If you're a published writer, you'll know what I mean when I say that the months you slaved over writing and revising your novel was the easy part.
Statistics vary (since publishers and booksellers like Amazon won't release them), but around 2500 books are published in the world every day, and that's about a million books a year. So your newly published book is one in a million releasing in any given year. And let's not forget about the millions of past published novels that are still for sale.
Yes, my book (and yours too) is a grain of sand on a beach. Even those who're published by the Big 5 do not automatically sell well. Those "Bestseller" lists are pretty small compared to the number of books available for sale.
It's very depressing to have worked so hard but not have good sales...
What's the key to selling? Marketing.
I've watched countless marketing videos and been on many online seminars about marketing, plus I've actually asked authors who're doing well how they did it. (I asked speculative fiction authors, not romance or erotica authors, which is a whole other ball game.)
Here's what successful authors told me:
1. Get on Bookbub. It's an emailed newsletter with over 2 million subscribers, listing books that are free or heavily discounted. They send newsletters to special interest groups (your western novel will reach those who like westerns). The best way to sell is put your book at free or 99 cents. Not only will Bookbub get you lots of downloads, but if you have other books, you'll probably see a rise in their sales too. However, Bookbub has become very picky and accepts mostly well-known, multi-published authors from large publishers, or well-selling books with 50+ great reviews. (Yes, like banks that loan money, the best way to get accepted is to prove you don't need a loan -- or need Bookbub to boost your already good sales.)
2. Offer FREE short stories, novellas, or novels even if only for a limited time. There are few things people like better than free stuff. You can put ebooks on Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon (and force Amazon to change from min 99 cents to free by hitting "tell us about a lower price" which they match after you tell them 50 times or so), or create a download page where you put ebooks in PDF or various formats. If you get enough downloaders, some will become fans.
3. Have your own newsletter. This is a tricky one. Lots of authors are doing this now, and many people give advice on how to do it. While advice varies, the same adage about free stuff applies. Don't bombard your list with advertising and hope they'll buy. People don't like that and will unsubscribe. Instead, offer special ebook freebies (or bookmarks in the mail, etc.) available only to them. Have great content -- anything from writing tips to funny anecdotes about your last vacation. Offer sneak previews, like the first three chapters of a book you haven't published yet. And this one -- I just got a newsletter from an author who released his book a few days early on Amazon. He cut the price in half and only informed those on his list that it was released. They got the discount before the price went up on its official release day. Make your subscribers feel special, entertain them, give them things so when they see your newsletter in their inbox they want to open it, and then they'll be likely to buy when you have a sale or new release.
4. Paid Advertising. Another tricky one. You can lose big this way unless you're very well informed. A few tips:
a) Go visit your competitors' websites (successful authors writing the same thing you do). Study their images and the way they phrase their ads. They're often designed by agencies, and there's no rule that says you can't copy them.
b) Make sure you target the right audience. An ad on FB that appears to everyone won't help you. You can get FB to advertise to a select group, like "Dean Koontz followers, ages 30-40, female." Or find online ezines that cater to your specific genre and have a big readership.
c) There are other newsletters like Bookbub but not as expensive. Read up on them to find which have the most subscribers. Or find listing sites that will put your book on their main page. You can use Alexa Traffic Rank (free for Chrome browsers) to see how much traffic (readers) the sites have compared to others. Don't get sucked into paying for an ad on a newsletter or site unless you're sure it reaches the most people.
5. Social Media. Don't expect to sell using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. You won't get far screeching about your book every day except unfriended and unfollowed. Even a well-trafficked blog doesn't guarantee sales. But people can't buy your book if they've never heard of it. The best way is to honestly connect with people who have the same interests as you -- the more the better. Interact with them, retweet their tweets, comment on their posts, be friendly. Then, when you have a freebie, special giveaway, a sale, or a new book released, you can use these people to get the word out. Those who really like you and are interested in the genre you write are likely to buy.
For more in-depth info, try this link:
7 Tools and 110 Strategies to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers at DigitalPublishing.com
This is a post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It exists so the community of blogging writers can share and support each other, blog-hopping to cheerlead and commiserate. To find out more, visit: Insecure Writer's Support Group. Plus, check out the IWSG Website for lots of helpful info and links.