What is marketing? I’m not sure I even know anymore. You may or may not consider the things on this list marketing. I mostly don’t, since I’m no longer interested in engaging in marketing, but these are the things I’m still doing. Check out Book Marketing Part 1 to learn why I’ve quit marketing. Also see Book Marketing Part 2 and Book Marketing Part 3 to review the types of book marketing that I’ve tried but that didn’t work for me.
There are a couple of main ways that normal (non-author) people pick books to read. One way that people choose a book is by browsing directly on an ebookstore such as Amazon. Yes, people do that. Another way people choose books is through email alerts from third-party, book-recommending services, such as Bookbub. These two ways of reaching people seem to have the highest payback for the lowest time investment. Most of the things that help me sell books target these two ways of reaching people.
Ten Things that have Helped Me Sell Books
(listed in order of importance)
Your cover is the #1 thing that will draw people to your book on an ebookstore or in an advertising email. Get feedback from honest people during the design process.
Your blurb needs to sell your book once someone clicks on the cover. Again, get feedback from people who are going to be honest with you.
It seems Amazon uses the title as your most important key words. So when someone searches for something – if your book is called that – your book will be displayed higher on the search results. For instance, I have a book that’s called “Science Fiction Short Stories”. It gets a disproportionate number of downloads and I think it’s because of keywords.
Category & Keywords
You get to choose two categories when you upload your ebook to https://kdp.amazon.com.The categories you choose on Amazon are SO important. This is how many people will find your book in the ebookstore. Every book is placed into at least two categories when you set your book up. But you can ask KDP to place your book into additional categories by using the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of the page. Be specific about what categories you’d like added and ask politely. I’ve found that a :) goes a long way with Amazon employees in getting what you want. The more categories your book is in, the more people will see it when they’re browsing Amazon.
At first glance, it appears that Amazon only allows for seven keywords. However, you can add many more keywords simply by not placing a comma between each word. Enter all the words someone would search for when looking for a book like yours.
***Write the Next Book***
I believe this is the most important advice I can give. I have 28 books published so far. If someone reads one of my books and likes it, they may buy many more of my books. If you only have one or two books out there, you’re not giving any potential fans the chance to read more!
Give Away Some Books for Free
Nothing gets people’s attention like free! When you give away a book for free, you introduce potential fans to your writing. Someone is much more likely to take a risk on an unknown author if the book is free. The best model is to have a series of at least five books and price the first book at free. Then, once someone reads and enjoys your first book, they will buy the rest of the series.Setting the price to free on Amazon isn’t as easy as one might think. Amazon has no setting for pricing a book at $0.00. There are two ways to make your book free on Amazon.
Enroll your book in Amazon Select. This is a promotion program that lets you give your book away for free for five days every three months. The catch about being in Amazon Select is that you cannot have your book on any other ebook retailers.
The other option is to sell your books at other ebook retailers and set your price free there. I use Smashwords to distribute my books to Kobo and iTunes and a variety of other ebook retailers. Then contact Amazon, using the ‘Contact Us’ link at the bottom of the kdp page, and ask them to price match.
Back matter is what you include in the back of your book. If someone likes your book, right when they finish reading it is the best time to influence them to buy more of your books. In the back of your book, put links to your other books, an excerpt from one of your other books and a link to sign up for your newsletter.
Reviews inform people about the quality of your book. Reviews are also vital for when you try to advertise on Bookbub – more about that later. You should aim to get at least ten reviews.
You can ask friends for reviews or you can try to connect with strangers who agree to write a review in exchange for a free copy of the book or you can join a review group on Facebook. This is how the review groups on Facebook work: you read a book and leave an honest review. Then someone else reads your book and leaves an honest review. If you’re interested in review groups, friend me on Facebook and ask to join and I’ll add you to three good review groups that I participate in.
An email list is also beneficial for getting reviews. I use Mailchimp to deliver emails to people who have subscribed.
Advertise on ENT, Robin Reads and Book Bub
There are many book-recommending services where you could advertise your books. Currently some of the best options are:
It’s great to stay connected with other authors, especially others that are experimenting with new marketing ideas. That way, you don’t have to try everything but can, instead, learn from the experience of others. There are many groups on Facebook that are useful in this way. My favorite is Clean Indie Reads.
I’ve come to realize that making people read what I write, making sales happen – that’s not my part. My part is to obey God’s call on my life. I feel that He’s calling me to write more than I am – more than I ever have. So I need to spend the majority of my work time on writing. And I need trust God that he can do whatever he wants to with my stories.
God can bless what you’re doing even if you do no marketing at all. My husband and I do zero marketing for the iPhone and iPad apps that we develop and God is giving us our living through that.
The most important thing in writing, as with all areas of life, is to listen to what God is telling you to do and to be obedient to that.
I’d love to hear about your experience and what has worked for you. Comments welcome.