Many self-published authors don’t realize at first what they’re in for. A traditional publishing house will at least help you with marketing, promotion, and sales – but when you decide to take on the mantle of the publisher, it all falls down to you.
Writers don’t tend to be natural salespeople, and too often for too many ‘sales’ is still a dirty word: but that needs to change if you want to make a fruitful career out of your passion. So, here are a few tried and tested methods you can employ to help you sell more books and still retain your integrity.
Have a website
It’s easy to set up a website up these days, and it doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Purchase your own domain and host your site with WordPress, which comes loaded with a huge selection of clean and professional themes that are generally simple to whip into shape even if you don’t have a wealth of technical skill.
If you don’t intend to blog, or post regular updates – you might think your Facebook page is enough for that, for example – potential readers are still more than likely to Google you. So give them something to find: a minimal page with your name, contact details, and current book list is all they’ll need to see.
Think of it as proof you exist – your own little corner of real estate on the web. You can tend this garden regularly and invite people to come in and wander around, or you can simply put up a clear sign telling them how to get in touch if they need to.
Be active on social media
Yes – nowadays, a social media presence is vital. Youngsters aren’t the only ones using Facebook, but if you find it all a bit hectic to keep up with, it’s a good idea to limit yourself to one platform and learn to manage it really, really well.
If you’re already pressed for time and finding it tough to stay afloat, it doesn’t make sense to spread yourself thinly across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr all at the same time.
Investigate which social media channels your favorite authors – and the most popular/successful that are closely aligned with your particular audience – are most active on, and try and figure out why it’s working so well for them. What kind of schedule do they keep? What kind of content do they produce that receives the greatest response? How exactly do they encourage interaction?
Don’t forget to engage your audience on a regular basis. These are your fans, and they’ll appreciate getting to know you a little better. The more you show up in their lives, the more they’ll remember you.
And don’t be afraid to be yourself. Becoming a public figure isn’t easy – we’re all naturally drawn to privacy, and don’t want our personal quirks to be the source of offense or ridicule – but if you let these worries water your approach down too much, it’s unlikely that your presence will truly resonate with anyone.
Get friendly with Facebook advertising
If you’re a little more social media savvy, consider running your own Facebook ads. If that seems entirely outside of your comfort zone, hiring someone to do it for you would be highly recommended.
Historically, Google pay-per-click ads dominated the competition, but this is no longer the case. Successful Facebook ads can reach thousands of highly targeted readers for just a few dollars per day (or less!), and they make it easy for you to spend as much or as little as you want.
It’s an environmentally friendly, financially manageable, and effective way to get the word out, put your work in front of many more faces, and sell more books.
Giveaways and competitions
No one can resist a contest, so why not reward your fans and grow your tribe with a giveaway? Offer your latest book before it hits the virtual shelves, a signed copy of one of your back catalog, any related memorabilia you have lying around the house, or even a one-to-one chat.
Encourage people not just to enter, but to share the contest with their friends: online platforms like Rafflecopter let you easily create raffles and giveaways, and you can set it up so everyone who refers a friend gets two additional entries.
Highly interactive promotions like this are perfect for spreading the word about your work, and building goodwill amongst your audience.
Contact bloggers and reviewers
Reach out to other writers you admire, or the community within your genre of writing, and ask if they would be willing to review your work. Very few are going to have the gall to lambast you for asking, so don’t be afraid of getting torn apart.
Bloggers and niche review sites are an excellent first stop. Influencers like these will help you grow your readership, reach new audience segments and get more exposure – which could lead to even bigger and better things down the line.
The only thing to keep in mind is to be cordial, humble, and professional in your approach. Never send your work as an attachment in the first instance, with comments such as “I trust you’ll have this reviewed soon.” This kind of approach is generally seen as arrogant and demanding, especially within a sector where most reviewers are taking the time to read and review your work unpaid.
A simple synopsis, a few words about you as the author, and the question of which format(s) the reviewer would prefer a copy to be sent in are all you need for that first query.
Network at events
Last but not least, don’t forget old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Writers’ conferences, literary festivals and the like are all melting pots of wonderful people who are all passionate about the same thing you are: books.
Speak to as many different people as you can, and keep your mind open. Be there to speak to others, not to endlessly promote yourself. Show primary interest in others’ work and share yours when asked. Friendships you make here could last a lifetime – and you never know where the right word in the right ear could lead.
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