My new book, Passive Income, is out, and I’m having a fun time marketing it. Authors often ask me questions that relate to “how to promote a book” and “how to get reviews for a book.” Let’s cover book marketing strategies in this post, and I’ll tackle how to get reviews for your book in a separate post. To get a broader sense of marketing activities to drive traffic to your website; please read my post 28 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website, Product, or Service.
Marketing is the process of increasing the awareness of a product, service, or brand with the aim of converting awareness into sales. Marketing and promoting are terms used interchangeably, but if you create a promotion, such as a free giveaway, and don’t promote it, the giveaway itself is not marketing (unless the giveaway site promotes your book on your behalf). Also, “The key difference between marketing and promotion is the fact that promotion is a part of a company’s overall marketing mix. The marketing mix consists of price, product, place, and promotion. Thus, marketing exists without promotion, but promotion doesn’t exist without marketing.”
The marketing activities I’m going to 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. I set budgets of up to one thousand dollars for each book. 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 books.
How to Promote Your Book
Send an email to 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 details like that of book release news. After all, subscribers want to hear from and 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 seem shadowy and inadequate. 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 even reply.
While BookBub and others appear to be legitimate, who knows if their operations are sensible, 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 related marketing activities include promoting your book in an autoresponse sequence and your email signature.
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.
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 giving and taking.
Update your social media profiles and website
Consider how you can put your book front and center on your social media profiles. My Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube backgrounds and links highlight my books. On Twitter, I updated my pinned tweet to direct folks to my book on Amazon.
As for chadtennant.com, I’ve updated my menu, background cover, and advertising to feature my books. You can also create a popup to promote your book.
Post, blog, and upload
Combined with updates to your social media profiles, you can post and tweet multiple times a week 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 your book in Facebook book 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 because you’ll expend less effort and time.
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, the challenges of writing her first book, creating a cover, and so forth. In contrast, I keep my blog posts brief to get people over to Amazon as soon as possible. If you’re a YouTuber, you can create a video about your book to inform your subscribers.
Create author profiles on top book sites to heighten discoverability
Authors should have author profiles on Amazon (Amazon Author Central), Goodreads (owned by Amazon), BookBub (maybe all they’re good for), and so on. Your author profile 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 a blog and social media feeds to highlight recent activity
Implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
Amazon offers a product search engine while Google focuses more on information, videos, and images. Search engine optimization techniques are relevant to both platforms. SEO is a highly vital skill to develop for anyone who deals with marketplaces and works online. Amazon encourages authors to use the keyword sections 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.
Host a webinar or online event
For my book, Passive Income, I hosted a webinar and discussed contents of the book. 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 padded my network.
Whether it’s a webinar or online event, there are many formats to choose. 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.
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.
I’ve realized that my writing skills far exceed my course development and video production abilities, so, I don’t plan to create any more courses. Also, Skillshare and Udemy have become content garbage dumps, which has negatively impacted income prospects (except for the favored few). However, nonfiction authors and professionals—like marketers and consultants—might benefit from creating courses. You can create one course to assess the potential for future classes. 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 desired results.
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 it to me.
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 not enough sales 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 your website and Amazon to buy your book.
KDP Select: Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotion
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).
As I said, running a 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.
Use Amazon Marketing Services
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) offers targeted cost-per-click 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.
When I first used AMS a couple of years ago, I didn’t get the results I wanted. However, the platform has become better, which has improved its value proposition and potential ROI. AMS is a service more authors should use to promote their books. To learn more and watch tutorials, you can visit the Amazon Marketing Services YouTube channel and Amazon Marketing Services LinkedIn group.
Since AMS is a viable pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform, there is no need to pay for advertising via Google AdSense–Google’s PPC advertising network. That said, if you’re looking to advertise something other than your book, such as an online event, Google AdSense might suit your needs. You might also consider runnings ads on Facebook.
For more insights, watch my Amazon self-publishing tutorials.
Would you like me to review your Amazon/Kindle e-book? If your e-book is free or less than $3.00, contact me through Facebook. I’m happy to support like-minded authors!