How to promote your self-published book

Hi. I just self-published a book, and I’m curious about the different ways to promote my book. I don’t think it’s overpriced, either, and I have it available as a paperback, hardcover, and an eBook. I’m waiting to hear from Amazon KDP on if they’ve accepted the book (it’s just being reviewed) in paperback and eBook formats.

Any other tips on how to promote?

Well, it depends on your budget and the amount of time you want to spend promoting. There are paid FB ads you can try, Amazon ads once the book is life on Amazon, more economical options with newsletter providers like Fussy Librarian and Book Raid. However, some of those require reviews before they accept you. There are book tours and bloggers, and sites where you can get reviews in exchange for free Advanced Reader Copies like Netgalley and Booksprout. It really just depends on how much money you want to spend.

Then there is general internet presence to raise awareness, such as your own website with a blog, FB author page, Twitter, Instagram and so on. To make a dent, you need to be very active (like in many hours a day over many months).

On a side note, it’s very difficult to promote any debut without having already a backlist on your profile. Read through is simply not available, no matter how much readers love your work. It’s a huge investment with very little prospect of success, even though I’ve seen a few authors who pulled it off. @AlecHutson is maybe the most successful who hit the ground running right out of the gate and might have more ideas.

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I’ve seen a bunch of authors do well out of the gate, but usually it was a ‘lightning strike’ sort of situation. For me, my book got picked up and recommended by one of the biggest indie fantasy authors. I also published just when Amazon AMS was taking off, and I got in on the ground floor before everyone piled in and drove up the bid prices - I wasn’t spending that much money, but it went a lot farther back then. I also had pretty good word of mouth.

I guess with promotion there’s paid and unpaid. Unpaid include Amazon KDP promotions like discounted and free days, interacting on subreddits and FB groups where readers hang out (but not in an annoying ‘buy my book way’, contacting reviewers or bloggers to see if they’ll give your book a try, finding free contests like the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off . . . paid promotion mostly include cost per click advertising.

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I’m currently reading a John Grisham novel (“Camino Island”) where someone steals the original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts. The main characters are authors and a bookstore owner. Grisham seems to throw in his views about being an author, publishers, agents, and other aspects of the literary world, everything from literary fiction vs trash novels that sell better than anything else and writer’s block. I don’t know if he intended to do it, but it gets into his mind about the industry.

Book tours are part of it. And he makes them sound depressing for the author, like when you spend a day in the bookstore and only 4 people show up or get excited when you see people hanging around only to find out they’re all employees of the bookstore.

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As @SallyMason1 mentioned it really depends on your budget. Marketing/promoting your book also takes time and energy. While you want to attract new readers you also want your marketing efforts to count. To do this you need to have a clear idea of who your target audience is and how to position your book in front of them. There’s a couple of things many authors including myself have tried to attract new readers that won’t break the bank.

Free Book giveaways. If you have a large following this could work. Otherwise sites such as Goodreads which connects writers to readers is another great place to host a giveaway. Plus you increase your visibility by running a giveaway.

Contacting book reviewers/bloggers in your genre/niche. You want to get as many book reviewers lined up (if you haven’t already) who are interested in your genre. Having more reviews (especially positive ones) adds credibility and helps undecided readers make an informed decision on whether your book is worth taking a chance on. Plus if your reviewer really likes your book they will promote it for you via word of mouth. Word of mouth is free and can be very effective especially if that book blogger has a large and engaged following.

You can also experiment with some of the promotion tools within Amazon KDP which include:

Free Runs
Kindle Countdown deals
Amazon ads (this can be run against books of similar genres that happen to be getting traction)

I just scratched the surface. Ultimately you want to strive to build a platform and use a mix of paid marketing and self-promotion (social media, blogs, email newsletters, and etc.) to promote your book.

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Those have become quite pricey. They start at $119 for the basic package, and that doesn’t include the cost of the paperbacks, if you go that route (even though the delivery of up to 100 ebooks is included)

Honestly, I’ve never tried them and heard mixed reviews about them. A couple of authors swear by them, expecially if you use a good one, others said it was a total waste of time and money. I think it depends on the genre and the tour operator. Everytime, I have a new release, I’m tempted to try it, but then I shy away because it is quite expensive and the really good ones have a long waiting list.

I was looking at Camino Island – maybe I’ll pick it up when I’m at the airport bookstore the next time before a long flight.

I don’t think it’s a great book. The first chapter was okay, but then there was chapter after chapter of people’s backgrounds. I’ve been reading thrillers and this definitely isn’t as exciting. But I’m finally at a chapter where it’s coming together.

I’m sure Grisham does well at book signings, if he even does them. But I hear in his voice the difficulties the normal author has. Maybe he experienced it when he started.

There was one part that made me break out laughing. There are two women living together. One struggled to complete a literary fiction novel, and she couldn’t write anyway (reader didn’t know who was speaking, complicated sentences that no one understood, etc.). The other woman was successful writing trash. That one signed a bad contract with a sleazy publisher and committed to writing 3 more novels for them. In order to move on to a new publisher she had to write those 3 novels first so she wrote as fast as she could, writing garbage, whipping all three out in a few months writing 10 hours a day. Then she wrote the novel she wanted to write. That one didn’t sell, but the other 3 were her best selling novels.

Sometimes you hear the cynicism in Grisham’s voice. Maybe a non-author wouldn’t pick up on it, but I did.

That’s pretty high! I’m not sure what their policies are now (I hosted a giveaway a couple of years ago). At the time the only cost to me was purchasing my own books from Amazon and then shipping. But there was no added cost on Goodreads’ end. With the giveaway I was given the option to choose how many books I was giving away. Granted my giveaway was smaller in size so the cost to me was affordable.

As far as I know, he really struggled in the beginning. He wrote a Time to Kill, which was a huge emotional investment for him according to interviews, but no one wanted even a full. Then he wrote Tthe Firm and his career took off from there. It wasn’t until later before a Time to Kill made it to print. Personally, I think it’s one of his best work.

I have to admit that he is lately a hit or miss for me. Some of his books feel stale, and if I was a betting woman (which I’m not), I’m not even sure if they weren’t written by a ghost writer. I miss often the spark the earlier books like Runaway Jury and The Rainmaker had. Then again, I might be too critical.

Fun fact: One of my most favorite books by him is actually a Christmas novealla called “Christmas With the Kranks”. I’m usually someone who doesn’t laugh a lot when reading (I guess I lack the requisite sense of humor), but this book had me in tears. I make it a point to reread it every two to three years.

That’s the way it was when I did my giveaway. Ebooks weren’t available for giveaways, so I offered five paperbacks which I bought through CreateSpace and then shipped them. I believe they changed it to a paying model the beginning of 2018.