Find your ideal readers and sell more books.
MARKETING FOR INDIE AUTHORS
Some authors like to compartmentalize marketing as something they do after they publish a book. The truth is that marketing is everything you put out into the world for people to experience, including the genre you choose, the book you write, the cover you put on the front, and the description you write on Amazon.
The more things you do well, the more likely it is that you'll have success self-publishing your book. Book marketing isn't about harassing people until they buy your book. It's about finding your ideal readers, over time, and letting them know what you have to offer.
Know Your Genre
Readers can be picky. They like what they like and if you can’t give them what they like, well, I think you know what will happen. They won’t buy your book.
If your goal is to sell lots of books and entertain lots of readers, then you need to understand the genre you’re writing in. You can follow your heart and write what you want to write, or you can master a genre and thrill your readers.
There’s nothing wrong with writing what you want, but don’t be surprised if no one is interested in your mystery, romance, vampire, dystopian, young adult masterpiece.
Most power readers expect the same common story structure found in books in the genre they love. But, they want the story presented in a new and creative way. An interesting character in a unique situation who encounters unexpected twists and turns.
If your goal is to sell a lot of books, you will get much better results if you choose a genre, research the genre, understand the common elements that make up the best sellers, and write a great story while making sure you give the readers exactly what they want.
Write a Remarkable Book
If you want to sell more books, write a remarkable book. That's kind of the whole point of being an author. Write great books that are also remarkable. Remarkable means that people talk about it. Word of mouth is the best way to sell a ton of books.
Word of mouth could take place in many different forms. It could be friends telling other friends, it could be a New York Times critic writing about your book online, or it could be Oprah discussing your book on her TV show.
Write a high-quality, remarkable book and the marketing stuff becomes a lot easier.
BOOKS TO HELP YOU WRITE A REMARKABLE BOOK
Get a Professional Book Cover
People do judge books by their cover. So, get a professional book cover that reflects the genre you’re writing for. Your book cover has to be as good as, or better, than those created by the major publishing companies.
In the online world, people browse categories and look at the book cover images. Your book will be right next to those created by Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and all the others. They make a split second decision as to whether your book cover is professional or amateur. If it isn’t a well-designed, professional book cover, they will assume that your writing is reflective of the cover. That’s the reality.
If you’re not a designer, then let someone else create the book cover and do it right. If you want people to read your book, you need to invest in a good book cover. The last thing you want to do is put your book at a disadvantage because you decided to go with a cheap cover.
Don't know where to look? Check out our self-publishing resources here.
Get Book Reviews
In today’s digital world, people browse for books online. A big part of browsing online to buy a new book is looking at the customer reviews.
People assume a couple things about books when browsing in specific genres, or categories – one, they assume that an amateur cover is not a good book. Two, they assume that a book with no reviews, or bad reviews, is not a good book. You have to overcome those assumptions.
I’m not going to lie, as a new writer, it’s hard to get people to read your book, and it’s even harder to get people to actually review your book after they read it. But, it’s necessary if you want to get more people to read your books.
If you don’t have any book reviews for your books, the solution is to ask as many people as possible to leave an honest review of your book. If you have a lot of bad reviews for your book, then the solution is to write a better book. You can’t please everyone, but you should be able to please the readers in your chosen genre. If you haven’t, you might want to go back to the basics and brush up on your story and writing skills.
Write a Captivating Book Description
If you created a good book cover, and you managed to get some good book reviews for your book, then people might click on your thumbnail and read the description. Your book description can be the difference between a reader hitting the back button or hitting the buy button.
Your book description, or your synopsis, or your book blurb, is designed to get a person to want to read your book. Don't try to summarize your entire book. You have to write intriguing, compelling copy that leaves the reader wanting more.
A great book description is one that informs the reader that the genre conventions are covered, and the description presents intriguing questions that can only be answered by reading the book.
Don’t think of your book description as a summary of what’s inside your book. Think of it as sales copy that will either convince them to buy your book or not. Get them hooked and they will have no choice but to buy your book to find out what happens next.
As a new author, you will face a difficult decision when you’re ready to publish your first novel – give your book away for free, or charge money for your book. If you charge money, how much money will you charge? In most cases, if you want to build an audience for long-term success, it’s better to give your book away for free.
I hate to say give it away for free, because giving someone a book is actually asking them to do you a favor. Reading a full-length novel takes at least four hours, usually a lot more time than that. Even though writing a novel is hard work and takes an enormous amount of time, it is usually the best strategy to give your book away in order to build a fan base.
As you write more books, and you get more people to write good book reviews, and you find more people who want to read your next book, then you can start experimenting with different pricing strategies.
While it would be nice to write one book and sell a million copies, that doesn’t happen very often. If you want to make a living as a writer, give your book to anyone who will read it and as you write more and build an audience, you can start charging more money.
MARKETING BOOKS FOR AUTHORS
Call to Action
There is a point to giving books away for free. In the front of your book, and the back of your book, you put a call to action. That call to action should tell the reader that you would like to give them a free gift in exchange for their email address.
Put a call to action, a link to a page on your website, where the reader can go to get the free gift and you get their email address to create your email list. This is how you build your writing business. Find people that love your books and communicate with them via email.
As far as the gift, you can give them another book for free. You can give them behind the scenes information. You can give them anything that is interesting enough that they are willing to give their email address for it.
Imagine if you could go on the Oprah show when you’re ready to publish your next novel. That would probably help you sell a lot of books, yes? Well, you may not get on Oprah, but you can build your own audience and let them know when you publish a new novel. That’s what email marketing is all about.
Build a list of readers in your genre and share information with those readers via email. When you publish a new book, let them know and you will always have a percentage of the people on your email list buy your new book.
Write Another Book
A book is a great marketing tool in itself. The more books you have available, the more likely people can discover your book in any of the different mediums. You will also have more flexibility to give away free books, pricing strategy, promotions, etc.
Having more books allows you to stand out above the crowd, too. There are some people who want to write a novel so they can check it off their bucket list. Writing multiple books shows that you are a serious writer and you treat it as a business, not a one-time event.
When you write and publish frequently, people begin to trust you and look forward to your releases. The more you write, the more you publish, the more opportunity you have to gain readers, and sell more books.
While the most important steps are listed above, there are a lot a lot of different marketing tactics you can use to find new readers and give them the opportunity to read your books.
There are lots of tactics that might work great today, but will change over time. While the strategy is the same, the tools and tactics will change. Whether you want to find readers through podcasts, Facebook advertising, or content marketing, it’s important to be flexible and do more of what works and avoid those that don’t work.