Once you’ve written it and it’s up on Amazon it’s not over. If you’re fortunate to have a publisher they will do a lot of the marketing for you. But even well-known authors have to devote time and energy on PR and marketing through signings, personal appearances, social media etc. If you’re self-published all this is down to you, although you may find a helping hand through writer’s cooperatives like LWG.
Currently there are over 32 million books on Amazon. If it’s published and you do nothing you will be lucky to get a handful of sales. The average self-published book sells about 200 copies in a lifetime and 90% will sell less than 50. That may be the limit of your ambition, but most authors write because they want to be read. Spreading awareness of your book takes time, effort and, if you feel inclined, a small investment.
Amazon has cornered the market for self-published books and those from small publishers. There is little point in trying other online services or physical bookshops unless you achieve some success on Amazon. Focus your efforts.
Books on Amazon will not sell well without reviews. The best way to start is by word of mouth – through family, friends, work colleagues, clubs etc. Try to get a handful of good reviews from these sources before broadening your activity. Amazon can be choosy about showing reviews. Ideally they should be from verified Amazon purchases and read as real reviews – not general flattery. Self-reviews are not allowed and those that can easily be identified as from family or friends will be disqualified.
Facebook. Unless you have hundreds or thousands of friends you will want to join groups where you can post information about your book with a link to Amazon. (Try booklinker.com to get short and meaningful hyperlinks to your book pages.)
There are a few general groups of readers and booklovers you can join, but it’s probably best to be specific on genre. e.g. search for groups on crime fiction or poetry.
Don’t be ashamed to promote your own book, but don’t overdo it. Twice a week is plenty. Rely on shares and likes to expand coverage.
Twitter. In my experience Twitter performs better than Facebook for marketing books. However, I takes time to build up followers if you’re starting from scratch. Follow others with similar and interests e.g. readers of crime novels or poetry lovers. Use #crime #thriller #romance #humour #WritingCommunity #bookreview #amwriting etc. in your tweets.
Try to get your book reviewed by book bloggers. There are thousands out there and many of them are free. Search for genre-specific bloggers. If you manage to get reviews/blog mentions then often you will be invited to write guest blogs related to your book. E.g. your process of writing, research, own experience etc.
Use these blogs to promote your book. They will be more attractive than a simple self-promotion.
OWN WEBSITE / BLOG
Pros: If you have a few books to promote and/or have something interesting to say about yourself, your genre or creative writing then producing your own website (blogs normally included with a website package) can be worthwhile. It will demonstrate that you are a serious writer and including your website link in social media posts can add gravitas.
Cons: Not cheap. It will cost about £150 per year to create and host a website. If it is to be successful then it should be dynamic with regular new postings.
If you are enrolled in KDP Select (i.e. your book is exclusive to Amazon) you can offer deals on your book to attract attention.
Free Kindle – you can offer your Kindle book free on Amazon for 5 days in a 90 day period.
Kindle Countdown – offer your book at a reduced price for a limited number of days.
AMAZON SPONSORED ADS
You have to pay for this and can set your daily budget from $1. Choose relevant keywords, author names, book titles etc. that will make your book appear in the sponsored ads below a displayed book. e.g. choose: horror, murder, Stephen King, fright, zombie etc. for a horror book. You should use at least 200 keywords and for each set a price per click - $0.10, $0.15, 0.25 etc. You will be charged each time your book is clicked.
You can get daily reports from AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) on clicks, sales etc. so you can adjust keywords used and price per click.
PAID MARKETING SERVICES
There are lots of these and most are useless. A couple that might work OK are:
Circle of Books – for $10 you get a book page on their site and daily tweets for one month to 50k approx. of their followers. They will create tweets for you from information you provide.
BooksGoGlobal – they offer a number of services including daily tweets to 180k followers, emails to 150k subscribers, Facebook ads and a listing on NetGalley. NetGalley is a way of getting reviews for new or soon to be published books from professional reviewers. Beware – these may not always be favourable, but if you’re confident it’s another way of getting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
To use the NetGalley service you will need to have a .mobi version of your book to email them. (.mobi is the file format used on Kindle. You can convert from Word documents to .mobi format using free software called Calibre – free download at calibre-ebook.com.)
This is the most effective marketing tool, but it’s expensive. You must also have 8+ reviews on your book on Amazon. It’s also difficult to get advertising slots on BookBub and they are more responsive to publishers than self-published authors. (LMP note.)
You can choose to advertise to the US only, International only (UK, Aus, Canada, India) or All=global coverage. Price depends on book price, genre and coverage. e.g. Crime, 99p book, International = £175; Crime, £1.99 book, International = £262; Crime, £1.99 book, All = £1,460.
BookBub claim you can expect sales in the hundreds. e.g. Crime, 99p book, International = 820 average sales.
Goodreads is an Amazon site and exposure on here can help sales. The checking of reviews on here is not as strict as Amazon.
You can also offer a Goodreads Givewaway to generate interest in your book from $119.
Finally, good graphic images can help your promotional activities. BookBrush (bookbrush.com) is an easy-to-use graphic package designed for book ads on social media.
There is a free option and a premium option (includes creating videos) for $8 per month.