10 Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors

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Many independent authors harbor a secret dream of becoming a best-seller. Yet as soon as they begin marketing their books by themselves, they gradually set this big dream aside. After all, the competition for reader attention has never been tougher. 

However, the statistics tells a different story. Over 1.68 million print and e-books were published by independent authors in 2018 in the US (source: Statista). Despite the uncertainty of success in self-publishing a book, many indie creators choose to work on their dream and share their gift, legacy, and story to as many willing readers as they can find.

As a publishing assistant, I see a lot of authors get overwhelmed by the massive task of building an author platform, attracting the right people, and persuading them that their stories matter. While there are no surefire ways to garner publicity, every self-published author needs to have an idea of what a sound marketing plan looks like.

For starters, keep these 10 essential tips in mind when creating a marketing blueprint for your book.

1. Realize that your book’s success depends on readers.

There are a lot of reasons a book will fail, but best-selling author Ryan Holiday boiled them down into six reasons in this opinion piece. If you read his post, you might find yourself nodding in agreement. He had it right in some ways. He argued that for a book to succeed, it needs to be in front of the right people and it has to compel them to care about it. 

2. Get a professional editor.

We can’t emphasize this enough. Getting a professional editor can turn an average book into a remarkable one. Unfortunately, many self-published authors skip this crucial part. To make sure you don’t ramble on your book or put a comma instead of a semicolon, do yourself a favor and hire an editor to read your work before you publish it. You want to release a well-polished book to make it easy for readers to like and endorse your work.

3. Make sure you have a good book cover.

It matters a lot more than you think. Otherwise, you could just send readers plain text from your book. Before you search for a book cover designer, find inspiration from other books you find attractive. Browse other book covers and save pictures of those covers that appeal to you. This way you will have a better idea of the kind of book cover design that suits your taste before you work with an artist.

4. Find online communities interested in your work. 

If you didn’t write your book for everyone, do not market it to everyone. Instead, try to identify the potential groups or target audience that would find your piece interesting. This can be done by social listening and searching about your book’s theme or topic on web forums and online platforms. Contribute to these active communities to build a reputation and gain permission to market your book.  

5. Create a blog.

Mark Manson, Seth Godin, Mignon Fogarty – what do these popular non-fiction authors have in common? They built successful blogs way before they published their best-selling books. They surely know that blogging helps win readers and subscribers. Used effectively, a blog can help authors foster a great relationship with readers and a powerful email list pre-launch.

6. Contribute articles to popular websites. 

Online publications are always in need of good writers. Take advantage of this sharing articles in your area of expertise. This can be a fantastic way to gain exposure and bring in new people to your author website. By contributing well-written articles to popular publishing sites, you are also building your online reputation as a thought leader. 

7. Strive to get at least 10 reviews on Amazon. 

It can be challenging to convince bloggers and other influential publications to mention or review your book if it doesn’t have at least 10 reviews on Amazon. If you don’t know how to run giveaways on Amazon (to get reviews for your book) or you simply don’t qualify for this program, companies like PR Fountain can run campaigns to encourage readers to leave honest book reviews on Amazon. Having more than 10 reviews on Amazon will entice others to grab a copy of your book or even leave a review later.

8. Get the right bloggers (and vloggers) to mention your work. 

Reaching out to bloggers for a mention or a complete review must be part of your online book marketing strategy. If you want to your book to spread like wildfire, you need influential bloggers to amplify your message. These people worked hard for years to get followers and readers so they would make a great ally in marketing your work online.

9. Choose a social channel that suits your marketing strategy.

Not every social media site will be a perfect fit for your book promotion strategy. Focus on one where your target readers usually hang out. Research the demographics of each social networking platform and decide which is most suitable for you. Before jumping on the social channel, learn as much as you can about the unofficial rules, etiquettes, and advertising opportunities. Then gradually build your following by contributing useful, high-quality, and shareable content.

10. Prepare a pitch about your book.

Think of it as an elevator speech for your book. Your book’s pitch must include a hook, a problem, a solution, and clear target readers. Write what your novel or nonfiction work is about and who it is written for. Memorize your pitch and practice it to anyone willing to listen. Get feedback about your pitch and refine it as necessary.

How many of these book marketing tips have you tried? Let us know in the comments.