As authors, we all want as many people as possible to read our books. However, in a saturated market, it takes a lot of effort to get noticed. Marketing a historical fiction novel is especially hard. Some research suggests that on average, you need to get in front of as many as 1,000 people before you get a sale.
You need a combination of traditional and digital strategies to reach a diverse audience. In this article, I will take a look at 10 strategies I’ve tried, ranging from a press release and Instagram to optimizing Amazon keywords and engaging with review bloggers.
1. Press Release
A well-crafted press release can be a great tool to garner attention for your historical fiction novel. Highlight key elements of your book, such as the setting, characters, and unique plot twists. Distribute the press release to literary magazines, newspapers, and online platforms to maximize coverage. I had professional help, which was part of a package costing $90, but unfortunately I didn’t get picked up by anyone other than niche American sites. I ended up with about 400 views. The package was still worth it, because I also got some great reviews from BookBub, some cool graphics to use and some great advice on marketing. However, I can’t say the press release was effective for me.
You can find me on Instagram at @danielpugsleyauthor. Instagram is a powerful platform for visually showcasing your historical fiction novel. Create an engaging profile, share behind-the-scenes content, historical facts related to your book, and collaborate with influencers or bookstagrammers to widen your reach. Utilize relevant hashtags to connect with the book-loving community. I’m just beginning to use the platform, but in 3 weeks so far, I have reached 61 accounts.
3. Review Bloggers
Reach out to book bloggers who specialize in historical fiction. Offer them advance review copies and encourage them to share their thoughts on their blogs and social media. Positive reviews can significantly impact potential readers’ perceptions of your book. I got a handful of great reviews this way, and the reviewers collectively had an audience of a few hundred.
4. Optimise Amazon Keywords
Make your book more discoverable on Amazon by strategically choosing keywords. Research popular search terms related to historical fiction and incorporate them into your book’s metadata. This can improve its visibility in search results and increase the likelihood of attracting interested readers. I paid a specialist $10 to find the best ones for me, and since Son of Babylon will be followed by several more books, this might prove an efficient investment.
5. Independent Bookshops
Many independent bookshops will be more than happy to stock and even help promote your book, as long as they consider it to be of good quality. You might even be able to arrange book signing events or other collaboration opportunities. In Barnsley we have two fantastic local bookstores in The Book Vault and Foster’s Little Bookshop. I bought a few author copy books from Amazon, which don’t count towards your sales. I then gave them to these shops, along with a poster to draw attention to them. So far it’s going well, and I may need to order more soon!
6. Historical Novel Society
The Historical Novel Society offers paid promotional opportunities, including author interviews. As a society member, it cost me $29 for an interview. Take advantage of this platform to showcase your book to a dedicated audience interested in historical fiction. These interviews can provide valuable insights into your writing process and the historical background of your novel. My author interview is here.
7. Local Newspapers
Connect with local newspapers to feature articles about your historical fiction novel. Emphasise any local connections in your book or events you plan to host. Local coverage can generate interest within your community and attract readers who appreciate a hometown connection. I work in a college, so my local paper the Barnsley Chronicle were interested in how I would use being an author to inspire students. The circulation of the paper is in the tens of thousands.
Work on getting your historical fiction novel into local libraries. Libraries are excellent places to reach avid readers, and many libraries host author events or book clubs. Offer to do readings, discussions, or signings to engage with the community directly. Son of Babylon is proving popular in my local library, and I hope this will lead to word of mouth sales. I intend to reach out to more libraries in the surrounding towns.
ManyBooks offers a newsletter service that promotes discounted and free e-books to its subscribers. Take advantage of this platform to reach a broader audience. Offering a limited-time promotion or discount can encourage readers to try your historical fiction novel. The circulation of the newsletter is over 150,000, which makes this the method that will reach the most potential readers. I will be author of the day and Son of Babylon will be featured on 29/11/2023. This exposure cost me $68.
Goodreads is a social platform specifically for readers. Create an author profile, participate in relevant groups, and host giveaways to generate buzz. Encourage readers to leave reviews and ratings, as positive feedback on Goodreads can boost your book’s credibility. I got a few really nice 5* reviews and some exposure by commenting on threads and groups. Find my page here.
I am still in a learning process. I am trying new things, and finding out what works. If enough people read my books and recommend them to friends and family, I might eventually be able to build a following. In the end, all I want to do is attract readers who are passionate about historical fiction, and hope they enjoy my work too!