So, you want to write a book. Maybe it’s something you’ve dreamed about since you were a child, or maybe this is something that’s only just beginning to percolate in your mind. Whatever your reason for wanting to get started in the publishing business, you need to know something: the information that exists about this business is vast, contradictory, and confusing.
By now, you’ve written your book, designed the perfect cover, perfected your book description, searched far and wide for reviews, and then put it into several different formats so you can collect passive income streams from several avenues. You’ve done a great job, but here’s the thing.
If you don’t get your book in front of reader’s eyes, it’s going to quickly sink into oblivion in the Amazon rankings. And you didn’t work that hard to allow that to happen, did you?
There are many schools of thought about book marketing, and I’m going to cover each of them, but basically this is the main difference between using a publishing agency and a ghostwriter.
Write on Wattpad
Wattpad.com is a platform where writers post short chapters one at a time, and readers log on to read those chapters. The idea behind the site is to build a community of readers who like and follow your work, in hopes of gaining diehard fans who will eventually purchase your books. The readers are sent alerts each time you post a new chapter, and they can interact with each other on the site. Some authors have had great success with the platform.
Build an Author Platform
I’ve saved this topic for last, because in the long run, it’s the absolute best way to ensure you’ll have a writing career for years to come. Remember all those authors I talked about who get 100 reviews or hit the number one spot on launch day? It’s because of their mailing list, which is the only real way to build an author platform.
If you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll have to tackle this overwhelming task. And believe me, it’s not easy. Here are the things you’ll need to do to build your author platform.
- Create an offer that speaks directly to your readers, and put it in the front and back of your book. Put the offer on an eye-catching graphic, and ask people to click on a button to claim it.
- The button leads readers to your website, where they’ll find a simple signup page. Notice that on my site RainMakerPress.com, there is nothing to distract people. They are asked to hit the “subscribe” button, and when they do, a form pops up that asks for their name, email address and offers them the opportunity to leave a comment. Once they subscribe, they’re immediately sent my report.
- Email your list occasionally. I choose to only email my list when I have something to offer them. For instance, I will send out an email a week before this book is released to let them know of it, and to solicit reviews for it. I also email them about other important publishing milestones, or give them exclusive offers, or tell them about contests and discounts. For those people who are looking to build a platform outside of authorship, such as coaching or selling some other product, should email your list more often—about once a week—and provide them with some sort of valuable information. Also, if you blog, send your latest blog posts to your list. The key here is to let subscribers know upfront how many times you’ll email them. If they’re only signing up to be notified of new releases and you bombard them with other emails, they may unsubscribe.
So, to sum up the steps necessary to build your author platform, you must:
- Write a good book that people want to read. This is perhaps the most important step of the process. Include an irresistible offer in the front and back matter in exchange for a subscription to your email list.
- Create a cover that looks professional and is eye-catching.
- Format your book correctly so it looks professional and inviting.
- Write a book description that sells it, not describes it.
- Select the right categories, and be ready to change them if your book slips in the rankings.
- Put your book in as many formats and languages as you can. This will help you reach the maximum amount of people.
- Market your book like there’s no tomorrow.
- Keep in contact with your list, building trust as you inform them of sales and create special contests and other perks specifically for them.
- Publish another book as quickly as you can, and then follow all of the above steps for it.
Track Your Sales
Finally, I want to give you information about a free tool that will change your world when it comes to tracking your book sales. The KDP dashboard is confusing, counter-intuitive and just plain awkward to use. But thankfully, there’s an option.
Book Report is a free tool—until you earn $1,000 a month, and then it’s only $10 a month—and it hook up directly to your KDP dashboard. It makes your sales figures so easy to read, and even breaks down how much you earn from page reads everyday.
The following are reasons to hiring a publishing agency over a ghostwriter;
- Get Active with Social Media
I personally don’t believe you can sell many books on social media, but I do believe you can build a great following, and that will lead to book sales. Here’s the difference. Some authors constantly tweet out links to their books over and over again until people get tired of seeing them and unfollow. But some authors have huge followings and if that author tweets out that they’ve just released a new book, their followers will likely click on the link and buy it.
I see this as a long game and believe it will take at least a year to build a social media following that will eventually lead to increased sales. For the time being, I make it a habit to post social media posts in thirds. One-third of the time, I tweet (or post to Facebook) an article of interest to my readers from an established site. For instance, I tweet or post many articles about small business and working from home. A third of the time I create graphics related to small business and post or tweet those. (I use canva.com to easily create these graphics.) And the other third of the time, I tweet about my books, whether I’m running a .99 cent special, or I’ve just released a new book. Sometimes I create a special graphic to promote them. I use Google URL shortener to create links that I can watch to see how many people click on it to get an idea of how effective my tweets are.
- Run a Goodreads Giveaway
You can set up a promotion on Goodreads to give away one of your books (paperback or Kindle), and have people sign up for the contest. I’ve done this a few times, and although many people enter and shelve my books, I’ve never seen a significant sales spike from it. But some people claim that they do, so you might try it.
- Do a Blog Tour
These days, not many authors do in-person book signings. Instead, they organize blog tours, which are the digital versions of book signings. Some authors claim major success from these tours, but in order for them to work properly, you’ll have to do some serious preparation and planning. Here’s how to set up a successful blog tour.
- Decide which blogs you want to appear on, and then approach them. Remember most bloggers are happy to have contributing authors, and many love to support blog tours.
- Mix up the content that you provide to the blog posts so some of your posts are interviews, others are reviews of relevant books, others are articles, and others are done in question and answer format. Be sure to slant your posts to the audience of that particular blog. Also, include a small blurb about your book as well as links to the book, your website, and your social media accounts.
- Schedule the tour so you’ll have time to complete all the posts in time. There is nothing worse than committing to a post and then not having time to complete it. As an alternative, you can write all of your posts before the tour and make it a less stressful experience.
- Post the upcoming tour dates on your website and all your social media channels.
- Think about offering a giveaway for each blog you appear on. This can be as simple as one of your books.
- Plan to stick around at the end of your appearances to respond to comments made by participants.
- Finally, be sure to thank your host, both publically and privately.
- Run a Promotion
If you’re looking for a quick boost in sales, or if you want to ramp up your rankings, running a .99 cent promotion is one of the best ways you can do. But, you need to be aware that although there are many promotion sites that offer these services, only a handful of them produce results good enough to move you up in the rankings.
Rather than going through all of the sites that don’t work, I’m going to list the sites that have worked for me, for both fiction and nonfiction. If you don’t see a site on this list, I’ve probably tried it and it didn’t produce results I was happy with. Keep in mind that many sites will get you sales of 7-10 books, but in my mind that’s just not good enough. Your goal for running a promo is to sell books, but also to move your ranking, which will make your book visible, and that will sell even more books.
- Write a Guest Blog
I know, you’ve heard this before, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. If you write nonfiction, this will be easy for you because all you have to do is look for blogs related to your book topics and offer to write a guest post for it. Most bloggers are happy to get free content for their blogs. If you write fiction, it will be more difficult, but still doable. For instance, I wrote a post about the books that shaped me as an author for my fiction pen name and it got my books in front of that blogger’s audience.
- Post Articles on Quirky Sites
You may be able to stir up some publicity by submitting a funny or attention getting articles to sites like Buzzfeed, one of the hottest content sites online right now. Be sure to tie in the article to your book, and write it in a way that will drive sales to it because you’ve grabbed the attention of people.
- Win an Award
Selfpublishingadvice.org offers a list of 50 awards that are open to indie authors. If you win an award, you can issue a press release or use it in other ways to call attention to your book.
- Issue a Press Release
These days, press releases are used often by companies to promote themselves, and that extends to authors. Your book is big news and can be promoted with a press release if you do it correctly. Here are some tips to help you write a press release that will be picked up by the media.
- It has to be newsworthy. The fact that you released a new book isn’t considered newsworthy enough to make the media sit up and take notice of your press release. Instead, you’ll need to find a way to tie it in to national news or put a spin on it that makes it pique the interest of the media. For example, if you write about working from home, you can tie it into a national story about rising unemployment. Or if you write fiction and your story is about someone battling weight issues or childhood trauma, a press release that uses statistics from those areas that tie in with your book will likely get noticed.
- When writing your release, you should plan to keep it at about 400 words, use keywords in it that are relevant to your book, and include at least one—but no more than two—links to your book’s sales page.
- Once the press release is written, use sites like PRWeb.com to get it distributed to thousands of media outlets. Prices start at about $160 per release.
- Maintain a Blog
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, a well-written blog that utilizes SEO tactics can help bring in readers that may not have found your books otherwise. But writing a blog is a long-game, so you can’t expect it to reap instant benefits. I have to admit, I don’t (yet) have a blog for RainMakerPress.com, mainly due to time constraints, but my fiction pen name does and I see results from it. If you do create a blog, be sure to share your posts on social media using tools like ShareThis and AddThis that allow you add sharing buttons on your post. You should also insert clickable tweets into your posts to enable your readers to promote it on their social media channels. ClickToTweet makes it super easy.
- Create a Sampler
This is one of the best things you can do to introduce new readers to your work. I was one of the first people to do this with my fiction books, and it continues to bring sales and new readers to my books. The secret is to include just enough of the book to get the reader hooked so they’ll click on the link and purchase the full book. In order to make the most of this, you should include chapters from of all your books in the sampler. Be sure to state clearly that the book is only samples so readers don’t become angry when the story ends abruptly! Just like a regular book, you’ll need to design a great cover, write a good description, and then market it. You’ll need to make the sampler free to get people to download it, and the best way to do that is to upload it to StreetLib.com and price it as free. They are then able to distribute it to Amazon as a free book. This is the only book distributer that has the ability to publish a book to Amazon priced at free. Your only other option is to upload it via D2D or another distributor and then try and get Amazon to price match it, but that can take some time and effort.
An alternative to this is to make the first book in your series free or .99 cents, whether you write a fiction or nonfiction series. Many authors see great success with this, but for it to work, you’ll need to have a series with multiple books published in it.