Some self-published writers seem to effortlessly get to the top of the charts and I am constantly in awe of them!
Let's explain for those who do not know what a self-published writer is nowadays!
In my mind, a SP writer is someone who has published their work themselves.
They have arranged for the formatting, covers, proofreading, etc by themselves and then gone on to publish via Amazon, Smashwords, etc. They might have paid for some of these services, but ultimately they made all the decisions.
If you have an agent, publisher, or have paid a publisher to do the work for you, then in my books you have not self-published. When you get an agent and publisher who does it all for you and pays you an advance (amazing this) you are traditionally published. If you paid someone to publish it all for you then you are bracketed as using a "vanity" publisher.
Sorry, but this is the way I see it. I understand that you are a writer and might not want the hassle, but then you are not a SP author.
I pride myself in having done most of the work myself. I have been fortunate to have amazing help from people willing to proofread my books, and only recently paid for covers (thank you Shutterstock!) to use for my trilogy for the first time. This will hopefully prove to be a worthwhile investment. BUT, I have spent hours figuring out how to do everything and do not think I did it for vanity! It was a self imposed challenge.
|My new covers - what do you think?|
So, the question... how is it done? How do you get seen?
This is my take on "success"...
1) Write a fantastic book.
Make it different from the rest or follow the trend, and get readers of certain books attracted to yours. For example, for Twilight, Fifty Shades, or Harry Potter fans? A lot of readers like books that are formulaic.
2) Have a Book Launch (either a real one or virtual)
When I finished my trilogy, I held a book launch in Gibraltar and gave a talk on my experience. It was fantastic.
I sold lots of paperbacks, got my name out, was featured in magazines and the local newspaper, and had a ball!
I blogged about it HERE!
I was lucky though - people in Gibraltar are amazing and I have contacts. My dad knows many people...
3) Spread the word via Social Media and hope your friends, family and followers will tell others about it.
This tends to work well at the beginning, but fizzles out fast in my experience. You don't want to annoy close acquaintances by constant promotion. I find Twitter is the only place I tend to schedule posts. I have so many followers that I figure if it annoys anyone they'll simply unfollow me.
I suggest you use something like HOOTSUITE to schedule and CROWDFIRE to keep tabs on followers.
Facebook has a lot of groups that allow you to post your work. How effective this is is questionable. But, you never know... it might lead to some success. I think the reader groups are a better way to make friends and promote. If you are a writer you should be a reader too. If not, are you mad? Ha!
4) Use the Amazon threads to promote your work.
The discussion threads used to be a good place to advertise. Of late, I fear this is no longer the case. Too many promos going on.
5) Advertise with successful companies
In 2015, my plan was to let things go. To stop trying and give up. Then I decided to reinvest some of my takings.
Bear in mind that these promotions were to promote a FREE ebook - that's right, I give it away and then have to PAY to get it noticed!
I have heard that BookBub is the place to go, but I never get in! I think they favour KDP promotions, or books with lots of reviews. I think this is unfair since the whole point of a giveaway is to get more reviews. But, they have a reputation to uphold so have the right to be picky. Saying this, I have seen some featured which are not the best books! They don't read them - the expression judge a book by it's cover comes to mind!
So, I tried FreeBooksy on a paid promotion. I had got featured on there last year by chance and had success. This worked a treat and my free eBook soared up the US Amazon charts. Since I also publish on smashwords, I also saw a huge increase in downloads via Barnes & Noble, iBooks, etc. I do have sales for the next books in my trilogy here too which is great. It is not cheap - $100! But, I think it was worth it and the customer service is fantastic. I am trying another in April for $200 - Eek! A series promoter... I'll have to let you know how it goes!
I have also tried a paid promotion for a free eBook feature with Facebook (£5 + £13), AwesomeGang ($10), Bookgoodies ($30), and KUFads (£10 - Book of the Day). All of these were a complete flop! I might as well have given the money away to charity...
6) FREE eBook promotion
As I have said in 5) I have paid for promotions to increase the visibility of my free ebook, HYBRID. Some of you might be asking how it is always free. Well, Amazon have a price-match policy. I have published my book via smashwords for FREE, which distributes to Barnes&Noble, Apple, etc. when Amazon see it is free they match it. You might have to inform them via their website though if it does not happen automatically.
This is a good idea if you have a series, or if you have many books to promote and want to offer one of your older books for free.
Again, the effectiveness of this is dubious now. When I first published in 2012, free eBooks were snapped up like hotcakes! However, with the constant offers via Amazon or mainstream publishers, us SP authors are no longer as attractive.
Readers are no longer attracted since they have had bad experiences with free eBooks. I admit this also happened to me, and many free ebooks I download disappoint me. Saying this, because it is free I am ruthless. I simply do not read it!
This is the downside. A free ebook will not inspire readers to review. I find myself more willing to review something I have paid for. Weird but true. So to all you readers out there, please review free books! (Like that's going to work!)
I do have a great site to recommend, which allows you to place your book for free. It may not work but it's free to try - Author Marketing Club
7) Sell your paperbacks at local events
8) Participate in Reader forums like Goodreads
This is a great way to sell books, especially if you were a reader before you wrote a book!
Again, I have not found the confidence to pull this off well yet. But, I know others do a super job!
9) Write Another book
This is my worst offence at the moment. So I wrote a trilogy... and? You have to keep on writing to sell more books. If readers like what they see they will want to read more of your work. If you procrastinate and publish nothing new then what's the point?
Saying this, I also wonder what motivates some authors to continue. If you can't sell the books you have why publish?
My husband tells me I am too vain! I think maybe he has a point. I need some feedback or sales to make me believe that I am doing a good job. How sad am I?!
Ultimately, I have never continued with something that I have seen limited results for. I want to succeed. If I can't do it via writing I'll find something else to do with my time.
10) Think about why you write...
BUT, the truth is I NEED TO WRITE. I will always write... I know this now.
Today, I continued writing my next book and felt like writing this post. So I did. Sometimes, you have to vent in the direction your mind goes.
If by writing an idea down you find some peace or escapism from the world around you then you have succeeded no matter how low your sales are. I'll just keep telling myself this...
Thanks for reading & I hope this helps in some way.
All the best,
*~Okay, so now I can pitch my work!~*
Get the entire trilogy (and prequel, EMILY) in a boxset via Amazon only http://www.bookgoodies.com/a/B00K24EA0U