In this post we will be sharing some of the best ideas to help you sell your book and make some extra cash. Let’s get started.
Your book is published published! Now it’s time to make sales and money. Fortunately, if you’ve already started building your platform, you’re doing many of the activities you need to do to make sales. But before we go over book marketing tactics, we’re going to cover reviews.
You’re perusing the Amazon store. You see a title and cover that pique your interest. You read the description and think, “This book sounds good.” Do you buy it? If you’re like most people, you don’t buy right then. Instead, you scroll down to read the reviews, and based on what you read, you decide whether or not to buy. Because so many purchases are made based on reviews, it helps to have a few good (4 and 5 star) reviews before you promote your book. Here are ideas for getting free reviews:
Ask for reviews from your beta readers. Many people think this is cheating, but that’s only true if the book is bad and/or the review is overly glowing. Just like any other reviewers, you want your beta readers to give honest reviews that can help consumers make a decision. I coach my beta readers in their reviews by asking them to be honest, share what factors they liked about the book, and, if applicable, areas they didn’t like. Fortunately, most of my beta readers are positive about the book, but they aren’t always glowing and they’re never over the top. They identify areas that can give readers an idea of what to expect in the book. This works with fiction writing as well; however, depending on your story, you may want to ask your beta readers to avoid giving spoilers (I had a beta reader give away a plot twist once).
Give a copy of your book to your network in exchange for a review. This includes friends and family, but don’t send it to anyone and everyone. I suggest choosing people who will enjoy or benefit from your book and follow through with a review. Be selective.
Like your beta readers, coach your network in what you need in a review (honest ratings and feedback that helps people know what they’ll find in the book). There are several ways you can gift a book. In Amazon, you can gift the book through the purchase page (yes, you’ll buy the book, but remember you also get paid 35% to 70% royalty on the purchase.) If you’re a Kindle member who has bought your book (which you should do to check that everything appears correctly), you can lend the book to one person. If you signed up for the KDP Select program, you can set up a giveaway day and ask your network to download the book that day. For Kindle books, it’s best that the book be delivered through Amazon so it shows up as an Amazon-verified purchase.
Through Smashwords, you can create a free coupon for your network. Or you can create a PDF version of your book and simply email it the people you’re asking to read it.
Be sure to ask readers if they have the time and are willing to read the book in exchange for a review. If they say yes, then send them the book.
Bloggers and Reviewers
In nonfiction, if you have a peer group through a mastermind group or that you’ve done joint ventures with, email them and ask if they’d be willing to review the book. You can expand beyond your network by doing a search on nonfiction blogs and websites that target your market. Visit the site and see if they do book reviews (many won’t indicate if they do or not). If they don’t have book review information posted, email the owner. When emailing, let the owner know who you are, what you’ve got, and what you want. Here’s a sample email (you need to fill in the blogger’s name and your information):
This method works for fiction as well, but you’ll be searching for book review blogs in your book’s genre. Almost all these sites will have information about reviews. READ IT! Fiction bloggers fuss when writers don’t check out their guidelines and for good reason. It’s a big commitment to read a book and write a review. Don’t annoy them by not following their directions for submitting your book.
Consider giving a free copy of your book to select fans. Many authors offer a free copy to people who follow their blog, connect with them on social media, or subscribe to their email list The only challenge to this is getting too many request for free copies and following up to get the review.
What about paying for reviews? Don’t. Many readers can see through that, and Amazon hates it, which could result in termination of your account. There are services in which you can pay to submit your book for reviews, but the feedback on these services is up and down.
Remember, at this point you only need a couple of reviews (4 or 5) to help readers decide to buy. After that, reviews should come organically from people who have bought and read the book.
Dealing With Bad Reviews
Hopefully your beta readers and people you know in your network will leave a positive review (or no review if they can’t be positive). But review bloggers and buyers of your book may not be positive. Even when there are plenty of good comments, one negative review can feel like it negates all the positive. Once the initial ouch is done comes feelings of anger and the need to defend the work. But, except for bad writing, one of the fastest ways to ruin a writing career is to respond to negative reviews. Here are some tips for dealing with bad reviews.
Expanding Your Author Platform
If you followed through on the platform building information, you’ve already put in place marketing tactics, such as a blog and social media. Now that your book is published, continue those activities. Here are a few other places you can market your book.
Amazon Author Central
I wish Amazon would link author pages with Kindle and Createspace (its selfpublishing print service) accounts, because it would be easier to manage everything in one place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. However, by creating an author account, you can have author information, Twitter feed and blog posts, stats, and more in one place. Setting up an account is easy and free. Visit Amazon Author Central and register. Once you’ve created an account, click on Books to claim the titles you’ve written. Don’t forget to add information about you, such as your bio, a picture, and your blog and Twitter feeds to your author page. If you’ve created a video, you can upload it to your author page as well.
When writing your bio, make it interesting just like your book descriptions. Share information that shows off your expertise or interesting traits. Finally, if you have any events related to your book, add them to your author page under the Events options.
It can take a little time, but once Amazon does whatever it does, your author page will be linked to and from your book(s). When people click on your name, they’ll be taken to your author page, where they’ll be able to learn about you and see your recent blog and Twitter posts and whatever else you’ve included. When you have more than one book, all your books can be listed on your author page (you’ll need to go through the process of ‘claiming’ subsequent books in your Author Central account to get them added).
Through Author Central you can check out your sales info, book rankings, and recent reviews (see tabs in top navigation of your Author Central account page). You can also see book rankings and reviews on your books’ page in the Amazon store.
Goodreads Author Program
Readers spend a lot of time talking about books at Goodreads, which makes it no brainer for authors to be there too. Amazon now owns Goodreads and includes the ability to add and review books on Goodreads through Kindle.
The Goodreads Author program allows you create a profile with a photo, write blog posts, review other books (which can also post on other social media and your blog), share your favorite books, get reviews, publicize upcoming events, share excerpts (as long as you don’t violate your publisher’s TOS), get followers, post videos, and more.
Like other social networks, you should spend some time at Goodreads interacting with others, leaving reviews, and writing posts.
Book Marketing 101
We’re about to get specific on book marketing. First, we’re going to review the basics to marketing. When it comes to cost-effective marketing, the three things you need to know are:
Many people try to market their book to generic audiences, thinking the more eyes on it, the better. But the reality in any marketing is that more eyes on your product don’t necessarily lead to more sales and instead can be a waste of time and money. This is why you don’t see feminine hygiene commercials during football. Yes, lots of women watch football, but in general, it’s not the time or place to put those ads.
Your goal is to define your most likely buyer and put the book in front of him. If you write science fiction, an ad or a review from a mommy-blog isn’t going to work as well as an ad or review on a science fiction review blog. That’s not to say moms don’t like sci-fi, but moms who visit mom blogs are usually looking for recipes, parenting tips, and career advice, not sci-fi book reviews.
Finally, you have to create marketing messages (ads, texts, etc.) that entice readers to want to learn about you and your book. That means you need to create messages that speak to and engage your audience. Readers aren’t going to click on ads or links that say, “Buy my killer mystery.” Instead, you want to pique their interests. In nonfiction, focus on a benefit. For example, for my books I could say, “Get this great book on work-at-home jobs,” (snore) or I could lure job-seekers with, “400 companies hiring home based employees plus tips on getting hired! Start applying today!” For fiction, focus on the interesting aspects of your characters or the book. “Chocolate, lingerie and murder!”
Now that your book is published, you should have a media kit on your site. Although media kits can get large, start out with something small. At the very least it should have your picture, bio, and contact information (including website and social media). It should also have a picture of your book, the ISBN, and description. If you have any professional reviews, won a contest, got an award or anything else significant, include that, too. I also like to include interesting factoids. In nonfiction I include information on working at home, such as statistics and trends. In fiction the factoids are more personal, such as my love of chocolate and phobia to writing.
Finally, include ten or so sample questions that you can answer in an interview (often called a one-sheet). Put this information on its own page of your website, as well as turning it into a PDF document with a link to it on your media page.