I’ve recently taken on a new business opportunity that has to do with helping people reach their goals. Writing can be such a solitary experience sometimes that I had almost forgotten how exhilarating it can be to work with others and help others with their challenges. I’m so glad that I have been reminded how important it is and how good it makes us feel to encourage others!
So, I have decided to take the experience to my writing/authoring world. Since the time I started writing my first book, two years ago, I have had many people ask me about book marketing for the self-published author. Today, I’m going to share a few things that I have learned from my own experience in self publishing a fictional novel. If you have any questions about the topic after reading this, please feel free to comment below or send me an email.
First, it’s important the the book have a magnetic, genre appropriate, professional looking cover (because let’s face it, readers DO judge books by their cover) and professional editing. (Your mother or best friend do not count!) After that, the synopsis (or blurb) needs to fascinate the reader to the point where they HAVE to read the sample. One way to do this is to look at other covers/blurbs in the same genre and see what’s successful and what’s not. And, of course, the sample has to intrigue and entertain the reader so much that they’ll just have to keep reading (which means, hello book sale!). With all the competition out there, excelling at these will set his book apart from the millions of other books readers have to choose from before making a purchase. Also, it is important to research pricing and set the book at a competitive price.
Next, it’s important to be active on social media. An author website with a bio and links to his book is imperative. If readers like your book, they are going to want to be able to connect with you and steer their friends toward you. You don’t have to participate in every social media outlet, but you should be active on at least one or two…whatever you’re most comfortable with and whatever you’ll be most active on, whether its a blog, facebook, twitter, etc…
Having an Amazon author page is beneficial. If readers see your book on Amazon, and want to know more about you, they can find out more on your Amazon page. Your page can be set up through Amazon’s “Author Central,” here: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/landing?ie=UTF8&ref_=ntt_atc_dp_pel_1
One thing that has really worked well for me in getting reviews is asking book bloggers to review (or promote) my book. If they can’t review it, they might do a spotlight, author interview, guest post, or simply share your book on their social media pages. You should have a “promo packet” ready with the book cover, author photo (if you have one, it should be professional-looking), buy links, links to your website/social media pages, and have excerpts & teasers (photo teasers are more captivating than plain text) for them to share.
If they agree to a review, gift them a free eCopy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Never ask them to buy it. It’s important to read their review policies before submitting a request and to follow their policy to a “T.” Also, the more personalized the request, the better. For example, if the reviewer noted something in their “about me” section, make a comment about how you relate to it in some way. Definitely, address each blogger individually, by name. For example, instead of “Dear blogger,” say “Dear (or Hi) Jane.” They pretty much pass on copy & pasted requests and mass email requests sent to multiple bloggers.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask nicely. Never, ever be pushy, or make demands. Be extra courteous. Remember that they help us promote our books for FREE and do it in their spare time because they are passionate about reading. They are never obligated to do anything for us, ever.
In your request, tell them who you are, why you are contacting them, the books genre, how long the book is (in pages or word count), and include a super-short (but totally intriguing) synopsis so they have an idea of what your book is about. They only accept books they think they might enjoy. Never send the book before they agree to review it. If they see an attachment, they will most likely delete your email without even opening it.
To put things into perspective, when I published The Fine Line, I emailed 427 bloggers. This means I spent time on 427 blogs, reviewing each review policy, and about-me section. It was time consuming, but SO worth it! Most of them never responded to my request. 133 of them agreed to review my book. I sent an eCopy of my book to all 133 of them. Of that, only 83 of the bloggers who said they would review my book actually reviewed it. It’s important to accept that not everyone does what they say they will do, and move on. Never express your dissatisfaction. Some reviews were phenomenal, and some were absolutely terrible! It’s important to never ever respond to, or comment on the terrible ones. Even if it kills you to not give that blogger or reviewer your two cents. It’s just not professional and it could hurt an author’s career. 🙂
I kept a spreadsheet of all the bloggers I emailed, to keep track, and I highly recommend doing that. That way, you’ll know for next time which ones you’ll want to contact again. The header looked like this:
|Blog Website||Date Request Sent||Request Format||Response Date||Action||Review Status||Misc Info|
And if you are crunched for time, there are many book bloggers that will organize a blog tour for a fee.
Here are a couple of good articles about approaching book bloggers for reviews:
Goodreads is another place to reach out to readers for reviews. There are some groups on Goodreads specifically designated to reviewing. Again, the idea is that the reader is gifted the book in exchange for an honest review. Always be kind and courteous. Never pushy, desperate, or demanding. And again, understand that not everyone who says they will review the book, does it. It sucks when they don’t do what they promise, but unfortunately it’s just part of “the game.”
If your book is already published and you are looking to get more exposure, running a sale or discount on your ebook could boost sales. If you decide to do this, it’s important to plan the sale at least 30 days in advance, and you must effectively promote the sale. I wrote a blog post with links to many different websites that help authors promote their ebook discounts, and many times book bloggers will help with promotion. (Aren’t they awesome! Seriously, I love them!) Here it is: https://aliciakobishop.com/2015/03/23/promote-your-ebook-sale-or-discount/
Lastly, keep writing and publish more books! If a reader likes your book, they’ll be looking at your back-list to see what else you have out there. (This is something I, personally, need to get better at!)
Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has two really good (free) eBooks about how to market your book. I highly recommend that you read them! Here they are:
I hope this helps! You are welcome to comment below or email me if you have any questions. 🙂