If you want to sell books, you will need to market them. This post will give you a head start on book marketing. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide, but just an introduction.
For self-publishers, book marketing is a long-term activity. Your book will be available at online retailers for ever, unless you decide to take it off sale. You don’t need to make a big splash at launch.
Have a Good Product
Before you start, make sure that you have a good product. Your book should be properly edited, have a professional cover, and have a solid description. If you don’t have these three in place, time and effort spent on marketing will be wasted.
Write More Books
If you only have one or two books, the best thing you can do to sell more books is to write more books. It’s hard to hear, but it’s good advice nonetheless. Having multiple books means that you can experiment, and every time someone reads one book and enjoys it, they might buy all of your other books. This is especially true if you write a series — anyone that enjoys the first book is likely to buy the next one.
Set up a Website
If you haven’t done so already, set up an author website. Ideally use your name as the URL, but if it isn’t available, try adding something like “author” or “books”. Make sure that your website has a way for people to sign up to your mailing list.
I recommend WordPress, since it is easy to update, widely supported, and there are lots of themes, so you can make it look the way you want it to.
Set up a Mailing List
Use a service such as Aweber, MailChimp, or Seva to create a mailing list. Whenever you have news (a new book, a sale, whatever), email your list and tell them about it. These are people that have specifically chosen to hear from you, so they’re more likely to buy your next book.
Add an “About the Author” section
Make sure that your book has an “About the Author” section at the back. Include links to your website, mailing list, and your other books. When you release a new book, update this section in all your other books to add a link to the new book. When a reader gets to the end of your book, these links give them a chance to immediately buy more of your books. If they enjoy your writing, they’ll want to buy more of your books. Make it easy for them to do so.
Set up Your Page on Author Central
Log in to Amazon Author Central using your Amazon login details, and fill in as much information as possible. Make sure that all of your books are listed. If any are missing, use the “Add more books” button to claim them.
Set up a Facebook Author Page
Set up a Facebook page under your author name. This is not the same as your personal profile. It is designed for fans to follow, and allows you to post things of interest to your fans without having to let them see your personal profile and information. You will also need an author page to run Facebook ads.
Make the First in a Series Free or Cheap
If you write a series, make the first book in the series free or cheap. This reduces one barrier to people trying this first book. Because it’s the first in a series, the readers that enjoy it will buy the next book in the series and hopefully every other book in the series.
Amazon won’t let you set the price to free, though other retailers will. So to get it free on Amazon, make it free elsewhere, then contact KDP support and tell them that it’s free elsewhere, with links to the free book at large retailers (Apple Books, Kobo, B&N Nook). Ask them to match the free price.
Add an Excerpt
Add an excerpt from your next book to the back of the book, with a link to buy the next book. This is most effective if you are writing a series, and add an excerpt from the next book in the series.
Google AdWords is also a possibility, but very few authors report success with it. On the other hand, many authors have had success with Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook ads.
Run a Sale
You can change the price of your book at the online retailers at any time. Take advantage of this to run a sale. Drop the price, then advertise the sale via social media, your email list, paid email lists, paid advertising, etc. After a limited time, put the price back to the normal price.
There are many email lists that promote cut-price and free ebooks. These lists collect email addresses from readers, then email them links to discounted and free ebooks. You can pay to have your book included in one of these mail shots.
These sites all have minimum requirements, which vary from site to site. Most of them require a minimum number of customer reviews on Amazon, so check that you meet the criteria before applying. BookBub is the biggest, most expensive, and most difficult one to be accepted for, but the others can also have a significant impact.
There are many of these sites. This is a short list of ones that are generally recommended:
There are lots of book bloggers on the web, many of whom specialise in particular genres. Getting a book reviewed by a blogger with a large following can lead to more sales, and some bloggers will also leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Google “book blogger” and your genre to find book bloggers in your genre.
Before contacting a blogger to ask for a review, make sure that you read their review policy. If they don’t review self-published books or books in your genre, move on. When you write to them to ask for a review, be polite and courteous. Remember, you’re asking them to give up their time to help you.
Apply to be Included in Vendor Promotions
If you are distributing with Draft2Digital, make sure that you are signed up for email notifications of promotions being run by vendors. To do that, sign in to your Draft2Digital account, then go to Account -> Notification Preferences.
Ensure that the Global Unsubscribe header is ticked and green, and that the Promotional checkbox is ticked and green.
Draft2Digital will occasionally email you about promotions that vendors are running. The email will include a link to a form that you can use to request that your book be included in the promotion.
Book marketing is a huge topic, and this is just a short introduction. There are more articles in the marketing category, and our weekly newsletter often has links to information and advice about marketing.
The Alliance of Independent Authors has a Self-Publishing Advice Centre, with lots of advice about all aspects of self-publishing, including marketing. If you join the Alliance, you can access a private members-only Facebook forum, where you can ask specific questions and get answers from experienced self-publishers.