The Ultimate Guide To Marketing When Self Publishing

Marketing Books When Self Publishing

The self publishing trend is so common these days it seems every other person has published a book. It’s a great way to improve your curriculum vitae if you’re a businessperson and saying: ‘I wrote and published a book’ adds an incredible amount of gravitas to you personal brand.

But that’s it, isn’t it? Personal brand. We tend to see ourselves as artists but there’s more to it. We need to consider ourselves brands.

Becoming A Brand

Even though I don’t agree with this article, it has some interesting things to say about being an entrepreneur and publishing books, but what struck me the most is the fact this article was written in 2014 and it states that there were at least 600,000 books published per year.

Imagine that number now, when our generation is old enough and confident enough to start writing and publishing.

But, the fact still stands, it’s not easy to sell the book when you publish it yourself. It’s not easy to sell it either way if you’re not already a brand.

marketing when self publishing

That’s where marketing comes in. Marketing might sound like a person in a suit with a big, fake smile trying to get money out of you, but I think marketing professionals have mastered it nicely and it’s far more than just selling a book. For every author who self-publishes these days there would be needed a PR specialist, a social media expert, a marketing team, a spokesperson… Oh my, and I just scratched the surface of the ‘preparing to write a book I’ll self-publish’ part.

Does it sound impossible? It shouldn’t. If you’re reading this article, you’re witnessing to a miracle of modern communication.

I’m writing this post, it’s 3 PM and I’m in Bosnia – compare that to your activity, time and place. It’s by all chances a completely different sentence. See what I’m doing? I’m reaching out, communicating with you, enjoying your posts and comments, posting some of my own. You can easily consider this marketing if I was offering you to buy something. Alas, I don’t have anything to sell.

On the other hand, if I don’t have anything to sell but I’m still ‘building an audience’ and engaging (in my case it’s out of sheer enjoyment to communicate, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend it’s all about me) what is my goal? We could consider this PR (public relations).

Public Relations

PR is a practice of engaging all reachable audiences and getting them to remember your brand.

If you’re a writer and have a blog that deals with your personal experiences as you write your novel – congratulations, you have successfully mastered the basics of PR.

I spent a semester working in a PR agency and I picked up a few tricks, but that’s irrelevant when compared with the fact that your every message reaches people and if it’s any good it keeps people coming back to you.

But to move that to another level, to make a brand out of yourself, there’s something missing. Ideas.

Think of a brand. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind in association with that brand? Chances are, the people behind that brand implanted that idea into your head.

So, we associate brands with ideas. But if you want to turn yourself into a brand you need to connect an idea to your brand. After that, the only thing that matters is keeping the connection between the two alive and strong.

Your audience will get the connection quickly and you’ll become a synonym for that idea.

When Does The Marketing Start

If you go for self-publishing you kind of get all the power over marketing and the overall success of your book. Whether it’s just me or it’s really becoming a trend, I fancy self-publishing very much. As an author and a business person, I like the freedom it provides. I like WordPress and its tools, I like Amazon and its great schism of possibilities. I love the time we live in.

But if you’re about to make the decision to publish your novel all by yourself, you need to be ready to advertise it.

When does the advertising part begin?

Basically, before you even finish plotting.

That’s right, as soon as you grab an idea so powerful that you are sure it’s going to make it into a novel, you should start your marketing strategies. At least, a blog. From there, you can develop different channels of marketing and Become A Brand When Self Publishingcreate a following base to, if nothing else, get your book and leave a nice review – that’s worth more at the start than anything else.

So, when you feel you are dead set on writing that novel, find a channel for promotion and start building it!

Here’s the truth: few reviews before you launch your book to the public will make all the difference. You need to have readers who will be willing to read your book and leave a review.

I don’t know how you feel about buying reviews. Personally, I wouldn’t go there and I would advise against it. Not only is it not sporting, it feels cheap – those could be easily recognized as bought.

You’ll need a few good reviews that explain the feeling of your story, not just the plot or even worse, say ‘it’s great, buy it’.

You’ll have plenty of time to blog about your progress while you’re writing that novel and you should do that. Get people excited about your book!

For me, blogging is the best way. If you don’t plan on making a business out of your site, just blog about interesting things related to your novel.

There will be many days you’re not up to writing your book, or editing, but just to keep that pace – blog about it. People will read it. Share your posts via social media. Make it a hobby of yours. Step by step and you’ll have enough audience that will be happy to read your book.

No one will buy it with zero reviews, sadly. So, work hard from the day you decide on writing. Work hard to make it worth it!

It will pay off and I bet you’ll enjoy it the most of the time.

3 Methods Of Marketing If Self Publishing

There are three great things you can easily do to increase your brand and your reputation

3. Pricing

This is a controversial one. On one side you have a group of people willing to sell everything for a dollar. On the other side you have people who wish to price their work by its quality worthiness and not market’s demands.

It hard to find the middle ground – I’m an advocate for pricing the quality, not going to sell at any cost. But it’s understandable that it’s a trend these days for people to price a novel for $0.99 since all the other first time authors do so. I exaggerate, of course.

But here’s a marketing method you can use to keep your integrity and that proved useful to authors. It works well with Kindle. Start with a low price that should attract a couple of buyers, keep it for two weeks like that, do a free week to attract reviews, reverse to your low price for two more weeks and finally set your real price. Your sales will drop for a minute there but be patient, you’ll have enough reviews and sales from before and your book will be visible on Amazon so the sales will even out eventually.

2. Reviews

Whatever you do, make sure you have reviews. Give away your book to bloggers who are willing to read it and leave a comment, do the free week (as I said above) and post a link on forums, blogs, social media.

If your book is a quality work, getting reviews will be easy. Just make a spreadsheet with all the bloggers and people you could send your book to and ask them to read it and leave a comment. Be polite, don’t spam them with it.

Amazon recognizes reviews but more importantly, no one wants to be the first to buy your book or buy something no one bothered to review.

1. Affiliate

This might be your most powerful tool in marketing. Allow affiliates to get a link and share it. You’ll have to share the earning with them (and it goes up to 20%). Still, it’s worth it since people will do the marketing for you. They’ll post your book on their blogs and social media. And they’ll try to sell it for both of you.

If you calculate the number of people who bought your book through your own marketing without having to pay a commission to another person and the number of people who bought the book through affiliate marketing, you’ll be amazed at how much more profit you’ll have.

With time, you’ll get to a certain position where you won’t have a need for affiliates, but I’d advise you to keep them on. It’s very cheap and it goes a long way.

Keep writing, but this time think about marketing as well!

Author: Mladen Reljanović

Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.

21 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Marketing When Self Publishing

    1. Most certainly would be beneficial if you ask me. I believe that’s the time we live in, it has its flaws but it has its virtues as well.

  1. I once heard someone remind an audience of ‘would be’ writers to not sell themselves short. They let insecurity get in the way and devalue their work. The thing is, the human mind tends to think something that is inexpensive is ‘cheap’, and something that is very expensive is of the highest quality. While that isn’t always so, the perception is still there. Are $500 athletic shoes promoted by some famous basketball player really THAT much better than a $50 pair that the average person wears? They may have some higher quality materials and workmanship, but is it 10x higher quality? People aren’t really buying the workmanship, they are buying the name. ‘So-and-so promotes these and he’s a great ballplayer so these must be great shoes. I should pay $500 for them.’ We aren’t averse to having those shoes discounted 20% in a sale, because we still believe the quality is there and we’re simply getting a bargain. Same with anyone’s ‘product’ – your story, your painting, your movie. If you sell it short, people will believe it is only worth what you said it was – not much. And it will be an uphill battle convincing them otherwise. No, I can’t price my work like J. K. Rowling, but I’m not doing myself any favors pricing my work at the lowest levels.

    1. Amazingly, you actually just did my next post. I was preparing to write about exactly that. To me, marketing is a vast cloud of possibilities with its upsides and downsides. I completely agree with you on pricing and you nailed the part about discounts – I like it very much 🙂

    1. I’ll be doing this as a series of posts with a course in mind where I’ll introduce a variety of techniques to promote a book and get better results. I plan to do a trial of some methods by the end of this month so I can offer real examples from personal experience.
      How did your book perform, if you don’t mind me asking? 🙂

    2. Great! That will be very helpful! I don’t mind at all, it has been up since May 10th and so far I’ve sold one to a guy at my church. I’ve had others say they will have to read it, so we’ll see how that goes. I actually have a post on my WordPress account about the book

  2. Marketing and sales for that matter have taken on a negative connotations today because people learned how to manipulate others. To me, that’s dirty marketing- all those cheap tricks aimed at deceiving people. Nothing wrong with building a brand and making a promise with integrity, the old fashion way.

    1. I completely agree. Manipulation did become synonymous with marketing – that’s the unethical part of it and it’s true. But, the good news is there’s still success in real, ethical brand building and marketing, when we decide to go for quality.

  3. The funny thing is the reason I started my blog is what you just wrote about because I had finished writing something I wanted to publish. Then I realized I had to make the piece longer and I have ideas but I got so caught up in having to post that I didn’t have time to refine my book. I wrote the piece two years ago and it’s still on my desk wondering whether it will ever see the limelight.

    1. Exactly, you’re not the only one, that’s really a common thing. Even I plan to use my blog to promote my novel when it’s ready to go public 🙂
      But on the other hand, keeping a blog updated all the time is taking way more time than I imagined. And I even plan on doing a lot more – a website that’s being developed as we speak, a course and an e-book that I’m writing… So much about my novel, huh? 😀

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