Today’s guest post is by Nicole Boyer.
As a writer, I have always been fascinated by the topic of self-publishing. The idea that anybody with something to say can reach hundreds, even thousands, of readers through e-publishing—and thanks to the existence of book-selling websites such as Amazon—is absolutely fascinating to me.
Of course, self-publishing a book is only the first step. As with any other product, books must be marketed and promoted. I spoke with a few friends of mine who have managed to generate a thousand dollars or more in monthly sales for their books to get their take on marketing strategies.
1.Create a Specific Target Readership and Gear All Marketing Efforts Toward It
Books are, by design, a niche market. There are very few books in general that appeal to a wide audience. There are even fewer in the world of self-publishing. If you gear your marketing efforts toward a general audience, you might be wasting time and money. You’re also missing potential readers.
Instead, create a target reader persona. This is the person who is most likely to pay for your book, read it, and be affected enough to recommend it to others. As you develop this persona, think beyond people who are interested in your topic. You have to consider age, gender, level of education, interests, and a variety of other traits. Most importantly, you have to figure out where they are (where are the hang out on the Internet). Once this persona is complete, you know whom to target.
2. Use Your Writing Talent to Compose Great Promotional Copy
It’s simply amazing how many writers will spend months, even years, writing the perfect book, but will fail to put together decent promotional copy. You don’t need to spend months crafting product descriptions, or selecting the perfect endorsement quotes, but you should definitely spend a decent amount of time and effort on this task. After all, the promotional copy is one of the first things potential buyers will read about your book. If you write compelling descriptions, you can entice readers to make a purchase. Just don’t reveal too much.
3. Write a Great Book to Begin with and Be Ready with an Upcoming Teaser
Some of the authors I spoke with claim that you shouldn’t spend an exorbitant amount of time marketing your first book. They say you are better off writing a couple of books first, or at least having enough of a second book to add a teaser to your marketing content. It also adds a bit of credibility if you are able to indicate in your promotional efforts that you are the author of multiple books.
4. Pick the Amazon Category That Will Enhance Your Book’s Discoverability
When you post a book for sale on Amazon, you can select two categories in which your book can be found. It may be tempting to put your book in categories where the big sales are made, such as young adult or romance. Unfortunately, if you do that, your book will probably be lost in a sea of other books. Try drilling down into the subcategories and finding a couple of spots where your book is likely to be found, and likely to end up on a best-seller list. As you decide how to categorize your book, keep your target customer profile in mind. Ask: Where they would look for new books?
5. When You Receive Compliments, Ask Readers to Share Their Thoughts on Amazon
Reviews, like promotional copy, are extremely important. When you receive positive feedback from your readers, thank them. Then, ask them if they would mind leaving a positive review on Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes and Noble. These reviews have a strong influence when it comes to selling books. You may want to consider gifting your book to a few select people if they will review your books.
Keep this in mind: positive reviews are best, but they should also be detailed and informative. If you receive positive feedback from an influential person, ask them if they would consider providing you with an awesome book blurb.
6. Develop a Relationship with Your Readers and Keep Them Engaged
Remember that bookseller websites aren’t your only option when it comes to marketing your book. You should also create a blog or website dedicated to your book, and create a presence on social media for yourself as an author. This will increase your chances of reaching your readers and engaging with them.
7. Think Hard about Your Pricing Strategy
Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean more sales. It also doesn’t mean more profit, when you consider Amazon’s royalty structure. While you do not want to overprice your book, pricing it too low could cause credibility issues. Some people equate 99 cents or $1.99 with inferior content.
8. Just Because You Are Self-Published Doesn’t Mean You Are Unprofessional
Production values are important. First and foremost, make sure your writing is top notch. If you need a professional editor, make that investment. Pass out a few free copies before you publish to get some feedback. Finally, have your cover designed by a professional. You would be amazed at how much of a difference that makes.
I hope these 8 strategies help put self-publishing in perspective. What are your toughest challenges with self-publishing?
Nicole Boyer is young graphic and web designer who is also extremely passionate about writing. She’s a regular contributor at Business2Community and WebDesignerDepot. Connect with Nicole via Twitter or Google+.
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