Being a self-published author can be very exciting. You're striking out on your own and hoping for the best. You've got a solid book under your belt and now you're ready to begin marketing it. But once your book launch has ended and the general excitement and interest has died down, you may find that book marketing is harder than you thought. Suddenly your traffic slows down, your audience is captivated by the next shiny new book cover, and you're left wondering why you're not getting the sales and momentum that you should.
Often this is where writers struggle the most, after all, they're writers and not marketers. When you traditionally publish you don't have to worry as much about the marketing aspects, as this is what you're paying a publisher to do. For self-publishers though, there's more hats to wear and more techniques you must learn in order to be successful.
It's time to learn how to market your book. With these 14 tips you can give your story the best chance of being successful and of making you money.
1. Don't cheap out on your cover
First impressions matter. Books are judged almost completely by their covers- whether in stores or online. For this reason its important to invest in the best cover art you can afford. It doesn't have to be the best, but this is one area you absolutely should not cheap out on. You can cut down the budget somewhere else if you're trying to keep the costs of self-publishing down. If you're looking to design your own cover, here is a list of the top 30 best book cover designers according to BookFox.
2. Changing your book cover
If you've already published and aren't seeing the results you want, the issue may be your cover art. Perhaps it looks cheap, isn't eye-catching enough, or looks too homemade. Whatever the issue, keep in mind that humans are visual creatures. If its pleasing to the eye, it'll be pleasing to the wallet. You should also remember that your book is competing with millions of others. Don't go with pre-made book cover art, be original. Once you find a cover designer you want to work with, go through several rounds of mock-ups. Poll your family, friends, and coworkers. Asking other people which cover version they prefer can give you insight into which one will sell best.
3. Book pricing
When choosing your book's listing price do your research. Find out what your competitors are offering for theirs in your niche. Generally speaking $.99 to $9.99 for an Ebook is standard. Pricing is about balance. Pricing a book higher doesn't necessarily tell buyers its better, it can actually discourage readers. The same goes for books priced lower. To be safe you should price your novel within the competitive range. The only exception would be if your book has more pages or has a hardcover. The more pages within a book, the higher the price because readers are getting more value. Hardcovers cost more to produce than paperbacks, thus the price for those is also inflated. If you're unsure of what to price your book at, you can always look up a book profit margin calculator like this one from Self-Publishing School.
Giving your readers a landing page for getting to know you and a place to buy your book is a smart idea. With sites like Wix and Wordpress creating your own custom website has never been easier. Whether it's a website with a personal blog to keep in touch with your fans or just a single page site meant for updates and book release information, the main point of hosting one of these sites is for branding purposes.
I've used my own Wix site as an example below.
To see even more excellent examples check these out:
5. Social media
Expect your bookworm fans to go down a loophole when it comes to social media. Once they read your first book and become a fan, they'll want to follow you on Twitter, scope out your website for tour updates, follow your Facebook Page for behind-the-scenes details, and finally go and TBR the rest of your books on Goodreads. Social media allows your readers to share your interests, contact you, celebrate your achievements, and provide a great source of referral traffic.
Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @writingitwells!
6. Join Reddit
Using forum-based social media sites such as Reddit and Tumblr are a great way to network. Putting yourself out there and learning from your fellow writers is fun, but more than that it'll give you the opportunity to put your name and your book in spaces where lots of people are sure to see them.
Here are some subreddits to check out:
Don't underestimate the power of Influencers to help you promote your book. These are the people who will convince other people that they have to buy your book. The power of Influencers is their ability to persuade a large audience to purchase what they promote. These people don't have to give you a book review, but advocating for your book can be a powerful thing. If you don't know anyone with high social status, no worries! There are paid Influencers and earned Influencers marketing options to assist you. Once you hire one of these people, you can negotiate about the posting frequency, use of hashtags, and creative visuals.
8. Facebook groups
Facebook Groups are gold. You can interact with Indie authors, develop contacts, ask for feedback and reviews, form beta reader relationships, exchange advice, and connect with your fan base. Similar to Reddit, these groups are open forum style with moderators who ensure that the rules are followed. It's a great place to use polls and surveys to help gain insight into your book covers, answers to writing-related questions, and make new friends who will read your book.
Here are some to join:
“Authority Self Publishing” Facebook Group (6,539 members)
“The International Indie Author” Facebook Group (644 members)
“Author Support Network” Facebook Group (2,858 members)
“For Writers, By Authors” Facebook Group (17,605 members)
“The Indie Writers’ Cooperative” Facebook Group (563 members)
Fiction Writing (120.9 members)
9. Media coverage
This is one of the downsides to self-publishing. With traditional publishers media coverage is already guaranteed because of the reputation and relationships built by the publisher themselves. When you're an indie author and new to the book selling game, you can't expect the media to pay attention to you. However, the good news is that the more books you write and the more your credibility as a writer is built, the more attention you'll eventually receive. This is especially true if you make the NY Times Best Sellers List. In the meantime, don't get discouraged! Start small when building your media coverage strategy. Get in touch with your local newspaper, magazines, niche blogs, news channel, podcast, libraries, bookstores, etc. Ask to be included in book presentations, book fairs, cultural events- anything to help raise awareness.
10. Book reviewers
The number one concern of all writers is to write a book that will be enjoyed. By default we also want to write a book that will get good reviews, though the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Picking the right people to review your book can help link the two. Pick someone who is well-versed in your genre, who actually has the time to write a review. Need more reviews? The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is a great resource. They provide connections that link indie authors to potential reviewers. All you have to do is write a pitch email specifying why you need their review and how much it means to you. Once you have your reviews, boost your social media feed by using them as testimonials.
Image: Screenshot from the Book Reviewer Yellow Pages homepage. Accessed 9/23/20
11. 3D video mockups
Ready to elevate your marketing to the next level? Make a 3D video mockup! This is a short promotional video that shows off your book's cover or your Ebook. You can choose to make your own video in a video editor or you can use a service like Placeit to create a template that makes uploading easy. It adds a little extra bells and whistles to attract eyes within crowded online environments like Facebook Groups or on Instagram, a visually diverse platform. They also look great on author websites and shown as GIFs within emails.
12. 3D book mockups
If you haven't already invested a little time to create a 3D mockup of your book, you definitely should! Nothing shows off your fabulous cover design more then to have an image of it on an actual book. This is especially useful to help generate excitement for a book launch or when you're just starting to promote a new series. Before you ever have a physical hard copy this helps to sell your book to your readers. Just check out this awesome example by Amanda Creek!
Image: Screenshot from amandalyncreek.com. Accessed 9/23/20.
13. Goodreads author program
Goodreads is the #1 website for readers and recommendations. Make sure you're using this resource to the best of your ability by joining their author program, which helps authors reach their ideal audience. You can host your own blog, build a following, share your favorite books, and connect with them all in the same place. You can also pay for advertisements that target readers by genre, location, gender, and age. Ads cost $0.50 per click. With so many resources at your disposal, it makes sense to make the most of it.
14. Maximize Amazon
Amazon can be a tough nut to crack. In order to be a top ranking author, you have to utilize reviews in order to even be seen by new customers. It's not a long-term solution by any means. Even if you do make the top sellers list, it usually doesn't last. But, that being said, it's the dream of many authors to reach that top ranking position. To help you understand how you can make that dream possible, check out this guide: Amazon Sales Rank: Taming the Algorithm.
With these 14 tips you can begin to build your book marketing strategy. While marketing your story can be challenging, being persistent and and trying new ideas will help you succeed.
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