The Best Place to Promote Your Book is on the Web

Now more than ever, it’s important for authors to prioritize online publicity to promote their books. Due to the pandemic, bookstore events have canceled, traditional media is being cannibalized by coverage of the coronavirus, and speaking engagements have vanished overnight. As scary as it is, it looks like our “new normal” is going to change the way we think about book publicity for a long time to come.

For over two decades, I have been a true believer in the power of the internet to connect books with readers. The web is the best place for word of mouth marketing and word of mouth marketing is the best way to sell books. 

Ask any book marketing person today, and in a candid moment you will hear them say TV doesn’t work like it used to, print coverage has shrunk, nobody listens to radio (unless it is NPR), and bookstore events don’t sell books. So how do you most effectively publicize books? You promote them online. 

No matter what is happening in the general media, niche communities are still talking about the books that interest them. Readers have more time than ever to dive into your new novel; business leaders still need management help; parents are struggling with new challenges and looking for experts to help guide them. At FSB, we have adapted to the changing interests of reporters, leveraging our expertise and connections to make our projects relevant to the news of the day. Online publicity is more important today than it has ever been, but mark my words, it will become even more important with every year to come.

There are three major reasons online publicity is crucial not just now during the pandemic but for years to come. Online publicity is not just about a launch, it pays off in spades for years to come. I have seen it over and over again. I know it is a controversial statement, but online publicity is absolutely a worthy investment, even when it may not immediately land you on a bestseller list. Here’s why:

Build Your Reputation
Good media coverage not only will build relationships with your readers and help engage influencers, but it will also help shape the public’s perception of you. When a neutral party writes positively about you or your book, it carries much more influence than paid placements, such as display advertising. Bylined content, blogger reviews, legitimate reader reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon, interviews, and features will earn the credibility that comes from the endorsement of recognized media outlets. And without a doubt, that beats self-promotion on social media or paid placements every time. Building your online reputation is about building your career, not just selling your book. I hear from clients years after we had promoted their book that people still come to them after seeing features about them on the web. By giving podcast interviews and webinars and participating in virtual events, an essential component of online publicity, you will build your reputation for generosity and knowledge. 

Stand Out
According to Bowker, more than a million books were published in 2017. That’s a lot of books—and a lot of competition, especially for a first-time author. So how do you separate yourself from the thousands of other new releases in your category? Good PR will help do this for you. You want a potential buyer to have heard of your book in multiple outlets so that there is name recognition and social proof for you and your book. Pushing a book out because it is convenient for your publishing schedule does not work. Readers pull the information they need when they need it by searching the web. If your book is not found during those online searches, you will miss a huge opportunity to connect with readers when they need you. Without a digital footprint, no one will find you. While it can be difficult to put a specific monetary value on positive online media attention, in today’s unpredictable environment, I think online publicity is worth its weight in gold. 

Be Found
We all know the importance of Google search rankings, and the necessity to have good hits show up on the first page of results. Established publications that link to a book’s website will boost search listings and traffic due to their domain authority. High quality, evergreen content can live on the web for years—this is something that can be especially relevant when you think about guest blogging opportunities. While these writing opportunities may mean more work in the short term, the long-term results of these efforts can be noticeable. This content can push up the page rank and continue attracting traffic for you and your book well after your publication date has come and gone. Good search results will age like good wine.

Over the last ten years or so, the book publicity landscape has changed dramatically. Print coverage continues to shrink, and in some cases, disappear completely. And while online publicity used to be a “nice to have,” it’s now a necessity—especially in light of our current circumstances. Our current news cycle can make breaking through the noise extremely difficult. Even if the coronavirus news fades, November’s presidential election won’t make things any easier. Switch now to prioritize your digital footprint, because, like all good things, it takes time to build. Your first book won’t get as much attention as your third. Get started, it will only get more important. The best time to build your online platform was 10 years ago; the second-best time is today. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please join the discussion on my Facebook page

© 2020 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.