How to Market Your Self Published Book

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.

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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.  🙂

Promote Your eBook Sale or Discount

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In light of my recent sale on The Fine Line, I have become quite familiar with many websites that help indie and traditional authors promote their discounted books.  Today, I’d like to help other authors by providing a detailed list of book promotion websites.  If you know of any other good sites, please leave them in the comments!

If you are planning a sale, it’s always a good idea to contact these sites well in advance.  I advise at least 30 days, but many will accommodate you in a week or even a few days.  My book has been promoted on some of these sites and have seen some really good results!  However, I have not worked with all of the sites listed below, therefore I advise that you do any research you feel necessary before paying for any service, to verify that you will see results.

Please note: These are not book blogs or book review sites.  They are mostly book sale/freebie subscription sites.

These sites will promote your book for free or at a low-cost (many of these websites offer free promotion without guarantee or a guaranteed promotion for a fee):

Sweet Free Books

Booklover’s Heaven

eBooks Habit

Read Cheaply

Reading Deals

Ebookasaurus

The Midlist

Free & Discounted Books

Choosy Bookworm

Awesome Gang

eReader News Today

People Reads

Black Caviar Book Club

The Fussy Librarian

Just Kindle Books

The eReader Cafe

Book Static

eBook Soda ($10 fee)

New Free Kindle Books

Books on the Knob

Addicted to eBooks

Kindle Boards

Book Goodies

These sites will promote your book to a large audience for a fee (ranging from $15 and up):

Masquerade Crew

Free Kindle Books & Tips

BookBub

Free Booksy

Kindle Nation Daily

World Literary Cafe

Bargain Booksy

Kindle Mojo

Book Bear

Book Gorilla

Digital Book Today

Hot Zippy

Good Kindles

Indie Book of the Day

Book Sends

eReader IQ

Ask David

7 Ways to Help an Indie Author

Most of my previous blog posts have been about my personal journey, or have promoted my book.  Today, I’d like to try something a little different.  Something a little more informative.

Since writing and self-publishing The Fine Line last year, I’ve learned a great deal about book marketing.  My friends, family, and acquaintances–people who are not familiar with the book reading/publishing/blogging community–have been incredibly supportive and have frequently asked what they can to do help promote me and my book.  I have come up with several ideas on how supporters can do just that.  Most are quite easy, most are FREE, and most would only take a few short minutes.

(If you can think of more, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment at the end of this post!)  

1. Buy the Book–On Release Day

Okay, this one isn’t free.  But it’s the most meaningful.  We all know how important it is to support your favorite authors by purchasing their book.  And with most self-published eBooks being at a reasonable price of $3.99 or less (sometimes even FREE), purchasing your copy can be more affordable than a movie ticket, a Frappuccino at your favorite coffee chain restaurant, or even a pack of gum.  And what’s more rewarding–a stick of gum that runs out of flavor in 10 minutes, or 5-10 hours of a great read?  Also, with the help of Amazon’s “one-click” resource, the purchase itself can be easier than–well–breathing.

Let’s take it one step further.  Sure, we know you’ll buy the book because doing so is the best way to support your favorite author, and you’re excited to read their next masterpiece.  By pre-ordering your copy (when available), or buying it on release day, you can help the author move up in the rankings of lists such as Amazon’s Best Sellers, hence making their book visible to other readers who may not have ever heard of said author.  High rankings bring buzz and attention.  Of course, if you missed release day, don’t let that stop you from one-clicking.  🙂

One MORE step further you say?  Awesome!  How about buying it as a gift for a friend?  And if you can get it signed first, even better.  Many authors will sign books that are mailed to them as long as you include a return (postage paid) envelope.  I know I will!

(Please check with the author or representative before sending a book to them.  And don’t forget the prepaid return envelope!  Without it, you may not get the book back).

2. Recommend the Book to Family, Friends, Acquaintances, the Mail Man, etc..

Social media is amazing (see #3).  You know what’s better?  Face to face communication.  Having lunch with friends?  Going to a wedding shower?  Bachelorette party?  Family reunion?  Try making a quick mention of this awesome book you just read.  It will not only “plug” the book you’re trying to promote, it’ll also be a great conversation starter.

Checking out at the grocery store, or post office?  Browsing the book section at your local Target?  Why not make this time a little more interesting?  Talk to someone.  Even a *gasp* stranger.  Participating in friendly small talk with strangers can make everyone involved feel good.  Try asking the cashier this: Do you read?  Or fellow book-browsing-customer this: Do you like (book’s genre)?  Then continue with something like: I just read this amazing book by (author’s name), and it’s only available online.  If they seem interested, write down the name of the book & author for them.

3. Spread the Word on Social Media

If you haven’t followed the author on their Blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever other social media networks you like to participate in, please do so!  If you haven’t signed up for their newsletter (if they have one), go for it!  “Like” their pages and recommend them to your friends.  It’s a great first step.

When the author posts information about releases, sales, contests, or anything else interesting, the best thing you can do is to share their post. Share it on Facebook or Google+, re-tweet it on Twitter, re-pin it on Pinterest.  Every little bit helps.

Want to make it more meaningful to your friends or followers?  When you share the content, include a small personal note about why you like the book, or author, or why they should click on the post.  A short message from you makes a huge difference!   

          (Note: Facebook is weird.  In order to make sure you see all of the author’s posts, click on the “like,” “follow,” AND “get notifications” buttons on their page.  Feel free to ask me if you have questions on how to do this.)

          (Note #2: Because of Facebook’s algorithms, page posts only get shown to 5-10% of page followers.  This means the likelihood of you NOT seeing a page post on FB is 95%.  So when you DO see it, “like” it, share it, and comment on it.  Interacting on the page in this way will make the post visible to more people.)

4. Spread the Word on Goodreads

Goodreads (GR) is a fabulous resource for authors and readers.  The reason I separated this from other social media networks is that there are so many awesome ways you can spread the word on GR.  A few are listed below.  If you can think of more, please feel free to comment at the end of the post!

Become a fan or friend of the author

Nominate or vote for the book on Listopia

Personally recommend the book to your GR friends (Click on the book you wish to recommend, then click on “recommend it” on the top right side of the page. Finally, choose the friends you wish to recommend the book to.)

Nominate the book for a “Group Read” in the related groups that you belong to

Talk about the book in your groups.  Just talking about it brings exposure to the book.  Recommending the book in your groups is great, too!

“Like” the 4 & 5 star GR reviews (Ignore the other ones.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.)

Haven’t read the book yet, but want to?  Look for someone on GR to do a buddy-read with you!

Post book status updates.  How far are you in the book, and what do you think so far? (And link the updates to your other social media networks)

5. Leave a Review

One of the best things you can do to support ANY author, indie or traditional, is to leave an honest review.  It can be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and/or anywhere else the book is sold.  The more places you post it, the better.  If you wish to include a description, or plot-points, feel free.  However, it’s totally fine for a review to be short, sweet, and to the point.  Simply including what you liked and/or what you wish would’ve been different in a few short sentences is wonderful.  I can’t say it enough…if you liked the book, please review it!

 6. Request or Reserve the Book at Your Local Library

If an indie author chooses to utilize “expanded distribution” with their print books, they make their books available to brick and mortar stores like Target and Barnes & Noble.  That being said, print on demand books are non-refundable in most cases which means the likelihood of a Barnes & Noble stocking an indie book is slim to none.

However, if you request an indie book at your local library, the chances are very likely that your library will order the book (if the author makes use of the expanded distribution option).  If the library is able to order it through their book vendor, they may just do so at your request.  Why not try it?  The library is a great place for readers to discover new authors (like the one you want to promote)!  And if you’re short on cash, or don’t have an e-reader, the library is a fabulous option.

Browsing your library’s website is great way to find out which books they have available before you make the trip.  If the library already has the book, place it on hold to make sure it will be ready for you when you get there.  If they don’t have the book yet, send an online request.  It’s easy and quick to do from the comfort of your own home.

7. Attend Author Events

Whether it’s a release party, a reading/signing, or multi-author event, you presence and support is what makes the sleepless nights, the time away from family, and the absolute terror of releasing your heart and soul to the world, all worth it for many authors.  Grab a friend, grab your book to be signed (if you have it) and go…have a great time.  It will mean everything to the author you want to support.

 

***Wow!  You made it to the end?  Thank you!  If you liked this post, I’d be ecstatic for you to share it! ***