When I was first in business, there were only 500 books published every day; now there are 4,500. I lead with this, not to start off this piece with buzzkill, but to remind all of us that hope is not a marketing plan – which is why I’m talking strategies you can implement to sell your book! Before you read any further about sales promotion, if you missed our Infrastructure Checklist, check it out here.
Connect With Your Readers
A simple way to grow your network, get great reviews, and sell more books is simply ask! Write a thoughtful letter to your readers and ask for what you’d like them to do. When it’s not written in a pushy, sales format and includes a really genuine “thanks for reading,” this can go a long way. I put a letter to readers in every book I produce, and I recommended that the author do the same with The Publicist. We did this for the first book, and repeated the process when subsequent books came out. It not only worked brilliantly, but now, with several books in the series out, it continues to push readers from one book to the other.
Fans, Readers, and Super Fans
When you’re first starting out, getting blogger and reviewer attention is crucial. Unfortunately, with 4,500 books published each day, they’re pretty busy. While you should keep pitching bloggers and reviewer, you should also staring building a fan following. Why? The average reader can really help drive sales. Going one step further, the average super fan can not only drive sales, but also help spread the word about your book.
So how do you engage readers and turn fans into super fans? Well it takes a bit of work but it’s worth it! When the book launches, start to get in touch with fans. Encourage them to write you by putting a thank you letter in the back of your book as I just mentioned. Be engaging with it, tell them you sincerely appreciate their time investing in your book, and now you’d like to hear from them. Getting a fan to contact you is golden. Once you have some fans writing you, you can start engaging more with them and encourage their dedication. Make them feel exclusive — give them something to make them feel special. Try offering an early release of your next book, or a special “behind the scenes” from your first one.
If fans are engaging with you already, the next step is to keep the conversation going. Make sure that you are reaching out to them a few times a month to maintain this relationship.
Free is Your Friend
Free is a powerful marketing tool – if you find that free isn’t working for you, then you’re doing it wrong. You have to use it strategically – you should be using free to draw in readers – from there it’s up to you to keep them engaged. If you have several books, rotate books in and out of a day long freebie that you promote both to your readers and on social media.
Understand Amazon Algorithms
Amazon is a search engine. So, in order to gain maximum visibility for your book (and get more sales), it’s important that you understand how to work Amazon’s internal algorithm. How do you do this? Focus on keyword strings that will resonate with your target audience (not single keywords, because consumers don’t search that way).
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
Reviews trigger the Amazon algorithms, meaning they will help boost your book; if you have an older book, (like the one pictured in this piece) reviews and ongoing reviews are a great way to keep the title feeling “new,” and to keep triggering Amazon for more exposure.
As I mentioned in the Super Fans section, reviews aren’t always the easiest thing to get, so make sure to focus on those Super Fans – they are fantastic and will help you get more reviews if you ask.
Rocking Out the Pre-Order
The pre-order feature on Amazon is a great way to feel like you’re actually “launching” your book. It can give you time to generate buzz and if used correctly, it can help boost a book for up to three months on Amazon. What do I mean by “boost”? It will keep the book at a very low sales rank (the lower the sales rank the higher the sales) with very little effort. Here’s how:
Keep your pre-order short – no more than three weeks. You don’t need a long pre-order on Amazon, because I have found that a long pre-order does not necessarily mean more sales; in fact, often the opposite is true. Remember when I talked about generating that feeling of exclusivity? You can get reviews for this pre-order, and get them up within 36-48 hours on Amazon by offering a copy of your book to your Super Fans in exchange for an honest review. Then, incentivize them to review early.
Pricing, especially eBook pricing, is a big deal to most consumers. I recommend starting your book off with a lower price when it goes live, and keep it there for a week, maybe two. This will help keep you on the “new release” list even longer.
Pricing matters to your consumer, so it should matter to you. When it comes time to set the price for your book, look at your competition. Find out much your competition is charging for their books, and price your book competitively.
Pricing is especially important for eBooks. There is a rumor going around that eBook sales are declining. This is actually not at all true. The reason this became an issue, was because traditional publishers were saying their sales are down. They are down, because they are pricing their eBooks too high. Consumers don’t want to spend the same amount for an eBook as they do a print book, so be sure to price it less.
I offer more insights into pricing your eBook here.
Own the Shelf
Previously, you could put out one book, and wait around to see what happened, and then think about writing another book. With 4,500 books published every day, that time has long gone. Now you need to keep filling your virtual shelf space on Amazon. And if this sounds daunting, consider this: short is the new long. Not every book you publish has to be long – but it has to be quality. How short is short? Over 50 pages or 20,000 words is ideal. The more (quality) work you keep pushing out there, the more you’ll start to “own” your virtual shelf space.
Follow What Works
I know that marketing can seem daunting. There are seemingly endless possibilities to market and promote your book, so where do you start? My advice is to start with a strong foundation built upon infrastructure and the strategies for sales promotion we have discussed throughout this series, and then weave in some of those possibilities to see what works. This is the key to success in the long term. Authors who launch a book with no framework, and no strategy will most likely fail. Once you’ve created that solid foundation, then you have room to experiment with new possibilities. You’ll soon be able to recognize what is working for you and what isn’t.