Sometimes self-published authors get frustrated because they know they’ve written a good book. It has a great cover. It’s been edited to perfection. After friends and family bought their copies, the book languishes on Amazon or other sites. Maybe it sells one a week. Or less.
That’s discouraging, after putting years of effort into it, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a few tips to get noticed. Some cost money, but not all of them do.
Issue a Press Release
Many people think you need to be a PR agency to issue a press release. But no.
You can send out a press release through any of several distribution channels for a fee, but as a long-time marketer, I know that my press release will be lost in the flurry of hundreds of other, more exciting press releases because I’m not a big deal marketing firm or a known name.
So, here’s what I did instead.
I wrote a press release, using the standard press release format (easily available online.) Then I researched the local papers in a fifty mile radius of my home. Who on their staff covers my town or region? Who writes their book reviews?
Then I sent each of them an individually crafted email, explaining why I was sending the press release directly to them. Because I grew up in the town. Because I’d lived in the town at some point. Because I’d enjoyed something they’d recently written. Anything to help make the connection.
And surprise. A bunch of people used the press release. I was careful to write it in such a way that they could just cut and paste it if they wanted to. Some did, and some rewrote it. Didn’t matter to me. It was published.
Libraries, bookstores, and book clubs contacted me through my website. I spoke at their events when they asked. I sold some books. I asked for reviews.
The press release cost me nothing but time.
Give Out Free Copies
I give away free copies of each of my books as soon as they’re published. I gave them to my treatment team at the cancer center, to the waitstaff at my favorite restaurant, to my neighbors, to friends, former co-workers, family members, book club members where I did presentations. Some people I gave paperbacks, some hardcovers, and a few e-books. But I made a point of giving people physical books, even though it cost me money.
Everybody I gave a book to hugged it. Literally. Actually hugged it.
People are always thrilled that someone has given them a book. Giving my book away makes both of us happy. But once they’ve thanked me, I say “The best way to thank me is to leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads.”
And they do.
Giving away a physical book costs money, but for me, it paid off.
Don’t despair if you don’t want to give print books away. There are tools that will let you give out e-books for free. BookFunnel is the one I used. It’s a good tool.
Advertising sounds scary and complicated, but it’s pretty simple. Amazon makes it easy (within the inescapable complexities of online advertising—think keywords!). They offer tons of free training. Start small. See what works. Grow the budget as you can afford it.
If you have more than three books, you can do a brand ad, that features all your books. Otherwise, you advertise each book individually.
Facebook works well too. I’m not big on social media, so I haven’t branched out much from there, but you can if there’s a site you like.
Just remember to start small. See what works before you mortgage the farm.
Contact Related Special Interest Organizations
My books feature a scuba diver, so I contacted the major scuba training agencies and several scuba related blogs. Ultimately, most of them turned out to be too expensive for me because their business models revolve around bigger ticket items. But many of them issued their own press releases or put something in their blogs or on their websites, so I got a little exposure just from making the inquiry.
And I did find a scuba-related website that I could afford. So, my ads have been running there for nearly a year now. (http://www.underwatertimes.com ). I won’t get rich off the traffic from the site, but the ads have more than paid for themselves.
Getting Noticed is the Key for Self-Publishing
The point of all this is that there are lots of ways to get your book noticed. You can spend a lot of money, or you can spend a little money and a little time. Or just time. You’re in control of your resources, so you make the decisions.
About Sharon Ward
Sharon Ward is the author of the traditional mysteries In Deep, Sunken Death, and Dark Tide, and the forthcoming Killer Storm, all part of the Fin Fleming Sea Adventures Thriller series.
Sharon was a marketing executive at prominent software companies Oracle and Microsoft before starting her writing business. She was also a PADI certified divemaster who has hundreds of dives under her weight belt.
Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, ITW, Grub Street, and the Cape Cod Writers Center.
She lives near Cape Cod with her husband Jack and their miniature long-haired dachshund Molly.
Great tips, Sharon! Thanks for sharing.
I love book funnel. Has been very helpful.
Great stuff Sharon! Thanks!