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Publishing your first book - Promoting your book

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Article

The final part of our four-part series on publishing a book and raising your profile.

typewriter | © BrAt82 - stock.adobe.com

© BrAt82 - stock.adobe.com

You have a contract, you have written your book, now what? Now, you must market and promote your book. Don't count on the publisher to do the marketing for you. You will only receive assistance from the publisher if you previously have been on the bestseller list. One of the most disappointing aspects of writing a book is the need for more marketing and promotional support you will receive from the publisher. The reality is that authors should only depend on themselves to get the word out and promote their books. This blog will provide ethical and practical suggestions for marketing and promoting your book.

You should begin with developing an author's website dedicated to your book. Don't consider the practice website a vehicle for marketing and promoting your book. An author's website serves as a hub for everything that you publish. A website should be considered your publishing calling card. All your marketing efforts will be more effective if you have an author's website. An effective website helps to create awareness of your book. This is particularly important if you have a robust social media presence. One of the benefits of an author website is that potential patients might be looking to contact you for their medical problems, and the author website might serve as a source of new patients.

For first timers, you need only a few pages, including a short bio (100-200 words), mention any media appearances, link to your social media accounts, and briefly describe your writing and book. Include a professional, up-to-date headshot.

Consider including a tagline or description in the header that describes your book and the content of the book.

The author's website must include links to purchase your book. Also, mention if the book is available in print and digital format.

You want to let viewers know where you post online. This is an opportunity to connect with you on social media. After reading your blog or e-newsletter, readers may purchase your book later.

The website should include any recent media coverage, reviews of the book, and testimonials that have appeared online. This is social proof that others have found your writing worthwhile.

Finally, make it easier for viewers to contact you. Offer a contact form that includes your e-mail address. Consider providing contact information for your agent, publisher, and publicist.

Facebook and LinkedIn are not a substitute for an author website. You cannot control what Facebook, or any other social media platform does with their design and functionality, user interface, and provide a list of your followers. What you receive is limited to what Facebook measures and passes to you.

Next, consider your blogging presence. Blogging is a valuable marketing tool if used correctly. If you want your blog to be effective, you must contribute regularly. I suggest a blog every two weeks. As a physician, you can find topics that interest your existing and potential new patients.

Blogging requires patience and persistence. Viewers accumulate with a geometric progression as you produce more content. You must link your new blog posts on each social media platform where you are visible. Explain why your post might be interesting and valuable to viewers in that specific area of interest and expertise with each link. Always find ways to link back to your author's website for book information.

Your author website should also have an e-mail sign-up to let viewers communicate directly with you. Before initiating a newsletter, decide on the frequency you will publish. Then, it is essential to stick to the schedule you have set for yourself. Keep your e-mails short and tell viewers what they will receive when subscribing. For example, you might provide tips and suggestions for longevity and how to live longer with joints and marbles intact. This is particularly attractive if you want to reach baby boomers struggling with fragility and neurodegenerative conditions.

Another approach to contributing content regularly is to Q&A or FAQs. Keep a log of questions patients are asking and tell those on your list that you will answer those issues regularly. For example, the public is interested in information regarding semaglutide (Ozempic) for weight loss. Providing answers to current problems will make your e-mail list proliferate.

Your social media platform also effectively builds relationships with readers and followers. Social media is only effective if you contribute consistently and have a focused message. Only after you have developed a relationship are you able to focus on the sale of your book. Consider asking your friends, especially if you are in contact with social media influencers, to help spread the word about you.

Social media works for long-term awareness and general networking. Don't think of social media as effective as a hard sell for your book. Place information about why someone would want to read your book on your author's website.

Don't forget YouTube as an opportunity to showcase your areas of interest and expertise and as a plug for your book. This is an inexpensive method of becoming visible to thousands of viewers.

Many doctors are now getting into movie production and making videos loaded onto YouTube. These videos effectively attract new patients, educate your existing patients, and promote your book. This approach will not likely land you on the Hollywood red carpet, but will unveil the Stephen Spielberg that is inside all authors!

Begin by telling the viewing audience what topic you are going to discuss.

Including a patient to provide a testimonial about you and your book is very effective.

End each video with a call to action. For example, my videos end with, "I know you may have some additional questions regarding <name the condition>, and I suggest you go to my website, or you are welcome to call my office to make an appointment so that we might discuss <name the condition> further. I look forward to meeting with you."

Time yourself, as these videos should be 7-10 minutes long. Longer videos and you will lose your viewers as they will either click off your video or start multitasking.

If you want to reach the holy grail of marketing your book, try to reach the TED talk stage. (I have not reached this pinnacle of marketing success). If you land a fourteen-minute presentation on a TED talk, you will be in Oprah Air! You will probably need to obtain the skills of a publicist to reach this rare air.

Finally, I would like to mention approaching pharma or device companies to consider a bulk buy of your book. These companies frequently buy large volumes of books and give them to physicians to share with patients. To accomplish this opportunity, you must reach the decision makers in the marketing and public relations departments of pharma and industry. I have found it useful to ask the local pharm representative to locate the name(s) of those decision makers. Then contact your publisher and ask them to send a complimentary copy to the marketing executive of the company you are trying to enlist to buy your book. The publisher usually will make the book available at a considerable discount if a large volume of books are purchased.

Bottom Line: Publishing a book is an arduous project. There is no overnight success. Luck will not get you on the New York Times best seller's list. However, it is a worthy endeavor, and when you hold the hard copy of your book, you will have a sense of unbelievable gratification. I wish you well on your publishing journey, and I would like to make myself available to anyone who has questions about the quest for getting your word out.

Dr. Neil Baum is the author of seventeen books and can be reached at doctorwhiz@gmail.com

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