A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the London Book Fair, one of the largest book fairs in the world for authors, agents, and publishers. I attended some excellent sessions, took a lot of notes, and wanted to share 7 key takeaways I learned for authors.
#1: Readers connect and buy from authors they love
I always tell my clients that the best person to sell your book is you. Regardless of whether you're a self-publishing author or working with a traditional publisher, it's crucial that you pull your weight to connect with, and create relationships, with your readers.
Readers don't buy the publisher, they buy the author. So it's important for you to put in the work to build up your audience and readership.
#2: Authors who engage with their audience are the ones who excel the most
The phrase I hear the most from clients is, "I don't have time." When they mention this, they're usually talking about learning to use social media platforms and using them to engage with their readers. Here are some common phrases I hear from authors:
"I don't have time to learn the platform."
"I don't have time to reply to comments."
"I don't have time to figure out Reels."
But a bit of engagement and a few interactions are better than none. Even five minutes a day can make a difference and impact the success of your future book releases. Whether you spend five minutes learning how to use a platform or engaging directly with readers, it's time well spent.
#3: Don't sleep on TikTok
TikTok has taken the world by storm over the past couple of years, and it's given new life to the publishing industry.
Authors have found great success using the platform to grow their readership in a brand new way. If you're new to TikTok, here are some things to remember:
It's better to take time and build a following of fans who want to hear from you.
50% of the global audience on TikTok is over 34 years old.
Educational content can be better than trendy content.
The more you engage on the platform, the more it rewards you.
Use hashtags to get in front of a new audience.
Post 1-3x day if you're looking for fast growth on the platform.
TikTok may not be the platform for every author, but know that it's more than just silly dancing videos. There are readers who are looking for content from authors they love, whether that's writing tips, background on their newest book, and more.
#4: You don't have to learn everything at the same time
There are a lot of different tactics and platforms that go into launching a book, and it can seem very overwhelming for authors to learn it all at once. The good thing is that you can take it one step at a time.
Whether it's a social media channel, an advertising platform, or an email list, set aside 5-10 minutes a day to focus on just that one thing. Over time, you'll have the skills and confidence in various platforms and strategies needed for your book launch.
Remember, it's always better to do a little bit than nothing at all.
#5: Authors shouldn't compete with each other
It can feel natural to compete with similar authors, but focus on competing with outlets that aren't books, such as TV or video games.
The writing cycle takes longer than the reading cycle, so it's natural that a reader will read other books between your books. So what does this mean? Be there to support other authors and ask other authors to support you. The principle goal is to keep readers reading, so don't be shy about sharing other books with your network.
#6: Publishers will not do all of your marketing for you
This takeaway relates to the first takeaway I shared about readers buying from authors they connect with—you need to be the one who markets and sells your book.
A common misconception authors have when they sign with a publisher is that they will do all the work for them. While each publisher is different and offers varying levels of support for their authors, at the end of the day, the author still needs to be the major driver of sales.
Marketing is about taking the passion and the mission that drove you to write the book and using it to connect with readers. And the best person to do that is the author, not the publisher.
#7: Releasing your book and crossing your fingers it will sell doesn't work
Launching a book takes work, both in writing it and promoting it. Many authors put their heart and soul into the writing part, and then nothing into the promotion part, and that ends in disappointment.
If possible, authors should start promoting their brand (or even their book) as early as possible to grow their reader base. That way they have an audience to promote their book to once it's available for order/pre-order.
This could include:
growing their social media platform
growing their email list
networking with their community
advertising the book on different platforms
Successfully marketing a new book requires a time investment, and crossing your fingers and hoping for the best isn't a strategy that will lead to success.
There is so much to be learned from other authors and professionals in the industry. Whether you're publishing with a publishing house or self-publishing, there are many ways you can market your book and promote your author's brand.
What it comes down to is your passion as an author for getting your message—your story—out into the world.
If you need help taking the first steps, download my Rock Your Book Launch guide today for just $5.