In the hushed solitude of the writer’s room, the clatter of keys is the only sound. The author weaves worlds from nothing but creativity and caffeinated determination, crafting tales that possess the power to transport readers to distant realms. Yet a specter lurks, threatening to shatter this tranquil image. Its name? Marketing.
Often a daunting task for the lone writer, marketing has, until recently, demanded a vast allotment of time and energy, precious resources better spent on the art of storytelling. Fortunately, technology and automation tools have made it easier than ever for authors to streamline and automate repetitive marketing tasks. The right automation tools can free up hours normally spent on marketing, allowing authors to focus on what matters most: writing amazing books.
When used strategically, marketing automation allows self-published authors to compete with traditional publishers with large marketing teams. By using automation, indie authors can successfully balance both the creative and the promotional sides of their career.
Tip #1: Choose (and Use) the Right Marketing Automation Systems
To effectively handle marketing emails, a basic email service provider just won’t cut it. The right marketing automation systems don’t just send emails; they can also monitor activity on your website, track clicked links in emails, segment your audience, and automate personalized follow-up emails.
Say you’re gearing up for a book launch. You could create an email offering a sneak peek at the first chapter of your upcoming book. Once a subscriber clicks on this link, your marketing automation system tracks this activity, then automatically sends a follow-up email to these engaged readers with an exclusive preorder link. Those who didn’t click the link receive a different email, perhaps a heartfelt note from you sharing the inspiration behind your book, encouraging them to learn more. By selecting a suitable marketing automation system, you can nurture leads from your website, tailor your reader interactions, and maintain an engaged and responsive audience.
There are several powerful marketing automation systems available. Here are a few to consider:
- MailerLite (https://mailerlite.com): With an intuitive and user-friendly interface, MailerLite allows you to design custom newsletters, set up automated email sequences, and review reports about your audience and click-through rates.
- ActiveCampaign (https://activecampaign.com): ActiveCampaign, with its advanced automation features, lets users create highly segmented audiences and sophisticated automation workflows. Plus, it includes customer relationship management (CRM) features to help manage customer relationships.
- MailPoet (https://mailpoet.com): MailPoet integrates directly with WordPress and includes a feature that automatically emails your latest blog posts to your subscribers.
- Brevo (https://brevo.com): Known for its comprehensive feature set, Brevo—formerly Sendinblue—offers not only email marketing tools but also SMS (text) marketing and live chat options, acting as a comprehensive solution for various communication needs.
Tip #2: Schedule Social Media Posts with Buffer, Hootsuite, or Zapier
Social media tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you manage your social media posts across multiple platforms. You can prepare a batch of posts in advance and schedule them to be published at the most engaging times.
For a more comprehensive automation, Zapier allows you to create complex workflows across apps. For instance, when you publish a blog post, it could automatically create a social media post across all your platforms, or when you upload a YouTube video, it can email your subscribers. This eliminates repetitive tasks and keeps your audience informed about your latest content.
Tip #3: Leverage Website Automation Tools
Consider integrating your website with search engine optimization (SEO) tools like Yoast or RankMath. When you publish a blog post, Yoast can automatically check for SEO friendliness and suggest improvements to boost your website’s visibility on search engines.
For your online store, platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce can automate direct sales and integrate with BookFunnel to handle e-book delivery, as well as provide support for your readers to “side-load” your book onto their e-reader.
Tip #4: Automate Virtual Author Events
Consider hosting virtual author events through platforms like Eventbrite. Once you set up your event, you can automate the registration process, reminders, and follow-up emails. You could even link Eventbrite with your email marketing platform using Zapier to add event attendees to your email list and send them personalized emails automatically.
Tip #5: Use Project Management Tools like Notion or Airtable
Managing your marketing activities can be a complex task, with different campaigns running simultaneously and many tasks to monitor. Project management tools like Notion (https://notion.so) or Airtable (https://airtable.com) can come to your aid.
You can use Notion to create a list of repeated tasks, as well as a comprehensive content calendar, outlining when and where you’re posting on social media, sending newsletters, or updating your blog. Once you’ve completed all the tasks for one project, you can duplicate it as a template and use it again so you don’t miss steps in the future.
Airtable can help with more data-driven tasks. You can set up a base to track book sales, see which marketing efforts are driving the most traffic, or manage your mailing list. From there, you can see patterns in your sales or traffic and adjust your efforts accordingly.
Automation doesn’t stop at these tools themselves; you can also use Zapier, Make, or IFTTT to create workflows between these platforms and others. When you update a task in Notion, it could automatically send a message in your Slack channel, or when a new row is added in Airtable, such as a new book sale, it could trigger an email to that customer, asking for a review.
Tip #6: Automate Tasks on Non-Traditional Publishing Platforms
On platforms like Patreon or Kickstarter, automation can help manage tasks like posting updates or sending digital rewards to backers. Set up automatic posts that go live once you reach certain milestones, or automatically send new patrons on Patreon a welcome email via your email platform using Zapier.
Tip #7: Harness AI Tools for Crafting Effective Marketing Copy
AI tools such as ChatGPT (https://openai.com/research/chatgpt), Bard (https://bard.ai), and Claude (https://claude.ai) can transform the way you create promotional content. They can automate the generation of blurbs, social media posts, and ad copy, and they can even draft blog posts, saving you time and mental energy.
Pro Tip: When using AI for marketing copy, remember the output is only as good as the input. Framing your prompt correctly is crucial for getting high-quality results. Start by prompting the AI with “ask me any questions you need to write the best blurb possible.” This encourages the AI to gather all the necessary information before it writes.
Elizabeth Ann West, from Future Fiction Academy (https://futurefictionacademy.com), suggests that you consider providing a “pitch and hook” for your book. A “pitch” summarizes what your book is about, while a “hook” is a statement designed to grab attention. Language like this is familiar to AI models trained on large text datasets and can help generate more engaging and relevant copy.
Another trick to improve your prompts is to ask the AI to act like a specific persona, such as “the best book copywriter in the world.” Specify your desired tone and audience to guide the AI toward producing the copy that best suits your needs. The more explicit your instructions, the more aligned the AI’s output will be with your marketing objectives.
Tip #8: Streamline Graphics and Video Creation and Posting
Automation tools like Canva (https://canva.com), VistaCreate (https://vistacreate.com), and Adobe Express (https://adobe.com/express) are revolutionizing how indie authors manage graphic and video design, as well as social media posting. They not only speed up the design process and ensure consistent branding but also offer options for direct posting and scheduling to various social media platforms.
Each of these services can save your brand colors, fonts, and logos, enabling you to maintain a consistent aesthetic. Their video creation features can also help you tap into the trend of short video content like that of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.
VistaCreate and Adobe Express offer similar features, including AI-powered text-to-image functionality that generates visually compelling social media posts that can then be scheduled or posted directly to your social media accounts. Their video editing capabilities make it easy to create engaging video content with no prior video editing experience.
Pro Tip: To make your visuals and videos truly unique, consider purchasing templates from sites like Creative Market (https://creativemarket.com) or Envato Elements (https://elements.envato.com). You can upload these templates into your design tool and customize them for each piece of content.
Tip #9: Automate Podcast Guest Searches
Podcasts are a burgeoning medium for author promotion. However, finding suitable podcasts that can reach your readers, reaching out to hosts, and keeping track of scheduled appearances can be a hefty task.
Tools like PodMatch (https://podmatch.com) and PodcastGuests (https://podcastguests.com) are available to automate this process, functioning as matchmakers for podcast hosts and potential guests. Create a profile outlining your areas of expertise and the topics you can discuss as an author. The algorithm then matches you with suitable podcasts in your genre or industry.
Once you’ve matched with a podcast and set up a date for the appearance, these platforms can sync with your calendar and send automated reminders for your recording dates. They also keep a history of your past appearances, which can be useful for tracking your marketing efforts.
This automation can save you time and effort and help you reach new audiences in a personal, engaging medium.
Pro Tip: Make the most of your podcast appearances by turning your transcripts into blog posts, using quotes for social media posts, and highlighting key moments in promotional videos. This way, each podcast appearance generates a range of content to further support your marketing efforts.
Tip #10: Personalize Reader Engagement with Your Own Chatbot
Chatbots can be a powerful tool for automating reader engagement, and platforms like Chatbase (https://www.chatbase.co) can create a chatbot trained only on your own content.
Chatbase allows you to create a chatbot that doesn’t contribute to any large language model (LLM) in existence, providing you with full control over the interactions. By uploading copies of your books, website pages, and blog posts, you can train your chatbot to answer potential reader questions accurately. This personalized engagement can help confirm that your work matches their interests and encourage them to make a purchase.
For instance, if a visitor on your website or social media account asks about your upcoming book, your chatbot, well-versed in your literary universe, can provide detailed information about the book’s plot, characters, and themes based on the content you’ve uploaded.
The benefit extends to handling common queries too. Program your chatbots to handle questions like when your next book is releasing, or where to buy your books, to ensure readers receive immediate, accurate responses.
The key to creating effective automations is determining which solutions best fit your unique needs and constraints. Start small by automating one or two key tasks, like email or social media. As you build out your marketing framework over time, you’ll gain more bandwidth to devote to writing compelling stories.
Ultimately, leveraging marketing automation thoughtfully allows self-published authors to focus on your craft while engaging more with your readers.