While there are many tips out there about how to promote your self-published books, I thought I would share some ideas that have actually worked, to help cut through the noise. Perhaps you’d like to check out a Sean Yeager Adventures book for a youngster in your life. Please do.
1. On your email footer add your book title (or series) and your choice of ‘author’ ‘writer’ ‘publisher’ and your website or blog link
People will then pick up on the fact that you have written books and ask you. They will also research the book out of their interest in you as a person. It’s free. It works. You are a walking person of interest when people are intrigued. And if they don’t say anything – no problem.
2. Run an informational website or blog with an easy to remember title
To tell people about what you do, where it is, why they should care. The benefits and strap lines of your work. It needs to have strong visuals and interesting content. If all else fails, share your learnings about promotion. (Yes, the irony is not lost on me). This blog site can be free or cheap. Obviously, if you intend to attract a lot of traffic and cross-sales (how to guides) you’ll need to build and invest in this website as a brand. Who knows, perhaps you want to video-blog and post to YouTube?
3. HIre a really good book cover designer and hone your book covers and titles
These are two of your most important promotional assets. These images and titles will be used everywhere. Learn to get them honed and professional. Dare to be a little different. If your covers can stand up beside professional equivalents, you have achieved your goal.
4. Go social – on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.
There is a theory that people who ‘see you’ online will read your books. Frankly, I’ve not found this to be true. I suspect this is because there are loads of social media echo chambers out there of people promoting books left, right and centre. However, when you engage with people as people, over time a tiny proportion of them might become intrigued. Especially if you seem interesting and have something to say about the craft of writing, promotion, life or your favourite themes. And, your covers will be seen when you do (inevitably) add them to profiles, posts and such like.
5. Run paid adverts within your pre-set budget
Big publishers do this all the time. The simple reason is – you need to be taken seriously and your book covers need to be seen about seven times for someone to become familiar with the idea of buying or at least researching your book. Where to advertise? Take your pick based on where you believe your audience to be actively open to buying ideas (facebook, twitter, goodreads, amazon, instagram, magazines, paper, billboards (pricey), TV appearance (if connected), websites, popular blogs or tours). At the time of writiing, I am running an advert in ‘How it Works’ magazine. I’ll leave you to figure out why when you browse this amazing magazine.
6. Write a great strap-line for each book and tune your keywords
The web is pretty much run by keywords. You need to select a good cloud of words which place your book in the right relevancy bracket. Think of these as like hast tags but for web browsers, web crawlers, internal search engines and the algorithms that power the big sites – like Amazon, Google, etc. It is both an art and a science. You may need help with this – the buzz words are SEO, keyword search and relevance. Go research books in your own target market. Also, align your keywords across all your online presence.
7. Write and edit a really great read
This should go without saying, but there, I said it anyway. If the product, price, promotion and placement are strong, you could be onto something. A weakness in the chain will not help your longer term prospects. A weak book, well promoted will lead to one sale. Not the follow-on sales of your next books. You do have a next book, right?
8. And write another one
If you are promoting yourself as a brand – which is often suggested – your brand needs a number of books. One book looks okay, not great. You might want to gradually ramp up your efforts over three or four books. Many successful independent authors write and publish several books a year. Their catalogue is growing all the time. It helps. Others, myself included, work at a more sedate pace and focus on our own take of quality. Ideally, you want both a good volume and quality of books out there.
9. Giveaways and free e-book samples
These can help. However, be aware of the consequences. You will need a volume of next books to make a giveaway worthwhile. It is all about the cross-sell (to other titles) and up-sell (to your print copies). Another consequence is that your ebook freebie may never go away. It will linger on semi-dodgy sites for a long while.
10. Appearances, visits, talks, stalls
Attend anything you can to gain visibility. But, ensure you have something of interest to say. ‘I am writer’ does not cut it. There are several angles – helping other writers, talking about trends, commenting on your learnings, literacy for children, book clubs etc. A word of caution – a paid for stall at the wrong event could waste both money and time. Flyers given away at a book fair, could help if anyone spends time engaging with your messaging and researches your work.
11. As a bonus – bring it all together with a plan
A clear approach and tag line will help you to focus on your target audience. Who are they? Where do they hang out? What benefits does your work bring them? How can you entice them to be curious about your books? What angles do you have to stand out from the vast swathes of people doing the same? The better you know the answers, the better you can refine your approach across all the above. If one approach does not work, reflect, regroup and try a different angle. For example, if you want to collect email addresses and send out newsletters, you’ll need a plan about what you’ll be sending out – promotions, tips, news, insights.
Best of luck and feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts.
Author of Sean Yeager Adventures.
An epic, fantasy, action, adventure series for ages 8 to 14+