Here are five tips on how to promote your self-published book.
The title of this post should be credited because I have been asked how to market a self-published book or how to promote a book, so many times.
I won’t, however, because it would end up being a very long list of credits.
So I apologize to all those who have asked me these two questions. But I doubt you will be upset that I haven’t mentioned you by name.
What is book promotion?
Always remember that any publicity is good publicity.
There are hundreds of free and paid ways to promote a book or ebook.
But in answering the question, I will focus on the basics, and proven ways to spread the word and attract potential book buyers’ attention to help you gain book sales.
To put things into context first, here is one clear way of thinking about how to promote a self-published book.
Book promotion is designed to get people to find your book, and NOT, to find people to get your book.
With that said, let’s look at ways of promoting your book and getting people to find you as an author, and your books, of course.
Gaining organic traffic from Google or Bing search for your blog is, by far, the most powerful way to promote your book.
Readers who find your website or blog by Google or Bing search are much more likely to be interested in your book topic, genre or themes because these factors are what they are searching for and how they find you.
However, you really need to have a website or blog with a .com address to gain a reasonable amount of search traffic.
I am not precisely sure why a .com address works better than .net or country codes such as .co.uk, .fr or .ca for example.
While I’m not an SEO expert, I have the feeling that country code domains may be geo-targeted by search engines, so it restricts indexing.
All I do know for sure is that after having changed three of my sites to a .com domain, the resulting increase in traffic for each site has been remarkable.
I can only presume from experience that Google and Bing give preference to .com addresses.
After changing my Just Publishing Advice address to .com, my daily traffic is now more than ten times what it was before I changed, and it continues to grow organically every day.
On the same thought, free blog and websites such as Google’s Blogger, WordPress (free), Weebly and Wix gain very little organic traffic, so they are far less beneficial for promotion.
But, they are free, and if you can’t afford a hosted website, they are definitely better than nothing to attract potential readers.
If you have a website or blog, always remember to put a link to it on all your social media accounts, and add it to your email signature. You can also use your blog to help build your mailing list.
Even if you don’t have a blog, you can still attract attention by guest posting on other blogs as part of your book marketing strategy.
Related Reading: 17 Book Promotion Ideas You Can Do In Ninety Minutes
2. Social media, yeah, yeah
Social media is a must to promote your book or short stories, but it can be extremely time-consuming.
If you aim to write and sell books, then use your social media platform judiciously because it can easily become a huge time waster.
Limit your social media exposure to only a couple of popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, for example.
Don’t spend hours each day posting your Amazon buy link, as this will only serve to drive people away.
Use social media to connect, communicate, reply and inform, and of course, hopefully, attract followers. Use it to spread your author name, not to continually advertise your books.
Think of social media as a spider web, and continue to make it a little larger every day by following some people, making new friends and extending your reach.
Concentrate on building your presence on only one or two social media sites, and not on every single one available.
Very importantly, however, make sure you use lots of image links to attract a better click-through rate for your promotion on social media.
People are now well trained by Facebook and Twitter to click on images rather than text links, and especially so for phone and tablet users.
So, always use images to promote your book and blog posts to encourage people to read your book.
If you are spending more than an hour per day on social media trying to promote your books, stop! Limit your time and get back to writing a new book.
If you really want to maximize your social media reach, but spend far less time in achieving it, you might want to consider automating your blog for social media posting and book promotion.
3. Forget that everything is for free
If you are serious about wanting to prepare and promote your book, whether self-published or published with a small press, you will have to pay at some stage for certain services.
If you are building an email list, services such as Mailchimp are only free for a very small number of contacts. As you grow, you will need to pay a monthly charge.
You might consider hiring an editor or a proofreader.
When you publish your book, you will need to select two genre categories and seven keywords.
Your selection will be critical to your chances of success as these will enable readers to find your title using the Search feature on Amazon and other retailers.
You can do your research for your selections by using Amazon or Google.
But for real-time access to Amazon buyer data, you might consider using dedicated software such as Publisher Rocket to make your category and keyword selections.
At the very least, you should use a premium writing correction tool to help you prepare your manuscript.
Grammarly is the first choice for a lot of writers.
However, another option for authors is Prowritingaid, which is less expensive and is particularly suited to working on long documents such as manuscripts.
If you are of the mind that everything should be free when marketing your book, well good luck, but making money doesn’t work like that.
Nothing much ever comes for free, especially a profit.
You don’t need to break the bank, but you should certainly consider paying for a great cover. (How many times have I said that?)
Homemade covers are the absolute worst way to promote your title because they scream unprofessional and poor quality cover design.
If you can’t afford anything else, save up and get a fantastic book cover.
Think of it this way.
A great cover might help sell a poor book, but a poor cover will never help sell a great book.
Great covers sell books! Homemade covers are an instant buyer turn off.
Remember that your cover will end up being indexed by Google and Bing image search, so what better way to attract buyers than with a fantastic cover?
A poor cover will fail to take advantage of this opportunity.
So forget about using your expertise in creating a below-average cover using Microsoft Word, and spend a little money on a professional book cover.
4. Buy affordable book promotion
You can’t do it all by yourself.
Most authors, especially new authors, have a small online footprint. So paying to have your publicity spread much further makes good sense.
There are many free and paid promotion sites, and it is worth registering with some of them. But you don’t have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for effective promotion.
Just Publishing’s sister site, Whizbuzz Books, offers very affordable book promotion for one year for exposure to over half a million Twitter users, as well as on Facebook, Pinterest, Flipboard, and LinkedIn on its website.
Yes, it’s a plug, but compared to other promotion sites, it represents extremely good value for money.
Another viable promotion tool is Facebook Ads. Be careful, though, as it can become very expensive to advertise your book on Facebook.
Facebook Ads are good for launching a new book, but never expect that your investment in ads will be recouped in sales.
A more cost-effective way to use Facebook Ads is to attract Likes to your Author Page. If you are a new author, investing in page Likes is a very good way to increase your online presence.
Added to the fact is that you can sell your books directly from your Facebook Page, so building up Likes is definitely going to gain more potential buyers.
Again, invest wisely and don’t chase dreams of becoming a bestselling author in five minutes. A few hundred page Likes is normally enough to attract more free organic Likes.
For a new title you’ve written, you might want to consider an online book tour. But check what you get for your money carefully before you commit.
5. Offer a free series starter
For some authors, this may mean writing a new book or two. But in today’s ebook, Internet, digital-driven marketplace, free series starters are a proven winner when it comes to book promotion.
Never think about how many ebooks you give away as lost sales. Think about the fact that every ebook you give away is a potential means of attracting a new ebook buyer.
If your free series starter book trailer or book description grabs readers, every free copy you give away will help you sell more ebooks.
Perhaps you could offer your ebook to an online book club. You never know!
Make absolutely sure, though, that your free series starter is complete with links to the rest of the books in the series.
Draft2Digital can help in this regard as they offer automated updating of other titles in a series.
Summary of how to promote your book
Of all the tips above, I believe that a free series starter is the most cost-effective promotion tool a self-published author can have.
It costs nothing, and it will be promoting your book day in and day out on all your retailers.
If you don’t have a series, free ebook campaigns on Amazon with KDP Select or other retailers from time to time can similarly help in attracting new readers.
If you have published a printed book, you could also consider offering copies to a local book club. You never know, the members might like to meet you for a book signing!
Promoting your book will take a lot of effort. But if you combine the tips I have mentioned, you will have most of the important promotional bases covered.
Looking through long lists of free promotion and advertising opportunities can chew away at your time. But there are many time and cost-effective ways you can boost your book promotion. So consider what is important to you.
For most authors, it is your valuable writing time.
If you pay a little for web hosting, advertising, book promotion, and, most importantly, book covers, it is money very well invested. But, of course, always invest wisely.
Related reading: 20 Ways to promote your book in 10 minutes