You’ve done it. Your e-book is published and out there in literary cyberspace. And of course everyone will spot it immediately and snap it up, you’ll earn a legion of devoted fans and make a truckload of money. And it goes without saying it will be a best seller.
Stop! Wake up! It’s a dream, every writer’s secret dream when they publish an e-book, and it could happen, but not so easily. There are millions of new e-books published every year – how is yours going to stand out from the rest?
It’s depressing when you think of it like that, so use my classic technique in dealing with bad news – avoidance. Don’t think of it. Instead, consider it from this angle – many of the authors of these new books don’t do any marketing for a variety of reasons:
1. Their book was a labour of love, they’re enjoying the sense of achievement and making a lot of sales is a secondary consideration
2. They don’t like the idea of marketing and it’s all too hard, so they don’t bother
3. They genuinely don’t think it’s necessary and that somehow by a process of psychic transference readers will find and buy their book
Here’s the good news: If you pull out all the stops, do as much marketing in as many different arenas as you can, there’s a good chance that sooner or later, readers will find your book.
Here are some suggestions for promotion – these are all methods I’m currently using:
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. When you publish your book on Amazon you have the option of placing it in the KDP Select program for a 90 day period. Amazon promotes your book for you and you also have the option of offering it for free for 5 days out of that 90 day period.
‘Why offer it for free?’ I hear you wail, ‘when I’ve sweated blood on this novel?’ There’s a lot of evidence to show that having a free download period increases sales after it’s over. And for the purpose of popularity ranking, Amazon considers every free download as a sale. The more popular your book is, the more visible it is on the Amazon site, which increases the chances for further sales. As well, the more people who read your book, the more reviews you’ll receive, which also increases your ranking on Amazon.
Make maximum use of the free download period by getting the word out through social media, blogs and reader’s sites that post daily lists of free e-books. There’s an abundance of such sites – here’s some of them listed on Galley Cat to start you off.
Create a book trailer. This is something that requires some technical know-how and if you don’t have it, it could be expensive to pay someone to do it. Being a total non-geek myself, I’m lucky to have a partner who has some skill in this area. Here’s the trailer he created for me. Place your trailer on your website, on YouTube, on your author page at Amazon, your Facebook page and everywhere else you can think of.
Media releases for online and print media. This is an effective way of getting the word out, if you can think of an angle concerning your book that would interest the public, rather than just announcing the publishing of your book. For example, I wrote a short article for my local newspaper, in which I wrote about how quick and inexpensive it is to self-publish a book now compared to a few years ago. I included a few tips on the publishing process and at the end put a link to my book on Amazon.
There are many online press release services. Some are free, listed here and some paid, such as PR Web. Mark Coker of Smashwords has written a comprehensive guide to press release services and also how to write one, in his free e-book The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide. Many of the online press release sites offer their own guides on writing press releases.
Creative Penn has a very useful post on creating your author press kit.
Be creative. You could march down the street wearing a sandwich board advertising your book, or you could pay someone $5 to do it for you. (Hmm hard choice, isn’t it?) On Fiverr, people of all skills (and there are some very left of centre skills) will do just about anything you want for $5 – you can easily wile away a few hours just checking them all out. The fee starts at $5 for basic services and increases for more complex jobs. I paid $50 for this mock-up press release.
There are many more methods of promotion that I haven’t mentioned yet, some of which I have yet to try myself. I’m in the process of compiling an e-book on what I’ve learned so far about marketing. It will go into more detail about the methods I’ve mentioned here – for example, it will include a comprehensive list of submission sites for your free e-book. It will also include other marketing methods, such as virtual book tours, word of mouth (often overlooked, but very powerful), book reviews, author profiles and much more.
Do you have any ideas not mentioned here? I'd love to hear them.