(Originally published 1/16/20)
Creativity is a huge part of being an indie author. And while a lot of creativity goes into writing your book, it shouldn’t end there.
When it comes to book promotion, indie authors have the immense benefit of being able to come up with and implement their own unique ideas to reach new readers, engage their fan base, and set themselves apart. One great way to do this is by offering bonus content and giveaways.
The thought of taking on this task can seem overwhelming at first, so let’s take a look at the best way to approach it, and then some ideas that have proven successful for authors I’ve worked with.
1. Create a Calendar for Bonus Content and Giveaways
This is separate from the regular promotion you do for your book releases, and separate from the day-to-day engagement you try to create with fans via email or social media.
If you’re asking why bother with giveaways and bonus content, I’ll tell you: it sets you apart.
All indie authors do book marketing (I hope!) but no one can replicate your giveaway prizes and no one can replicate your bonus content – because these elements stem from your books and what makes your brand unique.
Yes, as an indie author you’re a brand, and the sooner you start thinking that way, the more successful you’ll be.
2. The Psychology Behind Smart Book Promotion Ideas
Bonus content and giveaways also let your fans and followers know you care about them. And for those of you not so warm and fuzzy types, hear me out – it can’t be all about you.
Your book promotion should really max out at 30% actual product pushing. The rest of the content, communication, and engagement needs to be more personal and more creative, that’s how you build true fans and not just one-time buyers.
3. Book Promotion Ideas that Drive Sales
A lot of indie authors shy away from structuring their book promotion ideas around giveaways because they only hear “free” and “investment” and they assume there’s not much return in it, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
My favorite kinds of giveaways are those that drive sales.
At the core, these types of giveaways require participants to email you a proof of purchase for entry.
BONUS: you also get to build your reader contact list!
One example is super easy. Choose a gift card, it can be Amazon, Starbucks, whatever you think resonates most with your buyer market. Make it worth people’s while so go for $20 if you’re going to do these often, up to $50 if you’re only thinking twice a year. Or keep them guessing by changing it up each time.
Simply ask your network to send you a proof of purchase from Amazon to be entered into the drawing.
This works really well combined with a short-term discount eBook promotion as well.
(IR NOTE: Check your local state laws for the legality of these recommendations as laws pertaining to giveaways vary by state.)
4. Create Giveaways that Create New Readers
Another example is a form of BOGO. Buy one, get one, or my personal favorite, buy one, give one – this creates new readers and potential fans.
There are a lot of ways to work this so get creative and do what makes sense for where you’re at in your career and for your publishing schedule.
What I like to do is ask readers to email a proof of purchase and the email of a friend they’d like an eBook copy gifted to.
I’ve done this with lots of my books in fact, with the purchase of a print book I’ll gift the eBook version to a friend or colleague of the original purchaser.
The BOGO doesn’t have to be for published works either, it can be a great way to tease an upcoming release.
Other book promotion ideas based around bonus content can have readers email you a proof of purchase to get the first 3-5 chapters of your upcoming book in advance. If you’re an expert in a particular topic or industry create a special quiz that’s only available to buyers. The “get one” facet of this can go well beyond just another full title.
5. Develop Bonus Content that Keeps Them on the Hook
Bonus content that works for new or potential readers is valuable, because it helps establish that personal connection.
Indie authors need to always be focused on developing book promotion ideas that strengthen their personal connections with fans, because that’s what helps sell future titles.
One way to do this is to not be stingy with previews and excerpts.
As indie authors, you can’t miss an opportunity to show them WHY they want to read your books.
Pick out scenes you’re really proud of, or a particularly exciting chapter, and promote the heck out of it on social.
If you write non-fiction, be sure you’re always sharing additional tips and guidance that show you really have the chops – and always be directing them to your book to learn more.
The beauty of this strategy? You already have all this content, just get creative with ways you can tease it.
6. Develop Bonus Content that Rewards Dedicated Fans
This is next level bonus content. I say that because this is content you likely need to create, or develop from the cutting room floor or your brainstorming notes. But doing this will often develop some of your most unique book promotion ideas, the things that truly set you apart from every other author you’re trying to compete with.
For fiction this can be character profiles, background and information that isn’t in your books.
Give your readers more insight into your characters’ likes and dislikes, maybe info about their family. Maybe do posts that discuss who you’d cast in the movie!
The more readers connect with your characters, the better impression they’ll have of your work and your brand.
For non-fiction, think quizzes, super short workbooks that focus on a single problem you can help them solve, or events on social that let them ask you questions for an hour. All of these things are excellent to promote as well – and who can’t use more ideas for book marketing in general?
With so many books published every single day, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. By going that extra step and getting creative with your book promotion, finding new ways to engage your readers and keep them interested, you’ll not only set yourself apart, you’ll also build a solid base of fans and followers in the process.
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.