When it comes to selling your book the bottom line is – well, the bottom line. Let's face it—the more book sales the better. So how do you get your self-published book into the hands of as many readers as possible? There are some elements of your book sales strategy that can make a big difference when it comes to how well your book sells, and the biggest of those is your book metadata.
Did you know for five dollars you can get someone to write your book title on their face or stomach? How about give the synopsis of your book via video...dressed as a nun? The Internet is a bizarre place where you can find someone to do just about anything in the name of marketing. Why would you want to? Because weird and crazy, when done right, actually can help sell your book.
Authors unfamiliar with the book publishing industry can sometimes stumble on the path to publication by not understanding the definitions and roles of people in editing, production, distribution, and sales. By having clarity on the function and purpose of service companies and freelancers, authors can be smarter about hiring the right help.
There are several things to consider in order to help your book achieve it's greatest potential discoverability. Readers, librarians, and retailers can't purchase a book they can't find, and your title metadata is responsible for whether or not your book pops up when they type in search terms relevant to your book. Because of this, writing a good book description isn't just about telling readers what your book's about once they find it; it's about telling search engines what search queries your book could answer so that they actually can find it.
The secret to success in book publishing has always been knowing the market. Diving deeply into current reading habits is just the start, and knowing how and why folks buy is the next step after learning what they read. Some great data has come from a December 2016 Gallup Poll that can help inform our next steps when creating sales and book marketing plans.
Remember the days of Harry Potter mania? Practically every Barnes & Noble, Borders (RIP), and indie bookstore in the country had a release party for the latest J.K Rowling tome. Children, teenagers, and even parents clad in cloaks, crooked plastic glasses, and eyeliner lightning bolts waited for hours to get their hands on a copy of the latest book. I was a fixture in these lines, complete in my Hermione costume. We look back at these midnight literary festivities ten years later as a pop culture touchstone. However, to people in the publishing industry, this is the perfect example of how pre-orders can make your book a success.
You wrote a great book, one that everybody and their mother should read. But nobody is reading it . . . including your mother! What gives?! Sometimes great books aren’t read because of timing; sometimes they aren’t read because the pricing is all wrong; and sometimes it’s just placed in the wrong category. For the majority of books, however, the reason comes down to not knowing who your book's audience is.
The pattern is as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. A new marketing tool or tactic comes along, and a few early adopters have noticeable success with it. More authors try it and may find it works for them, too. But eventually, the new idea becomes old and ineffective—and the trend is deemed to be “over.” Everyone starts looking for the next new thing that will work when marketing their book.
There’s a lot of talk about audiobooks lately as they’re one of the few sectors of the publishing world that’s seen steady growth. And all signs say they’re going to keep getting bigger. But the big question for indie authors is: does the benefit of creating an audiobook justify the cost? It absolutely can, but you have to look at the bigger picture and see how audiobooks are more than just a royalty generator – they can be an excellent resource to expand the reach of your book marketing efforts and create pathways to new audiences.
Becoming an award-winning independently published author took a lot more work than I had ever imagined. I'm no marketing mastermind . . . or at least I wasn't when I started this whole self-publishing adventure. Some of it was pure luck in the beginning, but now I know the ropes. And I hope my advice helps you on your journey to doing the same!