It’s a very competitive market out there. Here are some more direct tips from SPR’s marketing team to get your book sold and seen.
Good cover design
The one greatest tool for your book marketing is a professional book cover. Without it, you will fail online, you will fail on a book stand. People do judge a book by its cover. A professional cover won’t break the bank, but it will cost a few hundred dollars. It’s essential you budget for this expense in your marketing costs. This expense, plus editing, should be the absolute essentials when self-publishing. Frankly, people seem to spend more money on quilting than authoring books, and that’s just not fair if you are going to be selling it as a product. This isn’t a hobby anymore if you are going to attempt to make money. You wouldn’t sell a quilt with unsewn edges, so don’t do it with your book!
Great keywords and categories on Amazon
If you have a great book but you have no visibility on Amazon, forget it. Amazon is used ten times more than Google to search for things to buy, and books are almost entirely searched for on Amazon. So it doesn’t matter how political you feel about small indie shops, craftsy authorship etc. – how political can it get?
If you want to be in the game, Amazon is the game.
Because there are literally millions of books on Amazon, and literally millions of users, you need to show up in the Top 20-25 books in at least one category if you are going to have a chance of not sinking into the depths of infinite digital pulp. Readers tend to buy the same books as each other, i.e. the bestsellers of that month, so while there are millions of readers, they may only buy Stephen King, JK Rowling, Gillian Morris, Lee Child… people generally buy a copy of the same twelve books, so don’t convince yourself “millions of readers, so millions of sales of all books.” So as an indie, you need to at least show up in searches to be in the running.
If nobody can fathom what your book is about from the title or the cover, give them something to chew on. Use a short synopsis and mood keywords, such as “dark” or “romantic” to boost your Amazon searchability. Amazon does not take well to double spacing or gaps after paragraphs, so keep it single-spaced, and don’t include any reviews or awards here. They can go on your Author Central Page and in Editorial Reviews. Here’s what Amazon says,
“Like the copy on the inside flap of a hardcover book, the description tells readers a bit about your eBook. You can enter a description between 30 and 4000 characters in length.”
“Smart” Social Media
Spending hours posting your book on author groups on Facebook and Linkedin is a waste of time. Golden rule at this time? FORGET FACEBOOK AND LINKEDIN. These groups cannibalize – i.e. they are dumping ground for authors to paste their work, never seen by readers. By realizing the only goal should be to get your readers to Amazon, you’ll find yourself working out ways of sharing your book page link. Using Instagram and Pinterest may work better than Facebook, if you have built up enough followers. Try using Goodreads too. Building a following of readers looking for stuff to read in their genre is more likely to occur here than just about anywhere else. Amazon owns Goodreads, and provides lots of “funnels” such as buttons and badges to trickle people to your sales page.
Face To Face
There’s nothing like selling books in person. Take to your locals! Find bookstores and festivals where you can do readings and signings. If you can promise to bring so many people, you may be able to talk shop owners into it. If not, why not get a bunch of authors together, and give a talk? Of course, afterwards everyone can buy your book. Sell to your church, temple, or mosque. See if your local library or school might buy a few copies. Go to art galleries and museums where your book might be relevant, and sell a few there, or at least get it stocked on “sale or return.” If you don’t have copies with you, get yourself a device where you can invite people to buy a copy on Amazon right there while you talk to them.
Offering your book to a book club might not sell copies flat out, but the reviews left by book club members are going to be much more thorough. A good way to ensure Verified Customer Reviews is to ask those who enjoy the free ARCs (Author Review Copies) you provide, to buy a copy before they review instead of reviewing it as an ARC. You could set a promo date where your book will be 99 cents just for them. Ask at local universities and community groups about who runs book-related events in your area. You can also try these links to find more info:
Carefully placed ads will get you a select few sales. I’m not talking about ads on Facebook. I’m talking about ads where people actually browse for books. You will need to spend at least a few hundred dollars to see any effect. We recommend the following for some ROI (Return On Investment).
Author Ad Network
Run by AMC, this is a pretty good bet for romance authors in particular. Not sure what the ROI is, but the spread of sites advertised on is pretty big. You should see some units shifting.
AMS – Amazon advertising for books
PPC (Pay per click per day) for display ads in search results or on relevant book pages. You’ll get about a $7-$10 cost per unit on these, seeing the conversion as a click.
Amazon Bestseller Mailout at SPR
We’ve been called the BookBub for Indies. We advertise and promote to a reader list sorted by genre. Guaranteed to get you sales and reviews. Gives you about a $4-$7 cost per conversion, i.e. sale/review.
These work for certain books, such as non-fiction books that are priced fairly high, for example. They are costly, with about a $15 – $45 cost per unit then hope the book catches on, so it might be worth using for specific types of books but not really for fiction or genre. The conversion can only be seen as a click to your book page too.