Marketing your Novel– Getting your Book into the Marketplace if you have Independently/Self-Published
Congratulations! You have written and produced a quality novel and have decided to independently publish it. Now comes the important step of getting your novel noticed and read.
There are three effective marketing platforms authors find effective to promote their books:
- Facebook ads
- Amazon ads
Author Melissa Storm, a New York Times and multiple USA Today bestselling author of women’s fiction, inspirational romance, and cosy mysteries. said, ‘Learning how to run ads is the second most important thing I’ve done for my author career; the first was learning to write good books!
‘Often ads work best by using your product description and a cropped version of your book cover art. If those ads don’t convert well, chances are something is off about your branding. Ads can help you identify that and tweak it so you earn better across the board—from newsletters, promo sites, organic discovery, anything!
‘The biggest factor when deciding whether to run your own ads or to hire out, is what ads cost you – not just money but factor in your time and also the impact it has on your overall stress level, and how that impacts other aspects of your writing career and life.
‘If the thought of learning about ads sends you into a panic spiral, then hiring out might be for you. Just remember that with a pro, you’re adding the additional cost of their services, and that makes it harder to produce ROI-positive (profitable) ads. That said, ask for recommendations and find someone who not only delivers results you like but openly and consistently and honestly communicates with you.
If you want to get someone to run your ads, you could try the company associated with Melissa Storm.
Amazon ads are an effective way to promote your book to readers. With Amazon Advertising, you set your budget, targeting, and timing. You pay only when shoppers click your ads.
According to Reedsy, an online author service, ‘Amazon ads have been the talk of indie author town since Amazon opened its Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) platform to all Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) users in 2016. While Facebook ads become increasingly competitive, Amazon has made huge improvements to their advertising platform, and are progressively becoming one of the most favored channels for marketing a book. Like any other advertising platform, the Amazon ads platform comes with its own challenges and learning curve. And like any other platform, success depends on data analysis and iteration.’
With Amazon advertising, you can:
- Promote your titles alongside similar books and authors
- Drive sales of new releases as soon as they publish
- Run backlist campaigns to attract new readers
- Target by related genres, titles and authors
- Reach readers in multiple marketplaces
Here is a video that will introduce you to Amazon Advertising:
You can find more information about running Amazon ads by clicking the link below:
You can also do a free course with Reedsy in their Reedsy Learning section.
Facebook ads enable you to reach an audience for as little as $5 a day. But they do take time and money.
According to Kindlpreneur, Facebook ads are the first love for many authors; the bane of others. But Facebook Ads can position your books in front of readers who may not have discovered your books in any other way. ‘There is no doubt that Facebook Ads can sell books; a lot of books.’
Jane Friedman, author and prolific publishing expert (see below for a link to her article on Facebook Ads), says, ‘If you want to build a thriving career as an author, you need to reach people who haven’t heard of you or your books before.
‘And while each of these platforms can be amazing in their own right and even more so when used holistically together, without a strong foundation (i.e. a great book that has been edited and proofread, a strong book description, right pricing for your category or genre, a professional-looking book cover that fits in your genre, etc.), no amount of advertising can sell a poor quality book.
‘Once you have a strong foundation, the truth is that advertising takes time to perfect; it takes testing; it takes patience, persistence, and, ultimately, it takes money. However, when you get your ads dialed in, they can truly transform your career.
‘As an example, my wife is an author of fantasy novels. Before we started advertising her debut series of books, we were lucky if they pulled in $40 per month! Last month, this same series earned $8,550 in royalties, with $5,200 of profit—and that’s with just one series of three books; the fourth book is due out later this year.
‘Yes, it’s going to take some time to learn how to run Facebook ads, to understand the data and what to do with that data in order to optimize and scale your ads. And yes, it’s also going to take money, because, although it does happen from time to time, you’re unlikely to hit a home run with your first Facebook ad! It’s going to take some testing to find winning audiences and winning ads.
‘The beauty of Facebook ads, however, is that you don’t need hundreds or thousands of dollars to see success from them. You could spend just $5 a day if you’re not comfortable budgeting more than that to begin with. And if at any time you don’t like what you’re seeing in your Facebook ads dashboard, with one click of a button you can turn your ads off and you won’t spend any more money; you are in complete control.
The above quotes are from a comprehensive article on Facebook Ads by Jane Friedman
BookBub is a book discovery service that was created to help readers find new books and authors find readers. They claim they have over 10 million members and market in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and India.
The company features free and discounted ebooks selected by its editorial team, as well as book recommendations, updates from authors, and articles about books.
‘In the past few years,’ Reedsy says, ‘BookBub’s reputation for helping to ‘break’ new writers has made them an indispensable part of any self-publishing author’s promotional plan. They can generate hundreds or even thousands of sales for featured titles – and tens of thousands of downloads for free titles.’
Here is what BookBub says about advertising with them:
‘Our audience is made up of voracious power readers who consistently turn to BookBub to find their next great book. Our curated recommendations and nuanced targeting options make it easier for readers to find books they’ll love.
- BookBub Ads are guaranteed to reach an audience of engaged readers actively searching for new books.
- Nuanced targeting options such as retailer preferences or author interests let you reach only the most relevant readers, and you can tailor each ad image to that particular audiences’ tastes.
- Whether you’re promoting a new release during launch week or a first-in-series on an ongoing basis, you can target fans of similar authors to reach new readers.
- Targeting an author’s fans with BookBub Ads reaches not only their followers, but any readers who have shown an interest in their books on our platform.
Email marketing is particularly effective for authors who have a number of titles. But it does take most people time to develop a list and to write regular newsletters. I remember hearing one very successful independent author say, he’d rather get someone’s email address than sell a book. Note, he did have over ten titles.
Paul Jarvis, who offers email marketing services says, ‘Building a strong email list can help you cultivate a strong and dedicated following for your project. The key? Acting like a human being.
‘A mailing list is the preferred method of communication for smart creatives and entrepreneurs.
He quotes two experts in the field who have written comprehensive articles on the subject, saying email newsletters outperform social media by miles in terms of getting something read by an audience and more importantly, having that audience take action. That is, buy your book.
‘People,’ Jarvis says, ‘might miss tweets or status updates (especially those that aren’t “boosted” or paid for) but according to the McKinsey Global Institute, we spend about 28 percent of our workday in our inbox — and those emails don’t whiz by in an ever-updating stream of content.
‘Email also converts much, much higher than any social media. For both reads and clicks, email obliterates every social media platform. Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly found that email converts at 3.2 percent, whereas social media hovers around 0.6 percent.’
Aside from your own website, the only tool you need is a formal email newsletter service that automates the subscription process, stores the subscriber email addresses, and archives newsletter issues. Some of the most popular services are:
Jane Friedman says because most people are overwhelmed with unwanted email, it may seem counterintuitive to categorize the email newsletter as one of the more effective, even intimate, forms of digital communication.
‘However,’ she says, ‘email has so far proven to be a more long-term and stable tool than social media, which is constantly shifting. Emails can’t be missed like a social media post that disappears in readers’ feeds as more posts follow it. You truly own your email list, unlike Facebook or Twitter accounts. And if you use people’s email addresses with respect, those addresses can become resources that grow more valuable over time.’
She recommends the following steps:
- Develop a newsletter strategy. Decide on your frequency and stick with it
Weekly is a common frequency, as is monthly, but the most important criterion is what you can commit to.
- It’s OK if your emails are short and sweet. Hardly anyone will complain that your emails are too short; the more frequently you send, the shorter your emails should probably be. It can also help to deliver the same structure every time.
Be specific and honest about what people are signing up for. You should create a newsletter sign-up form that tells people what they get if they subscribe.
- Add the sign-up link or code to your website. Regardless of the service you choose, it will provide you with several ways to offer your sign-up form to subscribers. Generally, you either link to the sign-up form directly at your service’s site (e.g., MailChimp), or you can embed the sign-up directly into your website—on a page, a post, or on a header, footer, or sidebar area. You don’t need to know or understand code to do this; providers like MailChimp give you the code to paste into your site and it works automatically. You will get more subscribers if you embed the sign-up into your site.
- Decide whether to include an “ethical bribe.”Some people offer a free digital download to entice people to sign up for their email newsletter. While this will definitely boost your sign-ups, it can also lead to lower-quality names, or people who will unsubscribe once they have the freebie.
To read the full Jane Friedman article:
To read the full Paul Jarvis article:
Links to Subscription Services
Launching your Book
Below are tips from New York Editors for launching your novel. There is a link to the full article below.
Tips for Hosting a Virtual Book Launch
- Schedule your posts in advance so that you don’t have to spend valuable time typing and proofreading.
- Change your Facebook banner to celebrate your book release.
- Post a steady stream of content to keep your visitors engaged. Talk about your book, why you wrote your book, and your writing process.
- Host a contest and giveaway prizes (especially copies of your book).
- Enlist the help of friends or family to monitor your Facebook page for questions or comments.
- Encourage page visitors to buy your book. Embed a link to your book on Amazon.
- Consider running more than one virtual launch party, especially if you want to market to people from other time zones who may not be able to make it to the initial launch.
Tips for Hosting a Successful In-Person Event:
- Select a date at least six months in advance. This gives your invitees enough time to plan to attend. Choose a date that doesn’t conflict with a holiday or other event.
- Choose a venue for your launch that is conveniently located and will accommodate all of your guests.
- Spread the word on social media. Pay for ads on social media to encourage people to attend your book launch (if it’s a public event).
- Share the launch party details with local media, including newspapers, local bloggers, and TV and radio stations.
- Make a schedule for the evening. Decide when you’re read excerpts, sign books, giveaway prizes, and mingle with your guests.
- Don’t forget the refreshments. Refreshments encourage guests to stick around longer.
- Be sure that you have enough books on hand for party guests who want to purchase.
- Invite everyone you know and be prepared to mingle with each person who attends.