Promoting self published books and ebooks in an already crowded and competitive market is hard work. Unless you can get your book featured in The New York Times next week, it will take patience, a lot of work and of course a dose of old fashioned good luck to get anywhere near the top of the tree. While some self publishers have resorted to what could be described as annoying, bordering on badgering social media techniques in their pursuit of success, I thought I might look at more positive approaches to self promotion and marketing of self published titles.
One vital point to make here is that effective promotion and marketing serves the purpose of attracting people to your product and then leaving any further decisions up to them. It doesn't involve two way communication, which then by definition would be selling.
I should make it clear from the outset though that I do not class myself as a successful author or guru on marketing. However, I have used all of the following ideas at one time or another to help build my readership over a number of years. While my book sales do not afford me champagne and caviar every evening, they do provide me with a side income, which grows steadily each month.
Use a Facebook Page. I made the mistake of using my personal Facebook profile for too long before realising my error. Keep your personal life away from your book marketing and set up a Facebook Page. It's more professional and much easier to manage.
Always be positive and polite. It doesn't matter in what form your communication takes. Whether it be posting on Twitter, Facebook or another social platform, never be negative. Even if you receive a terrible review or are insulted, do not react. Ignore, and block that user. Keep what you post friendly, informative, complimentary and of course, also add news or interesting bits of information about your books. It's is worth remembering that what you post on the Internet lives for almost ever, so don't ruin your reputation in one hasty moment of anger.
Use multiple Twitter accounts. This may have been frowned on earlier, but I believe it's a necessity for effective promotion. It serves to keep your main account, that is the one using your own name, relatively free of direct promotional material. As it is the account you use to interact with friends and probably other writers, filling your own timeline with book promotion is not going to be received well. By setting up another account (or two), you can aim at different target groups to follow and build a new following. Of course you need to add content to these accounts, but there are many ways to almost automate the process. Think about posting interesting bloggers, related news stories or even selective retweeting. Then add your promotional content in moderation in between.
Blog, blog, blog, then blog some more. Keep posting regularly and often on your own blog as every post you write adds to your search engine listings. It is too easy to forget how important search engines are in bringing potential readers to your book. Just make sure you stay on topic and don't post nonsense. If you want to go to the effort of setting up your own WordPress blog, it is worth the initial pain and suffering as the tools available really can increase your blog's traffic over time.
Advertise your books on your blog. Why fill your blog with a column of advertising for other products when you have your own books to sell? Make sure though that they click through directly to where your books can be bought.
Feed your blog. You want people to read your blog posts, so make sure you use a delivery service to post every new posting to your social media platforms. Tools such as Twitterfeed or dlvr.it are two of the best.
RSS button. Always have a prominent one click RSS button so new readers can subscribe to your blog by feed or email. Using Feedburner by Google is one of the best ways to do this.
Use Stumbleupon. This is a great way to get your books and blog posts discovered, and by a large audience. Stumbleupon is now the prime means of attracting traffic to my blog. It generates 40% of my blog traffic, with Twitter and Google Search coming in second, level on about 8%.
Have a website. Old fashioned perhaps now, but a website is still the best way to provide detailed information to your potential readers about you and your books. Again, it adds to your search engine presence and links back to all your other platforms.
Write and publish under a pen name. This may sound off topic when talking about self promotion, but it's a great way to experiment and try new writing ideas. Amazon allows publishing under a pen name on your own account, so it opens up a lot of possibilities. I have used it to experiment with writing short novellas in new genres. To do a little promotion and test the market, I use one of my secondary Twitter accounts. If it looks like it could work, you can then unpublish, change the cover and title as well as make any other changes you think would improve the book, then republish under your own name. As you hold the rights under both names, there's no problem in republishing the same book again under your own name.
Of course there are many more ways you can self promote and market your books and the items in the list above should not be taken as anything more than suggestions to consider when designing your overall book marketing plan.
No matter what techniques you use for promotion though, always think first about what your aims are and what you would like to achieve. Of course you want book sales, but what route do buyers take to get there? In my case, my main aim is to generate and attract traffic and potential readers to my blog, and from there for people to learn about what I do and then perhaps be interested enough to investigate further. One of my blog readers recently told me that he had just bought one of my books – after having read my blog for about six months. I think he is probably typical of many readers who have bought my books. No one buys a book by an author they know nothing about.