Promote Your Book with Online GroupsOne under-utilized opportunity for authors is online groups—I’m talking about Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and other online forums. Online groups are mini communities where you can connect with your target readers long before your book is published.

Using an example from my own life, I happen to be a widow and I naturally gravitated to online groups early on to help me connect with others in my shoes. I’ve been an active member in several groups for years.

Now consider this: Someday I will finish writing a book for this audience. When I reach out to my fellow members and the group leaders to let them know about my book, what do you think will happen? I expect major support!

This same strategy can be true for all kinds of groups. Here are some possibilities:

  • Writing a memoir that covers your struggles with diabetes? Get involved in groups for people with diabetes.
  • Writing a book about how to cultivate a happier workplace? Join groups for managers, entrepreneurs and HR employees.
  • Writing a book about raising healthy kids? Find groups for moms, parents, single parents, divorced parents, etc.

See how this works? Once you’re clear about who your target audience is, you can then start looking for their communities online and get involved.

How to Engage with Groups

The last thing you want to do is hop in and start talking about your book. Nobody likes the guy at the cocktail party who introduces himself and then proceeds to pitch you on investment “opportunities,” health supplements, or anything else he has for sale.

Start by building a relationship as an engaged member of the community. Ask questions, answer other people’s questions, get to know people and let them get to know you. You could even volunteer to help be a group moderator.

After you’ve been involved for a while, here are some ways you could potentially leverage the group for book promotion:

  • Put out a call for interviews, and incorporate these into your manuscript. This allows you to start building buzz for your book early, include real-world advice in your book, and gain extra visibility because people who are featured in your book will also help promote it to their own networks.
  • Invite beta readers to review your manuscript before it’s available to the public. Beta readers can give input on the content and/or they can help by posting book reviews as soon as the book is released, plus alert their own networks about your book. (Download our free report: The Author’s Ultimate Guide to Beta Readers.)
  • Ask the forum/group owner to contribute an interview, write a foreword or participate in the book in some other way. This can help build an alliance with the group owner and incent them to want to help you with promotion when the time comes.
  • If the group is part of a nonprofit, offer to donate a percentage of the proceeds to their cause. Even 10% is a generous contribution to a worthy cause.
  • Announce the book release to the group, though be sure to ask the group owner for permission to do so.
  • During your book launch, offer bonus downloads that readers can access for free—and let group members know about the promotion.
  • Hold a contest, with the group owner’s permission, that allows you to give away several copies of your book. You can organize it with a tool like Rafflecopter.

Another option is to create a group of your own. Perhaps you aren’t able to locate a group that fits your ideal audience or you’d just rather run it yourself, then by all means, get one launched. Groups can gain great momentum quickly if you personally invite people and get the conversations started by asking questions. Before you know it, your group will likely start running itself.

How have online groups helped you promote your books? Share your experiences in the comments below.