It’s no secret that if you are traditionally published or indie, you’ll be expected to promote your book. Period. However, most authors don’t know where to start or what are the avenues available to them. In this post, I hope to give you some ideas that may help in your journey. Despite what you may have heard, authors can still sell books in today’s climate. Yes, things like organic social media reach and online book tours have gone the way of the dinosaur but we’ve gain more than we lost and that’s what I’m focusing on today, so let’s get started…
Idea #1: Pre-Orders
Currently, all of the major ebook retailers offer pre-orders so that publishers and authors can build buzz before the actual release date of a book. The results of pre-orders are mixed in the indie community with some authors claiming it causes ‘unnecessary anxiety’ while others say they don’t provide results. However, the opinion among book marketers is that pre-orders are a bad idea for new authors with only one book. According to them, the first book should be used to promote the second. For example, in the back-matter of your first book, announce the publication date of the second book, along with the pre-order link. Pre-orders can be a good idea for authors without an email list. Pre-orders can hook readers into the next book without the need to bug them for an email address. The retailer will remind readers when the book goes live and charge them accordingly. To me, this may be a better option than email lists in some instances.
Idea #2: Promo Codes
Many authors don’t know how to use promo codes or coupons which is a shame. They just discount a book and have no real plan outside of that. However, there are several reasons to discount a book and they include:
- To sell the next book in a series, just place them in the back-matter.
- To increase clicks on your ads.
- To reward email subscribers or social media followers.
Currently, Amazon doesn’t allow promo codes for KDP but don’t worry, Smashwords, GooglePlay, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBooks do. If you sell directly, you can create them with apps like WooCommerce or Shopify if you use WordPress.
Idea #3: Countdown Deals
Since Amazon started offering countdown deals, not many authors have seen success with it. But those who have used countdown deals successfully often use them in conjunction with things like advertising. That’s because countdown deals can trigger that sense of urgency which can make your ads more effective. However, in order to do a countdown deal on Amazon, you need to be exclusive. But what if you want to sell off of Amazon and on your own website? You can install a countdown clock just like Amazon has on your book’s sales page. There are several plugins and widgets that you can install on your WordPress or Wix website. And remember those promo codes we talked about earlier? Many sites allow you to customize those to expire at a certain date which can also trigger that sense of urgency in customers.
Idea #4: Advertise
It’s no secret that in order to sell online you’ll need to drive traffic to your book’s sales page whether it’s on your own website or Amazon. Advertising is the best way to do this however, not all ads are created equal. When the subject of advertising comes up in my author groups, the same names always come up:
However, if you’re promoting on a shoestring budget, there are sites that allow authors to advertise their books for no cost. But keep in mind, your book has to be free in order to advertise on their site. Most authors use these sites to build up their book reviews or to get sign ups to their email list. If you’re interested, I’ll list a few below:
Let me warn you, these sites don’t have the traffic that BookBub or BargainBooksy have so this won’t get you the same results but it’s a start.
Idea #5: Schedule Interviews & Guest Posts
Back in the day, the marketing gurus used to tell authors to go on blog tours and guest post wherever they could in order to introduce themselves to their target audience. Most bloggers and websites still do this in order to get external links which increases their ranking in the search engines. If you plan on selling your books on your own website, this is important. If you’re not sure where to start, I have two posts you should read:
Idea #6: Create An Email or SMS (Text) List
Many authors are unaware that email or SMS lists are considered business assets like stock and real-estate. That’s because customer data is worth money to most businesses. Yet even today, authors shy away from it preferring social media to stay in touch with readers. This is a mistake because the average social media post only reaches about 2-5% of your followers. By contrast, email open rates are 20% according to MailChimp, and SMS open rates are even higher at 98% which crushes social media any day.
Even if you’re the few lucky ones who has a thriving social media presence, there is the time consumption factor. If you want to reach your audience on social media for free, you’ll have to work hard and create content that they’ll love interacting with. Even then, there’s no guarantee that they’ll convert (buy your book). Oh, and let’s not forget social media has a lot of rules which often discriminate against authors who write erotica or controversial books.
Idea #7: Co-Promote With Authors
If you are looking to scale your audience, then co-promoting may be the answer for you. Here’s how it works, you find an author or service that can set up email swaps, or book bundles and boom, you’re introduced to a new audience. However, you are required to reciprocate which could be hard for new authors. I talk about it all this in my post: Co-promoting With Authors.
Book promotion takes careful planning as well as patience—lots of patience. Keep in mind, the publishing business is a long-term game. And this is actually a good thing if you want to build a career as an author. If you become successful at promotion, you’ll build an audience that will follow you wherever you decide to publish. Remember readers are loyal to authors not publishers and this is where the power lies.