Book marketing is essential if authors, both indie and traditionally published, wish to pursue their passion as a business instead of a hobby. If there’s something I’ve learned during my rookie year as an indie author, it’s that simply uploading a book and posting buy-links to social media isn’t going to do jack.
You need to think outside the box.
So, if you have a large social media following that buys from you, then you might be okay. But for those serious about earning a full-time living on their work, I have news for you:
YOU NEED TO INVEST TO SUCCEED
Ask any business owner, and they’ll tell you that unless you’re willing to risk some money, don’t bother trying to make money.
And an indie author business is no different.
No business is exempt.
It’s a pay to play world, and that’s just the way it is.
But, you don’t have to break the bank and invest hundreds of thousands unless you have the budget and if you do, awesome, knock yourself out.
Tell your rich parents, spouse, or brother I said hi.
For the rest of us, here are FIVE rather cost-effective ways to start marketing your books today.
Blog, Blog, and Blog Some More
One blog is good, two blogs are better, but if you can narrow down several niches that have something to do with your work, you can really expose yourself. For example, I have two blogs for my Lord of Columbia Series; each with a different purpose. This blog talks all about how authors (or anyone, really) can make money online with their products and someone else’s products via affiliate marketing.
Speaking of affiliate marketing, you can market your own books while promoting other products identical to your own. For instance, books and other products that motivated me to write Lord of Columbia are products that I can promote on one of my other blogs.
If anyone buys a product through my blog, I get a commission on the product. I can go low, like with Amazon which offers roughly a 6% commission or you can go through shareasale.com which offers hundreds of affiliate networks.
I love using the Wealthy Affiliate platform, because it’s an all-in-one, no-commitment-based platform. With WA, you don’t have to worry about paying for hosting or keyword tools, which are also essential in marketing if you want to get indexed in Google. You also get solid coaching from the platform’s founders, Kyle and Carson, who’ve been in business since 2005.
You can have one blog geared straight toward your books, another blog based on influences behind your books, and perhaps a niche that your books can fall into.
Forget Social Media Exists
Social media is great for engagement, it’s great for interacting with others, but it’s not good for marketing. Again, if you already have a gigantic following, that’s another story.
But if you only have a few-thousand followers on social media, don’t bother. It’s not going to do much.
If you have a niche following on social media and your books fall into the niche, again, you might have some luck.
But in the earlier stages, social media can be a hindrance. If you’re following people constantly sharing buy-links, will you follow them long?
Of course not.
So, as part of your author marketing plan, social media for such purposes should only be utilized once a large following, or a niche following, then marketing will be better for business.
But if your following is low, stop doing this.
Invest in Paid Promotion
This one is huge. Paid promotion doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are many promotion options out there that charge fewer than $20, and guess what? I’m testing some of the better ones that’ll be available for review here on the blog.
There are more expensive paid options which may give you greater reach, but if you’re on a promotional budget, there are several options you can undertake and yes, they are effective.
You don’t need to put forth six figures for solid promotion, or even three figures.
Build an Email List
I hope you realize email is still alive and well, right?
It is, and it’s still, to this day, the most effective form of marketing out there. It beats TV, radio, text, social media (see above), word of mouth, email is the Ace-High; it works.
Have you ever wondered why bloggers will offer a free product that can be delivered to your email inbox?
You just joined an email list, whether you like it or not. See, the free product helps solve a problem and it’s what you call a magnet book. The magnet book attracts site visitors to exchange their email address for their free product. Now, you’re on an email list.
I’m on several.
In my niche regarding Lord of Columbia, big-tech companies like Google and YouTube love silencing us, so we tend to survive on email lists.
And it beats social media.
You can have thousands of followers, but you might only get two or three-hundred impressions.
You can have 6,000 names on an email list and you can get a mere 15% open rate, which equates to 900 people.
See the difference?
Not just that, people exchange email for information because they find value in it. So, if you’re a fiction author like I am you can put one of your books up in exchange for an email.
For example, I have Northern Knights on sale at all the online bookstores perma-free. Inside the front of the book, I have an ad that points to my magnet book, The Skyehawk Chronicles.
So, readers can download Northern Knights and immediately download the book’s 500-year prequel in exchange for email.
I do have the book for sale for 99-cents, but in exchange for an email, they can get the magnet book at no charge.
Don’t waste your time with KDP Select. I’ve tried it, it blows. Some authors tell you that if you have fewer than three books published that KDP Select might be beneficial. Eh, it depends. You’ll gain access to the KU reader pool plus a cut of the global fund, but I can tell you from experience that going wide is far better.
But publish wide, especially if you have a series and plan to write at least ten or so books in that series.
Publishing wide will allow you to make your books perma-free at every single outlet, even Amazon, but you have to email them with links to your book at iBooks, Kobo, and Nook.
So don’t listen to authors who don’t know what they’re talking about telling you that Amazon refuses to price match….they do….especially if you have a series. They will take a lead loss if you’re charging between $2.99 and $4.99 for your subsequent books.
There are also awesome merchandising options on Kobo, iBooks, and Nook and you can do this via a process by publishing through Draft2Digital. Again, this is especially effective if you’re an indie with a free series starter and you have other books for sale in the same series.
Amazon severely limits indie authors, but the other sites are havens. So, while it’s essential to have your book on Amazon, don’t forget that Nook, Kobo, and iBooks still make up the other 35%, and there are a lot of people out there with Apple devices. Wal-Mart recently teamed up with Kobo, so you have the world’s largest retailer backing them. Nook is in a brand of its own, so never, ever, ever underestimate these stores.
You can start all of this within the next couple months. You can start your blog today and even give Wealthy Affiliate a free test drive with its Starter Membership.
If you have already published you can invest in paid promotion today and if you’ve published wide, you can set a series starter or any book in your back list for free and use it as a lead loss to gain a readership.
You can start an email list today as well. You can do this via MailerLite or MailChimp, both of which offer a free option up to a certain number of subscribers, so take advantage.
Finally, if you’re not wide, you can go to Draft2Digital and reach new bookstores. If you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you will have to wait until your 90-day enrollment is up, but like I said, the program is stale these days and you will sell far more copies by publishing wide and offering a lead loss.