You don’t always need a huge chunk of time to devote to marketing. Here are ten activities you can do (most taking only a few minutes) which can have a big effect on your sales.
1. Find reviewers
Contacting potential reviewers proactively can be an effective strategy, but it’s a time-consuming process. For this reason, don’t wait until you launch your book but develop a reviewer list ahead of time, splitting the task into ten minute chunks every week or so. It helps to have 30 to 40 reviewers lined up.
Find books in your category and read the reviews. If you think the reviewer would be a good match for your book, click on the reviewer’s link. You won’t always get much information, but sometimes a reviewer will leave an email address or website URL.
At that point, keep a list of reviewers to contact when you launch. Doing it this way means you can write a short personal note to each reviewer – more effective than an anonymous blast-out. Contact reviewers when you make your book free, so that they can download free of cost to them. (There’s more about this here.)
You can also ask for a review at the end of your book (along with other information – see point 4.)
2. Set up a Facebook business page
It’s one thing to have a personal Facebook profile where you can keep up with friends and family, but quite another to have a business page. You’ll need it if you decide to advertise on Facebook or want to boost a post, or if your friends / followers exceed 5000. You’ll also need one if you use Facebook to build your email list or you want data and insights on your audience.
For an excellent overview of the differences between personal and business Facebook pages, read this blog post from Chris Syme.
3. Get consistent on your social media platforms
Some authors love social media, others hate it. But whatever camp you’re in, take a few minutes to make your profiles consistent and attractive. For a start, use the same photo on all your profiles. You’ll need a good quality, unblurry headshot featuring you (and nobody else).
Using the same photo helps with author recognition: your readers are more likely to realize who you are if they see the same photo on different platforms.
While you’re doing this, think about sprucing up your Facebook banner. If you’ve got a new book out, you can create a banner with the cover and price details. You can also use the space to show off your backlist, or series. See here for some lovely examples to inspire you.
Also be consistent on what you do on social media. If you’re not comfortable posting frequently, don’t force yourself. Some authors like to share details of their lives, while others just post to announce new launches.
4. Link to your other books
If you publish in a series, Amazon will use this information to suggest the next book to Kindle readers. But you should also include information about your other titles at the end of your books, along with links to the Amazon store. If you have a new book coming, include the first chapter or a brief extract at the end of the previous book.
You can also ask for a review and include a link to your mailing list or website at the end of your book.
5. Rework your book description
Don’t just write a synopsis of your book – write something that will connect with your reader on an emotional level. Consider a headline (that identifies the reader’s problem in non-fiction, for example), or sets the emotional scene in fiction. This is your hook, which will draw the reader in and get them to click the “read more”.
Here’s some information on how to do that from C. S. Lakin.
Use interesting vocabulary in your descriptions. Newspaper headlines are a good place to look for inspiration, as you’ll often find emotive and descriptive language. In today’s Guardian I saw “baffle”, “thwart”, “ticking time bomb” and “a miraculous balance”, for example.
If you’ve had great reviews for your book, include quotes under the headline. Bookbub reports that book descriptions including these type of quotes got an average of 22.6% higher click-through rates than those without.
Of course, you can also put glowing quotes on your website, Facebook banner and book covers as well.
6. Write persuasively about yourself as an author
Follow the lead of career professionals and write a one-page bio, including extracts from reviews. Put this on your “about” page on your website, LinkedIn profile, Amazon “Author Central” page, etc. The tone should be engaging and chatty rather than stuffy.
Bryan Cohen has some great advice on what to write on your Amazon bio.
7. Find out where your readers are
Find online forums that attract readers of your genre. These are a good place to connect with your readers and to demonstrate your shared interest. You’ll also pick up ideas for new books and have a way of speaking directly to your target audience while gaining new readers. Obviously, this isn’t a quick fix, but over time you can build up good relationships with your readers and establish yourself as part of their community.
8. Check your Amazon categories
Are you as visible as you could be? If your book is languishing at the bottom of a particularly competitive category, consider drilling down into a sub-category where your book might get greater visibility – and a better category ranking. As your sales climb, you can change your category back.
9. Make sure your book cover works at different sizes
Your book title needs to be visible even when the cover is reduced to thumbnail size. In addition, the colors and themes should fit in with the norms of your genre. You can very often get feedback from other authors on Kboards, but take a look at what’s selling in your category and see whether your covers match.
10. Start on your next book
Nothing helps to sell a book better than the next in the series. Many authors report consistent sales only after books 3 or 4 in a series, and readers can also be reluctant to “invest” in an author unless they see equal investment in terms of more books.
This even works for standalones in non-fiction. You’re more likely to be taken seriously (that is, as an expert) if you have a number of books behind you.