11 Ways to Market Your Self-Published Book
Hello friends, self-published author here 👋
In this post, I am going to share ALL of my tips for marketing a self-published book. Since releasing A Strangely Wrapped Gift at the end of 2017, I have sold over 5,500 copies of my books, which include two more poetry collections and a guided journal for mindfullness. This did not just happen, and if you are interested in learning how to boost the sales of your own self-published masterpiece, keep reading.
There are many benefits to choosing the self-publishing route, but one definite downside is that you do not have a marketing team behind your book, which means all the advertising is up to you. Self-publishing can be as successful or unsuccessful as you want it to be (assuming you have a quality product-all of these tips will be out the window if your book if full of grammatical errors or unoriginal work) depending on how willing you are to put in the work. The following are 11 actions I take to market my own self-published books, and hopefully they will work for you too:)
#1. Begin marketing your book before the release date. Don’t wait until the book is out. When I have a set release date for a new book, I begin marketing it 1-2 months in advance to hype it up as best I can. This involves things like doing a cover reveal, having your audience vote on a cover (this gets them invested!) and posting teasers from your book on your Instagram or Facebook story.
#2. Make sure your book has cover appeal. We’re all familiar with the age-old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” yet we are all guilty of doing just that. When formatting your own design, look at successful books in your genre and see what their covers look like. Are they brightly colored or neutral? Complex or simple? Are the images photographs or illustrations? Of course, you want to make sure your book reflects your own unique style and you should never copy or rip off another author. However, getting a feel for the covers in your genre can help you understand what “type” of covers seem to draw people in. In addition, make sure you invest time, energy, and even money on your cover. There are some pretty bad covers out there, and a bad cover will most definitely hinder sales. Do not be afraid to hire someone to illustrate or design your cover, because it will pay off in the end. If your cover looks like it was created on Microsoft using clip art or lackluster stock photos, nobody is going to give it a second look.
#3. Offer free copies of your book in exchange for honest reviews. This is very important when marketing a book, because the more positive reviews a book has, the higher its algorithm score on Amazon. Better algorithm score = more visibility. Be careful though, because Amazon only allows reviews from verified purchases, so what I usually do (once I have asked and confirmed someone is willing to read and review) is Venmo that person the money for the book + shipping, then have them do the actual purchasing on Amazon. As an author, you are not permitted to review your own book, so if you are the one buying and shipping it, no matter who reviews it, the review will be removed by Amazon to prevent potential bias.
#4. Offer free gifts as thank-yous. People LOVE free stuff. And gratitude. Hop onto Instagram and offer free, handwritten poems or quotes to anyone who purchases a copy of your book in the next, say, 48 hours. You will be surprised how many sales come in when you include something personal and special. Just make sure you actually follow through with your promises!
#5. Switch to a business account....yesterday. When you reach 10,000 followers, you will have the option to include “swipe ups” in your stories, which can lead people directly to your book on Amazon. People are much more willing to check out your listing if they don't have to exit the app and open up a separate web browser.
#6. Do live readings on social media. Read a few of the strongest pieces of poetry from your collection. If you have a novel, read the first chapter. Hook readers with something good, and then tell them where they can buy your book so they can read the rest for themselves.
#7. Find opportunities to share your work with your physical community. (I know this is scary!) Go to poetry readings or open mic nights, and read some of your best work. Always be sure to let audience members know where they can find you.
#8. Take advantage of Amazon and Instagram advertising. This may not be a plausible option for all, but if you can afford to have a small marketing budget it really pays off. In the interest of full disclosure, I spend about $150 a month on advertising and make anywhere from $700-$1000+ on royalties. I tried to go a month without advertising, and my sales were significantly lower. People cannot fall in love with your book if they never see it.
#9. Network. Engage in genuine conversations with other writers on and offline, but don’t be pushy. Give free copies to other authors (if they like it, they might pass it on!) Try to make friends within the community, both online and off. The writing community is a very supportive place, and most self-published authors are happy to share things that worked and did not work for them. Just make sure you pay it forward, and never be greedy, ungrateful, or demanding.
#10. Host Giveaways. There are many ways to organize a giveaway on social media, but one common method is to have people enter by sharing one of your pieces on their feed or story. Once they have shared, they will be entered for the giveaway. Set a finite amount of time for entries and at the end, write down the names of all who entered on little slips of paper and draw one out of a hat while on IG Live. This way people know the giveaway was honest and the terms fulfilled. Then, mail out whatever the prize is in a timely manner. Even though you are giving away a free copy of your book, by having entrants share your work on their pages, you are gaining a great deal of exposure which is well worth the profit-loss of one or two books.
#11. Engage with your audience as much as possible. Set aside time to answer DMs, respond to comments, reply to emails, etc. Be genuine. Be kind. Be supportive. Be honest. I believe that people are more likely to support your writing endeavors if you are willing to invest time in them, too.
Hopefully these tips will help you market your self-published book and boost your sales. Feel free to comment below if you have other useful tips, and if you want to send me a copy of your book for an honest review on either Goodreads or Amazon, you can email me @firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to Pay It Forward.