Marketing

Poster of Sebastian Cole

2.5′ x 6′ banner in a stand, available at Staples.

After You’ve Self-Published Your Book

  • Print business cards, bookmarks, and letterhead stationery. (I use Gotprint.)
  • Create an author bio page at Goodreads and Amazon’s Author CentralBesides having an Author Central page at Amazon.com, you can create an Author Central page at their subsidiary websites in the U.K., Germany, and France. Use Google Translate to translate your bio into French and German before pasting it into those websites.
  • Enter book award contests (see list).
  • Get reviews.
    • Send advance copies of your book to major book review publications 3-4 months prior to the publication date (see list).
    • Goodreads book giveaways. (This is how I got most of my initial reviews.) You can include your book in Goodreads’ book giveaway contests up to 6 months after its publication date. Goodreads chooses the winners for you, but you send the books out. Expect to get anywhere from 500 to 2,000 people signing up to win your book each time you run a contest. You can giveaway as few or as many books as you’d like, and you can run as many contests as you’d like within the first six months. Autograph your books, include a bookmark, and write a nice note asking for a review on Goodreads and on Amazon (if they like reading it, of course). Keep the timeframe of each of your giveaways to two weeks or less. That’s because the list is sorted into Books Ending Soon and Books Recently Listed, so the majority of people will sign up immediately after you’ve listed it and right before your contest is about to end. At other times, your book could get lost in a very long list that includes thousands of books being given away.
    • Give your eBook away for free temporarily on Amazon’s KDP Select. (Your eBook must be exclusive to Amazon to qualify for this program.)  Give away thousands of eBooks for free in just a couple of days (which costs you nothing, by the way), and you’re bound to get reviews.
    • Contact bloggers who specialize in reviewing books in your genre. Google it.
    • Contact Amazon Top Reviewers. Amazon ranks customers who write reviews (with #1 being the most prolific and current). They give badges to the top reviewers, as well. Email top Amazon reviewers who gave favorable reviews to books similar to yours, and ask them if they’d like a complimentary copy of your book in exchange for an unbiased review.
    • Paid reviews
      • PW Select from Publishers Weekly. For $149, they’ll list your book in their monthly supplement of new indie books, while reviewing 25% of the books they list. There’s no guarantee that they’ll pick your book to review, however.
      • RT Book Reviews. They just recently started accepting paid reviews. Standouts will be considered for a feature in their magazine.
      • Kirkus Indie
      • ForeWord Reviews
      • Several others

Marketing Your Brand & Building Your Platform

  • Post as much as possible to your blog, social media sites, YouTube (if possible).
  • Do book signings at local bookstores and libraries.
    • Announce your events.
      • Email press releases to local newspapers (see example). Send it to yourself while blind copying them. In addition, you can broadcast a press release over the internet for free through PRLog.org.
      • Submit event info to online event calendars at websites for local newspapers, news stations, and magazines.
    • F.Y.I.: If a bookstore is collecting the money, the standard commission rate for authors is 60% of retail.
    • If you end up selling the books yourself, you’ll need a state sales tax permit to collect sales tax.
    • Make a poster or banner. It is not uncommon to have a poster on an easel next to you at a book signing. I prefer a 2.5′ x 6′ vertical banner in a banner stand, which you can get at Staples (see the image above).
    • At the event, ask if they prefer you to make it out to someone or to just sign it. Sign your name on the title page and place a bookmark there. Your bookmark — as with all printed materials — should include the name of your website.
  • Contact bloggers who reviewed your book to see if you could do author interviews, guest posts, chats, and book giveaways.
  • Get in with book clubs. On Facebook, I belong to a great group called the Long Distance Book ClubTell them Sebastian Cole sent you!
  • The best way to market yourself and gain national exposure is to enlist the services of the best free/bargain eBook websites to recommend your eBook on the same day that you’re running a promotion in which you’re either giving away your eBook for free or substantially reducing the price. With the exception of BookBubeReader News Today, and Freebooksy, most of these promotional websites are geared toward Amazon’s Kindle (not Barnes & Noble’s Nook, iTunes, or others). You have two options here: request to get your eBook mentioned on the date of your promotion without paying for it (a shot in the dark, perhaps), or pay for a guaranteed spot (if available). The beauty of paying for a sponsorship with these websites is that it appears as a recommendation from them as opposed to an advertisement from you. Expect to give away thousands of eBooks per day by combining a FREE eBook promotion with the services of the best promotional websites.
    • For only $25, I recommend giving Kindle Books and Tips a try, or book a whole month at Indie Book of the Day for only $50. If you prefer someone else to do the groundwork for you, Free & Discounted Books will submit your information to 50 different free eBook websites for $45. Pixel of Ink is an excellent resource if you can get them. Ereader News Today is also excellent. However, with over one million subscribers and growing, the biggest and the best is BookBub. If I could only choose one site, BookBub would be it by a landslide. They are the most expensive, but worth every penny!! For a comprehensive list of free and bargain eBook websites, click here. Although there are dozens (if not hundreds) of free/promotional eBook websites out there, quantity is not nearly as important as quality. Put your money into BookBub, eReader News Today, Kindle Books and Tips, and Pixel of Ink. You won’t regret it!
      • A useful tool to determine which websites have larger audiences than others is Alexa.com. (Enter a website’s name in the search box and it gives you their ranking, with #1 being the best.) This comes in handy when sifting through promotional eBook websites or blogs. Another good way of assessing a website’s reach is by looking at the number of Likes it has on its Facebook page.

Other Marketing Options

  • Hire a publicist?
  • Create a book trailer and put it on YouTube?
  • Produce an audio recording of your first chapter and put it on YouTube?
  • Get millions of hits on YouTube by posting a video that goes viral while at the same time mentioning your book? (Does this ever really happen to people like us?)
  • Sign up for a Virtual Book Tour?
  • Join the Independent Book Publishers Association (I.B.P.A.) and participate in their events (such as doing an autographing session at their booth at Book Expo America)?
  • Offer advance copies of your paperback book to independent bookstores through American Booksellers Association’s (A.B.A.) Advance Access monthly newsletter?

What’s Next

  • Start all over again. Now that you’ve gained traction, you’ve got clout with bloggers, reviewers, websites, book clubs, literary agents, etc.
  • Feel free to contact those literary agents who seemed genuinely interested the first time around. The difference is that now you’re not in the same boat as everybody else: you’re an accomplished indie author with credibility, a brand, a following, great reviews (hopefully), rewards (maybe), sales, and a solid platform to stand on.
  • Write a second manuscript.

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