You’ve done it! You’ve put in the time and dedication, the sweat and tears, and the heart and passion into writing and publishing your own book! Now what? …Will anyone read it?
While there are great examples of self-published authors making lots of money many self-published books simply don’t make it further than being listed on a self-publishing website. Here are some tips to getting your work out in front of readers and some money into your pocket.
1. Social Media
Hopefully you have already started to establish some sort of author platform that includes social media. My advice on social media is always this: create accounts for all the services you actually intend to use. It’s better to have no Twitter account at all than one that only has two tweets on it from three years ago. Focus your time and effort on a limited number of channels that you will keep up with, and add more as you have time/interest.
Building an audience online takes time, so you should start doing this before you have your book finished and ready to promote. If you’ve already built relationships with others by being personable and offering content that’s valuable to them they’ll be much more ready to hear about your new book.
Here are some great primers for how to get started building your platform online:
2. Give Some Away for Free
Gone are the days when all content is on super-secret lockdown until you pay for it. Online courses offer previews of their lessons, paid websites let you take a glimpse behind their paywalls, even Costco is giving away samples for free. Who doesn’t love a free sample?
Have faith that your writing can sell itself. A sample of your book for people to preview can generate enormous interest in your work, both for individual readers and for your audience as a whole. While shorter samples can give an example of your book’s style and your writing skill longer samples can actually draw readers in and get them completely hooked on your story!
Many authors and publishers use 3rd party sites to host their samples, thus leveraging the promotional reach of that service as well. But no matter where you put your sample your should always be linking to it from your own site. (You do have your own author website, right?)
Add your sample (or read others!) here:
3. Get Others to Promote it for You
People love to be told what to read. It’s one reason we have critics in the first place and is partially responsible for the rise of reading sites like GoodReads.com. Getting someone else to tell others they should ready your book some of the most valuable marketing you can have. In fact, if you get someone like Oprah promoting your book well you’re all set.
Short of Oprah, be on the lookout for people who have clout with your reader-base. This could be online critics for novelists, or industry-leaders for non-fiction books. You may already be following them on Twitter or Facebook or listening to their podcast. Be brave and reach out to them – a lot of people respond better than you’d think. Then get them your book (for free!). Ask them to recommend it if they like it. While you’re at it see if you can get a review to put on your website. (You do have your own author website, right?)
4. Google AdWords / Facebook Ads
Google AdWords is a great way to sell just about anything. With AdWords you create your custom text ads and run them when users search for a certain keyword (say, “great new science fiction”). Likewise, in Facebook you can specifically target users most likely to be your readers. You can set your ads to display only to people who have “science-fiction” or “thrillers” listed in their Interests. Both options put your ads in front of the people most likely to be interested in your books.
The nice thing about both AdWords and Facebook Ads is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, so you are only paying for people that you know are actually interested in your book to come to your site. (I hate to say it again, but you do have your own author website, right?) In this way you can also set your ad budget for as little or as much as you’d like.
When you’re ready to get even fancier you can setup conversions with Google Analytics on your site and see how many people that come from ads end up buying a book.
5. Write guest posts
If you have written a non-fiction book than this tip is especially for you. Being know as a leader in your industry/niche is vital to selling books and one of the greatest ways to do this is to write articles about your industry/niche. Doing this on your own website is great (you do have your own…well, you know what I’m going to say) – that’s one of the important reasons to have a blog! But it’s also good to get out and guest post on other blogs or publications that your readers follow as well. Find blogs that are targeted to the same readers your new book and pitch them an article. Many bigger sites with blogs are always looking for new authors to join their team, either with a one-off article or by writing consistently for them.
This is similar to movie stars going on talk shows to promote their new movie. Except instead of getting to play funny games with Jimmy Fallon you get to give people valuable information in your niche market! Don’t forget to mention your website and link to your new book in the bio on your guest post.
Don’t set it and forget it
Selling any type of product requires some type of marketing. A few best-selling authors may not be doing a lot of marketing themselves, but that’s only because they have a lot of other people hustling for them. Most authors, and especially self-published authors need to be actively promoting themselves and their work. If you create a website, setup some social media accounts and run a month of Google ads that doesn’t mean you’re finished. Selling your book takes continued work – continued updates on your website, continued tweets and Facebook updates, and continued work getting out in front of readers. But the rewards can be cash in your pocket, a bigger platform for your next book, and thousands of people reading that book you created yourself!
Do you have some more ideas? Send me a tweet letting me know how you promote your books!
(Pssst…do you need that author website that’s the hub of your online presence? Let’s talk.)