You could have the best book in the world, but it doesn’t matter if no one reads it!
Just publishing a great book doesn’t guarantee readers. You’ve got to put the work into spreading the word about your book and connecting with your ideal readers.
Here are 11 strategies you can use to sell your book, before and after its publication.
1. Get Pre-Publication Reviews
Getting reviews before your book is published is a great way to build hype and spread the word about your book.
Quotes from pre-publication reviews are also great to use on your book cover, blurb, and other marketing materials. One good source of early reviews is beta readers. Beta readers are volunteers who will provide feedback on your book. When scouting beta readers, try to find someone who knows a thing or two about writing, who is in your target audience, and is not afraid to give honest feedback.
You have a few options when it comes to finding beta readers to review your book:
Ask a friend of a friend: someone who doesn’t know you personally and would feel comfortable giving you honest feedback.
Work your blog, social media platforms, or email list and ask people to review your book.
Scribofile – a website that allows you to offer feedback on other people’s writing in exchange for acquiring feedback on your own book.
Wattpad is a website where authors can upload their book and write a compelling blurb that inspires people to read and review your book.
Seek out your city’s local writing group to see if someone may be interested in reading your book.
Tips for working with a beta reader
Before sending your manuscript to beta readers, check to see what format would work best for them.
Tell your beta reader what type of feedback you’re looking for. Checklists and lists of questions you would like answered can be helpful.
Don’t take the feedback personally! Be sure to listen with an open mind.
You can also approach book reviewers to read your book before its publication date (more on that below).
2. Leverage Your Platform
Your existing blog audience is the best audience for marketing your book! Social media can be a successful marketing tool for books.
On your blog and email newsletter, you can share various things to create buzz around your book and engage your audience:
Cover design reveal
Related content (graphics, etc.)
Talk about the publishing process
3. Expand Your Network
As with any endeavor in life, when it comes to self-publishing, it really helps to know the right people!
Connecting with other bloggers in your niche will be a huge help in getting the word out about your book.
You'll want to find bloggers who target similar audiences to you, but ones who aren't in direct competition with you. For example, if you're publishing a book in order to market a service you provide, you probably don't want to approach a blogger to help you market your book if they offer the exact same service and target the exact same clients. It wouldn't benefit them to market your service instead of their own! The goal is to find good bloggers with decently-sized, engaged audiences that overlap with your own, but who don't compete to sell that audience the same services/goods as you do.
How to find other bloggers in your niche
You can find other bloggers in your niche by:
Searching niche-specific hashtags on social media, and taking a look at who's using them
Searching LinkedIn for “[niche keywords] blogger”
Searching Google for terms like “[niche keywords] blog,” “best [niche] blogs,” etc.
You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to come up with good keywords related to your niche.
Developing mutually beneficial relationships with other bloggers
This topic could be a whole blog post — even a whole book — on its own.
What you don't want to do is approach a blogger for the very first time asking them to promote your book for you. Instead, think of networking as building professional friendships. Be friendly, kind, and helpful, and people tend to reciprocate! In more concrete terms, you can get on a blogger's radar by:
Commenting on their blog posts
Sharing and commenting on their posts on social media
Interacting with them on social media
Emailing them your comments, feedback, or questions
Remember to always be respectful and genuine in your interactions. Don't try to kiss up (they can tell); just be yourself and make some friends!
Getting interviewed on different media outlets allows you to expand your audience and engage with potential customers. Consider reaching out to:
Book Bloggers: Search to find bloggers who review books that authors send to them. Try searching for keywords like “[niche] book review submission.”
Local Newspaper: Reach out to your local newspaper to inform your town or city about your new book. This will help to engage your local community and may even get you a book signing!
Podcasts: Reach out to different podcasts that feature authors or topics similar to your book.
Magazines: Research magazines that may be interested in featuring you and your book.
If you are answering in writing, proofread all of your responses.
If an interviewer sets a word limit, be conscious of it.
If the interview questions are unclear, ask for clarification.
Don’t be afraid to open up a bit! This will allow your audience to relate to you on a more personal level.
5. Publish Guest Posts
Guest blogging will help you reach a new audience and spread the word about your book.
It’s important to ask bloggers 60-90 days in advance to be featured on their blog. Even small blogs often work with editorial calendars and plan in advance, so don’t leave it to the last minute. Make sure to do your research!
Find bloggers with a similar target audience as your own, and read their guest posting guidelines carefully and before coming up with a unique pitch that fits their blog.
6. Set Up a Virtual Blog Tour
Setting up a blog tour requires you to find and contact suitable blogs to see if they would be interested in featuring your book.
Often they’ll ask you to send them a book (or a few) to give away and/or review. Some bloggers will invite you to participate in an interview or have you write a guest post. There are book PR services that will organize a book tour for you, as well. Packages can range from $40 to $200 depending on the services included. Try searching for “book PR services” or “book blog tour services” to find a provider, and make sure to vet them carefully before hiring them.
7. Run a Giveaway
Who doesn’t love a giveaway? Giveaways are a win-win-win for you, the blogger, and their readers. Authors can create a buzz by getting people to enter your giveaway and subscribe to your email list.
Websites like Rafflecopter, Viralsweep, and Rafflerobot make it simple to launch and manage a giveaway for your book.
8. Email Your List
Imagine how powerful it is to have a list of invested people who already love your writing, and to send them an email alerting them that your book is now available for purchase.
Building a solid subscriber list prior to publishing can make this a reality. With an email list authors can keep subscribers updated and engaged throughout the entire writing and publishing process. Be sure to get started building your list before you publish your book! Check out these posts for tips:
This isn’t the ideal option for everyone, but it can be a powerful tactic if used correctly.
Reduced pricing options can attract customers and entice people to buy your book.
Consider launching with a temporarily discounted price for the first few days after publication to get more sales and build more buzz. Kindle Countdown Deals allows authors to run limited-time discount promotions of their book. If you have more than one book for sale, offering one for free (or for a discounted price) can often lead to more sales of your other books.
10. Paid Advertising
You can run ads with Google Adwords, Facebook, and other social media outlets. The first step to figuring out which ad network will be the most successful for your book is to know and understand who your target audience is. If you know which platform your readers are using the most, you know the best platform to advertise your book. Consider using:
Google Adwords: Signing up for Google Adwords is free. You will only pay when someone clicks your ad to visit your website/link to your book. You’re able to set their own budget.
Facebooks Ads: With Facebook, you’re able to choose the type of people that you want your book to reach, which will make your ad more relevant and bring you the results you are looking for. Similar to Google Adwords, customers are able to set a budget that can be based on a daily limit for one ad or the total amount for a campaign.
Instagram Ads: Instagram is one of the world’s largest mobile ads platforms, with a community of over 500 million. Ads can be purchased and managed through Facebook’s self-serve interfaces and the budget can be unique to each author.
Research by Invesp shows that 90% of consumers read online reviews, and 88% of them trust the online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Authors can ask readers who have purchased their book to write a review, which can attract future customers.
To get more reviews:
Include a short message at the end of your book asking for reviews
Approach book reviewers and submit your book for consideration
Email your list and ask them for a review
Find reviewers of similar books on Amazon and contact them about reviewing your book
Never pay for reviews, and try not to ask your friends and family (it can be pretty obvious to readers when reviews are fake).
Go Forth and Sell Your Book!
Putting in the effort to market your book is crucial to its success, no matter what your goal. It takes work, but it’s not difficult! If you use the strategies above, you’ll be sure to make sales.
About KeriLynn Engel
KeriLynn Engel is a copywriter & content marketing strategist. She loves working with B2B & B2C businesses to plan and create high-quality content that attracts and converts their target audience. When not writing, you can find her reading speculative fiction, watching Star Trek, or playing Telemann flute fantasias at a local open mic.