The world of self-publishing has grown exponentially in the past few decades. Though self-publishing was once seen as a lesser alternative to traditional publishing, today it is a popular, often empowering way for authors to reach audiences all over the world. A crucial part of finding success as an indie author is how well you market your book. And this article will break down where and how to market a self-published book using a killer marketing strategy.
Before you launch a marketing campaign to become a successful self-published author, you must know what success looks like. Defining success depends on your goals as an author. Is this book a passion project or something you hope to turn into a career? Do you want to win literary awards or appeal to the mass market?
The way you define your publishing goals informs the way you view things like profit or selling books. For instance, a hobbyist author may be happy breaking even whereas a professional indie author would strategize ways to turn a profit or sell a specific number of books.
Once you’ve defined your measures of success, it’s time to look at how to achieve that success. Before you market any book, you must plan on how it will be available to a reader. What publishing platforms will you use? Will you publish ebooks, print, or both?
Most sales for self-published authors come through ebooks, thanks to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select and similar programs.
Through KDP Select, authors make ebooks exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited library (though nondigital copies can be distributed through other channels). KDP Select offers promotional tools like Kindle Countdown Deals, which you can use to reduce the price of your book for a limited time. In addition, joining the Kindle Unlimited library exposes your work to a worldwide audience.
Print books are useful if you want to give a reader an alternative to ebooks, however, and can work as promotional tools, like in giveaways. Although trade publishers print books en masse, an indie author has the option to print on demand. In addition, KDP authors can enroll paperbacks into Amazon’s Expanded Distribution program, which distributes books worldwide to libraries and bookstores.
If you’re just getting started with how to market a self-published book, you have several options. For an indie author especially, an online presence is vital to expanding your audience and finding new readers. By establishing an online author brand, you can better connect with a reader and make yourself more visible.
Through a book promotion site like BookBub, authors pay to have their book sent to a list of readers, usually through email, in return for a book sale or download. This added exposure helps the book rank higher while readers get the book for free or at a discounted price.
An ebook aggregator allows you to publish simultaneously to multiple platforms. In contrast, a publish to platform service like Amazon KDP allows you to directly upload a book to one platform.
Though traditionally published authors often need to do heavy lifting to market their work, self-published authors are entirely on their own. This can be a positive, granting indie authors unprecedented freedom to do things like run discount promotions or change the book price. But knowing how to market a self-published book means doing some focused research. So read on!
Although Amazon isn’t the only option for indie authors, it is the option that currently dominates the market. Authors can use tools like Amazon Author Central or the Amazon Associates program to their benefit. Moreover, optimizing your Amazon listing will help readers find your work.
Through Author Central, you can fill out a biography; add photos, videos, and book trailers; link to your website and social media (Twitter in particular is great for authors); track sales; and showcase all the books you’ve written.
Traditional publishing often prices books based on the market those publishers are selling into and must consider production and distribution costs. This is where self-publishing has a major advantage: as an indie author, you have the freedom to set the price for your book. Because most self-published authors focus primarily, if not entirely, on ebooks, you also don’t have to factor in the cost of producing physical copies or selling those copies to a bookstore or library (at least, not on a mass scale).
Here’s where that comes together for marketing: book giveaways and price drops. A favored weapon of the indie author, the price drop gives readers a huge discount to garner more reads and reviews.
In addition, self-published authors have more room to experiment with price. On Amazon, authors receive a 35 percent royalty for books priced from $0.99 to $1.99. And they have a 70 percent royalty for books priced from $2.99 to $9.99. When determining how to price your book, consider the length of your book, your competition’s book prices, and the size of your audience. Experiment with the way price affects a book sale.
By working with book bloggers, you can take a book tour without leaving the house. This is a critical step in learning how to market a self-published book!
Through a book blog tour, book bloggers review your book, post an excerpt, or interview you. In addition, they’ll share reviews to social media (e.g., Facebook), Amazon, or Goodreads.
This is a great book marketing strategy because it boosts your presence online, especially within your genre. It also builds social proof that you wrote something worth reading.
A successful book launch takes planning and consistency. Before, during, and after launch, there are a few things you can do to keep the conversation going around your book.
Promoting your book before launch can be one of the most difficult parts of the process, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on building your audience, and be consistent. In addition, choose your launch date wisely. As tempting as it may be to launch a book the minute you finish it, you’ll need time to promote your book and work out any challenges that come your way.
It’s also important to make sure you’re promoting something you can be proud of. If you haven’t already, send your work to a book editor, and polish it up. Make sure your book is free of typos, has a professionally designed, appealing cover, and intrigues readers with gripping back cover text.
At least a month before launch, send out advanced reader copies (ARCs) to interested readers. These are the people who will read your work ahead of time so they can post a review during launch week. If you can, contact people with influence or credentials in your genre. A review from a local newspaper or book blogger can reach a wider audience than one from your grandmother (though she’d probably appreciate a copy too!).
An online presence is crucial, and how you present yourself will affect how people view your book. Get professional author photos taken. Additionally, make sure your profiles on your website, Amazon, Goodreads, or any other social media you have are appealing to potential readers.
A final component to prelaunch is the launch team. This will be a group of readers who will post about your book during launch week, share reviews and excerpts on social media, and spread the word. You can find people to join your launch team from your mailing list, from other authors, from your ARC readers, or elsewhere.
It’s go time. Once your book launches, claim it on sites like Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, and BookBub so you’re associated with the sales page.
Ideally, your book launch team will help you spread the word on social media—from Facebook to Twitter—by posting interviews, reviews, and excerpts from your book. You can share these posts and add your own, thanking the team and your reviewers for their work.
Have a celebration, either online or in person. Consider hosting an event like a book signing, reading, or Q&A panel, and have copies available to sell.
After launch, take a moment to celebrate. It’s tempting to jump back into the grind—and you will eventually need to grind again—but acknowledging your hard work and celebrating your success will help stave off burnout.
Next, keep the momentum going with your email newsletter. Update readers on your latest projects, look into events to attend like a literary festival or author panel, and keep in touch with your audience.
If you plan to write for a living, the next step is to jump back in and write something new.
Marketing is an art of its own, but here are some things to keep in mind: entice the reader and stay consistent.
Whether or not this is a good thing, people do judge books by their covers. Create a wow factor by having your book cover professionally designed. The back cover text, meanwhile, should be intriguing and well written. It should concisely give readers an idea of what your book is about while pointing out why they need to read this specific book.
Below are some key components in determining how to market a self-published book.
Establish an author website. In addition, post an author bio and photo, share information about your work, and give people a way to contact you about events like interviews, panels, or literary festivals. Finally, include release dates of any upcoming books and links to places where readers can buy your books.
Maintain a social media presence. You don’t have to have an active presence on every social media platform to ever exist, but it’s important to find where readers of your genre are most active. Through social media, you can network with other authors, get to know your readers, and promote your work. Social media challenges or hashtags can generate hype around your book. For example, a book giveaway for your social media followers can entice people to learn more about your work or follow your social media account.
Consider content marketing. For example, blogging about your life as an author or something related to your work is one way to establish credibility among readers.
Launching a blog is a commitment on its own, however, so it can be equally appealing to join a podcast, video, or blog as a guest. Whether you interview with a media personality, write a guest blog post, or ask a creator to share a book review on their platform, joining as a guest will broaden your audience reach.
Take out advertisements. You can take out a book ad in your local newspaper or radio show to spread the word offline. Meanwhile, investing in ads on the internet is another option to find new readers. Amazon’s ads are pay per click, which makes it easier to stay within budget. Facebook and Google also offer ad features whereas social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow you to promote posts.
There are two ways to sell books online: through marketplaces, like Amazon, or through a personal online store. Though marketplaces are more popular, a personal online store is helpful for those who want more control over their work.
An online store needs a few key features:
Ideally, your online store could also integrate with mailing list providers like MailChimp, making it all the easier to promote your book.
Have you published a book but aren’t sure how to get started with marketing? Even if you know how to market a self-published book yourself, Elite’s book marketing services give you the comprehensive support you need. Whether you need to optimize your book listing for SEO or write back cover copy, we can help you boost your sales and publish everywhere. Get in touch today!