Writing your own book has never been easier. With the boom in e-books and Amazon’s system of allowing self-published books, means that literally anyone can now write something and have it up for sale in no time.
The downside of this is that you will be one of thousands, millions maybe, selling your book in an overcrowded marketplace.
How then can you market your book to improve its chances of success?
I’ve compiled some of the best ways to promote your book as well tips to make your book better.
Know your audience
OK so you have a great idea for a book, but before you even set pen to paper (because hand to keyboard sounds so wrong) you need to have a clear idea of who your audience is.
This might sound a little strange, but let’s face it we don’t all like the same things, so narrowing down your audience early on will not only help you focus your book for the right people but allow you to focus your later marketing directly to this group.
Cover & Title
With so many books being available, it’s quite often that a person will simply browse via book covers and/or titles.
If a book cover looks interesting, and professional, it’s more likely to garner interest than a badly drawn or boring cover.
The same thing goes for the title: it must invoke something in the reader that grabs their attention.
Often this is also genre specific, so a book about self-help should clearly define what it helps with whereas a fantasy saga should be more epic in scale.
Your synopsis will affect sales quite dramatically. If the synopsis makes the story sound dull or the contents sound uninspiring then the potential purchaser will move onto the next one.
Consider the synopsis to be your initial sales pitch: it has to grab the user, based on the genre and suck them in.
If it’s a story based book you should try to capture the mood of the story. If it’s more information, it should outline how it can help the reader.
The author bio is something that is often overlooked, and perhaps rushed, but a decent bio can be used not only to appeal to readers, but also in marketing efforts.
As such you should have three, carefully crafted bios:
#1 The One Liner
This is used for things like social media bios and places where something short and snappy is needed.
#2 The Paragraph
This should be a few sentences long and is ideal for guest post bio’s, author reviews etc.
#3 The Detailed Bio
This should be a one page bio that goes into a bit more detail about you, your likes and interests.
Remember that your bio is there so that readers can get a bit more of a feel for who you are, because they are not just buying a story or a self-help book, but instead investing in a person: you.
The bio is often the first step for people wanting to know more about you and join any community you have set up.
Marketing a book is not just about promoting the written words, but also about promoting you as the author. Interviews, guest blog posts and reviews will often contain your mug shot so you need to make sure that your photo is professional. You could argue that an eccentric looking photo stands out, but professional is usually the better way to go.
Join a Tribe
Self-published authors are generally lone writers, and marketing your book is hard work. It might then be worthwhile to join a “tribe” of your fellow authors to help spread the load a bit.
This can be as little as just chatting with people online to share tips and advice, or you could go a similar route as Discover Sci-Fi. This group is a bunch of Sci-Fi authors who have self-published on Amazon and have banded together to help promote each other’s books and sales.
This method allows for a greater reach, especially if each author promotes the group to their own audience.
If done correctly, it becomes a win-win situation: authors gain a wider reach and readers gain access to perhaps unknown authors.
There is zero excuse for an author to not have a website.
A website is a focal point for the author to sell or presell books, as well as a way for your readers to gain better insight into the your mind.
A website can be as basic as a single page with a blurb and link to Amazon etc., or it can be more fully fledged.
From a marketing point of view, a site with a blog is an absolute minimum.
A blog allows you to gain SEO advantages and also to give a glimpse into your life, connect with your readership and promote sales, new book releases etc.
A mailing list is a great way to promote new books and offers, as well as introduce your readership to your peers and contemporaries.
A mailing list is a give and take though, as for access to people’s inboxes your need to provide something in return.
This can be as simple as updates on sales, and releases, or it can be more in depth with regular updates on the progress of your latest book, or tips for new authors.
There are so many social networks out there that using social media as a method of marketing can be daunting. My advice here is to pick one or two (say Twitter and Facebook) and focus purely on them.
Social media should be considered as a way to promote you as an author rather than for a specific book. That’s not to say that you can’t let your followers know about your books and any offers etc. but it should not be the main focus.
Use these networks instead to connect with people, to discuss topics in your preferred genre and to give shout outs for other authors and books that your respect or enjoy.
These sites are like little hubs on the internet where fans of a genre can go to find new authors or details on existing ones.
They might be purely associated with books or be a little wider in niche. For example, io9 is a site devoted to science fiction, be it in book, video game or movie format, and often runs articles on the best Sci-Fi books of the month.
Or you could use a site like SFBRP.com (Science Fiction Book Review Podcast) to submit your book for review.
Whatever your niche, there will be sites that focus on it, and asking for reviews or asking to guest post about something related to your genre or writing in general is a great way to promote yourself and your books.
Discounts are usually a horrible thing to do from a marketing perspective, but they can be beneficial for self-published authors.
If you’re just starting out, giving away copies of your book is a decent way to start building up an audience and getting some reviews.
If you’re slightly more established, you can put your older books on sale or give them away in order to bring in new readers that may then purchase your later works.
That method works very well if you have a series of books as well, as the initial free book can lead to further sales of books in the series.
Free Chapters or Samples
Offering some of your book for free can be a great way to help sell the book. By allowing limited access you can whet peoples appetites for your work – the writing itself will be the sales copy.
These are also great to use on social media and blog posts and even in author bios as you are giving something for nothing that could lead to potential sales.
This really isn’t to do with marketing in the strictest sense, but you should always have your book reviewed by a competent editor and checked for spelling and grammatical errors.
I’ve read a number of self-published books whose premise is wonderful, but are let down by poor editing, so much so that I’ve simply not continued with that author.
Your writing is in part your marketing, and a solid story or tutorial or whatever is only part of it. If reading your book is a jarring experience due to poorly written sections or spelling errors then you will come off as an amateur.
A decent editor can not only catch basic errors but can also help you improve your writing, which in the long term will make you more professional and more marketable.
The Bottom Line
As a self-published author, most if not all of the marketing comes down to you. Making use of your audience, as well as modern day tools like websites and social media is an absolute must.
Expanding your reach not only relies on quality writing but also on the methods you use to help people find your books.