How to Market a Self-Published Book: Practical Tips for Indie Authors
The self-publishing market is a fierce one. It doesn’t matter how great your book is, you need a brilliant marketing plan for it to get noticed. This is especially true now that the number of self-published books has increased in the last 5 years by 264%!
This definitely makes it harder for you to promote your book, but not impossible. According to Wordsrated.com, more than 1000 self-published authors made $100,000 from selling on Amazon in 2021.
So what can you do to achieve (and maybe even surpass) this number? The answer lies in knowing how to market your self-published book in a way that increases sales, which is what we are going to discuss in this article.
Marketing a Self-Published Book
To be able to turn your book into a best seller, you need to grab the attention of your potential readers and turn them into buying customers who purchase your book. It all comes down to showing them why they should read this book and how to get a hold of it. When done right, self-published book marketing could easily turn your book into a bestseller.
There are many ways to get the word out about your newly released book. But to make the process easier for you, we’ve divided it into pre-launch and post-launch marketing. Now let’s get right into it.
It is a well-known fact that you shouldn’t wait till its launch to start marketing your self-published books; you need to create a buzz well before it sees the light. And here is how you can go about it:
1. Write a Killer Description
The first thing you have to do before publishing your book is to write a show-stopper description. After the title and cover, this description is the first selling point of your book; it should intrigue the readers and grab their attention. Because no matter how good your book is, people need to know what it is about and actually like it enough to be motivated to buy and read it, and that is what the description will give them.
Here are a few pointers that will help you nail this description:
- Start with a hook.
- Using wording that creates an emotional connection with your reader.
- Showcase your expertise on the subject matter.
- Don’t give away too much.
- Keep it between 150-200 words.
- Use font elements (like bold, italic, and bullet points) to make it easier to read.
- Include relevant keywords that will help your book appear in the top search results.
2. Create an Author Website
When someone comes across your book (whether online or in an actual bookstore), the odds are that they might look you up. When that happens, you have to make sure you appear in the best light possible.
One of the ways you can establish yourself as a credible, trustworthy author is by having a professionally built website. This website is the first step in your self-published book marketing strategy. That’s why it should appear top-notch, and not just something you build without giving any thought. Otherwise, it will reflect poorly on your book.
On this website, you can showcase many things besides your book; you can have a blog or offer your services. Think of it as a way of telling the world what your area of expertise is and why they should trust you enough to buy your book.
It is important to grab your audience’s attention once they open this website. This can be done through a banner that has your book’s title and a hooking, concise blurb–a sentence or two maximum; you don’t want to bore your readers or drive them away. In this hook, try to tell them why they need this book; give them a reason to buy it by displaying your book’s unique selling point.
3. Build an Audience
Now that you have your website up and running, it’s time to build an audience. Here are a few ideas on how to achieve that:
- Create a Blog
Having a blog on your website is great for exposure. Through this blog, you can offer your readers some value and showcase your expertise in your niche. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction authors.
As a non-fiction writer, your blog is where you can establish yourself as a thought leader on the topic of your book. While fiction authors, on the other hand, can show off their writing skills with short stories and other short forms of fiction.
Once you finish writing your book, you can also use your blog to promote it. The articles you write about your book can relate to or complement its main idea. You can also try to include some keywords in these posts that would potentially increase the traffic to your blog. And the most important thing is to include a strong CTA (call to action) in these articles to motivate your audience to read your book.
Many famous authors started as bloggers, which helped their books become bestsellers. Take for example James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. His book which sold more than a million copies, started with his blog in 2012, where shared his knowledge and grew his audience.
- Post on Social Media
We can’t ignore the power of social media. That is why you should harness this power to grow your audience. Whatever your platform of choice is, it’s a great way to connect with your readers and engage in different conversations. So select the social media channels that your audience is most likely using, and start posting there right away.
If you are worried, however, that this whole social media thing is time-consuming for you as an author, then you can easily use a scheduling tool that automates the posting process. All you have to do is write and prepare some catchy posts, then set some time aside every couple of days to check on and engage with your audience.
- Create Videos and Podcasts
Another great way to build and attract your target audience is by creating videos and/or podcasts. While blogs are great for displaying your skills as an author, many people prefer watching videos or listening to podcasts while going about their day.
You can start a YouTube channel or a podcast on which you discuss the subject matter of your book. It doesn’t have to be about your book alone of course, but again it will help distinguish you as a thought leader in your niche. It can also give you some exposure if you choose to collaborate with other influencers or experts.
Take for example Joshua Becker, author of Things That Matter and many other bestselling books. He has a YouTube channel where he posts a couple of times a week. There are also Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, best-selling authors of Minimalism; they have a podcast with the same name where they discuss the same subject as their book (living with less), and interview other known experts.
4. Use Email Marketing
Now that you’ve grown your audience, it’s time to use another great way to promote your self-published book, which is to have an email campaign. Give people reasons to subscribe to your newsletters, then use these newsletters to provide value and increase conversion.
You can, for example, share a sneak peek of your book that will leave your readers wanting to know more. You can also give them some discount codes or offers. With that being said, it is important not to bore them with emails multiple times a week.
5. Start with Pre-Orders
The thing about preorders is that it allows you to market your book early on, up to 12 months before it is officially released. Use your social media, newsletters, and other communication channels to share a teaser about your book, and make sure to include a pre-order link.
This can create the buzz you need around your book and build some anticipation. Moreover, it can get both readers and book retailers interested in it. Pre-orders are especially recommended for authors with previous books and an established reader base.
Your book has been published already? Congrats! Now is the time to create even more buzz and increase sales. Here are 5 more book marketing techniques for self-published authors:
1. Get Book Reviews
People tend to trust others’ reviews as they act as social proof from like-minded readers. Sometimes these reviews can even be used as mini ads that help in your self-published book promotion.
There are many ways you can get some honest reviews. First of all, encourage your friends and family to read and review your book. Also, use your email list to ask your readers for testimonials. And let’s not forget about using social media for the same purpose. Finally, you can hire professional reviewers or seek Amazon’s top reviewers.
Read our “9 Essential Points on How to Get Reviews on Amazon” article for more tips.
2. Run an Outreach Campaign
Reach out to people with a large fan base to promote your book. These could be influencers, websites, blogs with large traffic, or even well-known organizations. The most important thing for this technique to work is that these people should be relevant and dedicated to the theme of your book.
The people you want to reach out to could be other well-known authors who write on the same subject as your book. They could also be influencers with a large fan base, those doing podcasts, or bloggers who might be interested in your book.
They can also be experts in your book field. Whoever they are, they should be able to give your book some exposure by recommending it to their followers or writing book endorsements that you can then publish on your book page–and maybe even on your book cover and blurb.
So start by compiling a list of names and contact information then reach out to them personally. Remember not to just ask them for free promotion, but also offer them some value by explaining how your book can actually help their cause. Moreover, you can demonstrate to them how captivating the idea of your book is and get them hooked.
3. Utilize Social Media Platforms
As we mentioned earlier, social media platforms present an excellent opportunity for marketing and building an audience. Now that your book is published, you have to learn how to use different platforms to spread the word. Here we’ll cover some of the top ones and how to make the most out of them to promote your self-published ebooks.
It’s impossible to talk about social media without mentioning Facebook. The 2 billion people using it every month make it the most used online platform. That’s why it is one of the perfect places for marketing an ebook.
Although Facebook is easy to use, you need to understand how to go about your marketing campaign in a way that sparks interest in your book. You can simply do this by finding the right Facebook groups.
Since Facebook’s algorithm gives priority to content that encourages interaction and conversation, you shouldn’t only post about your book but also get people interested enough to engage with what you post. Make these posts relatable and open for discussion. For example, you can try asking questions, sharing some of your behind-the-scenes, or simply making use of popular trends.
Show people that you know what you are talking about and that you are an expert on the topic of your book. With that in mind, don’t give away too much of your book, or else people won’t feel the need to buy it.
With the rise of Tiktok, more and more people are turning to it to pass the time. While the content there is mainly “for fun”, many authors have managed to increase their book sales using what is now known as #BookTok. This has become so influential that many of the New York Times bestsellers are actually #BookTok recommendations.
There are many ways to use #BookTok in your favor; here are some engaging video ideas:
- Asking a book reviewer to talk about your book.
- Doing a giveaway for your book.
- Talking about your writing process in an engaging way.
- Making a video revealing the book cover.
- Giving a short summary of your book.
- Sharing your book events (such as book release or book signing).
- Using trending music and voiceovers in your Booktok videos.
With 45 million active users per month, Goodreads certainly doesn’t have as many users as the previous two platforms, but it is still critical for authors to be present on it. Mainly because it is the only social media platform that is totally dedicated to books. This makes it much easier to reach your target audience.
Another reason why you should utilize this platform is that it usually comes in the top search results when someone searches for a book or an author. So take your time in creating an author page and claiming your book. This in turn will help you in getting reviews and will make the information you provide about yourself and your book easily accessible.
It is worth noting that Goodreads has an Author Program which allows you to promote your book and connect with your readers. You can also use it to announce upcoming books, run book giveaways, or advertise your new ones.
Another platform that presents a great opportunity for book marketing is Instagram. Although it was mainly created for sharing pictures, all sorts of small businesses are using it to increase their sales. That is true for authors as well.
But for now, here is an overview of what you have to do:
- Focus on promotional content.
- Use analytics and paid advertisements.
- Launch a challenge or giveaway.
- Post some teaser quotes.
- Add readers’ posts to your Instagram stories.
- Upgrade your profile’s bio.
- Don’t underestimate the value of hashtags.
4. Start Advertising
An important part of any marketing plan is advertising, and that applies to your book. There are many places where you can run ads, but you need to focus on the ones that your target audience uses the most.
In order to succeed in turning potential customers into paying readers, you should learn which keywords to use in your ads. Just think about the words people use in their search for books, then test them to see the results that would appear. You also shouldn’t choose words that are too competitive.
Another thing you should check before choosing keywords for your book ad is to look at other titles resembling yours. What are the keywords other authors with books in the same genre use to promote their books? This will help you narrow down your search and easily reach readers that might be interested in your book.
5. Hire a Book Promotion Service
There are many websites and tools that can help you in the book promoting process and ebook marketing. For example, you can use Publisher Rocket to find the bestselling categories that match your book, keywords that customers type to search for books like yours, and give you an overview of the sales other authors are making.
You can also use BookBub, which assists authors and publishers in reaching their target audience and increasing their sales. It also helps promote ebooks on websites like Apple, Amazon, Google, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
It takes time, patience, and creativity to spread the word about your self-published book and build the urge in your readers that encourages them to buy it. And as useful as the tips mentioned in this article are, you should only use what you know is going to work for you and your audience. Learning how to promote your self-published book is only the first step, now all you need to do is to apply your own spin to these ideas and start attracting more potential readers.