For me, indie publishing has consisted of a lot of trial-and-error to determine what things work and what things do not. Unlike other types of sales and marketing, as an author it is not only about selling books, but, to some degree, you are selling yourself. This is something I’m extremely uncomfortable with, but I’ve found some ways to adjust my approach to make it more tolerable.
This list consists of some of the things I’ve tried that have worked for me. Your mileage may vary.
- Blatantly asking people to buy your books doesn’t work. Instead, I’ve tried to use my blog, Facebook, and other social media to try to convince people that my work might be worth checking out. I do this by trying to entertain or teach with the material I post.
- Word of mouth is extremely important. Your existing readers are your best salespeople. I like interacting with them through a newsletter, various Facebook pages and my blog.
- I’ve said this before, but it’s still true. The best thing you can do to promote yourself is to write your next book. Readers tend to read an authors’ work in big bites. Make sure you’re providing enough for them to bite into.
- Every time I’ve released a book, I’ve checked my stats immediately after hoping for a big spike. I’ve found, over time, that even though there may indeed be a spike in sales, it doesn’t last beyond a couple of days. In fact, when I’ve gone back and looked at my stats during the month of a release, I’ve noticed my previous works selling a bit more. Remember, any book you’ve written remains new to potential readers. It doesn’t matter how quickly your book jumps out of the gate upon release. A previously written book remains fresh and new. You have the rest of your life to promote it and introduce it to new readers.
- Giving your books away does not mean you are giving up potential sales. This is an essential part of building up readership. I like to do pre-release giveaways of older books and provide sample chapters on my blog. I’ve learned to stop worrying about piracy. I’ve also written two serials that will have supplemental material added to them and will be released as books.
- Try to build up a healthy email list. It can be a powerful tool. I’ve built mine up by offering subscribers a free book and then involving them as beta readers, advance readers and as a source for a street team.
- Consider doing trailers for your books. Videos can be powerful selling tools. I’ve run Facebook ads using the trailers as the featured image on the ad and I’ve had a much better response rate.
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not. When I published a book, I didn’t automatically become an authority on publishing books. Quite the contrary, I spend much more time learning about writing from others and polishing my style and mechanics. If I represented myself as an expert, I’d come crashing down to reality quite quickly.
- If there is a recurring theme that I want to come across in this post, it is that other authors are not your enemies or your competitors. We are in this together. I try to help other authors whenever I can through promotion and reading and reviewing their works. If we promote each other, it comes across much more positively to potential readers than when an author is constantly shilling their own work.