Self-Publishing Success Means Smart Marketing

by | Mar 4, 2016 | Book Marketing Basics

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What now? That was the most frequently asked question from my one-on-one consults with authors and teaching at the San Francisco Writers Conference recently. I hear it all the time, especially from self-published authors.

In my last post, I laid out six fundamentals for self-published authors to start smart. With that in place to ensure self-publishing success, here are some more tactical approaches to promote your book.

1. Get a newsletter

“Transactional emails have 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email, and can generate 6x more revenue.” – SOURCE: Experian

And speaking of newsletter, I always recommend that you have something that allows your visitors to sign up. A newsletter is a great tool even if you don’t plan on using it for a while.

Why do I love a newsletter so much? Because with all of the noise on social media, you really want to have a way to get in front of your readers with specials, promotions, or new information on your topic!

2. Consistently reach out to bloggers

So before you rush headlong into doing a million things to promote your book, be sure to make time to pitch bloggers on an ongoing basis. I generally recommend pitching 5 bloggers per week. If you have time you can do more, but we all have busy lives, family obligations, etc. and so it’s good to be realistic about what you can accomplish.

 3. Get on Goodreads

Goodreads is a great way to expose your book to more readers. I have Goodreads piece to follow that will help walk you through some easy steps to be successful, but for now here are some easy things you can do to get started:

  • Create a profile
  • Join at least one group
  • Add books to your bookshelf
  • Do one review per month
  • When you have all of that set up: do a Goodreads giveaway for your book.

4. What one thing will sell books?

There isn’t one thing per se – though I do get this question a lot and I wish I had a more concrete answer for it. Sales happens when you do the “right things”, and by right things I mean do what your audience wants and find ways to get in front of them.

If you’re not sure of where to start, research what other authors are doing. Network with other authors in your genre, go to events where you can meet and discuss what’s working and what isn’t with writers who face the same challenges. Bottom line: The right kind of exposure helps sell books. Consistent action to get in front of your audience will create more visibility for you and (hopefully) more sales.

5. Will the New York Times review my book?

No. Sorry to be blunt, but let’s save everyone a bunch of time here and be frank. They won’t but that’s ok, there are a whole lot of other places that will review your book. Focus on those instead.

Also, taking out an ad in the New York times is not the same as getting reviewed there. An author once told me that his publisher sold him a $5,000 ad in the NYT in the book review section.

“That counts, right?” he asked hopefully. These kinds of things make me want to beat my head against the wall. Do an ad if you want, but it won’t get you a book review or be considered a review or endorsement by this esteemed newspaper.

6. Ask for what you want

“I am not getting enough reviews for my book.” I hear this all the time. With 4,500 books published every day, that’s a challenge most of us face. So what’s a talented author to do? Well, consider asking for what you want. By that I mean:

  • Add a letter to the back of your book with a link back to the book on Amazon and ask (nicely) for a review. Don’t ask for a good or bad review, just a review.
  • Remind family and friends that reviews are important and encourage them to write a review. If they aren’t sure how share this link with them:
  • Incentivize readers to review: If asking for a review from your readers doesn’t seem sufficient to entice them to do it, consider instead offering them an incentive to review it. Perhaps a second copy of your book to share with a friend, a copy of your workbook if you have one (workbooks can be emailed, so no postage) or a bonus chapter of your book.

When you ask, you may be surprised what people are willing to do to help you get the word out there about your book!


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