Writing Wednesdays: How to promote your book when you publish online

Some advice on how to promote your book when you're publishing it online

It can be really tricky to try and build up your readership and figure out how to promote your book when you’re publishing it online, so here are some simple tips to get you started on the right track! 

(This is actually a post I originally wrote for Writing Wednesdays, but then was posted on Wattpad during last year’s NaNoWriMo for Wattpad’s 30 Day Writing Challenge. But the advice is still the same, so read on if this interests you!)

1. Sell your story with a cover and a blurb.

Let’s face it: we still judge books by their covers. 

And if you upload a story and don’t bother to make a cover, it might put people off – it could send the message that you don’t care enough about your story to put in all the effort to knock something together on Canva. 

You don’t need Photoshop, even. You can usually find free stock images online, or just use some typography in PowerPoint (the entire cover can be made up of the title and it can still look awesome). You can always ask people if they’d be interested in making a cover for you (sometimes you’ll find users who say they make covers – ask them!).

You might like this post about making a cover for your book when you publish online.

Also, a good story description is key.

Don’t just say ‘High school romance’. Use the tags to say things like that. Your story description needs to hook your readers in. Go on Amazon and read the descriptions of books in the same genre as you’re writing. 

You want to introduce your characters and their situation briefly and in an intriguing way, and leave people wondering what can happen.

You might like this post on how to write a good book blurb.

2. Interact with your readers.

This is really important – send messages to your followers to update them (maybe you’ve just started a new book? Hit 30,000 words and are very proud?), and every time you post a new chapter, it’s worth sending out a message to let your followers know. 

Include links to that new chapter. Reply to comments asking you questions about the book, if you can. If you’ve got a lot of followers, and you’re working on a new book, maybe ask them to make a cover for your new book. 

Interacting with them will help them feel that they can relate to you, sometimes, and it makes you seem more like a person, you know?

3. Social media is important and you should use it.

The reason I got Twitter account in the first place so I could use it to interact with my Wattpad fans. It’s ridiculously easy to set up an account on these places – Twitter, a Facebook page (which is free and easy to use), a Tumblr or Wordpress blog, all of that. 

Try and relate all of your account names. Like my username on Wattpad is Reekles, so I used the Twitter handle @Reekles and then made a Facebook page simply called ‘Reekles’. It makes it easier for people to find you. 

Again, use it to interact with your readers, use it to interact with other writers, use it to send links to your work online. Create a presence! Let people know you’re there!

You might also like to check out my new blog series, Social Media for Writers.

4. Upload regularly.

THIS IS CRUCIAL AND I CANNOT EMPHASISE IT ENOUGH. Try and upload at least once a week, or maybe every three/four days or so. 

If you leave it two weeks between uploading, your readers might forget about your book, or lose interest in it. Regular updates will keep your readers engaged with your book. And if they’re engaged, they’ll go tell people about it.

This is especially important if you’re writing more than one story. 

Let’s say you’ve got three stories on the go all at once, and you update each one once a week (if you can keep up with that). 

Update on the same day: update one on a Tuesday, one on Wednesday, the other on Friday, for instance. It’ll stop your readers getting confused, and if you’re updating that often, it’ll help them keep track of the story they’re most interested in.

5. Write in advance.

You may be in the habit of writing a chapter simply because it’s time to upload one. This is not a good idea. Stop it. Stop it now. I mean it. You’re writing because you want to, because it’s fun, right? 

Try to write for fun and write as much as you can, regardless of whether you need to upload or not. If you’re seven chapters ahead of where you’re uploading, that’s great! Maybe you’ll have your gran’s birthday and a school concert and an outing with friends and are too busy to write – or maybe you’ve just got some serious writer’s block.

Either way, all those chapters you’ve got written in advance will come in handy because you can still upload and keep your readers interested even if you haven’t written anything for two weeks – and the more interested your readers are, the more likely they are to spread the word about your book. See my point?

6. Just ask!

Obviously, when you’re posting on a community like Wattpad, you can simply send messages to other people to ask them to read your book. And there is nothing wrong with that! 

But a few pointers on that: avoid spamming someone with a dozen messages every day asking them to read your book; and don’t just send a link to your story with no message – instead, just a line to say ‘Hi, I think you might enjoy my book’ with a brief one/two-line description of your story or a mention of what genre it is, and ‘thanks!’ will make your message that little bit nicer. 

Also – try to target, if you’re going to ask other users to read your book. If their library shows all chick-flick books and you’re writing murder mystery, maybe it’s not for them.

What's the best way you've found to promote your books when you publish online? Share in the comments below!

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