Indie Book Marketing 101

My marketing strategy is a bit of trial and error to be honest. Whether you’re with one of the big publishing houses or you’re an indie author, a large portion of a book’s marketing falls on the author. They’re expected (even before a book is published) to have a “platform”. A platform is basically a resume of what you’re bringing to the table (i.e. readers) who will buy your novel. This platform can consists of many things: for non-fiction writers it is your credentials on the subject you are writing on, if you can market your book to classrooms, etc.; but for fiction authors this mainly consists of your social media following and your blog.

Marketing 101

This is my brainstorming face.

I will be the first person to admit that I don’t like Twitter. Anytime I log on I feel like I am joining mid-conversation and have to drudge back to figure out what everyone is talking about.

Facebook I like for my personal account where I share pictures of my kids so my Nan in England can see, but the Facebook platform for professionals is VERY hard to navigate. Especially if you have a personal page and the business is linked with the same login code. It used to be very simple, but like everything else, as soon as it become popular and they “updated” I found it impossible to use. I don’t adapt well.

Instagram is my go-to. I am a visual person and can waste a lot of time scrolling through endless pictures. This obviously shows in my “followers” as my Instagram account outweighs my Twitter and Facebook account by A LOT. I like taking photos in different lights, sharing them, endlessly checking out my Instagram page to see if it is esthetically pleasing.

As for my blog, I am not great at it. I think the problem is I get super excited and post a ton of things and I forget to actually sit down and write my novels. Then I take a break to write, and completely forget about the blog. Then the cycle starts again.

Outside of social media, I have found the best forms of marketing are:

  • Blog Tours
  • Bookbub and ENT
  • Serial Writing

Blog tours are great, because they generate interest in your book typically right before its released or during the week of publication. It’s along the same lines as a movie premiere. You contact a company who organizes blog tours (you can do it yourself but it takes a lot of coordination) and book bloggers sign up for a tour date when you will be featured on their blog usually accompanied with a review. Obviously this is very important because as mentioned in my previous post here, book reviews are key to an author’s success and placement on Amazon and other buying sites. Blog tours help create a buzz about your book and if the book bloggers write favorable reviews and recommend them to their own followers, you reach readers outside of your social platform.

Bookbub and ENT (eReader News Today) are discounted book promotional sites. Bookbub is basically the holy grail of promotional sites. They are not easy to get on (they only accept about 20% of submissions), and their prices go up the more coveted they become. ENT is the same concept as Bookbub, but they don’t have the same overwhelming following as Bookbub. A great strategy for authors would to try and get featured on ENT a day or so before their Bookbub advertisement to boost their Amazon Ranking.

Bookbub from an author’s perspective:

The first thing you do is submit your book. It has to be on sale during the promotion for FREE up to $2.99 and be the lowest sale price for the past six months. If you are offering your book for free the fee for using Bookbub is lower- they charge based on the category you choose and the more popular the category, the more you will be charged. For example if I was to submit Checking Inn to the “Chick Lit” category (on sale for 99 cents) the ad would be $360, however if I submitted it to the “Mystery” category it goes to a whopping thousand dollars for the ad! This is based on their clientele and how many people are signed up to receive notifications on a certain category. More readers, more money. I can tell you having been featured on Bookbub numerous times, it is definitely worth the investment. When White Lies was featured there over 10k books were downloaded in the first weekend and I received TONS of reviews that helped with the ol’ Amazon algorithms. Even if readers don’t follow Bookbub, the sales will boost your standings on Amazon and you will be featured as one of the top selling books to new readers browsing Amazon for a new eBook. They say that there are many factors that go into the editor’s decision on which books to accept for advertisement, but from observations over the years I would say it comes down to how many reviews a book has (and what star rating those reviews equal), and what they already feature on their site. If they have 20 mysteries all at .99-2.99 but no FREE ones listed, they are probably looking to accept a free one. If they only have a couple of books in the Historical Romance category, they are probably going to be more open to a submission especially if you have a fair amount of good reviews.

Bookbub from a reader’s perspective: it’s really a scenario where you can’t lose. If you have an eReader you need to stop what you are doing and sign up for Bookbub. It will ask you to give your email address, the genres you like to read and then you will get a custom email list every day of books that are on sale. It’s a great way to stock up your eReader with some amazing books that are on sale for a very limited time. Then, when you get a chance to sit down with your eReader you’ve got endless options. I’ve already downloaded 80 books from this site since I got my eReader a few weeks ago, and between this and Kindle Unlimited I think I might be set for a while. I’ve made my way through about seven of the 80 so far and I haven’t been disappointed with a single one—remember, a site that is hard for authors to be featured on means they are only going to be taking the best books with great reviews.

Serial writing is a great way for authors to gain readership. I am an obsessive series reader—especially when it comes to Romantic Suspense. For an author it means writing a book series either with the same protagonist, or a protagonist that was introduced in the previous book in the series. From a reader’s point of view, if they enjoyed the first novel in the series, they will probably continue on because they like your writing style, they liked the characters, and they want to see what is next. Writing a series is easier to market then standalone novels, because you can concentrate a lot of your attention on the first book in the series and hope the rest will “sell themselves” to those who enjoyed the first book. A great way to do this from a marketing standpoint is discount the first book and gain new readers. Then hopefully the readers will pick up the second, third, fourth book at regular price and offset the costs of heavily advertising the first in the series. Whereas when you are writing a standalone novel and advertise it, yes some people will pick up your other standalone novels as well—but it is a whole new set of characters and storyline they are committing to.

I hope that gives you a little more insight to my “game plan” when it comes to marketing. I try and research new platforms to situate myself on all the time though. I think I might experiment with Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads next, but it is taking this technologically challenged individual a LONG time to figure out how to do these ads. Stand by, I’m sure I will have an update soon enough!

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