The Basics of Promoting a Self-Published Book

In an eBook-hungry world, now is the perfect time to learn about marketing after self-publishing a book. The United States alone is the largest consumer of eBooks with titanic revenues upwards of $15,776 million dollars in 2021, not to mention worldwide sales! With this ever-growing popularity, it’s more important now than ever that you not overlook this highly profitable segment of publishing. You can include these marketing channels alongside traditional book publishing.

Determine Your Target Audience

One of the biggest mistakes that authors make is thinking that their book will be a great read for absolutely everyone. This is where you need to think like a marketer. Your first job is to determine your target market. Good thing this is a relatively straightforward task to perform. Sit down with some paper and a pen and start describing the person who will read your book.
Is it a married 20-30 something, first-time mom with a career, house, and hubby? What would this busy mom pick up to read?

How about a 40 (ish), newly divorced Dad, struggling with relearning life alone, dating, and time with the kids?

Every detail is important when considering marketing. Your marketing must address your target market. After all, if your book is about men’s hair loss, for example, you will not want to waste advertising dollars on sending that ad or message to single moms with kids, are you?

Types of Marketing Channels

The first order of business would be to make sure that your book publisher offers all the promotion services you need. They are promoting your book launch. This may include:

  • A book review and pre-launch pitching to increase interest for full release.
  • Exposure to in-house media contacts to maximize momentum for your book.

In self-publishing a book, all the hard work of marketing and promoting falls to you. But you can use many channels to promote your book; you just have to find what gives you the best return for your investment.

You can use methods such as:

  • Social media is a powerhouse for writers when promoting your books. A strong marketing strategy here is critical. The obvious first choice is Facebook because of its 6.89 billion active monthly users or Instagram. Don’t discount lesser-known apps like Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Ello (the must-have for creatives), Reddit, Quora, or Medium. These also have a strong following and you may find you get a better response when focusing on your target market.
  • Email campaigns are a must-have, especially for authors! You can build interest and momentum in your readers by offering sneak peeks into your upcoming work or discounts on works that you’ve already done. Contests and holding a random drawing for a copy of your new book will drive customer excitement as well. With phenomenal open rates of 20-30%, email marketing should be a crucial piece of your promotional strategy.
  • Video marketing can be a fun tool for you and your readers. Readers love to have glimpses into the lives of their favorite authors. There are a plethora of video sites available just like YouTube. Take your readers into your life and share a family BBQ, with links to your books of course! Show favorite places that inspire your writing or days when writer’s block just gets the best of you. Try some lesser-known video sites like Vimeo, Wistia, Metacafe, and Sprout Video, just to name a few.
  • Online book publishers or retailers such as Amazon Kindle, Goodreads, Scribemedia, are well established in the book publishing world and have an amazing reach to interested readers. You’d do well indeed to scope out the different opportunities of online retailers and see what may fit your needs.
  • Online libraries may seem like a waste of time but think of it. How do people perceive libraries? Libraries are an institution and therefore trustworthy, right? Besides that, if you can get one library to buy your book, more will definitely follow. It also inspires individual book sales when people read your book and then start talking about it!
  • Print-on-demand publishing is a method where a book is printed when an order is received. This allows for a single copy or small quantity printing. This is a perfect model for you Indie authors! Many of these outlets such as Ingram Spark, Lulu, BookBaby, are globally connected with major retailers, online bookstores, libraries, and more.
  • EBook aggregators are the intersection between authors and book retailers and can be a very useful option for many reasons. They can be your distribution channel to a US market even if you are a non-resident and don’t meet the requirements for some retailers. They also provide valuable services such as formatting your book for eBook release, if your tech skills aren’t quite up to the task; and they provide an avenue for access to those whose hardware or software isn’t compatible with some platforms, such as Apple who requires a Mac.
  • Let’s not forget your personal website. This will be the most useful channel you can create to sell your books. A personal website can support a direct sell model through PayPal, Stripe or other means to sell your books. It can be the hub where traffic is directed so that you don’t lose part of your sales to other channels that take a percentage of your earnings. It’s also a fantastic avenue to create your blog posts to drive interest, have contests, whatever… you’re only limited by your imagination!

Channels You Might Not Have Thought Of

Some marketing avenues are worth pointing out individually, just for sheer audience volume aka potential reach! One of our favorites right now is Tik Tok.

  • Tik Tok is definitely worth pointing out in potential reach alone. It is the fastest-growing social media channel available today. The little dance app for millennials has grown up into a full-blown, major player amongst the social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram with 689 million monthly active users. Some writers use it for previewing their work, like reading excerpts from their new releases or giving tours of their private bookshelves (with their new book displayed prominently of course!), or giving a quick glimpse of the writer at work. The clips are very short, only about 60 seconds so you must make your point quickly.
  • Another often overlooked channel is text or SMS messaging. Email open rates are outstanding at 20-30% but stacked up against the open rates of an SMS campaign? Consider if you will, that according to a Dynmark report, 98% of SMS messages are opened and read! Think about it, almost every single person in the United States and Canada has a cell phone.

We’ve covered a lot of ground and given you a lot to think about. From developing your customer base to the myriad of distribution channels you have available to you. Now’s the time to roll up your sleeves and go forth and hunt down what works best for your type of audience and subject. There’s no one right way to promote your book. Go… have fun, experiment, and see what works best for you.