Self-publishing is hard. I am not going to tell you otherwise. You are a one-man band that has to find a book cover designer, an editor, book reviewers, form launch teams and be your own marketing guru. If you have gone to the trouble of writing a good book, you need to make sure that when you self-publish your book, it succeeds. However, sometimes, indie authors are unaware of what is needed to be successful. Are you one of those authors whose books are in the doldrums? If so, what have you done, or perhaps, what haven’t you done, and what can you do to improve your book sales and marketing strategies?

  1. The cover is amateurish and looks as if you are a self-published author. Sad but true. People judge a book by its cover. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good cover, if you choose wisely, but you have to make sure that your cover is of a quality equal to that of a traditionally published book – even if it is an e-book.

  2. You haven’t published your book in an e-book format. It is a must. Most of your sales will come from e-books, as opposed to paperback versions. However, many people like to choose between other formats, such as paperbacks and audio books. Make sure that you have your book is in all 3 formats to increase the probability of making a sale.

  3. You did not have a launch team. A launch team is invaluable. This FB group will be your launch team. When you are ready, make an announcement and you can ask people to sign up to review your book. Here you can disseminate your book to readers prior to putting your book forward to the public. They will read your book, give you an honest review, and then on the day of the official launch, they will download a free copy and then post a review. (You can re-launch a dead book any time you like by signing up to KDP select for 3 months even if your book is years old and is in an e-book format.)

    This does 2 things for you:

    • By going with KDP select you offer your book for 3 -5 days for free and this drives up the sales figures and propels you through the ranks in Amazon.
    • Your reviews are verified purchases and these reviews will be accepted by Amazon and they will not be taken down.
  4. You are not marketing your book. As mentioned elsewhere you are responsible for your own marketing. Even if you have no money in the budget for this, make sure that EVERY week you have some form of marketing scheduled for your book. There are many opportunities for promotions for your new books. Some of the best are:

    • Facebook Groups (see the file that I uploaded for this) (Free!)
    • FreeBooksy
    • Book Marketing Tools
    • E-Book Stage
    • Buck Books
    • Book Bubs (expensive but worth it, if you can afford it.)

    Use the Facebook groups twice a month, and then pay for marketing promotions twice a month, if you can.

  5. Has your book being professionally edited and formatted after you have finished your own editing? I did not hire a professional editor for my first book, but wished I had, as had to take the file down, fix errors that had not been picked up, and then re-upload. Argh! No matter how good you think you are, you are too close to your own work and you do need a professional. Besides, it will also free up valuable time to then start marketing before the book has been launched.

  6. Have you submitted the book to the right categories in Amazon? KDP gives you some very generic categories. Don’t choose them. You don’t have to. Make the box that says “uncategorized”. Get yourself KDSpy for less than $50 and drill down for categories that are popular for readers but have few books uploaded to this category by authors. This allows you to get seen and into the top 100, or better still, to make the best seller orange sticker status. And you can!

  7. Make sure that your categories match reader expectations. I have a problem with my own books as I write crime fiction that is based on true stories. True Crime Fiction is an oxymoron, but if I could create a new genre that is what it would be called! Instead, because the books are set in the Victorian eras I call them “Historical Crime Fiction” and people complain because they feel that the genre is misleading. But if I entered the book as a true crime story, those readers would complain because it is fiction, not a blow-by-blow account. So choose wisely, and try and satisfy the majority of your readers.

  8. Do you have Visibility? You need readers to not only love your work but they also need to find you for your next novel. Create a presence within the industry. You need an author website, be part of social media, put your books on Good Reads (which is owned by Amazon and therefore is an indicator to them how your book is being received on another platform.) Also, make use of your Amazon author page.

  9. Do you have good keywords in your description for your book on Amazon? Amazon is not a bookstore. It is a search engine. People will find your book using keywords. Think about using long tail keywords. Look at how people search for your genre by putting words into the Amazon search bar and going through the alphabet to get long tail keywords which have more of a chance of finding your book rather than something generic like “fiction” as a keyword.

  10. Is your book reasonably priced? Note I didn’t say, “Is your book too expensive?”

    You need to know the buying habits of people and what they are prepared to pay for your books. For example, did you know that more than 60% of British readers prefer to purchase physical books rather than ebooks? It is important to know who your buyers are and what they want.

    With regards to pricing, statistics show that the majority of buyers are 12 times more likely to buy an ebook priced at 99c than at any other price. However, when it comes to revenue, the sweet spot is at $3.99. If you want fans to actually read and finish your book, at $7.99 you have 5 times more chance of that happening.

    In the end, only you can decide whether you want readers, profit or reviews. My advice is that if you have only one book out, keep it at 99c until you bring out a second. Once you have a readership then you can start charging accordingly.

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