Written by Tim Inman
# An essential to-do-list for independent authors
from whitefox #
There’s more to self publishing than just writing the book. Promotion is almost as important as putting pen to paper, but many authors don’t know where to start. Luckily there are a few relatively simple tricks you can employ to give your book a better shot at commercial success.
- PICK THE RIGHT PRICE POINT
If you try to flog your book too cheap, readers will assume that it isn’t very good. Set the price too high and they won’t be willing to take a punt on you, an unknown author. According to Kobo’s Mark Lefebvre (here) , $0.99 for an ebook is so low that readers can’t resist, $2.99 tends to perform even better, but $1.99 is an awkward middle ground; it is cheap enough to suggest a lack of professionalism, but not cheap enough to convince readers to give it a go anyway. Naturally print versions will have to cost more, and you still want to make a decent profit margin on each sale, but try to keep that price lower than the more established authors you might be competing with.
- PESTER FRIENDS TO BUY THE BOOK AND SPREAD THE WORD
You don’t want your only sales to come from family and friends, but it is a great place to start. Chances are your friends might be the only people who know about the book when it first comes out. Online retailers will use data to determine which books to include in their recommended lists; a high volume of sales soon after the release date will give your book a better chance of appearing on such lists. If you send out an email to a long list of your family and friends when the book is released, you’ll give yourself a great initial sales boost and get the ball rolling (assuming your friends and family actually buy the book…).
- RUN GIVEAWAYS
Nobody can resist a freebee and giving away copies can be a good way to generate early reviews. Giveaways can also be a great excuse to mention the book on your social media channels during the run-up to publication (and get other people talking about it too). There are lots of ways to go about running a competition, and it’s probably best to employ a few different approaches.
- GET SOME REVIEWS
There are lots of bloggers dedicated to reviewing the best indie books and most will also post their reviews to retail sites and on their social media channels too. Typically you’ll face a lot of competition and there will be plenty of sites with a polite notice regrettably informing you that ‘we are not currently accepting review copies’, but be persistent and try lots of bloggers – it will pay off eventually.
- IMPROVE VISIBILITY
Well over a million English-language books are published in the UK and US each year. This has created a discoverability issue. Simply making sure people can find your title easily will help set you above a lot of the rest. Make sure your social media channels all link to one another and to any sites where your book appears. Make sure your title is on as many different sites as possible as well as maximising the number of retailers. When listing your title on these sites make sure the information about the book is as thorough as possible. Writing a great description and including as many relevant key words and phrases as possible will improve the chances of someone stumbling across your book – ‘passing trade’ exists online too.
- GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA…
Some people hate it, but for unknown authors social media can be an indispensable marketing tool. Ideally you’ll add something once every other day or so, but even if you only have a few followers and post new content once a week your online visibility will be improved, if nothing else.
- …BUT DON’T JUST SHOUT ‘BUY MY BOOK’
When running your Twitter profile and Facebook page, refrain from nagging people to buy your book. No one wants to know they’re being sold to. You must be more subtle. If you post compelling content which your potential readers ought to find interesting, even if it’s not directly related to your book, you’ll find that they will check out your work of their own accord.
Writing a series? Great, you can leverage one title to generate sales for another. When a new book in the series comes out you can offer the first one at a discount, or even free, to get new readers on board. Include a list of your other titles at the back of each book (you can even add links if it’s an ebook). It is easier to sell to an existing customer than to win over a new one.
- RETAIN READERS
Include a newsletter sign-up form at end of your ebooks and add links to your website and/or social media channels in the back pages. Doing so will catch readers at the point at which they are most susceptible to interact with the author. They can sign up to be notified of the sequel’s release, for example. This means that when you bring out subsequent books, you are not starting from scratch but building on the audience you already have.
- NOTHING IS POINTLESS
You might think that a review posted to a small blog with few readers is a bit pointless. The truth is that the more places your book is mentioned online, the more people will hear about it. The old adage is indeed true: all PR is good PR.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
If you have the budget, hire a publicist. They will have the skills, and most importantly the contacts, that you cannot find by yourself. There are lots of freelance publicists out there but it can be difficult to discern the good from the bad. If you have no idea where to look, we can help you find the people you need to give your book the best chance of success. (www.wearewhitefox.com).
Established to assist authors, content creators and brands, whitefox offers curated services across all realms of publishing, from editorial to marketing to design. whitefox match clients with experienced consultants, so that every project, be it enhanced ebook creation, cover design or a social media plan, will be completed to the highest standards of the publishing industry. For this reason, whitefox are a godsend for authors interested in self-publishing, or who are looking for a bespoke service for their manuscript.