A lot of people going into self publishing believe all they have to do is shout about their eBook 24/7 on social media and the sales will come rolling in, but social media is just a tool to help you sell, not a complete marketing strategy.
Using the 4 Ps, you can review your performance and work out your strengths and weaknesses in your marketing strategy. Remember, you are competing with thousands of other titles on the Internet. You should be regularly asking yourself "How do I compare?" and making sure you are fulfilling your audience's needs so they keep coming back to sample your work.
Quality - cover design / formatting / editing
Formats - is your eBook available on all of the main platforms?
Is it a series? Could it be a series? Should it be a series?
How does the word count, structure etc compare with your competition?
Do you know where the majority of your audience shops online?
Are you offering your book there and maximising all of the tools available to you?
Don't cheapen yourself and your work, but don't out price yourself out of the market either.
Keep experimenting with price until you find what works and don't be afraid to try free or discounted promotions.
What is your USP - unique selling point - or hook for your eBook?
Have a marketing plan in place with clear action points and time scales.
Utilise your favourite social media.
Research book bloggers to review your book.
Consider doing a blog tour.
It stands to reason we would eventually end up discussing self publishing mistakes, but it's ok to make mistakes as long as you are learning from them.
Nobody is going to get it right first time because the online world of publishing is constantly evolving.
All of these points I've covered in depth in individual posts within the Self Publishing series, so here are the headlines again:
As we near the end of this mammoth self publishing blog series, here are a handful of useful pointers to summarise what we've been covering over the last few months:
The immediate value of selling your eBook for free is that you'll most probably get a fair few downloads, which naturally results in great and instant exposure. Then, continuing with the "pushing sales" theme, keeping the price at 99p will ensure those downloads actually earn you some real bunce.
By just tweaking this winning formula, however, you can get a much better deal for yourself which will pay dividends long term. Pricing at £2.99 after the free book promo will give you 70% revenue from each sale (verses 30% from a 99p sale) whilst also attracting an audience that is more likely to read your book (rather than downloading simply because it was "cheap" and storing it on their device for "later"). You'll break even faster and be attracting the right kind of reader.
Research proves that not all free and 99p books are read - I can testify to this with my own reading habits - impulse buys - but most books priced at £2.99 are because the potential reader has taken a look at the book, read the blurb and the first few pages. They are immediately showing more of an interest in you and your work and are willing to invest that little bit extra.
I've gone into the maths in this earlier post, but the point is to make sure you put a serious value on the time, effort and work you've put into your eBook. Don't pay hundreds of pounds to run an ad campaign for exposure to promote your free eBook!
I was reading an interview with John Locke, who sold a million eBooks in five months on the Kindle platform a few years back now, and I wanted to share two things I pulled from it.
He advised we should set ourselves small but achievable goals to help us in marketing and one of his suggestions was to start with securing five 5-star reviews for a current title in, say, a month. Then build it up. Little steps.
He also suggested creating soundbites about our books and writing life to be used to promote ourselves and our work whenever and wherever we're out and about and asked. Having these little details pre-scripted in our head will mean we're always capable of making the most of every opportunity to promote ourselves.
The final reason to try self publishing is because there's the opportunity to earn more over time (higher percentage of royalties on a like for like digital rights contract) than you would with a traditional.
Of course, for this to happen, you have to be prepared to be in the business of writing and marketing for the long, long haul.
Personally speaking, the biggest motivation for me is when someone really appreciates my writing and tells me so. I believe looking after my readership is an investment. How then, can you expand and nurture your readership to keep the momentum going?
First of all, you need to connect and engage with your audience on a regular basis - and I'm not necessarily talking about public speaking engagements like book signings, book readings and About The Author events - all of which are important - but there are little things you can be doing as well.
When KDP Select was first launched, obviously less available titles meant more sales and profits for the enrolled books. Now the market is flooded and competition is red hot, so the recommendation algorithms and bestseller lists are not as effective.
However, to get the most out of KDP, you need to view it as a tool to be used within a broader marketing strategy, and not as a one-stop solution for all of your marketing needs.
If you are planning to use this program, here is some helpful advice to ensure you get the most out of those free days:
So in conclusion, should you enroll in KDP Select?
If you just have the one book, it might be better to publish across multiple platforms and sell it on your website for maximum exposure.
If you have a few titles, it would probably be useful to try KDP for one of those and see how it performs. The idea of enrolling just the one title is to expose new readers to your work. If they like the freebie, they may consider buying your other books. Then you could continue the rotation.
KDP Select may also be the ideal platform to launch a new project or kickstart a title whose sales are slow.
You have to decide on your objective for selecting KDP. Are you trying to establish your expertise? Do you want to broaden your audience? Are you looking to increase your sales? Are you trying to make the Bestseller lists? Would you like to secure more reviews?
Don't try to do all of these at once in one promotion. Pick one objective and see how you fare. Remember, it's all about experimentation!
What do you get for granting exclusivity to Amazon during those 90 days?
Within Amazon's marketplace there are many cross promotional sales opportunities giving your eBook greater exposure. Here's an overview of these:
And finally, something worth considering if you have concerns that the exclusivity for 90 days is too limiting - don't forget there are free apps out there allowing people to read Kindle books on any device, so you don't have to own a Kindle to download from Amazon's Kindle marketplace.
Number nine on my list of why you should try self publishing is any contracts with Amazon / Lulu / Smashwords are for as long as you want and there's no pressure to earn back the advance that you would normally get with a traditional publishing house. As soon as you break even against your own outgoings invested to get the book published (which will be smaller than an advance), you start profiting!
We've been focusing primarily on Amazon, so we're going to continue with that for the moment and take a look at the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select service and how you can get the most out of it.
What is KDP Select?
This is Amazon's service for indie authors and self publishers where you enroll your book/s for 90 day cycles. When 90 days is up, you choose whether to go again. For each 90 day cycle, there are five days available where you can offer your eBook for free. You control these five days. You can either run a consecutive free one to five day promotion, or choose up to five separate days throughout the 90 day period.
Amazon demands exclusivity while eBooks are enrolled in KDP Select. You won't be able to sell your eBook or give it away anywhere else online or offline. They won't even allow you to give away review copies!
When I received my Kindle, I had one month's free Amazon Prime membership and took advantage of it. Prime customers can borrow one eBook per month for free and they choose from KDP Select eBooks. You, the author, get paid if someone borrows your book (only a quid, but hey, it all mounts up).
Why give my eBook away for free?
If you can get your head around it, the point of giving away books is to ultimately help you sell more copies. This is a tough strategy to run with when you've got little or no cash flow and just starting out in the business, but don't underestimate the power of word of mouth. Use your free book as a stepping stone in your overall marketing plan. Shout about your promotion. It's also a great way to secure those all important reviews.
Tactics for KDP Select
And now for a few tactical moves for the KDP beginner:
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.