It doesn’t take an expert to realize that publishing a book is a brutal process. Even after you’re finished writing the book, you still have to figure out how to get it out there on the market. Marketing your self-published book is a time-consuming and difficult job. We’ll help you learn how to market a self-published book with these basic tips.
Marketing is the one aspect authors, again and again, lament gives them the biggest headaches. Let’s go through a quick list of some tips and tricks you can employ to help make marketing your book more successful.
Sell Your Self-Published Book
Whether you’re a seasoned author or a first-time novelist, you’re going to need to tap into your entrepreneurial (authorpreneurial?) spirit to convince people to read your book. Start with these tips and build your author brand over time, leading to more and more sales as both your network and your backlist grow. Learning how to market a self-published book is no simple task, but the payoff can be well worth it!
1. Build Your Network
Before you can start cranking out marketable content, you need people to market to. Do not overlook this step!
Start with your existing followers on social media and any email contacts. Get any contacts you might have, like fellow writers locally and bookstore owners, on your social and email lists. I feel that this step is often skipped or undervalued when experts are explaining to authors how to market a self-published book.
Note that all seven of the following tips will help continue building your network. So you shouldn’t expect a fully formed and rich network of contacts right out of the gate. You just need some people to get the ball rolling.
2. Write a Killer Description
Even if your book is amazing, no one will pick it up and read it without knowing what it’s about. That’s where the book description shines, so it needs to be the most workshopped piece of writing you put out in the world.
Your description is what you’re using to sell your book. You should absolutely write a few versions of your description. After you’re done writing those versions, get feedback on which is the most effective. Marketing your book will be much easier with a great description.
The description should be snappy and really lay out what the book is about. Don’t give away plot points of course, but tease the most enticing elements to grab and hold the reader’s attention.
3. Spread the Word Using Email
Building an email list for your book is one of the most effective ways to market because you’re getting word directly into people’s inboxes. The marketing channel with the highest return on investment in the game? That’s email.
So there’s no doubt you should be using it. But if you need a little help before you start, it’s important to do your research and get some tips on how to use email to your advantage. Understanding how to market a self-published book using email can take some time. But each new subscriber gives you new opportunities to test content and find what resonates with your readers.
If you’re an established author, you may already have an email list. If not, start grabbing addresses from your blog when people visit. And definitely, if you don’t have a blog, create one ASAP (see below) before thinking about self-publishing your book, so people will have a place to go when they’re looking for information about you.
4. Own Your Ecommerce Site
Why? Two big reasons that you may not have thought about:
- You control and keep all the revenue from a sale on your own site
- You keep the contact data from your readers
Sales on your website may not beat your Amazon downloads. But you can earn as much from one sale on your site as five or more sales on Amazon. And it’s not an either/or scenario; you can and should do both!
The cost to run an ecommerce site has come down significantly. And if you opt to use Shopify®, you can take advantage of Lulu’s Direct app to connect our print-on-demand to your store for free. Sales directly from your site mean readers are finding you and your platform–which means you have additional opportunities to market to them!
And most important for your long term success, anyone who buys directly from you also adds their email to your marketing list. Now you can build a relationship with this reader, hopefully encouraging them to buy your next book. And the one after that and so on.
5. Find Your Social Media Space
Social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to marketing efforts for your book if done well.
Like all things, building a following on social media takes time. The easiest way to build your platforms from the ground up is to find other people in the same space as you, writing and publishing their books. When you interact with them, you can follow each other and support each other.
Remember too that you need to be in the social media space your contemporaries and your readers occupy. That means finding the right platforms and posting/commenting in the right ways for that platform.
A Goodreads page is a great place to start because you can interact with other like-minded authors and begin to spread the word about your own book. Other people also use Facebook or Twitter to let the world know what their book is about.
You can also consider using Instagram, especially if you have a niche book about cooking or something else that can produce beautiful pictures for people to get invested in while browsing your account. Medium is another place where you can go to interact with other book lovers for free and start to mention your book to them.
6. Maintain a Blog
Your blog is likely to be the cornerstone of your author platform and many marketing efforts. This is where people can get to know you. And this is where you’ll point new readers too from your social media and email campaigns.
But don’t turn your blog into a sales page! It’s fine to link to your books when appropriate, but recognize that the blog will be focused on non-sales related topics.
Instead, create high-quality and relevant content with an eye toward SEO. Your blog will help you rank in Google searches, leading to more readers finding you. To achieve this, you’ll need optimized content that is well written and relevant for your audience.
7. Get Reviews
When people are browsing through products, 97% of them say that reviews were an essential part of the process that got them to buy a product or not to buy a product. That’s a lot.
So you really (really) want some reviews for your book. It can be the most important and seemingly innocuous factor in completing a sale. It’s much less likely that people will buy a book that doesn’t have any reviews on it as opposed to one that has a least a few or many reviews.
Ask your readers to review the book on your website once they’ve read it. If you’re just getting started and don’t have any readers yet, you can call in a favor with friends or family. These people still have relevant opinions and can start to build up your review base while your book is still gaining popularity.
8. Offer Something for Free
The idea of giving something up for free may be a painful one, but it’s often the hook that can lead people into buying your product in the end. So think of it not as you’re giving something away, but that you’re putting in work for a long-term investment.
If you have an ebook, split it up into a series. The first book of the series can be free. Once your reader is hooked after reading that first part of the book, they’ll invest in the next installment of your work.
Whenever you write something on your blog, you’re hoping to get people interested in what you have to say. Tailor your blog posts to hook people in. All of this blog content is free for anyone who comes across it!
Once people are drawn in by what you’re doing with your blog, you can gently lead them toward buying your book. When you have an engaged audience because you’re putting out useful, relevant information, converting into sales is simple (well, simpler).
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.