In last week’s post on the blog, I talked about some offline marketing methods that will help you sell more books. And, while some of these things I did were a lot of fun, none of them made me a famous author – in fact, most of the time I didn’t break even. I usually spent a lot more than I made because, well, there were other authors there – with their books, and I was buying them.
Offline book marketing certainly has its place, but if you really want to make money as an author, you’re going to have to get online. I have much better success selling books online, and I think most authors do now, in this digital age.
In this post, I’m going to share some ways I make that happen.
You might have noticed I have a specific page for my books on my blog. I do that for two reasons:
- To give readers a glimpse into what I’ve written so they’ll be better able to decide if those books are something they want to read.
- To create some SEO linking power for my books. Increasing the links to my books will help increase the chances of them being found organically in relevant searches.
If you’re an author, you need a blog. You can either start one before or after you publish your first book. Sometimes it’s better to set up your blog before you publish your book because you can have a bigger following from the start, so more people will buy your book right away. You can even create a book from your blog posts, if you have enough related material.
But if you don’t have a blog in place before your first book is published, you’ll need to get one started. An author blog is your personal online real estate. It’s the hub where people can go to find out more about you. Don’t miss out on that chance to connect with readers and let them connect with you.
You know how I talked about linking, and SEO, and improving your books’ visibility through that? Well, another way to do that is to guest post on other people’s blogs … about your books, your writing process, topics related to your books – anything that would be relevant to the blogs you’re submitting the guest posts to.
Don’t know where to start? The more you connect with other authors (visit their blogs, follow them on Facebook, etc.), the more opportunities you’ll find for guest posting. If you’re self-publishing, you can check out this list of 15 sites you can submit a guest post to. And, if you want to be featured on my blog, check out this page.
And speaking of connecting with other authors and readers online, nothing helps you do this quite like social media. Three of the main social media networks I’ve used successfully to promote my books are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Facebook – When I first started out publishing with Amazon, the thing to do on Facebook was to create an author page. While I still have a Facebook page, I don’t spend a whole lot of time promoting on it anymore (but I have recently implemented a strategy Jeff Goins suggested – posting two links and an image each day). The fact is, Facebook has made it so that only about 2% of the people who are fans of your page see your posts – unless you pay to play (although since implementing the Jeff Goins posting strategy, I’ve seen a slight increase in organic engagement). I’ve used Facebook ads before, with some success, but I’ve rarely broken even on my promotions (same as the offline promotions I’ve tried). The Facebook ad strategy is a good one to use if you have a new release (especially if it’s part of a series); otherwise, I’d advise you to not waste your money. The thing to do on Facebook now, apparently, is to create a group centered around either your books or your writing. I have yet to do this for myself, but I know several authors who have done this with a great deal of success.
- Twitter – Twitter’s a great place to be if you’re an author – especially an indie author. I’ve connected with a lot of other authors and readers there. And the best way to build connections is by tweeting regularly (use a scheduler like Hootsuite to schedule your tweets for you, so you don’t have to spend all day on Twitter; it works great for Facebook posting too). Tweet your books, but tweet other stuff too – links and images that are relevant to your books, or things you think your readers might be interested in, or even things that you find interesting so your readers can learn a bit more about you as an individual. And don’t just tweet – engage with other Twitter users. Start a conversation. Answer a question. Take some time to form some real connections. Don’t know where to start? Twitter engagement is all about the hashtags. Some popular ones I use are #amwriting, #amreading, and #amediting. Here’s a great list of some other useful hashtags that will connect you to other authors and readers.
- Pinterest – This is another site I’ve used to promote my books and connect with readers and other authors. Of course, I post my book covers and descriptions, but I post other things too – stuff that’s related to my books and writing and other things that interest me. I post my blog articles there too, to create more backlinks for my main base of operations. Pinterest is great (and terrible) because it really sucks you in. You have to be careful to limit your time on the site, or you’ll disappear into the black hole of gorgeous, enticing pins. Note: Pinterest only works well as a promotion site if women are your target readers, since about 80% of Pinterest users are women. If you’re trying to connect with men, you’ll need to use one of the other social media sites.
One of the book promotion methods I’ve just recently started exploring in depth is the email newsletter. I started an email newsletter years ago, but I never knew what to say or how to get people to join my list, so I just kind of let it die … until recently. Now I’m building my list and connecting with other authors to do newsletter swaps (I promote their books in my newsletter, and they promote mine in theirs) and I’m seeing a decent surge in book sales as a result. There’s no doubt about it: There’s sales power in the email list. I’m going to be focusing on growing this aspect of my book marketing a lot more in the near future.
When you think about it, it makes sense that it would be easier to sell books online compared to offline because you have a much greater opportunity to form real connections with many more people than you do on a daily basis in the “real world.” That just shows how the dawn of the digital age is one of the best things to happen to authors since the invention of the written word.
You may have noticed a theme running through all these points I mentioned regarding how I successfully sell books. It’s all about connection and engagement, and that shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all, writing is about communicating thoughts and stories – things that come naturally to us. Book promotion doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But here’s a tip: Don’t think of promoting your book as selling – think of it as sharing your stories and connecting with others, and see if it doesn’t get easier … and more profitable.