Social media is often ineffective in advertising ebooks.
Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to help in promoting books and advertising ebooks is extremely time-consuming, and from my own experience, is becoming less and less effective as a means to increase book sales.
When I started using Twitter and Facebook back in 2009, there was definitely some benefit, but as the population of authors on these sites has increased so much over the years, it is now very difficult to get noticed in the crowd.
The time spent or perhaps wasted, on trying to gain leverage on social media could be better spent writing new books, which is by far a better way to increase book sales. The more titles you have published, the more books you are likely to sell.
So, how do I go about promoting and advertising ebooks without using social media?
It’s a no-brainer that Amazon is by far the biggest retailer of ebooks and books with approximately 70% of the market, so having your books on Amazon is a must.
While there are many good arguments for having your ebooks available on other retailers such as Apple, Kobo, B&N or aggregated through Smashwords as well, these retailers provide very few, if any, promotional tools.
Amazon, on the other hand, provides a lot of promotional aids, but of course, they are mostly only available if you enrol in KDP Select and grant Amazon exclusivity to your ebooks.
This is always a tough decision to make, but it is worth considering that this only applies to ebooks, so if you publish in paperback, your books will still be available on B&N and other online retailers of paperbacks.
My advice to those of you, who want to get out of the social media merry-go-round, is to enrol in KDP Select and use the promotional tools they offer, such as Author Central, Free Days, Countdown Deals, Kindle Unlimited subscription borrowing and most importantly, Amazon advertising.
Get the book basics right first
But before we start, you need to get the basics right to make sure your book is presented on Amazon in a way that will attract readers. Here is a short checklist, and I have included links to other articles for more detail on each topic.
1. You must have a killer cover that will attract attention. Forget ‘do it yourself’ covers, and get a professionally designed cover. These are quite inexpensive, so this small investment will pay dividends.
2. Write a great book description. This is what gains a potential reader’s attention, so it really, really needs to be well written, and not a quick two sentence summary. It should be at least 500 words.
3. Check that your book is listed in the best categories (genres) and is using effective keywords. This is called your book’s metadata, and it is probably the most important element in making sure your book can be found by potential readers. Books that gain few sales, usually use very poor metadata, so this one change can make a huge difference to sales.
4. If you have not set up your Amazon Author Page on Author Central, do so immediately, as from this you gain access to many ways to improve your book page on Amazon and add far more detail. It is also where you can add editorial reviews for your books, which is a vital element, especially when launching a new book.
5. If you are not familiar with using HTML, you should learn just a few basics, as by using HTML tags, you can make your book descriptions really stand out.
6. Make sure your ebook and paperback versions are linked together to appear on the same page on Amazon. If they are not, contact KDP and they usually have it done in a couple of days.
7. Check your ebook price. Is it too low? $0.99 ebooks scream cheap and nasty, so I would recommend a minimum price of $2.99 for a novella and $3.99 -$4.99 for a full novel.
Now that your book looks great and is listed correctly, what promotion and advertising can you do?
1. I know authors hate giving away free ebooks, but by using the KDP Select 5-day option, free ebooks downloads definitely DO improve a book’s sales ranking and can also attract reviews, so this is very important in making a book more discoverable. I usually split my free days into 2-2-1 across the 90 day period.
2. You cannot use Free ebook days and Kindle Countdown deals in the same 90 period, so alternate these promotions for each 90 day period. In my experience, Countdown Deals work best on higher priced books, so I wouldn’t use it for ebooks under $3.99.
3. If you have a number of titles, save time by setting up your Free and Countdown promotions for the following 3 months in one sitting. I then keep a note in an Excel sheet so I can track my promotions.
4. Use Amazon KDP Ad Campaigns. This is the very best reason to enrol in KDP Select, as although it is a pay-per-click advertising service, it places ads for your books exactly where you want them – right in front of the eyes of Amazon customers who are looking to buy ebooks. These ads appear on Amazon book pages, and if you select the ‘by interest’ option when setting up your ad, your ad will appear on Kindles too. This is a killer promotional tool.
For between $0.45 and $0.70 per click, this is far better value than spending hours and hours on social media. Time is money, so this really is a viable and economical way to promote your books. What is REALLY worth noting is that you only pay for clicks, but you get ‘impressions’ for FREE! This means that your book is being seen by 1,000s of Amazon customers, for free. Now that beats the hell out of social media, doesn’t it?
5. This is a bonus idea, and ok, it uses social media, but it is not a time wasting exercise. Set up a Facebook Page for you as an author. Add a few posts and make it attractive, and occasionally post something.
But the most important reason to have a Facebook Page, as opposed to your personal Facebook profile, is that you can then access Facebook advertising.
It operates on a similar basis to most pay-per-click advertising, but because Facebook has 1.6 billion users, it is a market that should not be ignored. Ads on Facebook can be narrowly targeted, so you can expect to reach people, who have a real reading interest in your genre. I don’t use Facebook ads regularly, but when sales dip, I use them to boost sales, and from this, boost my book sales ranking.
To succeed at self-publishing, use cost and time effective book promotion and advertising.
The options I have listed above, of course, involve investing time in getting your books looking right, listed correctly and ensuring that your Amazon book page will attract readers.
But if you consider the value of your time, and how much of it you waste on social media trying to flog your books instead of writing new ones, perhaps a $30.00 -$50.00 advertising budget per month will be money well spent.
And remember, the real benefit in buying promotion on Amazon, and to a lesser degree on Facebook, is not only a matter of clicks. It is that your book will be seen by 1,000’s of potential readers, which is exactly what book marketing and promotion are all about. The more times someone sees your book, the more chance you have of making a sale.
So, how many hours upon hours are you currently spending on social media trying to make sales? Lots? Perhaps it’s time to drop the idea completely, and let Amazon, and perhaps Facebook, do all the work for you so you can do what you do best.
Write more books.