Recently I wrote about how most authors will never make any money. I was surprised by the comments, which I expected to be more negative. It seemed to comfort people to learn that they weren’t failing at being an author – they were doing as well as 99.9% of other self-publishing authors, because almost everyone fails.
But it doesn’t have to be that way: once you figure out that everyone is failing, it’s much easier to see what they’re doing wrong, and what the minority of successful authors are doing right. One of the comments I got on that post was….
What are some specific steps we can take to continue to drive sales our self (beyond being lucky enough to get a book bub). It might be nice to brainstorm a list of “lesser known” strategies.
So that’s what this post is all about.
Lesser known strategies to boost sales beyond your immediate network or special advertising.
I usually harp on about building a platform, and making sure your basics are covered, because for the majority of authors who aren’t selling any books, it’s a problem of
A) Cover design
B) Description isn’t powerful enough
C) Not enough reviews
D) The story doesn’t resonate with readers
If any of these factors is missing or not good enough, extra marketing or promotion won’t fix the problem.
That’s why most of the time I try to focus authors on fixing THOSE problems, because the rest, while effective once you have an amazing offer, isn’t very effective without one. But let’s say your books are decent, your covers are decent, you’re getting good reviews, and you’re selling OK but just not great.
What are some simple and easy ways to get more exposure, visibility, traffic and sell more books?
I’m glad you asked.
- Google your keywords. See what sites show up on the first 3 pages. Find a way to get on five of those sites.
- You’ll probably see several Goodreads lists in the first page of results. Make sure your book is in them.
- Instead of paying for advertising, contact the website owners about a guest post. Research topics that will appeal to their readers. Link to your website and mention your book at the bottom. Think about providing value BEFORE you think about marketing/promotion.
- Interview ten other authors in your genre, traditional or indie. They will be more likely to say yes if you’re posting the content on a bigger site (or if your blog looks amazing). If it’s just a personal blog, they may not be interested. Even better, interview them about 3 specific topics relevant to your genre. Turn those 10 interviews into 30 pieces of content, or 3 major ’round up’ posts about the topic (those are great pieces of content to pitch to the bigger blogs in your genre).
- More established authors might turn down an interview; instead you can write “top ten amazing quotes from X genre” and quote from their books, then share the article with the authors – they will likely share it to their followers. You can use Kindle’s “most highlighted” feature to easily find quotes from books in your genre.
- Turn all those quotes, or interview statements, into an infographic, and also into individual quote pics (using canva or wordswag). Share one a day on pinterest or social media, linking back to the original article.
- You can /should do the same thing with your own book: pull out 10 to 20 amazing quotes and turn them into image quotes. Pin and share them.
- Everytime you learn something new about writing or publishing, write an article about what you learned. Other authors need to learn this stuff to. Let your education become content that brings traffic.
- Giveaway a package of 5 or 10 bestselling books in your genre (newly published if possible). Books that are similar to yours, that your ideal readers would enjoy. Tell the authors about it; hopefully some of them will share your giveaway with their followers. Upviral or Kingsumo is best at getting emails and encouraging viral sharing.
- Use targeted Facebook ads to reach your ideal readers. You can target readers who liked the specific authors or books you’re giving away, or readers who liked the specific genre. Keep it tight, don’t advertise to people who like “thrillers” or “The DaVinci Code” (too many, too broad). Use “narrow your search” to include more things, get the audience down to 20,000 or less.
- You can do another giveaway to build your social media followers (rafflectoper or Gleam is best for this). It doesn’t have to be 5 or 10 books, it can be a cool item from ebay, etsy or even alibaba (I gave away some mermaid tail blankets recently to people who liked YA books + mermaids).
- Once you have some followers, aim for engagement – ask them questions and try to get them to respond. You can even crowdsource content, by asking them to suggest their favorite books, quotes or authors in your genre, or asking about their reading habits. Take that info and turn it into a blog post.
- Print some postcards or bookmarks. Find a place to leave them where your readers will be (ideally at a genre-convention or something). In general, offline things don’t work very well, online is easier and much more targeted.
- But if you do offline things, go big and take lots of pictures. Doing a signing or something isn’t worth much, but can be good to make yourself look more credible, you can take pictures and videos and put them on your blog’s about page. Even if you only do it once, it gives you good content to use.
- Take your book into a bookstore, put it next to the bestselling peers you want to be associated with and take some pictures as if you just spotted your book in the wild. Use those pics online.
- Actively recommend other books in your genre to your audience. The other authors will appreciate the support, and if you drive more sales your book might start showing up under the ‘also boughts’ of the books you’re recommending (I usually include a list of recommended books to read at the end of my own books).
- Follow 10 bestselling authors in your genre on Twitter. Reply to their clever tweets with your own clever comments.
- Search Twitter for your genre keywords (you should know these!). Retweet 10 cool/interesting things you find.
- Follow 10 bestselling authors in your genre on Facebook. Comment on their posts. If they’re sharing a blog post, go to their site and leave a comment there too.
- You can also instigate conversation. Did you like a book? Tell them so! Tweet them or comment on their page, thanking them for your book and telling them what you loved about it. (This kind of stuff isn’t “book marketing”… it’s better – it’s platform building. You’re trying to get your content in front of THOSE authors platforms, which are full of readers who might like your book. If you comment and start a dialogue with the authors, even something simple, people might click on your profile and read more about you and your books.
- Organize a joint promotion. Go big – content 50 self-publishing authors in your genre who are doing decent (in the top 50K or so on Amazon) and ask if they want to do a group sale, everyone prices at 99cents for one day, and everyone promotes the discount… link to one page (probably on your site, or a bigger blog) listing all 50 authors (or every author can copy/paste your post on their own page, listing the 50 authors, links to the amazon page, and links to their blog posts. This is also great for link building – get 50 indie authors to each link to everyone else’s and you’ll be building a powerful blog network that’s good for everybody.
- Instead of a “book launch” party, organize a local event for authors in your genre. There are probably more of them than you think in your area (tip: you can make a Facebook group to find them, for example, “Paranormal Romance Writers in Tampa.” You can also organize the event page and then spend $20 on targeted Facebook ads to try and get in front of writers in YOUR town. Find ways to support other authors in your area or genre: it’s a lot easier than just promoting your own books, and when you do group events, all those authors will be promoting your event for you, bringing new readers to you.
- Bonus points for organizing it around a bigger movement or event, such as a movie or book launch (something more famous). You can usually find the keywords or hashtags people are using for the event, and get more visibility than usual.
- If you’re lazy, just search for hashtags… right now “Yallwest” is trending, a big young adult conference. So I can search Twitter for #yallwest and just like EVERYTHING that shows up. I know those are my peeps, and just by liking, I can be involved even though I can’t attend the event (but commenting or replying is better, if you see someone you really want to be friends with).
- Set up an Amazon giveaway for OTHER people’s books in your genre; you can get them to follow you on Twitter or on Amazon (this gets a bunch of targeted readers following you, and they’ll get notified of your book releases.
- You can also set up an Amazon giveaway for YOUR books, but unless you have a big platform already people may not want them. I like doing this to my own email list, just before I launch a book or do a free campaign, I’ll try to get more of my email list to also follow me on Amazon/Twitter for a free book.
- Free books! If you aren’t selling at all, you need to boost your page rank. Making changes to the cover or description won’t matter if nobody can see the book, you need to do promotion first to boost rank and then see whether or not your book sticks. But that can be hard work. It’s much easier to reduce the price to free or 99cents for awhile (probably both). Just doing that isn’t enough however, you also need to make sure your deal is listed on all the cheap/free ebook sites. There are tools to submit, or you can hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you (needs to be done a couple weeks before the promotion, and you need at least 5 reviews)
- Permafree – putting your book on permafree for a couple months is better than it being invisible and getting no sales. Remember reviews are a numbers game, usually 1 in 1000. So if you’re only selling 100 a month it could take you a year to get a decent amount of reviews. In contrast, permafree books often have a few thousands downloads per day. I’ll probably put all my books on permafree soon, and leave them until they have 1000+ reviews (because why not?) I can afford to do this because the books I’ve put out are really half books and lead-generators, to get people back to my website to sign up for the other half.
- When in doubt, share a funny cat gif, with a comment that makes it appropriate for your platform (every time I do this, I get WAY more engagement, likes and shares than anything else I do).
Now what? Share your tips!
I can think of lots more tips, but before I get to 100 I wanted to ask for your input.
Let’s write a book together!
I’m working on a book about Guerrilla Publishing. Basically it’s about how indie authors can publish quick, cheap books and grow their platform quickly, by NOT trying to do everything big traditional publishers do.
I’d like to include a list of 100 bonus book marketing tips or strategies.
Please help me brainstorm – if I use your idea, tip or suggestion, I’ll quote you, credit you in the book, and link to your site.
Free book launch cheatsheet
This was my first ever book launch, and I’ve learned SO much since then… click here to download my companion workbook for the Guerrilla Publishing book… it has all my best book marketing strategies and some step by step book launch timelines you can use.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.