10 Winning Marketing Strategies for Your Self-Published Book

scared-writer3

Does the prospect of marketing your book intimidate you?

 

Some time ago, I published a piece telling aspiring authors “Ten Reasons You Should Skip Traditional Publishers and Self-Publish Ebooks Instead.” Yet despite the clear advantages of “indie” over “traditional” publishing, the prospect of “DIY” publishing still scares the hell out of many writers. Their most common worry?

“But…how would I market my book on my own?”

That fear is the main reason why so many hold out forever for a traditional contract, then accept lousy ones. They want a publisher to take the burden of marketing off their backs.

Well, let me share a dirty little secret that publishers don’t want newbie authors to know. Despite all their advance promises to give you lots of promotional support, they mostly will leave the marketing of your book up to you.

That’s right: They save their promotional budgets for King, Evanovich, and Grisham—not for struggling beginners or “mid-listers.” So, if you’ll have to promote your book all by yourself anyway, then why surrender most of your royalties and rights to a publisher?

Still, the question remains: How do you market a self-published book?

I spent a long time studying the promotional methods of successful self-published authors before I released my debut thriller, HUNTER. And, as I have described here, their tips helped HUNTER to become a big bestseller in December 2011.

I learned that becoming a successful “indie” author requires two basic things. First, you must craft a book that appeals to an identified target audience. Second, you must make your bookdiscoverable” to that target audience.

Let me explain what that means, in ten steps:

1. Write the best book you can—then, write your next one.

whisper

How “50 Shades of Grey” Became a Bestseller

Crafting an appealing book is 90% of the marketing battle. No amount of marketing ingenuity will help an unappealing book succeed. On the other hand, I’ve seen great books succeed with little or no marketing push. (Hugh Howey’s Wool is an outstanding example.)

Bottom line: Good “word-of-mouth” is the best advertising.

In addition to writing a good book, the next best marketing tactic is to write more good books. Each new title will broaden your name recognition and generate more sales for all your previous ones. That’s because many readers are “binge readers.” They find an author they like, and they then seek out and scoop up every single title that the author has written previously.

Even better, write a series. Books linked together by some connecting theme (think of John Gray’s “Mars and Venus” books), or by some appealing character (think: Harry Potter, Jack Reacher, Stephanie Plum, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Mitch Rapp, Mike Hammer, Scot Harvath, Sean Dillon, Spenser, Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, etc., etc.), will foster a virtual addiction in your fans, who will then eagerly await the publication date for every new installment in the series. Better yet, each new book released will attract new fans, prompting them to go back and buy all the prior books in the series. That’s how bestselling authors expand their audience over time, often geometrically.

Every successful author I know agrees: The single best “marketing tactic” that you can employ, by far, is to write and publish your next book. In fact, many of them counsel that you shouldn’t even bother to begin doing any promotions until you’ve written and published at least three books. Success in indie publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Still, stories of books—especially self-published books—succeeding without any marketing, are rare. Most books, even good ones, will languish, invisible among millions of available titles, unless you do something to make them stand out and become visible—discoverable—to some target audience.

So, let’s assume that you have written a good book. Now, your pre-publication job is to enhance its “discoverability.” Here’s some key stuff to take care of before you publish:

 

2.  Identify your target reader, find out where he is, and think like that reader in every aspect of your marketing.

[Note: I would now amend what I wrote in this section with the ideas in this post.]

No book appeals to everyone. So, don’t even try to market broadly and generically; that’s a waste of your time and money. Instead…

target-audience1. Narrowly define your target reader audience. Do they share a demographic profile (age, sex, ethnicity, background, etc.)? What are their values and interests? Who are their heroes? Write a profile of your “ideal reader.”

2. Next, find out where they hang out. What books and magazines do they read? What movies do they like? What online sites do they frequent? What groups to they belong to? Compile lists of these things; you’ll want to target them later.

3. Now, think like that reader in all aspects of your marketing. No, this doesn’t mean pandering to readers as a writer. But in every marketing decision and action, ask yourself: How would this be perceived by my target reader? Never view marketing decisions as aspects of your artistic self-expression. Marketing is simply the effective communication of values. It means connecting your work with the values and interests of your targeted customer.

 

3.  Don’t be amateurish. Be totally professional in all aspects of your writing, editing, and production values.

bad-writer

Face it: Your book is competing with millions of other titles—many by Big Name authors from major publishers—for the attention, consideration, and purchasing dollars of your target reader. That’s why you must give that reader every impression of being as professional as your competitors—and never amateurish or “self-published.” So…

    • Aim for craftsmanship in your writing. Always strive to learn and improve.
    • Be patient: Take your time to do things right rather than rush to publish.
    • Test your final manuscript on “beta readers”: people with writing and editing skills, but especiallymembers of your audience of target readers.
    • After their input, carefully edit, proofread, format, lay out, and design your book—and preferably, have those tasks done by hired, objective pros. What you may think are “little things”—typos, misspellings, bad punctuation—will be tell-tale signs of “amateur” to many browsing customers, and you’ll lose them. Those “little things” count in a big way, if you wish to establish a professional image and reputation. (Here’s one place where you can find the good contract help you’ll need.)
    • Make sure your cover looks professional—like a major publisher’s. First, it must suggest the right genre to your target reader. Second, it must consist of simple, bold images, and use big, colorful, contemporary fonts for the HUNTER WSJ TAGLINE FINAL UPLOAD smallertitle and author name. All of this should be visible and legible when reduced to thumbnail size, which is how customers will probably first see it online. And third, test potential cover designs on some members of your target audience before you decide which to use. Remember: A cover is not about what you like; it’s about what your target reader likes. Don’t just grab some images off the Internet, use PhotoShop on them, then select Times Roman fonts for the title and your name. That all-too-common approach simply screams “self-published amateur,” and it will turn off many prospective readers. If you’re not a graphic designer, spend a couple of hundred bucks and hire one. (You can find good ones at the preceding link.) It will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

Before I published HUNTER, I knew a “noir” look would capture the mood for my vigilante crime thriller. But I needed a cover that would really “pop” and grab the eyes of my target audience from amid the sea of other book covers displayed on sites such as Amazon. My talented young cover designer, Allen Chiu, understood exactly what I was looking for and simply knocked it out of the park.

Here is another fundamental consideration for your marketing tactics:

 

4.  Carve out a distinctive market niche, and “brand” yourself and your work.

Years ago, I encountered the invaluable little marketing classic by Al Ries and Jack Trout titled Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Its subtitle is “How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace.”

Well, that’s what successful indie authors now call “discoverability.” And here are a couple of key points about how to enhance it:

branding2First, “brand yourself and your book. Carve out a narrow, distinctive “niche” in the book marketplace based on some catchy concept, theme, or image that will appeal to your target readers, but simultaneously distinguish your work from all others in your genre.

Since my novel is about a mysterious vigilante hero, I decided that my brand would be “The Vigilante Author.”  I use the vigilante concept to distinguish my book from other types of thrillers. But my hero is also distinctive from other fictional vigilante characters, because he’s unusually self-reflective and philosophical about what he’s doing. In fact, you might describe him as a kind of “philosophical Zorro.” So that even more tightly defines my market “niche,” setting my work apart.

Bottom line: Find some catchy, distinctive concept that works for you.

Second, use your “brand” in everything you do to promote your work: book covers, author photos, blog designs, promotional copy, business cards, etc. That kind of focus and integration will guarantee that your “brand” will become uniquely identified with you, making you and your work memorable for your target readers.

You can see by this blog how I employed my “Vigilante Author” brand as its title, then tied the blog’s visual theme to my book cover. I even selected an author photo that would reinforce my brand. (And yeah, I wear that “Indiana Jones” hat in public a lot. Besides good branding, I think it just looks cool. And I’m old enough not to care if anyone thinks otherwise.)

5. Don’t price your book either too low or too high. Price it strategically to be competitive.

Some indie authors have achieved a lot of success by running temporary sales on their ebooks—even setting the price at “free” for a few days. This tactic can generate a lot of visibility and build your fan base quickly. Applied to one book in an ongoing series, low or free pricing also can attract many readers who’ll then go and buy all the others.

But obviously, it’s not a great tactic to give away your work permanently, not if your long-term goal is to make writing books a paying proposition.

free-ebooks

So again: “Think like your target reader.” If you price your ebook too low—say, 99 cents—he may think: “Cheap—probably self-published—probably lousy quality.” On the other hand, if you price it too high, you’ll lose a lot of sales because you aren’t a household name like King or Clancy or Evanovich.

You also should know that ebook pricing affects royalties. On Amazon, for example, you get 35% royalties on ebooks priced from 99 cents up to $2.98, 70% on ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99, and then back down to 35% on books priced at $10 or higher. Clearly, you make the most money per sale by pricing between $2.99 and $9.99.

Personally, I think the pricing “sweet spot” for ebooks by a newbie, self-published author lies between $2.99 – $4.99 for a full-length ebook, around $1.99 for an e-published novella, and 99 cents to $1.99 for an e-edition of a short story. (FYI: I priced HUNTER at $3.99 from the outset and I’ve never regretted that decision.)

After you’ve earned a Big Name, you can and probably should raise your prices. But I wouldn’t try doing that until I had an established following and multiple titles.

For print editions, I think you should try to price your book just a bit lower than comparable hardcovers or paperbacks issued by major publishers—again, until you acquire a good fan base.

Now, I want to mention one of the most important, yet neglected things that an author can do to generate sales:

6.  Don’t be dull! Carefully craft compelling promotional copy on your Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online product pages.

This is one of the biggest failings of most self-published authors. They knock themselves out parsing every sentence inside their book—yet they treat what they say about their book, in its product descriptions and marketing materials, as an afterthought. Many of their book blurbs are about as exciting as cooking recipes. And then they wonder why their books don’t sell.

book-blurb1

…but don’t get carried away, okay?

You must craft compelling product descriptions, with endorsement blurbs (if you have them), for your product pages on Amazon and elsewhere. Because most prospective buyers eventually will wind up on online product sales pages, your product description will be your book’s final sales pitch. Its only purpose is to “close the sale.” So, make sure it is as colorful and persuasive as possible.

Study the dust-jacket copy of books issued by major publishers in your genre, just to get a feel for the style, cadence, and layout of riveting promotional copy. That is what you’re looking to emulate.

Then test some drafts of your blurbs on members of your target audience and see what language grabs them. If your description arouses just enough interest and intrigue to prompt a purchase, that’s good enough.

And remember: Promotional copy is supposed to be only a teaser—not an exhaustive presentation of the story. Its job is to build curiosity, not to satisfy it. You build intense curiosity not by revealing everything, but by what you don’t reveal.

Ask any successful stripper.

sally-rand

Sally Rand knew how to build curiosity by what she did NOT show.

Then, there are tactics you can employ specifically on Amazon to attract readers:

 

7.  Make it easy for your target readers to find your book by categorizing it strategically on Amazon.

book_categoryAmazon is the 800-pound gorilla of online book marketing. To help readers find the books they like, Amazon provides a host of book categories and subcategories, distinguished by genres and subgenres, each with its own bestseller list.

This will help your target reader find your title—but only if you’ve categorized it in the places where he most likely will be searching for your kind of book. In addition, if you can get your book to show up prominently on some Amazon subcategory bestseller list, it will further boost its visibility to readers.

So, how do you do this? When you first publish your book, Amazon allows you to list it in two separate categories or subcategories. But to make it easier to discover, don’t just list it in the broadest, most generic categories, like “Romance” or “Mysteries” or “Thrillers.” Dig down into the less-populated subcategories with fewer titles (e.g., “Romantic Suspense,” “Technothrillers,” “British Mysteries”), where your book will stand out better.

You want to choose subcategories that, first of all, are most likely to be searched by your target reader. But then, to make it easier for your book to get onto some subcategory bestseller lists, pick appropriate subgenres with the fewest competing titles. You can find out exactly how many books are listed in each genre category and subcategory by searching the category “tree” on the left side of many Amazon book listing pages. And if you have trouble listing your book in the subcategories you want, just email Amazon. Their staff will be more than willing to help you.

There are also some things that you should (and shouldn’t) do in order to build a loyal readership.

 

8.  Don’t become a “book-spammer.” Instead, establish personal, helpful, mutually rewarding relationships with your readers.

Many successful self-publishing authors are convinced that paid ads are usually a waste of money. I agree. (Though there are exceptions; see below.)

spammer1I also think that many self-publishing authors are inept when it comes to using social media. They send out constant email blasts and Tweets about their books, becoming pests. That’s because they approach social relationships as “takers” rather than “traders.”

A trader knows that if you want to get something from someone, you have to give back something in return.

The most cost-effective promotion and marketing strategy is to befriend your readers via online social networking. Don’t run yourself ragged doing this. I recommend that you pick a single online networking or discussion site, either Facebook, Google +, Goodreads, or Twitter. Become a valuable contributor there. Also, you might occasionally join in on blogs and discussion forums in your book’s genre or topical area(s) of interest. That’s where your target readers are likely to be. Hang out in those places mainly to make friends and learn, and you’ll occasionally find natural, unobtrusive ways to mention your book(s) and generate curiosity. Again, just don’t overdo the self-promotion.

Other methods to explore:

Establish an author’s blog/website. Write about interesting stuff related to your book’s subject matter—but not about the book itself all the time. You might interview other indie authors in your genre; some will return the favor. You also can ask book bloggers and fellow authors to review your books.  Some will. Here are a few  highly regarded blogs hosted by several super-successful indie authors. Study what they do and ask yourself why it works.

Contact groups and publications that share your interests and/or an interest in your book’s subject matter, and look for opportunities for cross-promotion.

Approach your local newspaper(s), both in your current area and where you grew up; they love to publish “local boy/girl makes good” features. Libraries, book clubs, and civic groups also like to host local authors.

Buy and use business cards that feature your book. You can design your own high-quality business cards and get them dirt cheap on sites like GotPrint.com. As for how to design and use them effectively, check out publisher Robin Sullivan’s excellent advice.

Answer all email and blog comments from your readers, and compile an email contact list of fans. This is very important: You can use that list to announce and promote your subsequent books to them, and that will give your next title a good crack at the bestseller lists on its publication date.

online_business_networking_groups1

As you build authentic relationships and friendships with your readers, you can engage with them further in order to help you succeed:

 

9.  Encourage satisfied readers to leave reviews of your book on Amazon.

book-ratingThe best advertising is “word of mouth” from satisfied customers. When enthusiastic fans contact you, ask them to consider posting “reader reviews” at your book’s product pages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc.Their affirmation of your book’s worth will reassure browsing customers and persuade many to give it a chance.

However, don’t go out and actively solicit reviews from friends and relatives, and never post fake reviews or use any deceptive methods to try to “game the system.” Don’t try to artificially inflate your book’s ratings by conspiring with fellow indie authors to post mutually flattering “customer reviews.” These tactics only devalue the worth of reviews and hurt you and all indie authors in the long run.

There’s a final thing I recommend, again based on personal experience:

book-marketing10.  Utilize Amazon’s marketing tools.

For the foreseeable future, Amazon remains your best bet for attaining self-publishing success. And it provides a host of tools for indie authors to maximize their visibility and reach. Here are a few specific ways to utilize those tools to your advantage:

Participate in special promotions, if invited. I speak from experience. Based on my book’s good reviews and steady sales, Amazon invited me to participate in one such week-long promotion late last November. Over the next 35 days, I sold over 50,000 copies of HUNTER.

Exploit your ranking on category bestseller lists in your promotions. If you’ve hit some subcategory bestseller list, use that fact in your marketing blurbs and product descriptions. Don’t be modest. Remember what the early baseball great “Dizzy” Dean said: “Ya ain’t braggin’ if ya can back it up.”

Consider opportunities to run short-term “free” giveaways and promotions for your ebook. I’ve mentioned this earlier. I should add that I haven’t yet done this myself, but it does work for some authors. So do promotional and advertising efforts through certain online sites such as Bookbub.

 

buy_my_book2

Don’t panic if your book doesn’t sell right away.

These tips barely scratch the surface of the many methods you can employ to market your books effectively. But they’re a good beginning.

However, don’t panic if they don’t work to produce stellar sales immediately.

Remember: Ebooks are forever. Once available online, your ebook (or print-on-demand book) isn’t going to go away. It can sit there on a server indefinitely while you continue to experiment with its cover, your promotional blurbs, your marketing campaign…even its content. Yes, unlike a book released by a traditional publisher, you can go back and fix things you don’t like. Eventually, if it’s an appealing book, it will find its audience.

Meanwhile, as you wait for that to happen, let me repeat that the smartest marketing move you can make, bar none, is to start writing your next book.

And if you’re still not convinced that self-publishing is the right route for you, read or reread my earlier post on that topic.

Good luck, and happy writing!

This entry was posted in Book business, Essays, HUNTER: A Thriller, Marketing Advice, Publishing Advice, Self-Publishing, Writing Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.magill Karen Magill

    Thanks for that Robert. I have got to narrow down my target market!

    • RobertBidinotto

      It’s probably THE most challenging thing to do, Karen: identifying that elusive “target reader, finding out where she is, then figuring out appropriate ways to get them to discover your work. But going “narrow,” like a rifle shot, beats a “scattergun” approach every time.

  • RobertBidinotto

    I’m not the only writer who has posted on this topic–far from it. Here are tips from author Simon Haynes.

    Also, this past week bestselling indie superstar Hugh Howey posted “My Advice to Aspiring Authors.”

    If you notice overlap in these writers’ advice and mine, it’s because this stuff in no state secret among indie authors, who have been compiling and sharing this information for several years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/authorcherylbradshaw Cheryl Bradshaw

    Excellent post, Robert.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Many thanks for that, Cheryl!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.montague Darryl Montague

    very good and sound advice. Great job.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Hey, thanks, Darryl.

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  • http://twitter.com/RobtMcD R.E. McDermott

    Robert,

    A great, very helpful post (as usual). One thing that I would offer in regard to identifying your target audience is “look in the mirror.” I think most writers pen books that appeal to them, at least I know I do. (After all, what author writes a book they don’t find appealing themselves?}

    Thus when faced with determining just who my potential readers might be, I look for folks that share my background, interests, and outlook. I think every writer can do the same fairly easily. You’ve got a lifetime of research right there at your fingertips, so I’d suggest using it. I can’t say it will work for everyone, but it has worked for me.

    I remain in awe of your ability to garner promotional love from Amazon/Audible (you really have to teach me how to do that :)) However, even when going it alone, good stories with good covers will win readers in time, just as you said. I would also add that I’ve had good results with BookBub, and they are (to date at least) the only paid advertising I’ve found to be particularly effective.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    Bob McDermott

    • RobertBidinotto

      Bob, thanks for all of that. You’d be surprised what demographic info you can find about various genre readers simply by going to Google with the search terms “demographics of [thriller/romance/whatever] readers.” Also, over on the “Passive Voice” blog, which has linked to this post, there is a great discussion in the reader “comments” section about identifying and narrowing a “target reader.”

      You are the umpteenth author who has told me they’ve gotten great results with BookBub. Ads there seem to produce consistently good sales results for indie authors. I’ll certainly consider using them myself.

      Finally, about my alleged ability “to garner promotional love from Amazon/Audible”: I have absolutely no insight as to why they’ve featured HUNTER when they have. Except for that big November-December 2011 promotion, I’ve never been informed in advance that any promotion is afoot before it happens. But if it makes you feel better, my ebook sales have completely fallen off the cliff over the past week. So right now, I ain’t feelin’ the love. LOL!

      What I really need to do is follow examples of guys like you, Bob, and get some more books out — and much more regularly. My hat’s off to you, sir.

      • http://twitter.com/RobtMcD R.E. McDermott

        “But if it makes you feel better, my ebook sales have completely fallen off the cliff over the past week.”

        Sorry to hear that, but if it makes YOU feel any better, they didn’t fall my way. ROFL!

        • RobertBidinotto

          Hahahaha. A little “gallows humor” here….

  • http://www.facebook.com/DJGelner D.J. Gelner

    Great stuff, Robert–thanks for sharing. I’ve found business cards tend to work quite well for sales, but I was wondering how to make them for more than one work. Your template is just the thing I was looking for. Thanks again!

    • RobertBidinotto

      That “GotPrint.com” site has been a goldmine for me. I got my first batch of 1,000 business cards — full-color, double-sided, coated, thick, and truly handsome — for under $20! I distribute them everywhere, and I know they’ve sold a lot of books for me.

  • http://twitter.com/megan_denby Megan Denby

    Thank you for some excellent advice and tips, Robert. I’ve come across so many ‘book-spammers’ in the short time I’ve been published and I am determined to never fall into that category! Thanks again. This is worth paying forward!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Megan, it warms my heart to hear you say that you’ll spread the info around to other writers. We all benefit if we help encourage and enable some great writers to launch great books. Thank you.

  • RobertBidinotto

    A lot of people ask me about writing good product descriptions. You want an idea of a brilliant teaser? Consider this one, from the back cover of Alex Berenson’s remarkable debut thriller, The Faithful Spy:

    ———–

    Years ago, John Wells was an all-American boy from Montana. Now, he is roaming the mountains of Pakistan as a member of al Qaeda.

    After a decade away from home, he despises the United States for its decadence. He hates America’s shallow, mindless culture of vice and violence. He is a devout Muslim. He is a brave warrior for Allah.

    He is a CIA operative.

    And he is coming home…

    —————

    Folks, teaser writing just doesn’t get any better than that. The copy writer was absolutely ingenious in making every single word count and filled with ominous implications. Even his line breaks are perfect. He never had to spell out the central conflict or “story question”: It’s all there, between the lines.

    You want to write potent, economical teaser copy? Study that thing. It’s a post-grad course…in about 71 words.

  • Ryan

    Robert,
    Thanks for your generosity in this and previous posts. I particularly liked what you had to say about marketing, starting with mentioning a truly great book, Positioning: The Battle for the Mind. It’s dated in terms of examples used, but I still recommend the book to people for its fundamental insights. I appreciate the example you’ve set in applying it to your books and yourself as author. You’re making me think….

    • RobertBidinotto

      Ryan, I’m flattered. Really. But nobody “makes” anyone else think. You should take full credit for that.

      As for Positioning, while the business examples are dated, it remains a classic in terms of the principles it offers. I’m glad you affirm its value, Ryan. A few years ago, Jack Trout issued an updated book, The New Positioning, also extremely valuable. Those books, plus Focus by Al Ries, and Marketing Warfare by Trout and Ries, are marketing classics. Short, fast, easy reads, too, but crammed with insights useful to anyone who must compete in an overcrowded marketplace against formidable, entrenched competitors.

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  • Christine campbell

    Thank you so much for this, Robert. I have followed some of the links you give in your replies to earlier comments too. So much great help and advice.
    I’m fairly new to all this…the social media/ Internet side of things, not the writing. But I can see it’s the way to go, so I’m really grateful to have such excellent guidelines to help me on my way.
    Christine Campbell

    • RobertBidinotto

      Christine, I appreciate that a lot. If you look around on this site, and also on the sites I link to in the right-hand margin, you’ll find a mother lode of valuable information on all aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing your work. Nothing would make me happier than to see you and the other fine folks commenting here become wildly successful doing something that I know we all love to do: writing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/billyray.chitwood Billy Ray Chitwood

    Your time and effort is appreciated. Thank you for the good information. Best wishes to you.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Billy Ray, thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. I’m glad the info may be helpful to you. Some terrific self-published authors have been generous with their advice to me, and I’m just passing it along.

  • http://twitter.com/BiancaSloane Bianca Sloane

    Excellent, excellent advice. Thanks for taking the time to craft this.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Bianca, you are most welcome. Glad you find it helpful.

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  • http://twitter.com/GuyPortman Guy Portman

    Hi Robert, I enjoy reading your posts. It’s particularly interesting how you’ve identified your readership and marketed to them as opposed to just bombarding Twitter with book promotion Tweets, which generally seem to be virtually invisible in a saturated market place or seen by other authors/uninterested parties. Yesterday I wrote a light hearted blog post about different types of author behaviour on Twitter, it’s at http://www.guyportman.com if you’re interested.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Guy, thanks for your interest in my posts, and for this comment. You’re right about “bombarding Twitter with book promotion Tweets.” It’s futile. A fundamental point about good “positioning” in the marketplace is that you must do things that make you stand out from the pack. So, you don’t do exactly what everyone else is doing. Right now, the easy and lazy way for writers to promote is to send out constant Tweets about their books. And about a million writers seem to be doing this, producing billions of Tweets…mostly aimed at each other, rather than at their target audiences. Even if they focused on the latter, it wouldn’t take more than a week for their target readers to become annoyed and tune out.

      That’s what I meant about becoming a helpful presence to your readers — a trader, not a taker. Your piece identifying different types of Twitter behavior by authors is helpful in that. If you’re using Twitter, I’d aim at becoming a “Mellow Mingler” — a Tweeting friend, rather than a Tweeting fiend.

      • http://twitter.com/GuyPortman Guy Portman

        Thanks for the advice and for taking the time to read my blog post Robert. I will definitely try and follow your example and give some thought to positioning. I look forward to reading your next post.

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  • Giacomo Giammatteo

    Excellent post with a lot of good information. Thanks for sharing it. And you’re so right about the secret is to continue writing good books. All the tricks and promotions in the world won’t beat that.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Giacomo, I’m delighted that you found value here. And that you agree with me about my #1 recommendation.

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  • Regina Walker

    Thank you very much for this post! As an aspiring author, I’ve been caught in the push-and-pull of selecting what type of publishing I will seek out. Your post has encouraged me in my desire to self-publish! Thanks!

    • RobertBidinotto

      As I’ve said repeatedly, Regina, there’s no downside risk in self-publishing. If your long-term hope is to find a traditional publisher, success as an indie is one way to get their attention. I hope you find the posts and links here helpful as you pursue this new adventure. Good luck!

  • webfix

    As a published Kindle book author on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/True-Ghost-Stories-ebook/dp/B0088S63U2/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1364829472&sr=1-2), I found your article really interesting and helpful.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Glad to hear it. I hope you find the other content here helpful, as well. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://twitter.com/bloggerESP E.S.P.

    Wow, this is really funny. I might come back to this. My book marketing starts this May, so let’s hope and pray this article didn’t go in and of two different ears. whoistheserialreader@blogspot.

  • Shauney Watson

    I found this advice so helpful. I have been pondering over what to do with my manuscript – I knew I wanted to self-publish but I really didn’t know what to do about marketing. Got a proper little plan drawn up now because of your advice. Thank you, Robert!
    Shauney

    • RobertBidinotto

      Shauney, sorry for the delayed reply. I’m delighted that this blog has encouraged you to pursue a dream, and perhaps has given you some ideas about how to do it. Let me emphasize that the best marketing plan is to write more books, ones that some target audience finds appealing. Once that happens, “word of mouth” advertising will kick in and do the rest.

  • K L Hemmings

    Thank-you Robert!
    I’ve been feeling embarrassed about self-publishing my first effort but you’ve given me the incentive to strive on with my sequel, whatever happens. Brilliant website, thanks.
    K L Hemmings. (Not feeling like I’ve wasted my time any more)! X

    • RobertBidinotto

      I’m delighted to hear that, KL. No, you have NOT wasted your time…not if you have a passion to write. Success in writing shouldn’t be measured in the numbers of eyeballs reading your work, but in the depth of connection you make with any given reader. I wish you all the best on this adventure.

  • http://twitter.com/JustinSirois Justin Sirois

    Robert,

    Great article, sir. I hope this isn’t a repeat of a question, but at what point did Amazon approach you about special marketing? How many reviews (good) did you have?

    I just optioned my new series for TV/film, but it’s still relatively unknown.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Justin, many apologies for not seeing your comment sooner.

      The Amazon Kindle editors invited my participation in its post-Thanksgiving 2011 “Big Deal” sales promotion five months after HUNTER was published in June of that year. The novel had, by then, garnered respectable sales (about 4,000 copies), but — if my memory serves — over 60 “5-star” rave reviews from readers, with a cumulative customer rating of about 4.8 out of a possible 5 points. I think it was the combination of those two factors that brought the book to their attention.

      I’m delighted to hear that your new series has been optioned — and on that score, you’re ahead of me. Congratulations! I’ve yet to crack the Hollywood nut, despite having formidable representation there. I suspect my book and its sequels will prove too controversial and Politically Incorrect; we’ll see. May you have better luck!

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  • Will Kavanagh

    Robert, your insistence on branding yourself proved incredibly insightful. I finished my first book a year ago and have since published, assuming I would develop a marketing plan to gain necessary visibility. Boy was I wrong! The book is roughly an autobiographical compilation of ten years of my life–fictionalized to protect the guilty. Your message hit home and I realized I couldn’t successfully market it because I couldn’t put the right branded niche on it. I tried to call it a romantic adventure, which it wasn’t, and one of my Amazon reviewers called it a sexy military thriller. She came closer than I ever did to figuring out how to brand it. It’s really about a 60s boy who by chance and fate managed to avoid Vietnam, serve his country well, and encounter the most amazing love affair imaginable. I have already written two subsequent novels in the series, but the first book requires the proper branding to get to that target audience you so aptly described. I am making structural changes now to make it a silver linings happenstance into the military and the sexual revolution. Thanks much for your absolutely insightful advice about branding; if you don’t get it right, the readers will be disappointed. By the way ‘The Vigilante Author’ got me; what a message in three words. Well done brother, I needed that!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Will, I couldn’t be happier to hear this. I’m always glad when something I offer here proves to be useful to fellow writers. Thanks for letting me know.

  • Falisha Walls

    Wow! Thank you sir! :-)

    • RobertBidinotto

      You are quite welcome, Falisha. I hope that this is useful to you.

  • cbp24601

    Thank you for the info. I’m finding it harder promoting my novel than it was writing it! Trying to maneuver the fine line between persistence and blatant self-promotion.

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I understand. It is a challenge. I do think that developing a focused but distinctive online platform that offers something of value to your target readers is the way to go. Simply calling attention to your book doesn’t work well, because these days, everyone is doing that. Good luck on your efforts. And remember: The best promotion is to write a new book.

    • RobertBidinotto

      I think if you keep the mindset of the “trader,” rather than the “taker,” you’ll find that line easier to navigate. Think: What do I have to offer potential readers today? If you do that, you’ll find that readers will be attracted to you and intrigued by your work.

      This post is an example. I truly tried to pack in a lot of solid advice for readers. I could’ve expanded it into an ebook and sold it, and that would’ve been perfectly okay. Instead, I decided simply to give away the tips here. And what has happened? If you notice at the top of the article, it’s been shared repeatedly, all over social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. I’d bet that thousands of people have read it, as a result.

      Those people — some of whom, like you, have even commented here — tell me that they got something out of it. As a happy serendipity for me, many have been exposed to my name and name of my debut novel for the first time, too. In one part of the post, I even used my book as an example of an eye-catching, genre-distinctive cover. The mentions of my own personal story and book link were natural and not intrusive; they illustrated valuable points I was making. Some of those who read this post have probably bought the book, as a result. Of those people, some may have liked it enough to recommend it to friends, or even post customer reviews on Amazon.

      It’s all “win/win.” And I didn’t have to grab anyone by the lapels or do “blatant self-promotion.” I simply try to offer value to readers. If your “persistence” is in offering value, rather than “blatant self-promotion,” the sales will eventually come. Good luck.

  • http://www.wisestep.com/ WiseStep

    This is a great article and I am tempted to purchase this book should I get past the 1 boundary that has completely stopped me from writing a book I had planned and began outlining!!

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Well, I certainly hope you give it a shot. In my case, I knew I would have hated myself if I went to my grave without at least trying to chase my dream.

      And guess what happened?

    • Vert

      This is a great article and I am tempted to purchase this book should I get past the 1 boundary that has completely stopped me from writing a book I had planned and began outlining!!

      What an interesting thought…

      plagiarismdetect

  • Beverly Adair

    Robert, thank you for the advice. I have found the writing part the easiest and the marketing the most difficult. With my second book in the series about to be published – I think your advice of writing the next book is the most significant (Book 3 in editing phase). My first round of fans is clamouring for the second, but they are quite a small fan-base; and now I want to increase it for both books. Thanks again for sharing your experience.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Beverly, you’re exactly right. In my case, right after first publishing my debut thriller in 2011, I was trying hard to exploit the unusually strong early sales of HUNTER in order to create a good core base of fans for the subsequent novels in the series. But then I got tremendously lucky when the Kindle editors showcased the book in late 2011. Sales skyrocketed and my future readership was secured.

      At that point, I should have immediately written my next book, BAD DEEDS, and published it later in 2012. But I got caught up in the “promotional cycle”–which by then was largely superfluous. Readers have been clamoring for the HUNTER sequel, and the best thing I could have done for promotion is to write the next book for them.

      If your fans are indeed clamoring for the second, then that is where to put your time and energy: writing the next books. More than anything else, fan bases grow by word of mouth and recommendations. If you were to see the two-year graph of my sales, you’d be astonished at the peaks and valleys…most of them completely unrelated to any publicity I’ve been generating. The past 24 hours are an example: HUNTER sales have suddenly jumped, and I haven’t a clue as to why — certainly nothing I’ve been doing. Perhaps somebody with his or her own fan base has been recommending the book. Who knows?

      All I know is that THE best thing you can do to publicize your work is to put more of it out there. The more “virtual real estate” you occupy online with your works, the easier it will be for new fans to find you. And when they do, many will buy all your other books, too.

      Best wishes to you on this adventure, Beverly!

      • BobMc28

        Robert McNally
        Robert, thanks for the great advice. The very next thing I’d like to do is join a blog or discussion forum. I’m a lightweight when it comes to the computer. Could you clue me in as to who I could contact. Thanks.

        • RobertBidinotto

          It depends on what you’re looking for, Robert. Do you want to engage with other writers, or with readers? If the latter, I recommend that you check out the specific genre discussion boards on Goodreads, Shelfari, and even Reddit.

      • ricardo williams

        I wish I had read your article before I exposed my book “Dear God: An Impatient Conversation with a Patient God,” to social media. I approached it the wrong way and I paid for that. I had people reviewing my spam tactics as opposed to the book. Now I’m doing damage control. Thanks.

        • RobertBidinotto

          We live and learn, Ricardo. Just remember, though: Ebooks are forever, and forever is a long time. If you would like to give your book a second chance, you could always take it off sale for a while, give it a new title, perhaps make some changes, then relaunch it the right way. Being an indie author gives you the opportunity to fix things. If you do that, DO mention prominently in the new product description that “this is a revised edition of a book previously titled XXXX,” or else you might anger readers who buy the same book twice! Good luck.

          • ricardo williams

            Thanks for that great advice Robert. I think I’ll let it all wear out on its own time.

  • 50 Things to Know

    Thank you!

    • RobertBidinotto

      You’re quite welcome.

  • Michael Burton

    Thank you for the valuable information. I do have a question for you – would you recommend publishing several books at one time versus one book at a time?

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      There’s no “right answer” to that. I think that if you have a number of books ready for publication, it might be a smart strategy to release them in rapid succession, say, a month apart. At the back of each book, promote the next forthcoming one. List the schedule on your blog or website or social media, too. I think this might build anticipation by your readers, while giving you enough chance to do a decent, focused promotion for each title, allowing each to have undivided attention from your target audience. That’s probably what I would do, though there’s no rule that says you must not publish more than one book at a time. Good luck, and let me know how things turn out for you.

    • RobertBidinotto

      You can publish them in rapid sequence, perhaps about 1-2 months apart. That way I think you can build momentum. It’s hard to promote more than one book at a time, so if you give each one 30-60 days of attention, I think your sales will grow. But that’s just a hunch. I bet there are authors who have had great success putting all their work out there at once. Let me know what you decided and how it worked out for you.

  • J James

    Really useful information and once again I have my faith in indie publishing restored. I recently published my debut novel, “Denial, Deceit, Discovery”. I did not even consider a traditional route. I love marketing and promoting my book but do find if frustrating but your advice has refocused me now. I will no longer be that Facebook or Twitter pest :-) I would like more information on the Amazon marketing tools, So happy for you with your great success and sales. I hope I can one day enjoy something similar.

    • RobertBidinotto

      I wish you every success in your writing and publishing adventures. And you should view it that way: as adventures!

  • Priyanka Artiste

    The Vigilante Author…Aha..what a conversation with you…! Thanks for sharing this positive, honest and convincing piece of guidance. For a slow reader like me, it was a pleasure reading through your complete post despite of all the distractions I faced from the surroundings. But, your writing style helped me a lot. It was not reading, I actually attended a workshop, where the The Vigilante Author-Robert was speaking and i was listening, carefully :)

    I am glad that I have reduced the fear of not being able to sell a single copy of my book. This fear had trapped my mind and I was not able to complete my first book. Now, I can feel the degree of fear going down and hope I can find a way to complete my book ASAP and then apply all the excellent strategies you shared here.

    Cheers :)

    • RobertBidinotto

      I’m truly sorry I missed this post when it first appeared. I hope we’ve been in touch since. And I’m glad you got something from my presentation. If it helped you quell the anxiety that we all feel about publishing our work, then I’m thrilled. Thanks for sharing the fact that you enjoyed our meeting and I hope our paths cross again, and soon.

  • Ellen James

    Thanks for the info. Have four books out there and some sales and now tackling the marketing. Ellen

    • RobertBidinotto

      I hope you find the suggestions useful, Ellen.

  • Matt Milanese

    Robert, thank you for your information and insight. This post was very helpful to me to get the ball rolling on my self-marketing plans. I like that you urge starting the second book right away, this is something I was worried about to be honest. I’m about 3/4 the way through my first planned-to-be-published novel and I’m getting idea after idea after bloody idea of new and more interesting things to work on. It’s frustrating! As soon as this one is finished I will be doing what you say and starting the next one, and I will not feel guilty about it.

    Thank you for your work!
    -Matt Milanese

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I’m happy you find the information in this post useful, Matt. Yes indeed — start working on your next book right away! It’s the best “marketing” you can possibly do. I should have started work on BAD DEEDS much sooner than I did, and now I’m racing to make up for lost time.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Matt, that’s just great. You’re doing exactly the right thing. Keep writing and publishing; as I say, that’s 90% of the “marketing” battle.

  • Therapist

    This is great indeed! Very informative, I have 2 pages of notes! Marketing hasn’t been the most challenging part for me as an author, but what has been is my visibility. Visibility is difficult when you’re promoting clean information. It seems easier when authors create buzz making certain comments, writing controversial information, or adding a new layer of controversy. If you are writing to educate or inform, this is a tad harder to market!

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Gaining and maintaining visibility for one’s work is always a challenge. It helps if you have an existing “platform” or fan base, but otherwise, you just have to focus on the basics. THE most basic thing to focus on is writing more books.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Therapist: We all have unique challenges in gaining visibility for our work. In your case, you might consider turning your “liability” into an asset: that you offer “No frills, no b.s.” information on your topic(s). I am sure there’s a market for that. Once you “brand” yourself that way, the next step is to find out where people who want and appreciate that approach are hanging out. Then your job is to find clever ways to get on their radar screen. Good luck.

  • Priyanka Artiste

    Thanks for this information. Really helpful. Reading it all over again to guide myself.

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I’m delighted that you find it useful. I hope it leads to measurable results for you.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Priyanka, apologies for the belated acknowledgment of your kind words, and I’m pleased that you found this post to be useful.

      • Priyanka Artiste

        I was super excited to read this post that i mentioned informal comment explaining all thrill my mind was experiencing. But, when no reply came from my end, i thought you didn’t like my way of commenting, so i deleted it and posted this simple comment.

        Thanks for acknowledging it :)

  • James Fant

    Thanks for the post, Robert. I especially enjoyed step 8. Relationships are–or should be–two way streets where both parties get something out of the deal. In our case, we right a great book that satisfies the need of hungry readers. We keep writing and they keep coming back for more. But the key is that there is an established need, or appetite for what we offer. I have seen the Facebook posts saying, “Please buy my book.” Number 8 encouraged me to not be that guy.

    Thanks again.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Good point, James. You don’t browbeat customers into buying your books. You focus on offering something they will want to read. Glad that idea struck home with you.

  • Pip

    I enjoyed reading your notes. I hadn’t done anything about marketing apart from sticking some books on OBooko which provides readers but does not charge them. I now have something like 2000 of these happy campers and recently decided to ask OBooko for a demographic. My childrens book (in my mind) turned out to be read by a wide cross section 18 – 24, 25-39, 40 -54 and 55 plus! So much for my positioning! I must reload!
    I cant bear to take the four books off OBooko so I am doing a 5th book on Kindle and will attempt to get my promo right Peter Pip Berridge

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Good luck with your experimentation. That’s the only way any of us have learned this stuff!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Pip, isn’t it educational when you actually check and find out if your creative work is being seen by the intended audience? I hope you can tweak your marketing to your advantage.

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  • Brittany Touris

    This is so helpful. I’m going through the process of writing a couple novels and trying to market my name on social media sites. I’m just starting out, so it’s very daunting.
    Thank you for posting this!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Brittany, it isn’t really daunting. First, write books appealing to your target audience. That’s the most important thing. Write, and write some more. Then tend to the basics, as described in this article. Social media is well down the list, and when you get around to it, I recommend that you focus on one or two outlets only. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Aim at befriending and becoming a helpful, informative, and/or entertaining presence. If you do these things, your sales will eventually take care of themselves. Good luck.

  • Chrystal Vaughan

    Excellent advice, thank you so much! I’m a fan :)

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Much obliged, Chrystal.

    • RobertBidinotto

      You’re welcome, and thank you, Chrystal.

  • Ellen Gibson-Adler

    Your advice and encouragement hit the mark today, Robert. I have a great self-published novel out there and got some really solid reviews on Amazon that made me think my sales were sure to keep growing. I am a good writer but horrendous marketer and self-promoter and was at a loss about how to keep up the momentum. My novel, The Ride to Jubilee, is a great read and several people have already asked “when is the next one coming?” I’m going to pick myself up and get to work on some of these strategies you are recommending. Thanks for some really clear direction!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Ellen, I do hope that the tips here work for you. Meanwhile…keep writing!

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  • http://sagaranand.wordpress.com/ sagar anand

    Thanks for your advice. I am from india, currently studying at IIT Jodhpur. I love writing. I want to publish my first novel here in india.
    Story line- love story, non fiction.
    I am so confused about it’s marketing. I want to know what are the strategies to publish first novel. How it will do a good business? How should I attract much readers?
    Please help me.
    Thanks

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I appreciate your interest. If you send me a private email, I will be happy to send you, by email reply, a free guide that I have prepared for authors. It is titled “New Paths to Publishing.” I’m sure the information it contains will help you. My email address is: RobertTheWriter [at] gmail [dot] com (Obviously, replace the [at] with @ and the [dot] with a period.)

    • RobertBidinotto

      Sagar, I can’t add much about marketing that I haven’t said here. As for publishing, I do recommend that you investigate the self-publishing option. It’s the fastest. easiest, and potentially the most lucrative option for most writers, especially first-time authors.

  • Rhyme Allnight

    Very thorough advice, congrats on all success

    • RobertBidinotto

      You’re quite welcome, and thanks.

  • Dennis Schroll

    I liked this article and I agree with it. It is difficult to market a self published book. The self publisher does very little to market a book I have discovered even if you pay thousands of dollars. I decided to do my own marketing but it is more difficult than writing the book. My book is “Angels Speak to Me” and Inspiring Voices published it. My sales so far have been very low. I have personally sold more books than all the websites on the internet that sell books. That is strange I think. I’m still working on it today.
    Dennis Schroll

    • RobertBidinotto

      Dennis, you said “self published,” but then said your book was “published” by Inspiring Voices. I checked out Inspiring Voices, and it appears to be one of the “vanity press” operations, similar to those offered by Author Solutions and other “self-publishing services.” I believe most of the “self-publishing services” companies prey on eager, naive authors by offering “packages” of services that are terribly over-priced. They also make promises about publicity, marketing, and even sales that are almost never kept.

      “Vanity press” operations make their money off the author — not from paying book customers. Their financial incentives are geared entirely toward selling expensive packages of services to writers. They have no financial incentive to help you make sales.

      True self-publishing doesn’t involve either a publisher or a “self-publishing services” company at all. Instead, you, the author, directly uploads his manuscript to such sites as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, and Kobo’s Writing Life; these sites allow you to publish your work as an ebook. There is no charge at all for this uploading. You can also get a print edition of your book through such “print on demand” services as Amazon’s Createspace. Again, there is virtually no up-front charge for such services. These outlets make their money from actual book customers — not from authors. They take a modest percentage of each actual sale of the book; but as the author, you don’t have to pay them a large amount of money.

      A self-publishing author should pay a good designer to get a professional book cover, and also should seek out professionals to help edit and proofread his work. But this should not cost “thousands of dollars.” A top-flight book cover can be obtained for a few hundred dollars. If you rely heavily on highly literate volunteer “beta readers,” you can reduce your editing costs significantly.

      I recommend that you take control of your book, and your future ones. If it is not already available for sale on Amazon, upload it directly to Kindle Direct Publishing, so that it can be sold as an ebook on Kindles. You may also wish to do that on Nook Press and/or Writing Life (for Kobo). As for marketing, follow the steps I’ve outlined here. But in the future, save your money and self-publish directly, avoiding the rip-offs of so-called “self-publishing services.”

  • Justin Mark

    This was phenomenal and very helpful for me. I just published my first book through Amazon’s self-publishing and have started on a second. Thank you and I will be purchasing your book as a thanks for this wonderful article!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Justin, congratulations on authoring your first book. I do hope my suggestions are useful to you. And I’m grateful that you’ll be purchasing “HUNTER.”; I hope you enjoy it, too.

  • http://bestsellertactics.com/ Glyn Williams

    Great article Robert. Marketing is a ‘must have’ and in particular passive marketing. Some really good tips here in a tightly written article. read it again people :)

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Glad you found it to be so helpful, Glyn. Thanks for your kind words.

    • RobertBidinotto

      I appreciate your appreciation, Glyn! Especially the comment about it being tightly written. I really worked on this sucker, trying to be as organized and comprehensive (ha!) as possible in a short space. But I know these suggestions have worked for me and others.

  • D. L. Denham

    Thanks for the awesome steps. This is a great help and will be implemented into my marketing plan. Looking forward to looking at your book as well. I always enjoy a good thriller.

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I truly appreciate that. Thanks.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Many thanks for your interest and for checking out HUNTER. I hope you like it.

  • RobertBidinotto

    I have been completely remiss in not checking these comments more frequently, and I apologize to those of you who didn’t get a response. I’m going to quickly reply to each of you, hoping that you’ll see them soon. Thanks so much for your interest in this topic, easily my most popular ever on this blog.

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  • disqus_IEdgLGcTVF

    This is a great post! I found it trying to find out if anything besides constant sex and graphic violence sells. lol! Then i think of Hugh Howie… I guess this was what I needed to find.
    :)
    Alyne de Winter

  • Kia Carrington-Russell

    Hi Robert, Very grateful to have come across this website. Currently pursuing the self publishing journey for my first book Possession Of My Soul- The Three Immortal Blades and was instantly stumped when I thought how can I market at an affordable price. All of these tips have been fantastic and I thank you for writing this blog. I have a website but was wondering in your experience if you have found book trailers to be beneficial in marketing a self published book? Thank you once again and have a great day.
    Kind regards, Kia Carrington-Russell

    • RobertBidinotto

      Kia, sorry that your post fell through the cracks and I just saw it. I don’t know that there’s much value in book trailers. Do YOU buy books because of a book trailer? I don’t, and I don’t know anyone who does. I think the points I mentioned are the biggies. Especially writing more books…something I am trying to learn how to do!

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  • Francesco

    I’m planning to translate my books in english.
    Thank you Robert for your kind advices, and see you in Italy!

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  • http://www.bellydancemysteries.com Rebecca Wolf-Nail

    Ever since I published my first book on Amazon, I’ve been looking for ways to market it. Your article was one of the best I’ve seen on the subject. Thank you!

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      I’m tickled that you found it so useful, Rebecca. I hope it helps you find your readers. All best wishes!

    • RobertBidinotto

      I’m delighted that you found it useful, Rebecca. I hope it helps your kind of readers discover your work.

  • Natalius

    One of the most terrifying, while simultaneously exciting, things I have just done as of a few days ago was self-publishing my first novel. It will be available on amazon in a few days time but when it comes to marketing or putting myself out there in general I am horrible at it.

    I will keep this bookmarked and refresh myself on it as much as I possibly can. For now though I have to get back to work on my second novel and hope that in a few years time I can say I put this advice to good use. Thank you for the article Sir.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Natalius, congratulations for joining the ranks of authors! I wish you every additional success, of course, but you’ve just achieved the most important one. All best to you.

  • Rachel Tetley

    Very useful information- thank you! I was reading your Rocky story article as well and I wondered, the 4000 sales you had before the invitation for the promotion with Amazon, was that done using the techniques above? Would you mind being a little more specific on exactly which steps you took between uploading you finished book and achieving 4000 sales.
    Thank you
    Rachel

    • RobertBidinotto

      Hi, Rachel,

      That’s a great question to ask. The short answer is, Yes. The techniques I used above were essentially the ones that generated the initial 4,000 sales in five months, even before the Amazon special promotion sent sales into orbit.

      I should point out that 200-odd other books also participated in that Amazon promotion and got similar attention. They all were priced about the same as mine. Many were well-written, as good or better than mine. And I certainly have no special fame that would set me apart. Yet HUNTER still did better than the rest of them. So, my only conclusion is that doing the things on this list of suggestions, in combination, generated special consideration from readers.

      Of the various tips I’ve mentioned, I believe that the book’s dark, moody, noir-ish cover was distinctive and evocative enough to stand out from most of the others. I also think the product description (at which I worked very long and hard) helped a great deal. I can’t stress how important I believe a good cover and a sizzling product description are to sales success.

      Third, I think stellar early customer reviews were another big plus. The first ten or twenty of them came mainly from my pre-publication “beta readers.” They were sufficiently enthusiastic after reading the book that they were eager to post initial reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, with little prompting. After that, I answered every email I received from fans of the novel, thanking them, encouraging them to tell their friends about it, and also asking them if they’d “take a couple of minutes and consider posting just a few lines as a customer review on Amazon.” I stressed how important those reviews are to the book’s sales success, and thanked them for considering it. No “high pressure” begging — no requests for anything specific — just a low-key suggestion, offering my gratitude regardless. Many of them did just that. That’s how “HUNTER” has, to date, received well over 400 reviews, most of them 4- and 5-star raves.

      So, to recap, I think the winning combination for me early on came from an eye-catching cover that evoked the right genre; a compelling, provocative product description; plus strong early customer endorsements. During that five-month period, I was pricing “HUNTER” at $3.99; that was a time when a lot of indies were almost giving away their titles at 99 cents. So it certainly wasn’t price that generated the first 4,000 sales.

      Finally, above all, a book has to stand on its own as a good read. “HUNTER” generated great word-of-mouth from the start. As I’ve said here, all the sales gimmicks in the world won’t long sustain a bad book. Good promotion is necessary but not sufficient to generate strong sales. I’ve seen great books succeed with little or no promotion.

      I hope that helps you, Rachel. Thanks for your interest and for asking THE right question.

      –Robert

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  • Deborah

    Thanks s very much! This is an excellent article which I plan to use as my roadmap to success.

    • RobertBidinotto

      You’re most welcome, Deborah.

  • Kat

    Hello,

    I am planning to run two blog tours soon. Have you tried that avenue? I see a lot of great feedback on them. Of course it all depends on how much work you want to put into them. I am actually writing one series and the second book will be out before the blog tours and am working on two other books as well, so the keep writing part I’ve got down lol. Thanks for your information! Kat Loveland

    • RobertBidinotto

      Kat, sorry for the delayed response. Blog tours can help, marginally — but only IF you are appearing on blogs that reach your own targeted readers. There’s simply no point in “publicity” for its own sake, since the overwhelming majority of people probably aren’t your specific kind of reader. Save lots of time and focus your marketing where it counts. Other than that…keep writing! Best wishes, Kat.

  • LA ♥

    Oh my God this is soooo awesome!

    My name’s Laurie Anne and I just turned 16. I’ve written this juvenile fiction book (it’s got a mix of fantasy, medieval history, and sci- fi) and it seems that self- publishing is quite costly. And it also seems rather a little too risky. Is it worth the risk? What would you recommend to be a better option? Self- publishing or traditional publishing?
    Appreciate a reply. :)
    Thank you! :)

    • RobertBidinotto

      Hi, Laurie Anne,

      I’m delighted that you have ambitions to be a writer. And ultimately, when you’re ready, I recommend self-publishing. It is nowhere near as costly as you may think: $500 – $1000, if you want to produce something that looks professional and reads well.

      But you may be getting a bit ahead of yourself. Most people publishing successfully in your genres wrote, and wrote, and wrote many stories before they finally felt confident enough to release something for publication. I would wager that, at age sixteen, you’re still learning a lot about writing. I certainly was, at your age.

      I want to encourage you to continue writing — and to write the kinds of things you love to read. Also, continue to read voraciously. Try to read other authors’ work critically: Figure out what seems to “work” and why — and what doesn’t. You can learn a great deal from highly successful writers, but also from unsuccessful ones.

      I’ll look forward with interest to your future work. When you need specific tips and suggestions, please get back in touch, okay?

      • LA ♥

        Hey yeah perhaps you’re actually right :) And my extreme thanks to that :)
        But, I guess I should say that I started writing at the age of seven (lol seriously) and learned stuff a long the way. I’ve had Dad read some of my stuff. I got a lot of negative comments and praises. Some from my english teachers, my friends and classmates who like to read, and considered them all. And, well, now I feel confident (well not exactly over- confident) that this novel of mine is ready. I’ve spent the last year editing it. Like, I’ve had a literary editor edit it and stuff, and some publishers accepted it, but my dad didn’t really like their deals and contracts and they kind of felt like scams.

        So far, it seems that the best way to go for starters would be to self- publish. And yes, it’s very easy, and as you said not that costly, and it’s very fast, but the main problem most people would have to face with self- publishing, is marketing. I think that this would be my major concern. It doesn’t sound that easy. Like, going to local newspapers, libraries, and radio stations.
        Soooo, omg what do I do? I should also probably mention that Dad doesn’t really know that much about the publishing industry, and all its cruelty and stuff (from what I’ve heard from Cormac McCarthy) I mean, he’s a geologist, soooo yeah.
        Appreciate your advice :) Thank you so much :)

        -Laurie Anne

  • Brian Thomas

    Thanks so much for your helpful tips Robert! I am currently looking to re-package and re-market a self-published book that I feel underperformed. The book is a preparation guide for first-year college students & I still think this genre of self-help is wide open. My niche is that I wrote the book as a college student with first hand experience.

    Do you recommend moving onto another book or in a sense “updating” the current version that I have?

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      Boy, that’s hard to say, Brian. You could try updating, with a different cover, a spiffy new blurb, perhaps changing the price. But after that, I’d probably move on to some new project. Good luck.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Brian, I may have answered this already. I think it’s always wise to “put a new face” on your work. Whether in your case that means a new book or a revamped current version, you’ll just have to determine for yourself. You know your audience better than I. But whatever path you choose, get to writing a new book. New works are THE best sales strategy, by far. Good luck.

  • C.C. Reilley

    Mr. Bidinotto,
    While having been writing for over 35 years (started when I was 11), I am finally stepping out on the ledge and ready to submit my work to the world. I plan to have self-published my first book by the end of June and am, already, working on my second book.
    I have worn out my keyboard researching all the ins & outs, dos & don’ts, and “sectrets” of self-publishing. I wanted to say “Thank you, so much!”. I truly appreciate all the time and consideration that you put into this site and your offerings to others. I am, presently, beginning to build my “Author Platform” and set out a marketing plan and the information you have gifted has been a tremendous help!
    C.C. Reilley

    • http://www.bidinotto.com bidinotto

      C.C., I’m happy that this site has offered you information that you found useful. I do think that after 35 years, it’s time to share your work with the world. I wish you all the best on this new adventure.

    • RobertBidinotto

      C.C., I am glad you found my site, and doubly glad that you find it filled with useful information. I wish you every measure of success!

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  • Scott Campbell

    Check out my new novel, “An American Resurrection.” It deals with the relationship between fathers and sons and reminds everyone that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Resurrection-Scott-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00EXVPVR4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1403220699&sr=8-2&keywords=An+American+Resurrection

  • http://www.SteveLeBel.com/ Steve LeBel

    Thank you for your excellent ideas, Robert. I am anxious to start working on some of them. I already know three things I am going to do today. ;-)

    • RobertBidinotto

      You’re most welcome, Steve. Good luck to you.

  • jd&j

    Brilliant article, I get asked by a great many authors how to market their own books and this is an article that will certainly help most.
    Thanks for this great work.
    D from http://www.jdandj.com

    • RobertBidinotto

      Thanks much! Glad that they’re useful for you.

  • Koko Nervelli

    Thanks so much for the pep talk. Marketing has never been my strongest trait, but with your help, I’ll give it my best shot.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Go for it, Koko. There’s no downside risk.

  • Chitrang Nanavati

    I have completed writing my book which is about helping students to get better at studies by smarter learning and how to systamatic approach can fetch great results. Do the self publication agencies which offer different packages also send our books to book stores across the India or not

    • RobertBidinotto

      Chitrang, I don’t know about India. But I would avoid “self-publishing agencies which offer different packages.” Generally, those are vastly over-priced, and they rarely deliver the results that they promise. Instead, I would seek out talented freelance help for cover designers and interior layout designers. To save money, I would rely on intelligent, highly literate friends as “beta readers” to give you editorial feedback, including proofreading and fact-checking. Self-publishing a book these days shouldn’t be costly.

  • Megaera

    This is a list of tactics, not *a* strategic plan. Good tactics (although the “target audience” thing continually confounds me). I found this article in one of my periodic Google searches for strategic book marketing plans, and once again, I’m frustrated to find yet another list of tactics (and the same ones I see over and over again). Do you know of a website that tells how to create a *real* strategic plan as opposed to a list of tactics? A strategy is more than just a list of tactics. It’s how you *use* those tactics and how you organize them and make them more than the sum of their parts that makes them a strategy. People keep talking about book marketing strategies, but what they’re really talking about is a collection of tactics. What I’d like to learn is how to take that list of tactics and turn it into a *real* strategy. I’ve not found any resources on how to do *that.*

    • RobertBidinotto

      A fair point. I could and probably should have called these “Ten Marketing Tips” rather than “strategies.” The marketing tips I’ve offered here are indeed tactics, but they are appropriate to almost any strategy.

      Now the reason I didn’t offer a strategy is that one strategy can’t possibly apply to each individual author, book, genre, and circumstance. A strategy entails identifying your target audience, learning where they can be reached, then developing a specific plan to reach them.

      Perhaps you might find useful the book Marketing Warfare by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Their broad principles of how to devise and run “guerrilla marketing” campaigns might be useful to you in crafting a strategy, because I think that’s analogous to where we indie authors are positioned in relation to traditional publishers and Big Name Authors.

    • http://www.MistressBenay.com Mistress Benay

      Wow, talk about splitting hairs. For God’s sake, he’s trying to help you!

  • Jay

    Thanks Robert for this awesome article! I was recently able to be listed as #1 on Amazon’s Best Seller list for a particular subcategory. Only problem is that it isn’t really a category that I best belong in (though tangentially related). Should I ask Amazon to move me to a more appropriate category, or do I allow them to continue to list me there. Thanks!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Ah. An interesting dilemma, eh? I probably would suggest that you move the book into a better subcategory, anyway. Better that than misleading readers about the nature of your book, which may wind up irritating as many of them as you attract. And misled readers tend to leave nasty reviews and ratings on Amazon, which you don’t want.

  • Veron Lee Campbell

    Thank you, Robert. I just self-published my first book, and need all the help I can get with marketing and advice for publishing my next book. You have offered valuable insight and links that I will be looking into. You have also answered many questions I have and wasn’t sure where to get answers.

    Thank you for being so willing to share with those of us who have a passion for writing information we are searching for.

    • RobertBidinotto

      I’m so pleased that the material here is useful to you, Veron. My post with all the “Helpful Links for Authors” contains well over 90% of everything I have encountered that I’ve found to be personally helpful. Whenever I discover new things that are worth sharing, I’ll certainly do so, and I hope you check in here from time to time for the latest postings. Best wishes on your new book and congratulations.

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  • http://alixtate.com Alix Tate

    Thanks Robert, this post was very helpful. I’m new to blogging as well as publishing. I’ve been writing poems and short stories for fun for 10 years, but never took it very seriously. A few months ago I realized that the last four years I have been travelling around the world has actually been a journey searching for truth that follows the history of religion. I have now come back a broke and homeless (yet with more homes than anyone) vagabond, to write in my parents basement for the new few months, then I’ll get back to the nomad life. I’m considering releasing the book completely free by donation, but perhaps its better to get an group of email subscribers to give the book free too, then make it an e-book for $3-9. Would love any advice you are willing to share, alixtate.com. Much Love.

  • Cle

    This is very helpful

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  • Timothy McIntyre

    I have had excellent success selling my book “I’m a Type A – How the Heck Will I Ever Retire?” by having a GREAT cover. I can’t emphasize enough how much an eye-catching, unique cover matters in the split second decision as to whether or not someone is going to buy. I also have a really cool author’s website at http://www.type-a-lifestyle.com that is now getting 100 – 200 hits per day, because I post interesting articles to it. So I’m selling a LOT of books. I have to give much credit to my creative and tireless designer, http://www.designbyindigo.com, for her help with the cover and website. Audria is my right hand person!

    • RobertBidinotto

      Timothy, a great cover IS crucially important. It catches the eyes of your target readers and tells them, at a glance, what genre/type of book it is. That, in turn, generates the curiosity that sends them to the book’s product page.

      And posting interesting, valuable articles on your social media (including your website/blog) is another way to get your target readers engaged with you. As you can see, I post a lot of material here about thrillers and thriller authors. I hope that attracts thriller readers to this blog, where in passing they can also learn a bit about me and my books. The worst approach is to constantly spam people with promotions about your own books, rather than provide posts that engage their interest and provide them something of value. This post is a prime example of the latter, and it’s been rewarded with hundreds of social media shares and comments.

  • John White Jnr

    This is my testimony about the good work of a man who helped me..My name is Tracy Adams, and I base in Canada. My life is back!!! After 2 years of marriage, my husband left me with our three kids. I felt like my life was about to end, and was falling apart. Thanks to a spell caster called Dr John who i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I was searching for a good spell caster that can solve my problems. I came across series of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. There was one particular testimony I saw, it was about a woman called grace,she testified about how Dr John brought back her Ex lover in less than 72 hours and at the end of her testimony she gave Dr John e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give Dr John a try. I contacted him with his via email address and explained my problem to him. In just 2 days, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are even happier than before. Dr John is really a talented and gifted man and i will not to stop publishing him because he is a wonderful Dr…If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve that problem for you. Try Dr John today, he might be the answer to your problem. Here’s his contact: HOMEOFSOLUTIONS@OUTLOOK.COM Thank you once again Dr John. Contact him for the following:

    (1)If you want your ex back.
    (2) if you always have bad dreams.
    (3)You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4)You want women/men to run after you.
    (5)If you want a child.
    (6)[You want to be rich.
    (7)You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8)If you need financial assistance.
    (9)If you want to stop your Divorce
    10)Help bringing people out of prison
    (11)Marriage Spells
    (12)Miracle Spells
    (13)Beauty Spells
    (14)PROPHECY CHARM
    (15)Attraction Spells
    (16)Evil Eye Spells
    (17)Kissing Spell
    (18)Remove Sickness Spells
    (19)ELECTION WINNING SPELLS
    (20)SUCCESS IN EXAMS SPELLS
    (21) Charm to get who to love you.
    Contact him today on: HOMEOFSOLUTIONS@OUTLOOK.COM

    HOMEOFSOLUTIONS@OUTLOOK.COM

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  • Juliet

    Thank you for so freely sharing this advice Robert. (I’ve found your link through the NZ Society of Authors newsletter). I’m about to put up email versions of several of my printed books, and really appreciate the suggestions you make about pricing. It’s been a whole new learning curve since my previous publishers were taken over by a big company & then publishing changed & I ended up printing my last 3 books myself. The advantage of getting into marketing is that I’m having great conversations with my readers, and enjoying selling direct to them.

    • RobertBidinotto

      Juliet, I’m glad you found my blog. I hope the suggestions here benefit you. The ebook market is, for most self-publishing fiction authors, the most lucrative — much more so than print — although that varies depending on the kind of book. I wish you well as you proceed on this adventure.

  • Gabella Suarez

    Good day.Compliments of the season to you all out there.. I am so full with joy as i write this post right now.. i really have had an en counted with a real spell caster who is so true with is word and he does what he says he will do. He is the realest of all spell casters out there.. so genuine and true. I want to thank High priest Steve for all he had done for me within the short time i met him.. he has really made my end of year a memorable one and he has made me know that there is still hope. Thank you once again for bring back my lost love and making my life sweet and better he can help you solve any kind of problem just let him know what you are passing through and that will be all.. I am so happy for the divine turn around he brought to my life. friends out there.. search no further for fake and scam spell caster, the real one is prophetogogalaga@gmail.com and his name is High priest Steve, Contact him today and share your problems with him and i am so optimistic there will be a solution to that problem when been brought to High priest Steve. prophetogogalaga@gmail.com

    (1)If you want your ex back.
    (2) if you always have bad dreams.
    (3)You want to be promoted in your office.
    (4)You want women/men to run after you.
    (5)If you want a child.
    (6)[You want to be rich.
    (7)You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
    (8)If you need financial assistance.
    (9)If you want to stop your Divorce
    10)Help bringing people out of prison
    (11)Marriage Spells
    (12)Miracle Spells
    (13)Beauty Spells
    (14)PROPHECY CHARM
    (15)Attraction Spells
    (16)Evil Eye Spells
    (17)Kissing Spell
    (18)Remove Sickness Spells
    (19)ELECTION WINNING SPELLS
    (20)SUCCESS IN EXAMS SPELLS
    (21) Charm to get who to love you.
    Contact him today on: PROPHETOGOGALAGA@GMAIL.COM

    PROPHETOGOGALAGA@GMAIL.COM