I have had the opportunity to work with several self-published authors. One of their biggest challenges is to successfully promote and sell their book or books. Since they don’t have the budget and backing of a large publisher they sometimes feel like their options for promotion and selling are few and far between. However, the advent of the internet and digital readers such as Kindle has opened up doors to many successful self-published authors such as Bernard Schaffer (Guns of Seneca 6), Barbara Freethy (The Way Back Home) and William P. Young (The Shack). Here is a quick list of basic promotion ideas for self-published authors.
Website and Ecommerce:
- Create a website for the exclusive purpose of promoting your book. A dedicated website is often the single most effective way to increase visibility of your book on the internet. Here is a great example of a book website by business book author Jim Shaw of Shaw Resources: http://triplecustomercomplaints.com
- Use a low-cost platform such as WordPress.com to develop your site.
- Purchase a unique domain name that matches the title or subject of your book for maximum SEO impact and use that domain name for your email address too, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Allow visitors to purchase directly from your website or provide direct links to Amazon.com or other ecommerce sites for easy purchasing.
- Setup an individual seller account on Amazon.com. Amazon is the single largest seller of books on the internet so having your book available here increases exposure.
- Create an author profile in Amazon.com (best practice example: Bernard Shaffer)
- Amazon *charges $.99/book, 15% of the sale price and a $1.35 closing fee for each book sold. If you want Amazon to provide fulfillment (shipping) extra fees are assessed. (*rates as of 7/18/2012)
- Make sure every page of your website has a descriptive “Title” tag. The title tag is what appears at the top of a web browser and is the title saved when someone save’s the page as a ‘favorite’ or bookmarks the page.
- Make sure every page also has meta tag “keywords” on them.
- Meta tag keywords will appear in the page html source code like this: <meta name=”keywords” content=”non-fiction ebook, quality improvement book, business quality book, how to improve quality, continuous quality resource” />
- Make sure the keywords are not single words. Use phrases you expect people to use when searching for books like yours. Use the free Google Keyword Tool for ideas.
- Review or create “description” metatags on all pages for relevance and keyword optimization.
- Ask friends, relatives and colleagues to read and review the book on Amazon.com and other sites where the book can be reviewed, e.g. Lulu.com
- Publish positive reviews on your website and social media pages.
- Search Google for your book to see how and where it is being reviewed so that you can point readers to those pages as well.
- Set up a low cost Google Adwords Campaign
- Google typically has a $75 coupon to get started.
- Consider a Microsoft AdCenter campaign as well. MS AdCenter is the group that controls advertising on Yahoo and Bing and they often have large coupons for first time advertisers allowing you to experiment with ads at no initial cost. Since there is less competition for keywords on Yahoo and Bing, your cost per click will likely be significantly less than on Google. You can also import a Google Campaign directly into MS AdCenter to see which ads are most effective on each platform.
- MS AdCenter sometimes has very large $100+ coupons for first time advertisers.
- Amazon.com also provides advertising and is a great place to advertise book since you can also sell it on the same platform you are adertising!
- Amazon also has a coupon for $75 to get you started and experimenting. (http://www.amazonservices.com/content/product-ads-on-amazon.htm?ld=AZAdvertLearn#!how-it-works)
- Consider creating ad campaigns on Facebook and Linkedin as well. Some book subjects lend themselves well to these platforms. Management books may do well on Linkedin and niche topic books can do very well on Facebook since ads can be hyper targeted to a very specific target audience.
Setup a business Facebook and Twitter account using an author profile. Creating profiles that are separate from your personal social media profiles will allow you to interact with fans and readers in a very targeted manner. You will also be able to promote your book more directly and can use these professional profiles to increase back links to your book website. Social sites make good landing pages for social media advertising.
Quality Back Links
According to Google, the single most effective way to increase your search engine relevance is to increase the number of other websites linking to your website. This is known as creating back links. Small businesses often develop back links by creating local directory listings. An author can increase quality backlinks by:
- participating in author forums
- discussing and promoting the book on social media sites
- engaging in reciprocal link opportunities, i.e. ask your friends and colleagues to link to the book website from their own websites and social media pages
- advertising on search engines
- creating a blog and writing articles related to your book and linking back to your book website of course!
- writing internet press releases (see PR.com)
- creating a Craigslist ad for your book and renewing it as often as Craigslist allows (usually 2 weeks to a month)
For more additional advice or assistance with your promotion efforts feel free to contact me at www.loebigink.com. (shameless back link)