If you are serious about self-publishing, you are going to promote and market your books, all on your own.
If you want to succeed at self-publishing, you are on your own. Writing a great book is one thing, but selling it is altogether another.
Amazon, Apple, Kobo and all the other ebook and book retailers are not going to promote your books. Understand this.
While they may run promotions from time to time, there is little likelihood that your book will be featured. Retailer promotions are usually for top-selling titles, or for a publisher that has paid for the promotion.
Unless you have money to burn, hiring a marketing company to promote your books will be out of the question. So what can you do to ensure that your books are being seen, noticed, clicked and hopefully, purchased and read?
Without a bookstore of your own on the high street, your only option is to leverage online promotion. However, this doesn’t mean banging on about your books on social media.
You need to go much bigger and wider to find prospective readers outside your social media circle.
Here are the four main avenues you can use, and in combination, they will give you the best possibility of getting your titles seen by thousands and thousands of potential book buyers.
1. You absolutely must have an efficient, hardworking and automated blog.
Your blog must be the hub of your book promotion, as it is where you want your potential readers to arrive. It is where your books will be seen, your author authority will be stamped, and with each visit, your chances of selling books will increase.
A website can serve a similar purpose but is not as flexible or informative as a well designed and written blog. Where a blog is alive, a website is usually very static, and will not attract return visitors. Only a regularly updated blog can gain return visitors and help you sell books.
The main advantage of a blog is that all of your posts and pages can be posted and re-posted out to all your social media networks. Another advantage is that your posts and pages will also be indexed by Google and Bing and assist you in gaining valuable organic traffic.
While there are many ways to set up a blog, by far the most effective is to have a self-hosted WordPress site. Sure, it will cost a little in hosting fees, but the flexibility and automation WordPress offers are second to none when it comes to promotion and marketing possibilities.
There are so many plugins available for a self-hosted WordPress site (some paid but mostly free) that can either automate or streamline your promotion. For example, there are plugins to help your SEO, to automate social media posts, to automate image compression and to track your visitor analytics.
Other plugins add forms to your site, add follow and share buttons, and there are even plugins to incorporate and manage your mailing list.
If you are serious about your book marketing and promotion, a self-hosted WordPress site is by a long way the best possible means. No free blogging service can provide you with the tools you need to push hard out into the world about you as an author and your books.
2. You need to get very serious about SEO.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is by far the most powerful tool available to you when it comes to attracting new book readers and buyers. Even if you have a large social media following, it pales when you consider that good SEO has the potential to attract every single user in the world who is on the Internet.
Good SEO will get your posts and pages indexed by Google and Bing, and with a little more work, perhaps get you into the top ten listings for certain keywords. By doing this, traffic to your blog can increase enormously.
In my case, applying good SEO practices has increased my blog’s average daily page views by a thousand-fold compared to two years ago. Yes, SEO works.
SEO is also applicable to your ebook, book and book retailers. When you publish, your title, book description, categories and keywords all become metadata that will attract readers who search for a new book to read.
Amazon search, in particular, works in a very similar manner to Google and Bing search.
So, by applying good SEO practices to your book metadata, it will help increase the chances of a new book buyer finding your book.
If content is king, SEO is definitely queen.
3. Yes, leverage social media, but do it the right way.
Social media is a very important element in book promotion. However, you are likely to have only a few hundred, or even a few thousand connections. Trying to hard sell your books to this small group will not achieve a great deal of success. Social media is really only effective when you concentrate on expanding your market reach exponentially.
The real marketing goal of social media is to gain shares. When a user shares your content, your reach expands. When one thousand users share your content, your reach skyrockets!
Back to your blog here. You really must have share and follow buttons on every single post and page of your blog as they are your tickets to expanding your reach.
Even if you have only 100 Facebook friends and 200 Twitter followers, you can leverage social media to your advantage from your blog with share buttons. Along with good SEO, your reach becomes unlimited.
To give you an example of how effective social media can be, one of my posts was shared on Flipboard recently and resulted in over 20,000 page views in one week! That is the real power of social media.
Efficient exploitation of social media is not about your follower numbers – it is about its sharing potential.
4. You will need to pay promotion and advertising.
You can avoid it for as long as you like, but paying for promotion and advertising is a proven means of making sales. If it wasn’t, Facebook and Google would not be making billions each year.
There are many choices to promote your books. Amazon PPC Ads, Google Ads, Facebook and Twitter Ads, as well as dedicated book promotion websites.
The only proviso is that no amount of money spent on advertising will sell a bad product. Before spending a cent, make sure your books are up to standard before paying for advertising.
Money spent on a great cover, a thorough edit and perfect formatting would be a more prudent investment than splashing out on Facebook advertising when your book is not appealing to readers.
But if you are sure you have a good product, then spending judiciously on advertising can increase not only your book sales but also your ranking on retailer bestselling lists.
When deciding to invest in paid advertising and promotion, always set yourself a tight budget and schedule and check your results to see which means is the most effective for you.
The four topics I have outlined above all revolve around having a fully functioning and automated blog. It is the most important and essential element, as it is the hub of all your book promotion and marketing.
Yes, you can use free services, and you will have a little success, perhaps. But if you are truly serious about wanting to make money from your books and ebooks, there is no escaping the marketing power of a self-hosted site.
After all, will Amazon help you promote your books? No. You have to help yourself.