Self publishing can be a scary endeavor, but just as frightening sometimes is the marketing that Indie Authors have to do after they publish. I want to share some of my own marketing tips with you to help you on your journey to sell more books.
I have published five books and have gone through what you are all going through. I’ve sat at my damn computer day after day trying to put into words the sensational story swirling around in my head. When I finally had my story down on paper—and more or less coherent—I had to start with the editing. Then, to add insult to injury, once the book was published, I had to demean myself to market it. Well, maybe demean is not the right word, but I do so hate to beg. I only mention my time in the trenches so you’ll know that I’m a veteran and have the wounds to prove it.
I’m here today to relate the little of what I’ve learned over the last five years concerning marketing. And don’t fool yourself, you gotta do marketing. Even Stephen King has to market his own books. He puts $200,000.00 of his own money into advertising each of his books. He can afford that kind of budget. But the rest of us will have to work a little harder.
Most of what I’m about to convey will be old hat to some of you. And to you brand-new writers looking for a signpost or two to help you find your way, I sincerely hope what I’m about to convey helps.
Using outfits with mailing lists is a good way to go. For $30.00 or $40.00, you’ll sell some books. When I use those resources, I’ll sell a couple of hundred or so. But you can go down that route only sparingly. They let you promote a book only once every ninety days. But after the first blast, you’ve probably made most of the sales you’re gonna make anyway. A few of the best are Ereader News Today, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Book Gorilla, and Choosey Bookworm. There are others and you’ll find ’em if you look for ’em.
One last thing, you’ll want to space out using these guys because you’ll want to know who will give you the most bang for the buck. And I’m sure some of the names on their mailing lists overlap.
2) Ask for Reviews
There is no other way to say this, but ya gotta go out and beg for reviews. Reviews spur sales. Ya gotta sit at your computer at least ten hours a day—or as many hours a day as you can afford—sending out the same query letter.
The first bit of advice that I read about when my first book came out was to get the list of Amazon’s top 100 reviewers and send them an email asking for a review of your book. I did that, but I didn’t stop at one hundred. I sent out almost 400 emails. I was into the top 600 by the time I stopped.
I did get two of the top 100 to review my book and both of them were kind enough to give it five stars. Subsequently, they’ve bought my other books and gave them good reviews. And that’s good. But … for my next two books, I sent out over a hundred requests to the Amazon top reviewers, and I didn’t get one single reply. Not every reviewer has their email address on their page. So, to send out 100 query letters, you have to go through about 300 to 400 profiles. It’s a lotta work.
3) Guest Posts
Next, the book bloggers: This is where the honey is. The people that read their blogs are readers and buyers of books. These are the people you want to know about your book. You can get lists of book bloggers by googling “book bloggers.” Who would have thought?
BUT (and there is always a but), book bloggers are inundated with requests for reviews. Some get 500 requests a week. At first, I went that route asking for reviews and I got a few. But the return on my investment (my time) was slim. I’ll explain.
Once you have the lists, you have to go through them and get the link to the blogger’s page. Then you have to go to their “Policy” page to see if they are even interested in your genre. You’ll be extremely lucky if you hit 50%. Then you have to go to their “About” page and get their name…if it’s there. If it is, personalize the salutation of your “begging” email and send out your request for a review. Then you go to the next name on the list and do the searching all over again.
Whew! Makes me tired just remembering going through all that.
I did that for ten hours a day, seven days a week. I must have sent out 2,000 begging letters for each of my books. But I finally got smart. Instead of asking for a review, I offered to do a guest post or an interview. It’s a win-win. The blogger gets content and you get to promote your book.
To date, I’ve done over 600 guest posts and I’ve sold a fair number of books because of those posts.
4) One Last Thing
This has nothing to do with marketing, but it is important. When you start getting reviews, the best policy is not to respond to them. However, if you want to thank someone for a good review, I reckon that’s all right. BUT … NEVER, EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Do so at your own risk.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
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