisher or you’re self-publishing, one thing's for sure: you need to market your book.

It's up to you to market your book like it deserves, especially when you're a new author.

Here’s an easy guide on how to market your first novel. I go over how to market your first book with a list of essentials plus the best tactics to know.

A. How to Market Your First Book: Things to Do Before Marketing Campaigns

Selling your book as an indie author requires marketing as much as writing. Although, writing a good book accounts for more than 50% of the book’s success.

That’s just the nature of self-publishing: you own the publishing process. And the thing is, you need to promote your book constantly, not just when you launch it and a few days after. 

For any marketing campaign to work, you need to lay down the basis: 

1. Craft your author brand

How to market a book without associating it with its writer? You can’t.

Branding helps control how people see you. It shapes all marketing collaterals, whether drafting a newsletter or designing a social media graphic. When thinking about your author brand, ask questions like: What’s my tone of voice when I interact with my audience? What and how much background info do I share? What aspects of my persona do I want to highlight? 

2. Set up your website and social media

Self-publishing happens online. A dedicated website and/or social media page is crucial for your author brand. Setting up an online hub allows readers to learn more about you and stay connected.

Your author website should contain your bio, photos, book excerpts, links to buy your book, links to find you on social media, and any reviews. This doesn’t have to look fancy. A simple one-pager works. Hire a freelancer or try out DIY platforms like WordPress or Wix to build a site. And here’s where you can start applying your author brand.

💡Read about how to make a Wix website.

3. Ensure your best cover design 

In your research on how to market your first book, you must know that despite the old saying that a book cover doesn’t really matter, it does matter.

The goal of all your marketing efforts is to funnel people to your store link, where they can click “buy." Most bookstores display the book’s cover design and description. These are the first elements we come across when browsing for books. Does your design entice people to buy and read? 

💡Learn about optimizing your book cover design

4. Set up book metadata

Your book’s metadata is your other big promoter besides yourself. When you’re not there to talk about your book, the metadata will do the job.

A book metadata has all the essential information: title and subtitle, author, contributors (co-author(s), editor, translator, book illustrator or designer), keywords, ISBN, and categories that allow an ebook to be correctly displayed on ebook readers or placed alphabetically in “virtual bookshelves.” 

In short, book metadata is one of the most important things to take care of before launching a book.

If you need help (or an assistant 😉) to write your book metadata, you can count on PublishDrive’s Book Metadata Generator.

5. Land book reviews

Before spending any serious money on promoting your first book, land at least five solid book reviews

In the world of e-commerce, people won’t spend money on a product with no reviews. Ask your network and reach out to influential bloggers in your genre.

See how you can get book reviews using PublishDrive. Basically, you can send protected ebook review copies to readers on Google Play and Apple Books.

B. How to Market Your First Book: 8 Tips

You’ve got the basics. But how to promote your first book, exactly? To ensure a successful debut, take some time to blueprint and develop your marketing plan. Consider these –

1. Start an email list

Sign up to receive my updates straight to your email inbox!” An email list is a direct way to target readers interested in your work. This is all about nurturing customers and up-selling your work. 

You can keep them interested by sending updates about your work or your writing process. Once the book is launched, you can give them bonus content via email. 

Place the link to sign up to your email list on your social media, website, and even the back of your book. 

Also, you can create a reader/lead magnet. NY Book Editors explained: “Some authors choose to add a so-called lead magnet to encourage people to sign up for their email list. A lead magnet is a free gift, like a chapter excerpt from the book. You can offer this in exchange for the email address and their ongoing permission to receive your marketing emails.

💡See how to set up a mailing list for authors.

2. Start with a pre-order period

Major bookstores like Amazon count book sales on the first day of release. That means by collecting pre-order sales, you get a higher chance to land in bestseller lists come launch day. Use this time to tease your book and generate buzz.

💡Read more about setting up pre-orders.

3. Throw a book launch party

You want to know how to promote your first novel? Make it special. Celebrating your launch with an event is not only fun but effective. Invite people via social media, email (where your mailing list comes in handy), and other communication channels. Remember to give yourself enough time to prep the ins and outs of your event. 

💡See how to plan a virtual book launch.

4. Schedule a price promotion

Now, let’s get to the actual selling part. After marketing your first book on every possible channel, you can also schedule a price promotion.

After launching, try offering your book at a discounted price for a limited time (to create a sense of urgency). 

Another thing you can do is list your book for free on stores like Amazon. This is one way to get noticed in a sea of competition. Run a campaign for one to two weeks and see what happens.

💡You can schedule price promotions for different retailers (Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble) from your PublishDrive dashboard.

5. Buy promotional spots

How to market your first novel if not with promotional spots?

You can advertise your book through newsletters and promotional sites. For example, Freebooksy has over 1,096,000 registered readers looking for free book deals. Bargain Booksy has 725,000 registered users looking for titles priced between $0.99 and $5. These websites are part of Written Word Media. They also have Red Feather Romance, and a perfect one for marketing your first novel: New in Books.

💡Tip: You can get featured on Written Word Media’s newsletter for free by submitting your request through PublishDrive. 

6. Launch Amazon ads

Amazon’s Sponsored Products are cost-per-click ads for individual product listings that appear on product pages and search results throughout Amazon’s website.

Here, you have two options: promote your first novel using Amazon Ads via PublishDrive or go straight to Amazon and set them up there.

Available Amazon’s Sponsored Products ads on our platform:

  • Automatic targeting (for beginners): With this option, Amazon matches the ad with relevant keywords and products that are similar to the book being advertised.
  • Manual Keyword Targeting (for advanced users): You can select the keywords you want to target.
  • Product Targeting (for advanced users): Target specific products to refine your campaign.
  • Negative Keywords (for advanced users): Exclude keywords to prevent irrelevant traffic from driving up costs.

If you want to use this option, all you have to do is set:

  • Your desired daily budget 
  • Your bid
  • Start date (end date is optional)

The advertising campaigns can be easily adjusted at any time, and you will have access to analytics that showcase your ad performance.

💡For tips on Amazon ads, BookBub ads, and beyond, see how to advertise a book.

If you want to launch Amazon ads from Amazon, here’s a visual beginner’s guide:

7. Network

Get involved in the community. There are plenty of online groups and forums, such as Reddit’s Self-Published Writers group. Join reading and writing groups in your genre. Establish your author brand by sharing tips and fostering connections. Attend book festivals to meet readers, industry pros, and other authors.

💡Read more about writing communities and their importance.

8. Distribute in multiple book formats and stores

I’ll end by stressing this point. As an indie, you want to maximize your revenue streams. To maximize your money bag, you gotta maximize your reach. Do this by publishing your book in more than one format, like ebook, audiobook, and print.

Publish in more than one store as well. Go beyond Amazon and sell in channels like Apple, Google, and Kobo.

Publish your book