by Rachel Thompson
As a self-published author and social media/branding consultant, I often wear two hats: that of writer and that of marketer. This is not uncommon to all writers, really. In order for people to find out about our books, we have to promote them, build our author platform, and still find time to keep writing (never mind the hassles of real-life).
Because I do all my own marketing, I’ve been able to decide which directions to take that have the most effect (more sales), without a huge outlay of cash. I’ve tried it all. I will say now that you must invest in your writing career – nothing magically happens when you upload your book and sit back and wait to be found.
Molly asked me to share the top ways to sell your book – which book promotion tactics really work? But if I may, I’d like to step back and say that there is some background housekeeping stuff you must do first in order to make any promotion successful:
• Know your keywords. This is ultra-critical for anything you do: Amazon, Google AdWords, SEO and SMO, tweets, blogs, everything! The very first exercise I give my clients is to identify six to ten keywords that describe their book, genre, and themselves (after all, people want to know who you are as a person, not simply a brand). Think critically about what you want people to know about you and share that.
• Make sure your website and blog are up-to-date and fully optimized. If not, learn how to do it yourself or hire someone who knows what the heck they’re doing. This means using those same tags and keywords in every blog post, pic; making sure your social media buttons are prominently displayed. (Here’s a tip: Go to Alexa.com and see what your site or blog score is. The lower it is, the better.)
• Have your social media reflect your branding. Be consistent across all platforms. I’m RachelintheOC everywhere (email, site, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube…you get my point).
Okay, assuming all those ducks are in a row, let’s look at promotional techniques I’ve found effective:
1. Advertising: there are multiple ways to advertise your book. Google AdWords, Facebook, Goodreads, or other sponsored sites. I’ve tried all and have found, for me, that AdWords works best IF you can have someone who knows what the heck they’re doing to set it up for you.
My best advice for AdWords is spend as little as possible on a daily basis – say $5.00 – and throw more in for a large promo if you can afford to.
There are lots of great book blogging sites where you can advertise for very little investment. Just look carefully at their views/month and Alexa rating before laying out money.
2. Sales Channels: One factor in my success is sending all readers to the same place (Amazon) to purchase my book. Now, I happen to be KDP Select (more on that in a sec), but even if you’re not, you can certainly utilize Amazon as your primary sales funnel.
How? Several ways. Twitter, for example, now allows you to add two URLs to your bio – I recommend your site and Amazon. If you use bit.ly to shorten your link, you can also customize it and track clicks!
Selling your book on your own site or blog is an industry no-no. Why? Well, look at Amazon’s daily visits vs. your own. ‘Nuff said.
3. Promotions and Copromotion: no person is an island. I often hook up with other authors in my genre or with whom I have a great relationship and do a pulse pricing campaign. Meaning, reducing the price for a limited amount of time, or if you’re KDP Select, going free.
Every author’s goal is to sell books, right? To quote Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
Of course, his intent was more altruistic. But is it really? By giving others press and promotion as I do what I’d do anyway, ultimately the reader benefits from the price reduction and exposure to other books they may love and pass on to others. Word of mouth still sells more books than any other way!
4. Guest blogging: as you can see here with Molly, by developing supportive relationships with other authors, you gain exposure (and by having them guest blog for you, they gain exposure). That’s a win-win for everyone. Increasing reach is a terrific way for other people to find your work.
Some authors are hesitant to put themselves out there, or only want to focus on their own content. HUGE mistake. Why limit yourself?
In addition, you never know who is reading. Two agents have approached me after reading guest blogs I wrote and both the San Francisco and Sacramento Book Review picked up an article I wrote recently about bad reviews. I didn’t query them – they found me.
Finally, be open to having others guest blog for you. This is gives them an avenue to share their stories they might not have on their own and it’s a way to pre-market my next book of non-humorous non-fiction by creating a different tone to work (since most people know me as a humorist).
5. Book Tours: this tactic can be ineffective for these reasons:
• Some blog tour companies are better than others
• Some authors don’t get involved at all (leaving comments, helping with promotion, or connecting with commenters via Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest)
• It can be exhausting for the author
However, I do recommend it. There are some terrific blog tour companies out there that will affordably help you get more reviews and exposure. It’s also helpful to set up your blog tour around a promo – i.e., a blog hop, price reduction, contest, interview etc., to maximize exposure.
About Rachel: I’m a chick who writes stuff that makes you laugh. My book A Walk In The Snark hit #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list. I’ve been nominated for Funniest Blog, Best Humor Writer & Redhead Who Makes A Killer Dirty Martini (okay, I made the last one up, but it’s true.)
Note from Molly: Check out my novels on Amazon, join my Reader’s Club for freebies and book news, and follow me on Twitter. This original content is copyright protected. Thank you so much!