Indie authors know how difficult it can be to market books! Fortunately, we have access to pros who can guide us. I’m pleased to share this article about book promotion basics for self-published authors, written by Shannon O’Neil of The Publishing team at Duolit.
Every author I meet has one question. It’s often disguised by different language and inflection, but it all comes down to the same thing: You want to know how to sell books.
It’s a fair question. You’ve worked hard to write a book, invested some money into production, and now you want to know how you can find fans and make sales. But just as important as knowing what *does* work, you need to know what *doesn’t* work.
So I’m here to share a little bit of both and in turn, answer that one, burning question.
– WHAT WORKS –
1. KDP Select
Joining KDP Select is the biggest no-brainer promotion for any indie. It’s an absolute must for any book series, but it works for stand-alone titles, too.
But just joining the program doesn’t guarantee you off-the-charts results (the kind you’ve undoubtedly heard of from other author friends). You have to plan out your promotional days just like you’d plan a proper book launch.
Patience, time, and a few strategic investments in paid ads during your promo days (start with Facebook and BookBub) will set your sales on fire.
2. Mailing Lists
Mailing lists are the new social media. Where it used to be easy to communicate with your fanbase via Facebook and Twitter, now the social media sites are so congested your messages get lost in the mix.
To keep your fans hooked and informed of all your latest book news, you’ve got to have a mailing list. It’s easy (and free) to set-up through MailChimp, but the key is coming up with a great incentive for people to join the list. An exclusive excerpt, short story, or alternate POV chapter are all great ways to entice fans to let you in their inbox.
Your list will become your exclusive inner circle of crazy dedicated fans. Keep them happy (and interested) with occasional giveaways and exclusive first-looks, and they will be your go-to resource for advanced readers, street team members, and pre-sell/limited edition opportunities.
3. Blog Tours
If you’re blogging to an empty room, it’s time to go on tour. You could pay for a blog-tour-in-a-box (you know the type), but you’ll get the best results from a DIY tour of your own. Find popular blogs where *your* fans would hang out and assemble eight to ten stops over the course of about two weeks.
Think outside the box – don’t just stop on book blogs, think about the other hobbies and interests you and your fans share. It can be cooking, crafts, tech gadgets, video games – anything you’d talk to your friends about, you can blog about to your fans.
Make sure you’ve got a great byline, headshot, and a specific action you want new fans to take (join your mailing list, follow you on Twitter, like you on Facebook, etc.).
Need more information about Blog Tour basics? Link here to read about Blog Tours, Hops & Sharing Contests.
4. Offline Promotions
Don’t assume the Internet is the only place to find readers.
Local bookstores, libraries, and schools (an especially great resource for YA authors) are great places to hold events and meet new fans. Book signings, readers, and strategic donations can generate local interest in your book.
Take advantage of your local media sources as well. Newspapers are always looking for local interest pieces, you just have to make the right pitch. Highlight your unique perspective or experience, something that sets you apart.
You’re not just-another-author, you’re a talented artist with a unique story.
– WHAT *DOESN’T* WORK –
1. Social Media Selfishness
If your tweets and Facebook posts are all “Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!” I’m afraid you’re suffering from SMS (Social Media Selfishness). You’re flooding your fans with tweets and links that have no substance.
You are an author, not a salesman. Don’t hammer people with pleas and sales pitches, be a friend. Growing your fanbase is a two-way street of give and take. The most successful people on social media are personable, charming, and genuinely interested in having conversations with their fans.
Overnight success stories are never true. Every successful author I know earned their rewards the old fashioned way – hard work, long hours, painful mistakes, and an indie’s most valued asset: perseverance.
As the industry grows, so will the number of people looking to take advantage of desperate authors. Don’t get caught up in the glitzy appeal of a quick reward for no investment.
As an added bonus, when you do reach the peak of success (which you will, no doubt) you will appreciate it so much more because you know what you sacrificed to get there.
3. Doing nothing
Without question, this is the *BIGGEST* mistake you can make. Don’t let fear, laziness, naysayers, stress, distractions, or anxiety turn you into a statue. The absolute worst thing you can do for your book promotions is nothing.
You’re going to make mistakes, it’s all part of the process, so there’s no reason to be afraid of it. If you can learn a lesson from the experience, your mistake will become an opportunity. Do some research, but know when it’s time to stop reading, planning, and worrying so you can start actually doing something.
Seriously, what are you still doing reading this post? Stop reading, start promoting – you know what to do.
Readers, what do you think? What’s been your experience with KDP Select? Any suggestions for other promotions that have turned out really well – or flopped? Leave a comment and share!
Shannon (The Author) blogs, tweets, eats, and sleeps book promotion along with Toni (The Geek) at Duolit (The Self-Publishing Team). Visit Duolit’s website and download a FREE copy of The Weekend Book Marketing Makeover – Jumpstart your novel sales with an introvert-friendly approach to finding your crazy-dedicated fanbase! You can also follow Duolit on Twitter and Facebook.
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Photo credits: nate bolt, Celeste RC.