How can self-published authors market their books?
If I was to sum this up into four major points, I would say that self-published authors need to carry out activities in the following categories to market their books. Any activity you do to market or promote your book will fall into one of these categories in some way.
1. Produce a quality book
A lot of self-published authors fail at this first level and it’s not our fault. No one ever trained us on the ins and outs of publishing. There are people out there who do this stuff for a living. How can we ever hope to match the the high standards they set?
And that’s where our first lesson lies; learning that there is a standard to live up to, knowing that by ourselves we probably cannot get it all done right (the editing, book covers, book layout, etc), so we need help.
Here are some steps to making sure your book is the best product you can produce given the time and resource constraints most authors face.
Write the best work you can. Get feedback from other writers, e.g. members of a writing group.
Get an editor. Professional editors are expensive, I get it. This is one of those steps where I would say do what it takes to make it happen. It may mean bartering services with an experienced writer or delaying the launch of your book a bit while you put the money together or using Fiverr.com, or a similar service, to find an editor at a budget price.
There are two levels of editing; one is structural, looking at how your book holds together; plot, characters, etc. The second is proofing; making sure there are no typos and grammatical errors. Do both. If you can pay for the first one, do that, then use an app like Grammarly to help you with the latter.
Have a designer do a cover for you. A well-designed cover will pay for itself. Please do not design your own cover unless you are a graphic designer. Heck, EVEN if you are a graphic designer, getting a pro who specializes in book covers for your genre will be more than worth it. Well-designed covers attract readers. Period.
2. Make your book as findable as possible
Upload It. Once you have your book all laid out and ready to go and the sizzling cover done up all nice, upload them. This can be to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or to a service like Draft2Digital, IngramSpark or Lulu which will help you distribute the book to various platforms. Once you have done this, your book is available both as an ebook and a physical version that is printed on demand when people order it.
Share the link. Share the link to your book everywhere you can. In your social media profiles, make sure it’s there. If you have an author website, make sure it’s there. In your email signature; wherever you can.
3. Make sure a ton of the right people see the book
This is a CRITICAL part of the equation. Sharing a link to your book on Facebook is not even the beginning of marketing. If you have, say 2,000 friends, a good estimate for most people is that about 50 people will see that. Links don’t do too well on Facebook unless they become viral.
In the world of online shopping, only about one out of every one hundred people that sees a link will become a customer. That’s a 1% conversion rate. This means that you need to show your book to a bucket load of people to get any significant sales. This is your life mission now. Exposing your book to thousands, tens of thousands, millions. Here’s how you do it:
Your platforms. Use your own social media platforms, your author website, your mailing list, if you have one (and you should), etc. For most of us, this is not a significant number of exposures. This takes us to the next stage…
Your friends’ platforms. One great way to get your friends to help is to include those who are willing into a book launch team. This is a groups of volunteers who agree to help you give birth to your book. They will use their own social media platforms and networks to spread the message about your book.
Other people’s platforms. If a book blogger has 100,000 followers, you can get access to those followers by getting profiled or interviewed. on their blog. Start. Draw up a list of relevant blogs and podcasts and reach out to them. Don’t lose steam with this. Exposure is the lifeblood of the operation. Other platforms include book review sites, book promotion sites and social media influencers.
4. See what’s working and optimize everything else
Measure and review. If a particular blogger got you a lot of reach, how can you replicate this? Look at what other writers are doing. How can you use some of their tactics? Constantly learn and evolve.