Marketing was always important for selling books and getting new authors in front of readers. Due to the ease of publishing on Amazon Kindle eBook marketing for independent authors has become even more important.
But where to start? I have published one e-book, a travel guide, and in many ways getting in front of my audience was easy. I had been running a website and a forum on the topic for ten years. My email newsletter, at that time, went out to 8,000 subscribers.
For this post, I want to consider how a lesser known author can get their book in front of readers. I am going to lay out a plan for an author I know in a genre that I don’t know at all – William King in the genre of fantasy.
In the following, I am going to try and identify the areas to target with the highest ROI in the shortest time frame.
I am a huge fan of “free” sources. Setting up your own blog is not free if done right, but can still be fairly cheap.
Five Areas to Blog About
- Own books
- Target market’s habits
- Other authors’ books
- Family, life, opinions
- Guest post or interview
1. Own books
A great blog post on each book when published or a series of blog posts leading up to publish is a no-brainer. If you have any audience already, it is worth getting them involved. The book is usually written before the book cover is designed. This is an opportunity to poll current readers, whether on the blog, social, or newsletter and ask for their vote on which cover wins.
This opens the possibility of the information being shared and building up anticipation of your book.
2. Target market’s habits
My travel book’s audience is easy to identify – people walking the Camino de Santiago. But what about the attributes of those reading fantasy fiction? It is likely that their characteristics are similar to the author.
I expect these to include:
- Online gaming – such as RPG, Skyrim, World of Warcraft
- Fantasy TV shows & films – think Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Supernatural
- Create a persona with as many traits you can list
3. Other authors’ books
I don’t know of any group of people that read more than authors, maybe academics. I suggest writing reviews of books you enjoyed – do not write negative reviews of books that you did not enjoy.
Reviews, to get noticed, need to be meaty, a three hundred word fluffy post won’t cut it. Publish the review and add to your social media accounts.
Then email the author with the URL of the review. Ask them to share it, if they like it. Truth be told, most of us are going to share positive reviews – everywhere…
4. Family, life, opinions
I found it strangely unsettling that people Googled me, followed me on Facebook, and are interested in other topics that I write about.
Sharing opinions about life, writing, family, politics, anything really are all valid blog posts.
Why I found this unsettling is surprising as I have read more about authors I like.
5. Guest post or interview
Every author has their own mailing list and following.
But imagine harnessing the following of 10 or 20 authors in your niche? Your email list would multiply by 10, social media by 10… you get the idea.
Another area to target with a high ROI is by making friends.
I simply find it enough to just ask authors in the same niche if they want to swap blog posts, now or in the future.
Where to start?
Amazon shows a list of other authors that your customers are also reading. This is a win-win for all concerned, both authors and readers.
I believe for authors like Bill this area could provide a great return on time invested.
Try interviews instead of a blog post, this has the advantage of showing you know something about the other author by the questions you ask.
Newspaper Website or Blog Article Writing
I was taken to dinner once in Glasgow by an author. She had been asked by one of the Scottish newspapers to write a review of a restaurant. Food was paid for and it was a paid gig by the newspaper for writing the review.
It takes either a bit of time or a bestselling book to get these offers from national papers.
The traditional route is accepting writing gigs often unpaid for local papers, or websites, and working your way up the chain to bigger and better gigs.
There are also many websites like the Huffington Post where authors can be published – but you are writing for free – or publicity.
Other ideas are writing for gaming sites, gaming review sites, author review site. There will be opportunities for all authors in all niches. Look for a website with high traffic, large Facebook groups or large email lists.
Email Marketing List
Independent authors doing their own marketing need to keep learning curves as short and low as possible. That is why I recommend MailChimp. It is easy to setup, free for up to 2,000 subscribers, and has many plugins for WordPress – the blogging platform of choice.
The conversion rate of social media and SEO are way behind email marketing. Though those are often the way of getting people onto your list in the first place.
Send a newsletter once a week or every two weeks, once a month is not often enough for brand recognition – and you are your brand.
Author Info Websites
Brand yourself. Whenever anyone searches for your name, it is ideal that your results take all or most of Google’s first page results.
Most importantly fill in your Amazon author page. Don’t just copy and paste from your About Page on your website. Write a decent amount – this is often a surprising problem for authors. If you find it difficult, ask someone else to write this for you.
Claim your books on GoodReads
Then add your profile to all the usual social profiles. Try keeping the handle same across platforms. You can check the availability of your chosen handle here. http://knowem.com/
There is a huge number of author listing sites – see this page – https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/18-top-websites-to-promote-your-book-for-free/
These profile sites are useful in two ways: they help the ranking of your blog as you will list your domain on all of these, and they will show when people search for you. They may be only slightly useful from a marketing standpoint.
Social media is no longer free. If you want your posts in front of all your followers, you will have to pay each time. It can still be worthwhile.
As a matter of course I add all the articles that I write to various social accounts. However, the best results on social are usually via influencers posting your content to their feeds.
Identify who they are, or who they could be, and once again make friends.
Advertizing can get expensive, and the main problem with author advertising by pushing the user to Amazon is the lack of tracking data. I can advertise my book on all the following platforms, but I cannot measure which works best unless I run only one ad on one platform at a time.
These are a few good options for starting authors: Remarketing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Adwords.
Remarketing is advertising directly to users where you have collected their data.
For independent authors, I would keep search engine optimisation as simple as possible.
- Write long on your own blog. Long and less often is much better than short and often
- Have your domain listed in as many places as possible – decent places, think sites that you wouldn’t mind sharing
- Engage an SEO consultant to setup your site and give you some basic guideline
Why bother with SEO?
Having good SEO, links, and text, means that your content has the chance of ranking on Google. This is important if you decide to write reviews, personal opinions, interviews of other authors, etc. Without a strong website, your writing will not appear in Google’s search results.
Own Amazon Affiliate Account
Amazon post me a cheque every few months for affiliate commissions. There are various links in the review blog posts I have published. This is a small amount, maybe a thousand or two each year, but it is worth the small effort involved.
So the next time you send out a newsletter with your next book add your affiliate link. This does not work on Facebook or most other social accounts very well.
Own Blog Organisation
I will often buy a book that is cheap or free and five or ten years old when it is the first in a series. Like many, I end up reading the whole series.
For me, the most annoying part of this is that many authors’ websites do not list the titles in series groups in publication order.
Please do this. Any friction when choosing a book can quickly lead to a lost sale not only of one book but a whole series.
Inside Your Published Book
At the start of your book, I suggest listing your website and list a page where the reader can sign up for free books, mini books, and more information.
At the end of the book I would add the same information again and a list of all books in that series. For example, I would add something like – this is book 4 in the XXX series, below is the rest of the series in publication order. Make all these links clickable to Amazon.
In this post, I have tried to look at e-book marketing for independent authors from a different angle and not rehash the already great information available.
I suggest these other websites for great information and list on traditional ebook marketing:
- Great post from Sabrina on Strategies and Tools
- Free websites to help promote your book
- This post is a list of good websites run by authors – a lot of author websites could do with a makeover
I would love to hear your thoughts below.