In the digital age, self-publishing is a viable way to publish your book and get it into the hands of a lot of readers. There are several self publishing strategies you can use to help build your author platform and market your book successfully.
Whether you are just starting your self-publishing career or your writing career is somewhat established, as a writer, you’re always looking to reach more readers. Expanding your marketing strategy is an effective way to generate more sales and publicity.
Self-published authors and indie authors need marketing knowledge to promote themselves and their work because they don’t have the help from a publisher or PR team to get their name out there. Without proper marketing, even the best and brightest writing will fall flat if it’s just thrown out into the world without a good marketing strategy.
Book marketing is more than creating a blog post or two that showcases what you are working on. Marketing a book can take just as much effort as writing a book, and it usually takes a significant portion of a self-publishing budget. Marketing should be considered an investment into your book; without it, you’re unlikely to see much commercial success or a return on your writing efforts.
Consistent book sales and a writing career will come from creating genuine fans of your work–and you as an author! In turn, these fans can create solid user-generated content–such as book reviews, recommendations, or fan art.
The best part about self-publishing is that you have complete control to promote your book on whatever marketing channels you deem beneficial to sell books.
Self Publishing Strategies
So, where should you get started to become a successful self-publisher?
There are several strategies that you should implement before you begin writing. It’s an important step to know who you are writing books for, and you can use that information to know who you are marketing to–this is also known as your target audience.
Know your target audience
A target audience is defined as “the demographic in which a book, film, or product is advertised to.”
Once you narrow down your target audience, you can start generating a book marketing strategy that is effective for your book’s success.
Marketing only works if you know who would be interested in your product.
You can think about it from the viewpoint of genre–which age group or niche is most likely to read a book about a human falling in love with a vampire?
Even though Stephanie Meyer has reached many, many people of all backgrounds and ages with her novels, she was primarily marketing to readers who were fans of Young Adult (YA) romance when Twilight was released in 2008.
Twilight centers on a heroine at the peak of her adolescence, and as much as Twilight is a fantasy book, it’s also a coming-of-age book. That’s a massive market for YA, which made it a hit for book sales in that area.
Knowing who will react positively to your book is a key aspect of starting the writing process because it branches out to all other areas you will cover before it officially hits shelves.
Your genre will point you to where your future audience gathers on the internet, what your cover should look like, and how you decide to market your book.
Make an author website
An author’s website is a great way to have one central place for your readers to know all about you.
Self-publishers can take advantage of the traffic an author’s website can bring, especially because traffic usually leads to more fans and sales.
For example, let’s say a reader finds you through a hashtag or guest post and wants to know more about your upcoming book.
A website is a perfect place to house information such as your author bio, upcoming book, any links to press releases or blog posts about your work, and so much more.
If you’re thinking about creating a website for yourself but don’t know what to include, here are some tips to get you started:
- Author bio
- Information about your current book (synopsis, character renders, cover images, etc.)
- Brief descriptions of your past works
- Links to blogs or articles you’ve written (if you were a freelancer or published in any magazines!)
- Links to major retailers where your work can be purchased
- Social media handles
- Blog posts/updates
- Reviews and testimonials from influencers or fans
- Newsletter subscription box
- Contact information
In addition to the information you host on your author website, it’s also essential to make sure it’s easy to navigate and read.
Nothing will make a potential fan click off a website faster than if it takes too long to load or the formatting is so messy they can’t read it.
Pick a nice, clean layout that makes it easy to navigate to all the essential categories of your websites to draw those who are visiting to click through and learn more.
Utilize social media marketing
Social media marketing is a great way to get information out there and into the world. Everyone today has their phone in their hands, looking at what the rest of their friends and celebrity crushes are talking about.
Likewise, with the rise of influencer and blogger opinions that sway the masses, there’s no reason not to try and get them talking about what makes your book the one readers will want to buy.
Many films, books, and shows become relevant because of the power of word-of-mouth.
In the publishing industry, this remains true, as well. To create a loyal following, you have to get people talking about your book release.
For example, those who like reading will most likely follow book blogs or the hashtag #bookstagram on Instagram. This is where your target audience comes back into play–try to figure out what platforms they frequent the most and make sure you post content up there for new and returning readers.
Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Medium, Pinterest, or WordPress, you can target your marketing content to each platform.
You can even cross-promote on platforms and make it, so each of your social media sites has ample content for all your readers.
However, it’s best not to spread yourself too thin. In the beginning, it’s okay to start strong with one or two websites or pages and then branch out from there.
Pay attention to what gets the most reactions from readers–for example, if your Facebook page doesn’t get that many hits, but your Twitter is filled with interactions, it’s okay to leave Facebook by the wayside.
Make consistent content
If you’re looking to grow your social media following, the first favor you can do yourself is to post content consistently.
How does it make you feel when you go on an Instagram profile, and they have a ton of quality posts with nice captions and a consistent theme? It only makes sense to try and use some of those same marketing tactics when creating an Instagram profile for your upcoming book.
If you’re not used to creating a steady presence, try setting a smaller goal for yourself first.
Try posting an update on your social media every week with something new–whether it’s a picture, a quote from your book, or a guest post.
As you get more comfortable, you can increase posting to twice or three times a week.
The key is to be more active on social media so that others will continue to want to see what you have to say about your book or anything else you are doing to promote your book.
Hashtags–particularly on Instagram and Twitter–are a great way to get your content noticed by the people looking for it.
Once it realizes a person is interested in a particular category of posts, the Instagram algorithm will sometimes show a user something they may also be interested in but haven’t looked at yet–which could be something to do with your book!
You can use a specific hashtag for your book or your author name or use an umbrella category of different hashtags that are relevant to your book.
Make sure to be consistent once you start, that way, if someone wants to find the place where all of your user-generated content is held, all they have to do is follow your hashtags.
Here are a few examples of hashtags you can put under your posts to draw traffic or likes:
A successful self-published author will connect with their community of readers on a deeper level than just talking about their works to generate sales.
Try to think of your social media accounts as places where your brand is displayed and a community is built. You don’t want only to push readers only to buy your book so you can make a profit. Building long-term relationships, which take effort, will pay off in the long run.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to tell all your secrets on your author website or social media account. But readers will enjoy someone who they can relate to as a person.
Some ideas to connect with your readers are to post about:
- Fellow authors you admire
- Book you are currently reading
- If you enjoy a particular drink from a coffee shop
- Or you start every morning out with a short yoga session,
These are interesting facts to include about yourself–alongside your ability to write books, of course!
Another good way to promote your new release is to host a giveaway. Not only will this drive traffic to your sites, but it’s also an excellent way to get people talking and reading your book.
ARC’s, or Advanced Reader Copies, are great for building interest and excitement because everyone will love the opportunity to read a novel before it hits shelves.
Promoting ARC giveaways can be accomplished by using one of the methods below. Try one of these methods for fans to enter the giveaway:
- Liking a post or posts
- Commenting on a post
- Following your account(s) (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
- Subscribing to your mailing list
- Liking other influencer’s/author’s accounts
Or a combination of some sort!
Make sure to clearly state the entry rules of your giveaway to avoid any confusion–including how to enter, the date and time of the start and end, what is going to be given away, how many winners there will be, and what you will need from the winner to get them their prize.
A tactic that works well is when you ask your followers to tag friends that would be interested in your book as well. Then you potentially can bring in more people who would be interested in your book.
Talk to influencers or book bloggers
Influencers are great if you are looking to spread the word about your book quickly.
Some influencers will have built their platform around sharing their opinion and helpful information with their following. If they begin talking about your book, some of those followers may come to your blog and check out your book.
Even though you may not be reaching as far as A-list celebrities initially, micro-influencers are a great, powerful corner of the internet that can bring traffic to your book.
Connect with other self-publishing authors
An essential part of reaching out and being active within your community is getting to know other authors!
A simple way to do this is to be consistent in commenting on other people’s posts.
The more your name is seen within the bubble of your niche, the more likely people are to come to your social media pages and follow you.
If you’re a debut author, you can look for others who have just started and are trying to grow their audience just as you are. It can be mutually beneficial to have a person that understands the struggles and rewards of self-publishing.
You can also develop these relationships off social media.
Such as making connections with local authors within your city or state by going to conferences, book events, or readings.
Think about your design
Design is pertinent for both print and digital formats of your book.
Even though the saying stands as “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” it’s often the thing that draws us to it! If you have a great cover, readers are more likely to click on it when browsing online or pick it up on a shelf and flip it over to see the synopsis.
In short, don’t skimp on your cover design. Make sure it accurately projects what the book is going to be about on the inside.
Likewise, you can choose to go for something more abstract that makes people wonder about the story inside.
It’s up to you because ultimately you hold the reigns for how you want to approach your book design. You can take influence from other books within your genre as inspiration.
In addition to the outside of your book, think about the inside as well!
Take some time to make sure your font is readable and neat, your headers and footers are aligned, and your typeface for each different section is consistent throughout the work.
Successful Self-Publishing Authors
Below is the list of some successful self-published authors and their books:
- Andy Weir: The Martian
- Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
- Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin: The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep
- Christopher Paolini: Eragon
- EL James: 50 Shades of Grey
- Howard Matthews: Chronicles of Brother Hermitage
- Irma S. Rombauer: The Joy of Cooking
- Lisa Genova: Still Alice
- LJ Ross: Holy Island
- Margaret Atwood: Double Persephone
- Mark Twain: Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
- Rachel Abbott: Only The Innocent
- Robert Kiyosaki: Rich Dad, Poor Dad
- Stephen King: People, Places, and Things
- Wayne Dyer: Your Erroneous Zones
Book marketing is essential for self-published authors.
While the publishing process can be daunting on its own, creating a steady following and promoting your book properly can also feel just as nerve-wracking–if not more!
You can grow an audience around your works by being active on social media–post consistently, comment on others’ posts, reach out to authors within your genre, and make sure you are genuine and engaging with your interactions.
By including some of these tips in your book marketing strategies, you’ll start to develop your author platform and be well on your way to your business goals when it comes to selling your work and creating a loyal following.