You’ve just pushed the pretty yellow “publish” button on Amazon, and your book baby has been released into the world for all to enjoy. Time to sit back, relax and let the royalties start rolling in until you’re so rich you have no idea what to do with all your millions, right?
Success in the publishing world is largely dependent on how well your book is marketed. And because you’ve decided to self-publish, guess who’s responsible for your book baby’s marketing? That’s right…it’s you. (Sorry. Hope we didn’t burst your bubble, there)
But if you’re like most debut self-published authors, you don’t have thousands of dollars to devote to book promotion, and you lack a traditional publisher’s connections/resources. What can you possibly do, other than blindly tweeting “buy my book” pleas of desperation every few hours? (Quick aside: if that’s what you’re doing, stop it. Everyone hates that.)
As it turns out, there’s plenty self-published authors can do to spread the word and shine a light on their book babies without emptying their savings accounts. It does require some time and effort, but since you’ve already spent months writing and polishing your book, something tells me you’re no stranger to hard work. With that in mind, here are a few strategies to consider, assuming you already have a Facebook page, Twitter account and author website:
1. Free launch
We understand it’s tough to even consider the possibility of letting your book baby go for free after all the effort you put into writing it and polishing it to a fine shine. But with so many competing titles available on Amazon, a free launch might be just the kick in the pants readers need to give an unknown indie author a chance. As your readers download their free copies, the other titles they’ve downloaded will show up in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section on your sales page. A ton of “also boughts” gives your book some automatic credibility in the eyes of readers who are considering reading your book, helping them validate their buying decision. And with enough “also boughts”, your book will start showing up in the “also boughts” for other authors’ sales pages, which will lead to more sales for you over time.
For better or for worse, people read reviews. If a book has no reviews, readers are automatically a little skeptical. They’ll wonder if the book is unpopular, which leads to the assumption that the book must suck. But the really scary part? Our experience shows that less than 3% of people who buy books regularly leave reviews. So, you’re probably thinking you’re in a no-win situation, right?
These days, book bloggers are everywhere. A quick Google search will confirm that. But you could lose days scouring the internet for the right bloggers who read your genre and are open to review requests from debut and/or self-published authors. One effective way to determine who to send your request to is to check Goodreads. Search the site for authors in your genre, specifically those you consider to be your biggest “competition.” See which bloggers have reviewed those books. Most bloggers who review on Goodreads have links to their websites on their profile pages, where you’ll find their review policies and contact info. You can then send the reviewer a super-nice, super-polite review request. They’ll expect a free copy of your book, and in return, they’ll give you their honest feedback, which they typically post on Goodreads, Amazon and their blog site (among others).
(And not to toot our own horn, but we review books here at Knockin’ Books, too! Feel free to check out our Review Policy. We’d love to hear from you)
But please note: be careful what you wish for. It’s possible that your review request will result in a negative review. We hate to be harsh, but you’ll just have to deal with it. It happens. Cyber stalking the reviewer and/or responding to their negative review is severely frowned upon in the book-reading community. Trust us: handle it like a grownup or face public outrage, scrutiny and diminished sales.
3. Facebook “Boost Post”
Facebook offers a paid promotion service that is user-friendly and works within any budget. For as little as $5 per day, you can increase a post’s visibility and click-throughs to either your site, or your book’s sales page on Amazon. For that daily budget, our authors have experienced nearly 1000% increase in the number of weekly viewers for each boosted post. Note: in order to see results like these, you’ll need to make sure your post is engaging and reflects your personal writing voice. If it’s a boring, poorly written post, it will fail even with Facebook’s help.
4. Goodreads groups
Goodreads is a huge book lovers’ community--and in the words of the great (and spooky) Glenn Close, they won’t be ignored. In addition to providing recommendations and reviews, Goodreads also has hundreds of groups you can join to connect with readers and other authors. Some groups are genre-specific, others more general.
Now, we’re not saying you should join a bunch of groups and endlessly spam your new friends with shameless promos for your book. In fact, that kind of douchebaggery will likely get you booted out of every Goodreads group. But what you can do is join and participate in discussions as a reader. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about marketing and writing just by talking to a bunch of voracious readers. And if people in your groups like what you have to say as a reader, they might just download your book, assuming they’ll also like to read what you have to say as an author.
In addition to readers’ groups, Goodreads also has a bunch of authors’ groups where you can connect with your peers (and maybe cross-promote your work a little bit).
These are just a few examples of cheap marketing tactics you can use to promote your book baby. We’ll talk about more options (including Kindle Unlimited) in future posts.
Do you have thoughts on book marketing and promotion? Have a story to tell (good or bad) about marketing your book? Interested in doing a guest post here on Knockin' Books? Just looking for someplace to vent? All of the above? Give us a shout or leave a comment below. We're good listeners! (Oh, and sign up for our newsletter too so you don't miss any of the great content on our site. You'll be kicking yourself to next Tuesday if you don't.)