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Marketing Resources for Authors

The days of putting books in bookshops are over. Bookshops need to make money and to do that, they can only afford to stock books which will turn over quickly. Unless you’ve published several books and can guarantee sales, especially in the first three weeks, bookshops won’t be inclined to want your book. Not only that, but if you’re a self publisher, it will be up to you to invoice each book shop, place your books, monitor the sales (if any) and then collect any damaged or stale stock which can’t be sold. You most likely won’t get paid unless your books sell – this is called ‘on consignment’ – so it’s often a lot of effort for very little return.

And, let’s just suggest for a moment that a bookshop does take some of your stock. Where do you think they’re going to put it? Near the door where people walk in? Highly unlikely! They’re going to have Nigella Lawson’s autobiography and the latest novels from John Grisham and JK Rowling at the front. What’s more probable is that your book will be put on a shelf, in its genre, and left to compete with the other books in that category.

Q. So, where and how do you sell your book?
A. Online wherever and whenever possible; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you've self published your book through CreateSpace, Amazon KDP, Smashwords or a similar online publisher, then your book will be available to many, many people across the world via the internet – and that’s where you need to be to promote your book. Here are some ways to help you get started, in ‘price’ order:

1. Create a webpage for your book FOR LIFE on One Thousand Words Plus.

Listing here on One Thousand Words Plus allows potential readers to browse inside your book, but they only get to view the text that you decide they can see. If your book mentions place names, unusual activities, famous people or objects, then be sure to select some of this text for your sampling. This way your book will be more likely to be found by search engines when people are looking for particular expressions in their search bars.

For example, one of the best listings on One Thousand Words Plus at the moment is The Story of Rex of White Way, The Blizzard King by Jim Cheskawich. Jim was careful to choose passages which refer to historical events, famous people and other terms which people may be searching for on the internet, giving his book a much better chance of being found.

The other thing to remember is that your listing is a lifetime listing. No annual renewals, no further fees, just set and forget. It just sits there, working for you, day after day.

Remember – the more books you have written, the more likely you will attract an audience, so let the people know how prolific you are by listing them all here!

2. Create a free Amazon AuthorCentral account.

If you’ve published your book through Amazon KDP or CreateSpace, then you will be entitled to a free AuthorCentral account. If you have ever purchased anything through Amazon, then you will already have an Amazon account and can use this to create your AuthorCentral account at https://authorcentral.amazon.com/

Upload a photo of yourself, link yourself to your book(s), write a bit of a bio, link to your blog and/or website – and any other external sites offered – and make the most of this free tool.

Readers like to know about authors, so make it easy for them to learn more!

3. Create a free Smashwords author profile.

If you’ve published on Smashwords, then they will have probably already created an author page for you. Again, take advantage of this by uploading a headshot, bio, and listing where your book can be found in print. Don’t forget to also add your website, Twitter handle and other allowable external links, including links to where you books can be found in print.

4. Send out a discount coupon for your Smashwords ebook

If you’ve published your book as an ebook and it’s available and distributed via Smashwords, then don’t forget to create a discount coupon and send it to friends, relatives and other potential reviewers so that they can download your ebook at a reduced price or, better still, for free. While it seems like you’re giving your book away, it won’t cost you anything but your time. In return, you will hopefully get some good reviews which may encourage others to buy your ebook.

5. Create a free Goodreads account and review other books.

If you’re a writer, you should also be a reader – especially in your own genre so that you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s exciting readers and, conversely, what’s turning them off.

If you join Goodreads, you can post reviews of books you’ve read, and then invite your Goodreads friends to read your book and leave reviews. If your book isn’t already listed on Goodreads, it soon will be!

And, if your book has been reviewed on Goodreads, then you can choose to either add a link to your book’s Goodreads page OR have the reviews show up on your OTW+ page. To see how the review panel appears, have a look at Jeffrey B. Loomer’s listing for his book, Fibromyalgia And Other Chronic Painful Conditions, here: http://onethousandwordsplus.com/read-252-FibromyalgiaAndOtherChronicPainfulConditions

6. Ask friends and others who have read your book to leave reviews on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads etc.

If your friends and/or relatives have read your book and enjoyed it, ask them to leave an honest review somewhere the book is available for sale. To review your book online, they will probably need to have an account where the book is available for sale, but that generally only takes an email address to set up.

The important things are that they:

  1. remember that reviews should help people decide if this is the sort of book they want to read. It’s not about the hard sell, it’s about describing the book so a person can get an understanding of what the book’s about (without spoiling the storyline!). For example, if the book is a fantasy book involving werewolves and maidens, say, you wouldn’t focus on the ‘psychological relationship between the different species’ as this would lead people into thinking it was a book about the psychology of relationships. Mention it in passing, sure, so that they understand that the book is about more than just werewolves and maidens, but don’t try to sucker in people who are going to be cranky when the book turns out to be something other than they expected
  2. do describe the feelings they got from the book, and the sorts of themes explored in the story or the narrative, and what they did and didn’t enjoy about the book
  3. do leave an honest review. If there’s something about the book they don’t like, it doesn’t hurt to mention it along with all the good stuff – this shows that the review is more likely to be authentic and not a friend or relative trying to drum up sales
  4. don’t re-write the book. You should have some form of synopsis as your book’s description, your reviewers don’t need them to retell the whole story
  5. don’t leave really incredible bells and whistle reviews with 5 star ratings unless the book really, really deserves it. Brand new books with out-of-this-world ratings and reviews generally look suspicious and don’t get sales.

7. Create a free blog website using Google Blogger or WordPress.

If you’ve got more to say than just the book you said it in, then why not create a free website in Google Blogger or WordPress? For a small annual fee you can add your own domain name.

With sites like these you can also add static pages to your blog, so you can promote your books there, with purchase links to Amazon, Smashwords etc.

Use your blog to visit other blogs – invite people to be guest bloggers on your blog and then accept invitations to be a guest blogger on other people’s blogs. Always make sure to include a short bio such as ‘Mary is the author of “My Night in Paris”, now available on Amazon’ etc.

8. Create a free Facebook Business Page.

Facebook isn’t just for keeping up with friends, it’s also for talking with your fans, for building or joining a community of like-minded people.

Facebook Business Pages protect your fans’ information from each other, so they can safely interact with your page without non-friends being able to see their private details or their non-public posts. 

To create a Facebook Business Page, our recommendation is that you create an author page, rather than a page for your book, because when you release subsequent books, you’re going to have to make additional pages, or promote them all on the page for your first book!
If you add the word ‘author’ or ‘writer’ after your name in your Facebook Business Page, this will help people differentiate between your private Facebook persona and your public one, and also make it easier for you to keep tabs, too!

To create a Facebook Business Page visit facebook.com and in their Help menu search ‘How do I create a page?’ Be careful to ensure that you create a page, and not a group!

9. Use other social media; wisely.

If you’re computer savvy and have the time, then consider a Twitter account, Pinterest or Instagram or other suitable social media accounts. You are better off spending half an hour a day on social media, connecting with like minded people or talking with your fans, than spending thousands of dollars on flyers, billboards, one-off marketing events etc.

However, don’t use these avenues to scream ‘Buy my book’ at people. That’s a turn off. If you’re not going to be nice to people, if you’re not going to reveal something of yourself as a writer, and if you’re not going to interact with people, don’t bother. You’ll be wasting their time and yours.

For more on how not to promote your book, have a giggle at Melissa Conway’s The Indie-Author Lament on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G-vQ8YhoJo

10. Purchase a custom built website.

If you’re not that technically inclined to build your own website or blog, then consider paying someone to create a website for you. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars, but you do need to ensure that it’s ‘responsive’ (i.e. adjusts to whether it’s showing on a computer, tablet or smartphone) and that it is representative of you and your writing.

Whoever you use for your website, make sure that they add links to where your book is available for sale and to your social media sites (Facebook, Twitter etc). Also, make sure that they provide a contact form, and don’t reveal your email address, otherwise you will start receiving all manner of junk mail!

11. Enter your book in awards programs.

If you have released your book as an ebook, then the best place to submit it is The Global Ebook Awards. Yes, you have to pay an entry fee, but there are very few awards programs around where this isn’t expected. Think of it as a marketing fee – especially if your book wins! But even if it doesn’t, you’re able to put a ‘Nominated’ sticker on your ebook’s cover, or even a ‘Finalist’ sticker (if you get that far) and these help to promote your book anyway.

Look around for other suitable awards, too. If you’re a first-time novelist, there are awards for those. If you’ve written a book exploring local history, you’ll find awards for this sort book, as well. Use your search engine to find places you can submit your book to!

12. Get your cover updated with any award wins!

If your book is nominated for an award, becomes a finalist or wins an award, don’t forget to update your online cover image with an ‘award sticker’. Like a bottle of wine with competition medals printed on the label, it helps your book stand out from the crowd.

13. Write more books and publish them.

If you look at Dan Brown’s career, it was his fourth book, The Da Vinci Code, which caught everyone’s attention, not his first three books. However, once everyone had read The Da Vinci Code, they went back and started buying his first three books. Like so many overnight successes, it took him several attempts, and several years, to hit pay dirt.

14. Use different price points for your different publications.

If you have managed to write a lot of things, then publish them under different price points, giving your readers an option. It’s important to have some shorter works out there in ebook format for free or for $0.99. These books still need to be of the best quality you can produce and representative of the quality of your longer works, but a collection of short stories, or a novella or two, will help people see if they like your style. Then you can look at charging higher amounts for longer works. If all your works are the same price, people will be less inclined to buy any as they won’t know which ones to risk their money on.

15. Never stop learning.

You need to keep abreast of two things:

  1. the genre you write in
  2. the self publishing industry as a whole.

The internet has changed the way we do things, and with incredible speed. Jobs exist now which didn’t exist five years ago, so it’s important to make time each week to read blog posts and news reports on what’s happening in both the industry in general and your field of writing. This will help you keep on top of your writing career!

 

There are many more things you can do, but these are the ones within most people’s immediate grasp.

If you have done something inexpensive and not too difficult to achieve which worked for your book, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us an email via the contact page so we can share your tips with our other authors!