Authors often ask me questions that relate to “how to promote a book” and “how to get reviews for a book.” In this post, I’ll cover ways to promote your book, and I’ll tackle how to get reviews for your book in a separate post.
The marketing activities I will cover are for authors who understand the importance of marketing and that achieving high sales volumes requires more than just being listed on Amazon. While a small percentage of authors do well without promoting their books, most authors will not realize their revenue goals without robust marketing plans and execution. That said, even the best marketing plans won’t necessarily yield desired results, which is why marketing is critical.
Authors should establish marketing budgets for their books, for example, five hundred dollars. However, many marketing activities don’t attract costs like those involving social media. Before you spend any money, consider and research where you might get the best return on investment (ROI) and bang for your buck. For instance, email marketing carries enormous sales potential compared to book launch events, as it applies to self-publishing.
How to Promote Your Book
1) Email your subscribers
One of the reasons you regularly see the same authors achieve fantastic sales is because they have many email subscribers. For example, some authors have subscriber counts that range in the tens to hundreds of thousands. Many subscribers act on email news like that of a new book release. After all, subscribers want to support the person or company they follow.
Suppose you have an email list comprising of 25,000 subscribers. If 5 to 10 percent of your subscribers buy your book, you’ll sell 1,250 to 2,500 copies within days. Those amounts would be good enough for a top 500 Amazon bestseller rank, which would lend itself to even more visibility. Building an email list is pivotal, and you can learn more about list building and the email marketing tools I use.
An author’s email marketing strategy is unique to him or her and usually based on trial and error. Also, a book’s genre can influence email marketing activities. For example, as a business nonfiction author, my email marketing strategy is probably different from cookbook and sci-fi authors. Where I might send one or two promotional emails, a food author may send ten emails featuring recipes right up to release. The key to success is to experiment, track, and evaluate. Also, you might limit how many promotional emails you send because it may lead to more unsubscribes than sales.
If you value email marketing but don’t have many subscribers, you might consider paying for email marketing services through companies like BookBub and ManyBooks. However, I don’t like some of these businesses because their processes are non-transparent. For instance, I submitted a book deal to BookBub, but they declined my promotional request twice. They responded with
Thanks for your submission. Unfortunately, our editorial team has not selected this book for a BookBub Featured Deal at this time.
Due to limited space in the email, we’re only able to feature about 20% of the books that get submitted to us. Our editors review all the submissions that meet our minimum guidelines for a certain category and price point and select the books within that group that they believe will perform best with our members. Other books the editors reviewed were better fits for our readers’ current tastes.
Thanks for nothing, BookBub (and ManyBooks didn’t reply).
While BookBub and others appear to be legitimate, who knows if their operations are organized, efficient, and fair. Also, their subscriber numbers could be fake. I’ve eliminated BookBub and ManyBooks from future marketing plans, but there are many other book promotional sites to explore.
Other email marketing activities include promoting your book in an autoresponse sequence and your email signature.
2) Leverage your network and connections
Many bestselling authors have strong relationships with successful writers and marketers. I’ve noticed these cliques by the reviews and shout-outs they give each other regularly. Also, these same groups of people speak at the same conferences and appear on the same podcasts, further strengthening their ties.
Suppose John and Billy have a good relationship. John will partner with Billy to promote his book, and Billy will ask John for the same in a few months when his book is ready. These two authors combine for over 100,000 subscribers. Since Billy has 25,000 more subscribers than John, John will pay Billy $0.04 to access each additional subscriber.
Since email marketing is very effective, people are very sensitive about using their lists to promote others. However, that doesn’t mean individuals aren’t open to promotional opportunities and compensation. Perhaps there are a few people in your network who would be interested in marketing partnerships. Also, you’ll want to ensure whatever you agree to promote makes sense for your audience. If Billy is okay with promoting my book to his audience and wants me to promote his t-shirts, I won’t proceed with a marketing partnership.
Aside from email marketing agreements, there are other opportunities. For example, you could leverage a peer’s popular YouTube channel, Facebook page, or blog to promote your book. You can also ask your network to share news of your book on social media and with others. Whatever way you decide to leverage your network, embrace the notion of “give and take.”
3) Update your social media profiles and website
Consider how you can put your book front and center on your social media profiles. I place links to my books on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube profiles. On Twitter, I pin a tweet to my book or Amazon author page.
As for my site, I have a pop-up notification about my book and added “My Books” to the menu, which will direct people to my Amazon author page.
4) Promote on social media
Combined with updates to your social media profiles, you can post and tweet multiple times weekly about your book. I post manually on Facebook and automate my promotional posts on Twitter and LinkedIn using Hootsuite’s bulk scheduling feature. (Video tutorial here.)
Should you promote in Facebook author groups? No. I see many authors promoting their books in Facebook groups, but this is a waste of time. The more active the group, the quicker posts get pushed down and become non-visible. The more inactive a group, the less engagement and clicks posts attract. So, the prospects on either end are not enticing. On the other hand, if you want to automate your Facebook group posts through Hootsuite, that may not be a bad idea.
5) Blog about your book
If you’re a blogger or have a blog section on your site, I encourage you to post something about your book for marketing and search engine optimization. Some authors do extensive pieces on why they wrote their books. For example, Serena will discuss how she chose her topic and the challenges of writing her first book. By contrast, I keep my blog posts brief to get people over to Amazon as soon as possible.
6) Create author profiles on top book sites to heighten discoverability
Authors should have author pages on Amazon (Amazon Author Central), Goodreads (owned by Amazon), BookBub (maybe all they’re good for), and so on. Your author page will be indexed by search engines and showcased in results for an additional touch point leading to your books. Having an Amazon author page is critical and essential to building a presence on their platform. Your author profile should feature a high-quality headshot, brief bio, and one or two links to direct traffic for list building and sales. Amazon Author Central benefits include:
- Followers will be notified of your future releases
- You can add a bio and customize your author page URL to appear in search results
- You can showcase all your books in one place
- You can add blog/social media feeds to highlight recent activity
7) Implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
Amazon’s search engine focuses on products while Google focuses on content, videos, and images. Search engine optimization techniques are relevant to both platforms. Amazon encourages authors to use keywords in KDP and CreateSpace to influence search results.
I understand SEO quite well and can easily add keywords to rank with bestsellers. When people search for certain bestsellers, I’ll appear on the same page as them for increased exposure and possible sales.
8) Host a webinar or online event
For my book, Passive Income, I hosted a webinar to discuss its contents. My webinar ran for an hour, and it attracted roughly forty attendees. It was hard to measure the direct sales impact, but several participants connected with me on LinkedIn, which means more people to market to in the future.
Whether it’s a webinar or online event, there are many formats to use. For instance, one speaker, two speakers, a panel, and so on. What’s more, you could partner with authors to expand your audience and reach. A recorded webinar or online event can be recirculated on YouTube and Facebook for additional views.
In planning and marketing your event, start six to eight weeks in advance. You’ll want to give yourself enough time and opportunities to attract attendees. You’ll want to conduct software and equipment checks beforehand to ensure everything is up to snuff.
9) Create an online course
In 2013, I created an online investing course based on my book Eight-Hour Investor. Not only did I attract five-figures in passive income from it, but I gained a new audience, expanded my online and search footprint, developed new skills and grew my online brand and business.
You can create one course to assess the potential for future classes. You can self-publish your course on marketplaces like Skillshare, and sell on your own with course creation software from Thinkific. Production value/quality is more vital today than it was a couple of years ago. Therefore, low-quality videos and dull PowerPoint presentations won’t achieve the desired results.
10) Thunderclap your promotion
Thunderclap is a crowd marketing platform. Thunderclap makes going viral possible by leveraging your network to amplify your marketing campaign. For instance, you would create a tweet, choose a date/deadline, seek support, and if you gather enough supporters, your message would be simultaneously tweeted to all their followers. I haven’t used Thunderclap yet, but several authors have recommended.
11) Comment on threads and participate in discussions
Commenting and participating in discussions on Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit, and so on can lead to sales, but perhaps not enough to justify a full-time effort. The goal of commenting is to attract high visibility, into the thousands, as a few likes and shares won’t suffice. Hopefully, the exposure gets people over to Amazon to buy your book.
12) Promote Kindle Select offerings
KDP Select is an Amazon program that gives authors the opportunity to reach more readers and earn more money. According to Amazon,
If you make your book exclusive to the Kindle Store, which is a requirement during your book’s enrollment in KDP Select, the book will also be included in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). You can earn a share of the KDP Select Global Fund based on how many pages KU or KOLL customers read of your book (learn how payments are calculated).
Enrolling in KDP Select also grants you access to a new set of promotional tools. You can schedule a Kindle Countdown Deal (limited time promotional discounting for your book) for books available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, or a Free Book Promotion (readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time).
Running a price promotion like a Kindle Countdown Deal isn’t a marketing activity by itself. However, if you create a deal and promote it, then you’re marketing.
13) Pay for advertising
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) offers targeted cost-per-click (CPC) advertising solutions to help Kindle authors and Amazon vendors reach new customers and drive sales on Amazon. Authors can select different advertising methods including sponsored products and product display ads, control their daily budgets, and target keywords automatically and manually. Read about my AMS experiment, sales, and results.