The Marketing Side of Self Publishing

Whether you chose to publish exclusively on Amazon or distribute your book worldwide through Smashwords or other publishing sites, the next item on the agenda is Marketing.

I heard you say YUCK.

The Marketing Side of Self Publishing by Eeva Lancaster

I see some self published authors commenting on blogs or groups about how they're all about writing, and they criticize those blatantly promoting their books. To each his own, but as a self pub, this point of view is not realistic at all.

Gone are the days when writers wrote and their publishers worried about the rest. Self published authors need to promote their work, and market them well if they're ever going to succeed. You may have written the next bestseller, but if nobody knows who you are, and that your book is out there - it's going to be buried unread. That would be a real shame.

After you've published, the next question you need to find the answer to is - HOW WILL I SELL MY BOOK? It's not going to sell itself. You will have to help potential readers know that it exists.

HOW?

Below are some steps that can help you sell your books. The end goal?
  • To make you and your book visible, discoverable, and attract sales. 
  • To establish your reputation.
These steps are part of The Foundation of your Author Platform.


WRITE A GOOD BIOGRAPHY


Amazon allows its authors to have an Author Page, just like Smashwords, Lulu, and other platforms. Personally, I find it very difficult to create my own bio, though I've written other people's biography and About Me page.

At first, I didn't know if my bio should be in the 1st person or 3rd person. I wanted to connect with my readers on a personal level, and I thought an introduction using the 1st person would be more appropriate. However, when I checked the other author pages on Amazon, the good ones were all written in 3rd person! I know now that you should have both versions. A personal one for your blog or Goodreads page maybe, and a more formal version for your author pages.

What should be included in your biography? Anything that will help your readers connect and empathize with you. Keep it short, positive, and interesting. It's not a memoir. 

Once you have a bio, create as many author pages as you can, wherever you can.

Distribute your Self!


COMPOSE A CATCHY BLURB or SYNOPSIS

Your book's blurb should be a sales piece. Yes, even the synopsis. This is the next thing your reader will look at when your book cover catches their attention. So, you have to make sure they stay interested. The blurb or synopsis doesn't have to be a long summary. It just needs to be interesting enough to catch a reader's attention. Many say that a blurb or synopsis needs to be written like those in the back of printed books. I don't believe that. Maybe before, when people spent hours browsing in the bookstore.

Nowadays, a reader's attention span is definitely shorter. 5 seconds at the most. Ok, maybe 10 seconds if your book cover was outstanding. What can you say in 10 seconds?

Start with a question or an intriguing sentence. Create mystery and pique curiosity. Touch emotions, highlight dilemmas and stress what's interesting. The blurb needs to make a reader want to know MORE, and purchase the book. Put yourself in the place of the reader... Why should they buy your book? A long boring synopsis that just summarizes the story is not as powerful as a sales copy. Copywriting is an art in itself. Knowing how to write a convincing sales copy is one of the best marketing skills you can develop.

**** typos and grammatical mistakes on blurbs are a BIG TURN-OFF. It's sloppy and communicates low standards. Let your editor or proofreader work on it.

Here are articles to read if you want to know more about copywriting:



USE A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE

On your profile pages and About Me page, use a GOOD photo. Now, I don't know what your idea is of a good photo, but it's absolutely not you sweating in the gym, or you looking like you're carrying the world on your shoulders. 

You want to show your BEST SIDE. This photo represents you in the virtual world. It's not a personal Facebook pic. This image will appear on your website, back cover, social media and author profiles. Look decent and competent and personable. Package yourself as a professional who writes content worth reading. Someone who's serious about their work. You don't even need to hire a photographer. Use your mobile phone, dress up nicely and pick a nice background. 

How you're packaging yourself, the image you're presenting - will affect your author platform. Believe it... or Not.


HELP READERS FIND YOU

When you wrote your book, did you have a target audience in mind? Your potential readers?  How do you plan to reach them? How will they find your book? Here are a few ideas:
  • Through CATEGORIES, KEYWORDS, TAGS. Most publishing websites ask you to tag your books. This means that when someone searches for the word tags / keywords you indicated, your book will come up as one of the options.

    Keywords should also be used on all your web content, including bios and book descriptions. Learn more about keywords and how to use them.

    When you publish, you get to choose your book's category. Is it Non-Fiction, Young Juvenile, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban? Correctly categorizing your books will help your readers find them when they're looking for books by category.
  • Through GROUPS and FORUMS. Join groups and forums relevant to your genre. Google+ has a lot of communities to choose from.
  • Through WEBSITES. If I write about relationships, for example, I will look for the most popular relationship websites, read the articles, and make an intelligent COMMENT on a relevant article with my book or website's link.
  • By being VISIBLE and DISCOVERABLE. Learn how to Build your Online Presence.
  • Through FREE Book Promotion sites. 

EXTEND YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

There's no such thing as a lazy, social-media shy, self published author. That's like an Oxymoron. We post and share like crazy. "But it takes so much time, Eeva! I'd rather write." I hear that from my community all the time. 

Sadly, there are a lot of authors who think that it's not necessary. Really, the only type of books that sell themselves on Amazon is PORN.

Social media is the easiest way to promote yourself and your books. The books are online, so are most of your customers. Where else should you promote them? The more people see your book posts, the better. 

It's also a great way to network with other authors and make new friends. No one understands a new author's desires and worries better than another author. Networking is part of your marketing effort. Just 5 authors promoting each other through tweets and posts will reach their market faster than an author without a network posting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There's a lot of debate on whether it even pays to spend time on social media. But if you stop to think about it... it just makes sense. However, some authors have the wrong idea about the phrase Social Media Presence... and the wrong expectations.
  • They expect a few hours of shouting out will increase their sales immediately. No, it won't. It's a process that goes along with your writing more books and improving your craft. Building an online presence that produces results is HARD and takes TIME and STRATEGY.
  • They think that a few tweets and a couple of posts to Facebook groups and Google Communities gives them presence. No, that's not all that it's about. It is more than just posting about your book and shouting out your new promo. It is more than just giving a link. 
Forget about these non-realistic expectations. It will only leave you frustrated. Building your online presence is a continuous, long-term goal. It will not make you an instant Amazon bestseller.

There are authors on Upwork who look for people to market their books and make them instant bestsellers. Who can guarantee that? If there was a sure formula, all authors would pay for the knowledge and we'd all be bestselling authors. Don't you think?

We can only try, and do what we can to help our books sell.

There are thousands of people out there hollering the same thing. You have to stand out from the din. If you really want to make a name for yourself, you can't be a wallflower whispering in the corner. Get in front of the crowd. But, keep your eye on the line between effective and offensive marketing.


CREATE AN AUTHOR WEBSITE

Not all authors are bloggers, and some of you might be intimidated by the thought of creating your own website. Don't be. If you're a newbie blogger, try the simpler websites, instead of Wordpress. There's WIX, Weebly, Blogger, and Simple Site - to name a few. They're easy to use. We're already doing so many things. We don't need to add updating complicated websites to our list of to-dos. 


The Book Khaleesi designs websites that are easy to maintain. Check us out.

Why do you need a website? It's a way for you to reach your audience on a personal level. Talk about your work and your books. You can direct them to where your books can be purchased. A potential buyer might look you up when they see your book somewhere. They must have a place to go if they want to learn more about you.

Since your website is your online home:
  • Be careful what you post. It's best not to include controversial points of view, unless you want to be known for that view, and your books are on the same topic.
  • Give people a reason to visit. Don't make it a diary of what you ate this morning, unless you're a Health and Nutrition writer. If I were your reader, why would I subscribe to your diary? Unless you're Marilyn Monroe or Brad Pitt, what value does that give me? Offer something valuable to readers. Be a solution to something... even boredom.
  • Make it attractive. Content is still King. But, make the packaging nice.
  • Help visitors find your content. Make the site easy to navigate and do learn a bit about SEO.

So, these are the BASIC steps to promote yourself and your books. Some may not find it fun, and it can be time consuming. But it's necessary. That's the harsh reality of self publishing. Don't ever believe that your book will do alright on its own. Create a process that will automate your marketing efforts. There's Hootsuite and Tweet Jukebox. You can use them for FREE. 

Regardless of the hardships we encounter trying to get our precious books into the hands of our readers, this is still a great time for writers. In the end, your book's sales will all depend on the quality of your content. Even if you're a first rate salesperson, if you have a crappy book, it won't gain momentum.

Marketing is not an option. It's a must.


Now that you understand a little about marketing, whenever you see fellow authors promoting their work, by golly, don't just look at it... like it, share it and show support! Maybe they'll do the same for you. (I'm pretty sure they will. If not, you can share this article with them. Hehehe.) 

If you're doing something else to promote yourself and your books, do leave a comment and share it with us so we can try it too!

May the muses never forget to give you inspiration. Go now and promote. :)

Go to Part 1 - Self Publishing Guide for Newbies
Go to Part 2 - Formatting and Layout of Manuscripts
Go to Part 3 - 2 Ways to Self Publish Your Book





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