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happy businessman using tabletIt’s been a long and arduous process, but your book has been edited and re-edited and finally the day has arrived for it to hit the shelves. So it does, and it may just be the proudest moment of your life.

Except then it just sits there.

You’ve poured so much of your life into creating the perfect story, polishing the language and syntax, making sure every word is exactly where it’s supposed to be, that you neglected to consider what would happen afterwards. And at the risk of being buzz-kills, we have to tell you that the hardest part of your job is still ahead. If you thought getting your book on the shelves was bad, wait until you start trying to get it off the shelves, into readers’ hands. Marketing is, for the majority of writers, the hardest part of book publishing. But there are a few tips and tricks you can use to ease the distribution process.

Identify Your Demographics

Yeah, we know, you want your book to cross the boundaries of age and gender and location. Everyone does. But it pretty much never ends up happening that way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either; it takes the pressure off of having to please everybody (an impossible task). So find your people. Who’s most likely to benefit from reading your book? What types of people read similar books? Find out, and connect with those communities.

Use Social Media

Word spreads like wildfire on social media websites, especially Twitter and Facebook, so take advantage of those platforms. Start an author fan page for yourself, or a book fan page for your specific novel, and post content your readers will appreciate. It’s a great idea to start a blog or website to keep readers up to date with what you’re doing as an author, and then share those posts on your social media pages.

Hold Contests and Giveaways

People love free stuff. You can make your readers happy and also use giveaways to your advantage: it’s as simple as asking them to like your page or share a post for a chance to win something. This could be something as simple as a signed copy of your book, or, if you want to generate a lot of interest, something more expensive like an e-reader. Everyone wins: you get visibility as your fans share the posts with their friends, and they get the excitement of a potential prize.

Post on Online Forums

There are online forums for just about every type of person nowadays. Seek out the ones that cover topics relevant to your book, and start a thread or two explaining what your book is about. The people who frequent those forums will already be interested in those topics, so you have a better chance of piquing their curiosity than if you just walked up to strangers on the street.

Get Reviews

It’s rare to see books that don’t have “Praise for…[title]” on the back cover or inside jacket. Do you know how those writers got those reviews? They asked. Send free copies of your book to as many reviewers as possible, including the big names. Readers are less likely to go into a book totally blind, but if it’s endorsed by professionals, it’s a whole other story. Also ask magazines and websites to give you blurbs (possibly in exchange for you giving them a shout out on your own website or writing a guest post or article).

When you decided you wanted to write a book, you may not have known what you were getting into, but just because marketing your book can be hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Work hard and stick to it, and you’ll have those copies flying off the shelves.