5 Useful Hacks to Market Your Genre Book Successfully
Most indie authors tend to be, well, independent. If you’ve opted to self-publish, that’s probably at least in part because you want full control over your work. When you are your publisher, you’ll never have to deal with, say, a designer trying to package your well-researched historical fantasy with a misleading, sword and sorcery-style cover. Nor will you have to convince an editor that your thoughtful hard sci-fi doesn’t need a Twilight-esque love triangle.
Unfortunately, all this creative and editorial freedom comes at a cost: you’ll have to sell books without the marketing firepower of a traditional publisher at your disposal. And if you’re the kind of writer who prefers actually writing to marketing, the prospect of all that self-promotion just might have you questioning every one of your publishing choices.
If you’ve never done it before, marketing your indie book can feel like a daunting task — especially because most of the advice out there seems to disregard genre, treating speculative fiction and self-help books as exactly the same. Fortunately, selling books on your own is easier than it sounds. Without further ado, here are five hacks to help you market your genre book like a pro.
1. Don’t worry about being “universal”
Most authors new to the marketing game find themselves tempted to emphasize the universal appeal of their work. It’s an intuitive move: you do want to sell your book to as many people as possible, and there probably is something in it for everyone, whether that’s the broad appeal of its themes or the irresistible charm of its characters.
Experienced marketers, however, will tell you to drill down to specifics in terms of what makes your book worth reading. That’s because a lot of semi-curious browsers will yield you fewer sales than a smaller number of very enthusiastic buyers. So when you write your book blurb, home in on what makes your plot or protagonist unique — not what should make them compelling to everyone.
2. Think “subgenre,” not “genre”
When it comes to genre fiction, the importance of specificity means you shouldn’t be thinking in terms of broad genres at all. Capacious labels like science fiction and fantasy don’t tell readers enough about your book to help them decide whether to pick it up. Just think: I Am Legend and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are both technically sci-fi novels. But they have so little in common when it comes to plot, setting, and tone, you can’t necessarily expect them to draw the same fans.
To make sure you’re targeting the right readers for your book, think about its subgenre and let that guide your marketing efforts. If you’ve written a gritty, urban vampire novel, you’ll draw a different readership than someone with a heroic epic set in a secondary world — even though you both write fantasy.
3. Forge connections with other authors
As you spend time thinking about your subgenre, you’ll start to develop an awareness of who else writes books like yours. If you haven’t already, start reading their work and engaging with it, maybe by reaching out on social media.
Connecting with other authors is important because while indie publishing is competitive, it isn’t a zero-sum game. Readers who enjoy books like yours won’t stop at buying just one — in fact, they’ll likely try to read as many as possible. That’s why other authors in your category aren’t your competition: they’re potential collaborators and even friends.
If you manage to forge authentic, personal connections with fellow authors, you can help one another out quite a bit by cultivating a shared fan base. Anytime they promote one of your books, say, through their newsletter or on Twitter, they’ll send you scores of readers with a proven interest in your subgenre. And once you’ve won over some fans of your own, you can return the favor.
4. Look for niche book reviewers
Having some fellow authors in your corner can make a huge difference when it comes to marketing your book. But of course, you’ll need to woo readers as well. And chief among readers are reviewers.
Launching your book with strong reviews at the ready is the surest way to snag early sales. After all, window-shoppers are much more likely to click “Buy” if someone else has already promised that your book is worth reading.
To generate some of this crucial early buzz, pitch your book to book bloggers, offering to send them a free copy in exchange for their honest feedback. Convince them to cross-post their review to retail platforms like Amazon, and you can launch your book with some early social proof.
As with all things book marketing, it behooves you to think “specific” here. Focus on bloggers who specialize in books like yours, rather than omnivorous readers who will review just about anything. The niche bloggers will have fewer, but more engaged, readers — fans who are likely to take their recommendations seriously.
5. Develop a targeted lead magnet
Here’s another tactic for luring more readers in: offer them something interesting for free. In marketing, these freebies are called “lead magnets,” drawing potential buyers your way like iron to, well, a magnet.
To make sure your lead magnet is successful, design it to appeal to the target audience of your book. An expertly crafted short story in the same subgenre might hit the mark. And if you’ve written a series, you might even consider making the first book permanently free. You’ll sacrifice some initial sales revenue, but there’s no better way to move copies of the later installments.
At the end of the day, promoting your genre book successfully doesn’t require access to any arcane marketing secrets. It all comes down to understanding what you’ve written, and who it appeals to. Now, get out there and sell some books!
Article by Desiree Villena
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction, writing short stories, and giving (mostly) solicited advice to her fellow authors.