The Ultimate Guide for Using Book Awards in Your Book Marketing Campaign
Book Award Pro
Winning a book award (or just being nominated) is the perfect occasion to launch a book marketing campaign. But it's not as simple as throwing a post on your Instagram. Campaigns to celebrate certain milestones in your author career can be run several times a year. While your first campaigns may be barely sketched out, you'll get better every time. Most authors don't want to be in the marketing business; we get it. But, if you're a published author, you are essentially running a business (your book is your product). That includes sales and marketing. The better you get at it, the less you'll have to worry about it and can focus on writing.
First off, what exactly is a book marketing campaign?
What is a book marketing campaign? "Campaign" is a word we throw around a lot, often erroneously. A campaign is a targeted effort to market your book around a single event or idea. In theory, you're always marketing your book. But when you market your book around a special sale (like Black Friday), it's a campaign. Campaigns are tracked separately from your regular marketing to make sure they're working. In this article, we'll talk about campaigning with book awards. But here's a few common book marketing campaign ideas:
Your book launch
The majority of your book sales will be in the initial weeks of release. Online retailers like Amazon will also look at early sales when deciding to promote your book to other shoppers.
Shoppers expect everything they purchase from Black Friday onwards to be on sale. Offering a discount on your book, even a small one, is a good idea.
If you've been invited on a podcast or guest post, you're going to be reaching a new audience. Give them incentive to purchase your book with a nice discount and a targeted campaign.
Do I need to spend money on a book marketing campaign?
No. But you'd be surprised how far you can get with $100 on an ad campaign. The beauty of modern marketing is that you can easily see what you got for your money when it's all over. In any case, free campaigns are common and often very successful.
How do I know if my book marketing campaign worked?
The obvious answer is: if you made money. But realistically, your first campaigns may have mixed results. That's where the power of tracking comes in. When a campaign doesn't move the needle, you can still tell what it did or didn't do well. You may learn that a certain platform has more potential than another. Here's a few ways to track your book marketing campaigns:
Instead of sharing the same link to your website or sales page, why not create a unique link for every platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)? This will help you understand where the most people came from. You can create unique links for free online with sites like bitly, and return later to track results.
If you're selling a book directly from your website, you can use discount codes to separate people purchasing your book via a campaign from those who just happened to buy from you. Most sites like Shopify or Squarespace give you the ability to create trackable codes. Giving a particular audience a discount will incentivise them to buy your book.
If you are going to run an ad on Amazon or social media, all of them will provide ways to track your ad campaign, make sure you familiarize yourself with each dashboard. These companies work hard to make their dashboards useable by "normal people", so don't be intimidated!
Where and how to campaign:
It doesn't always make sense to campaign everywhere. Every platform has different rules and types of content that will work. When in doubt, focus on better content in less places. Think about what your strengths are. Are you a good writer (we're guessing you are)? Message board sites like Reddit or Facebook might work for you. Are you handy with video? Get on Instagram.
It's the largest book retailer in the world, so we're assuming your book is on it. There's a lot of ways to advertise being a book award winner.
- Put an award winner seal on your actual book cover in the corner.
- Display it prominently in the book description.
- Update your author bio to reflect that you're an award winning author
- If you run Amazon ads, mention the award by name in your book ad. These have a strict character limit so it'll probably be the only thing you can write in your ad copy.
If you have an author website, think about updating your homepage to lead with your recent book award. Put the award seal or a similar powerful image at the top of the page. If you're running a sale, mention it at or near the top of your homepage as well. If you made some video content announcing your book award, you can embed it on your website.
There are a ton of tools to track your website traffic, and the best ones are provided by whomever powers your site (Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, etc).
If you collect email addresses and have a respectable email list, why not make an announcement? Email was thought of as dead five years ago, but has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
If you don't have an email list, consider reaching out to some people that do and sharing your sale to them. You can create special affiliate links for them. These let them make a small commission for every book of yours they sell.
Facebook's most powerful marketing campaign tool in 2023 will be groups and direct messages. Shamelessly promoting your book in a group is a great way to annoy people or even get banned. Get active in groups now and take time to establish yourself as a familiar face. You can announce your award, and try to offer something of value in the post (like advice on winning awards). If people comment, direct message them with your book link and mention that it's on sale, if you're running one.
On your personal page or account, use a video to announce your award win and remember to use a unique link. Video content is prioritized by Facebook and Instagram.
If you're going the paid route, you can get as complex as you'd like. Facebook allows very detailed audience targeting, which you should use to avoid your ad being shown to random people with little interest in your book. For starters, don't advertise in countries that don't speak the language your book is written in. Similarly, don't advertise in countries where it's not for sale.
Instagram is highly video driven, so filming yourself as a multipart story or reel will encourage the platform to share your content more. To reach new audiences, use hashtags or a free hashtag research tool to get into people's feeds.
Don't forget the power of tagging! Thank anyone and everyone who was a part of your book award journey.
Don't stop with just one piece of content either. Post regularly on Instagram during your campaign. You can't assume your entire audience sees any one post. You won't annoy people by posting about the same thing a few times, they'll just keep scrolling if they're not interested.
The great thing about YouTube is that any video you make can be shared on almost every other social media platform, including your website. What makes YouTube different from the other platforms is that people go to YouTube expecting something of value. It's less mindless scrolling and more targeted search. So share how you got your book award and ways that authors can replicate your success. Put unique links in the description, and remember to make a catchy video title and attractive thumbnail on a free tool like Canva.
If you can't make a video that is five minutes or so long, consider using the new YouTube shorts, they are very friendly to content under one minute. Just know that as of 2023, you can only post shorts on your mobile device.
Finally, advertising is cheap and effective on YouTube. There are many ways to run ads, even without video. You can also target your favorite videos and channels.
According to Riverside FM, 26% of Americans listen to podcasts, many for several hours a week. In 2023, think of podcasts as the new television. Contact some podcasts hosts and offer yourself to be on their show. Don't be embarrassed to invite yourself. Podcasts host love it when people make their jobs easier by giving them content. Introduce yourself by video or voicemail if possible so the host can get a feel for you as a potential guest. Give the host your unique link and mention any special deals during the recording.
LinkedIn isn't thought of as a particularly cool place to hang out. Less than 1% of its users are making regular content. LinkedIn knows this, and they are desperate to find people that are willing to create regular content on their site.
Authors have opportunities here. If you're willing to devote some time to LinkedIn, you might get some help from the platform itself. LinkedIn is also a great place to find publishers and other people in the industry. It won't be a place where you drive high book sales. But it might be a place where you leverage your book award to make some new connections.
A LinkedIn strategy that might appeal to its white-collar crowd is talking about the campaign itself. Your strategy, content, and even your final results. Be on the lookout for connections that may have speaking opportunties as well.
It may not be on everyone's short list of social media channels, but 75% of reddit users aren't active on any other social media platform. Reddit has tens of thousands of niche communities where you can connect with potential readers. Unfortunately, Reddit is famous for banning users who are solely there to promote themselves. Just like Facebook groups, you'll need to invest time in groups before you can promote.
Alternatively, you can advertise your book on reddit. Reddit ads are still fairly affordable, with a minimum $5 spend in 2023.
Twitter works best when you talk with people. If you're tweeting, make sure you tag the book award and thank them for being considered. Don't stop there, find other winners of the same award and tweet at them (or past winners). Share how you submitted for the award and why you think you stood out.
For those of us brave enough to be on TikTok, it favors "micro-content" that is very short and highly useful or entertaining. Like YouTube, think about making a rapid fire video about how you found and won your book awards.
If you want to advertise on TikTok . . .don't. There is currently a minimum $500 to run an ad campaign on TikTok. You'd have to sell a lot of books to get that money back.
Assessing your book marketing campaign
Book marketing campaigns aren't just about sales, they're about information. So when your campaign is over, do a review of what worked and what didn't. Here's a few important questions to ask:
Do I have everything I need to assess my results?
Cut yourself a break if you don't have a finely tuned metrics operation for your first campaign. As you review your numbers, focus on one key thing you can do next time to get better information.
Was there a clear dud? A clear winner?
If you campaigned in many places at once, you probably have some that just didn't gain traction. Consider focusing on what had the best success, or at least abandoning things that didn't work.
Did I learn something about my audience?
If you know where your audience is, you can probably learn a little about them. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have detailed demographics breakdowns, your website may have similar tools.
Knowing your typical buyer is important. Many authors mistakenly think their book is for everyone. But great authors think about their ideal reader. How they talk, where they meet, those things will help you run better ad campaigns in the future.
What was my Return on Investment (ROI)?
Everyone knows about the idea of return on investment. But if you didn't spend money, think of your time as your investment. Did you spend a weekend on twitter or a few hours researching hashtags? Factor that in when deciding what was worth it.
Iterate next time
Think long term with your marketing campaigns. Winning multiple book awards is very doable if you're using Book Award Pro. So you can always try another campaign down the road (this time as a multiple award winner!). If it's your first real book marketing campaign, focus on creating a good system for future campaigns.