You’ve signed with a publisher or you’ve chosen to self-publish. You’ve been through the edits, the formatting; you’ve made the changes, acquired the artwork and published. Now what?
One of the most difficult and most overlooked aspects of making it as an author is marketing. Unless you can promote your book yourself, then you’re not going to sell any copies, the online algorithms are not going to favour you and the book stores are not going to drag their stock of your book out from the back room.
There is no easy way to promote yourself in this game, but there are a few things you can do that will increase your chances of being a success. Just make sure you work with stable, static budgets and never increase these to account for high PR quotes. If you can’t afford it now, don’t assume you will then and never let the promise of big exposure send you into the red. The follow tips can also help you to stay on course.
4. Don’t be Scared to Give it Away
One of the easiest ways to promote your book when you have self-published is to give it away. The more people that download your book, the higher you will rank with the Amazon algorithm, the more you’ll feature in the “Also Bought” section and the more copies you will sell when the free promo ends.
This is a tactic that continues to be shunned by many self-published authors who insist they can’t give something away for free when they worked so hard on it. But at what cost? Would you prefer to give 1,000 copies away so that you can sell 10,000, or would you prefer to give none away and only sell a handful?
This is not as easy if you are traditionally published as it’s not up to you, but you can still take advantage of the benefits that come from shifting a huge number of books in a very short space of time. These days all major publishers work with discount operators like BookBub. They pay for placements in exchange for promotion of a heavily discounted book and in return they get thousands of purchases.
Your share of each sale will be very low, if anything at all, but if you do all you can to promote that discounted period and to get as many purchases as possible, then your book will be given a huge boost within the Amazon algorithm and that will help you to remain in the bestseller lists when the promo ends.
Just remember, you can’t rely on BookBub alone. They run dozens of promotions a day and all of those books can’t succeed. Your goal is to signup with other discount providers and to run as many coordinated promotions as you can.
You can also run giveaways on social media and on Goodreads, either by purchasing books yourself with your author discount, or by encouraging your publisher to run them for you.
3. Focus on Targeted Ads
Not everyone reads books, not everyone buys books, and even if you find a community of readers, how many of those are interested in your genre? The worst mistake you can make when marketing you book is to focus on generalised marketing, as you’re offering a niche product to a general market and paying for the pleasure.
Instead, find a way to target specific demographics. And that isn’t just limited to book clubs and other book related subjects. In fact, if you write in a niche genre you may be better off targeting a community dedicated to film or TV. This is especially true for genres like horror and romance, where you’ll find that a lot of people who devote themselves to horror/romance films and movies will also happily read books in that genre.
2. Get Some Local Publicity
Contrary to what you might think, local bookshops are not very willing to do book signings and big events with unknown authors, even if they have been published by a traditional publisher. This is especially true if you live in a big city, as they get requests like that all the time and simply can’t provide the same level of service to so many authors.
To get around this, you need to get some local publicity on your side. Create a press release and contact the local press. Get a PR company on your side and see if they can help you for a reasonable amount of money.
Once you have that PR on your side then you can contact your local book shops and show it to them. This will prove to them that you are known in the community and that you understand how to market yourself.
After all, their goal is to sell books and get more people through the doors. If they believe that you can help them to do that then they will be happy to work with you.
1. Get Reviews
Reviews are essential, from the big review sites and magazines, to customer reviews on Amazon and other online booksellers. To an extent the same can be said about Goodreads, especially now that it is owned by Amazon. You can also get reviews from smaller review blogs. In our experience, these rarely generate any sales or any real interest, but sometimes those bloggers leave their reviews on other sites and they can also help to get more entries for your book in Google and other search engines.
To get these reviews you need to start sending free copies of your book. Your publisher will do this for you if you have one, although they may need you to gather the names of reviewers. If you are self-published then you’ll need to put those Google skills to good use, looking for bloggers, reviewers and even readers who will accept an ARC in exchange for their opinions.
They will all want physical copies of the book, but this can get expensive and some bloggers will simply not be worth the cost. So, try to prioritise who gets a physical copy and give the others an eBook.