Book marketing for self-publishers
Marketing is effort plus determination
How to market your book? Oh gosh, marketing is not my forte, and I wish there were a magical solution for authors to get their books out into the big wide world. Unfortunately, the reality is usually a hard slog with a learning curve, but it’s doable with persistence and patience.
If you haven’t had the benefit of a traditional publisher who does the first hard push for you (which then falls back on you), the first thing you need to do is educate yourself, then create a plan. It’s also smart to keep track of every step you take (successful or not) to make your next book launch that much easier.
Of course it goes without saying that, to be successful, your book needs to be in the best possible shape before you even start thinking about promotions. If you haven’t invested in professional editing and proofreading services, you might be up for some stiff competition in the marketplace.
Research and network
Getting the know-how is easy. There are plenty of on-line resources available (a lot of them free). Getting off your butt and doing the work is the hard part. But once you make the decision to start, you’ll find it flows.
Networking is a great way to get your name out there amongst other authors, find potential readers and learn from those who have more experience.
- Get on social media and join some self-publishing groups. Facebook and Goodreads both have communities who will happily share their advice and experiences from failures to successes.
- Go to writer festivals, chat to other authors, share ideas, volunteer to help.
- Support your local bookshop and get to know the staff – if they know you, they’ll be more open to stocking your book.
- Make a plan with scheduled dates – all the steps from teasers, pre-orders, cover reveals, ordering your book, sending invites, to the launch date.
- Set yourself a budget for promotions and stick to it. It might be tempting to go overboard, but if it’s your first book, it’s better to spend more once you have an existing backlist to generate additional sales.
- Set up a website to sell your book or to direct buyers to where they can buy it. (WordPress, Wix and Weebly have free options). If you’re tech savvy, DIY. If you’re not, pay someone. It’s an investment for the future.
- Create an email database of interested readers (Mailerlite or Mailchimp have free online software options). Start with friends and family, then go from there.
- Create a lead magnet (an sample incentive) you give away to collect email addresses.
- Organise a launch and invite friends, family, fellow writers, even strangers.
- Approach local bookstores and ask if they will take a copy or two on consignment.
- Ask your local bookstore if you can do a book signing / author talk.
- Approach local libraries and ask if they will buy your book and if they might be interested in you doing an author talk – you can then sell your books at the event or take orders.
- Set yourself up an Author Central page on Amazon
- Set yourself up an author profile page on Goodreads
Part of marketing your book is obtaining reviews. Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are a great way to get some online traction with new target readers. However, asking your current readers, family or friends to do this for you can mean continual follow ups to push them along. It ends up being time consuming and often embarrassing if you have to beg. Also, Amazon won’t let readers leave a book review unless they’ve spent at least $50 in the store during the last 12 months.
Instead, I suggest you sign up to some professional review sites. These organisations have hundreds – thousands of readers on their database, all keen for a free book to read in return for a review. Check the costs and conditions before signing up. Some cost as little at $2 per review, some charge hundreds for a massive mail out to their subscribers.
List of review sites
Getting your books into libraries, again, takes effort, but it’s all part of marketing your book and worth the effort for the wider distribution. You still get paid as long as you meet PLR/ELR limits (see below).
Tips to get your book into libraries
- Register your book with ALS (Australian Library Service).
- Make an appointment with acquisitions librarians to show them your book and ask if they will buy / review / promote it.
- Ask if you can do an author talk (and sell your book while you’re there).
- Ask your friends and family to contact their local library and request the librarian to order the book in for their shelves.
- Lodge a legal deposit (copy of your book) with the National Library of Australia (NLA) and the state library in your state (Google to find your state’s library).
- Register your book for Public Lending Rights (PLR) and Educational Lending Rights (ELR)
- Recommended reading: How to get your book into libraries.
That’s all I can think of for now.
Good luck with your publishing journey, and don’t forget to promote, promote, promote!