Saturday, September 14, 2013

Self Publishing Tips And Tricks -- Top Five Things You Can Do To Sell More Books

Top Five Things You Can Do To Sell More Books
1.  Get A Paid Promotion.  Buying advertising is the easiest way to get exposure for your books.  And while Bookbub is the big dog in the ebook world, there are a number of good options.  Here's a rundown for you:
-Bookbub ( No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Pixel Of Ink ( No Minimum Review Count Listed, but 20+ reviews recommended
-Ereadersnewstoday ( Bargain 99 Promo, Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Kindle Books And Tips (  Minimum of 10 Reviews
-Book Blast ( Minimum of 5 reviews
How do you get those reviews?
-Librarything Member Giveaway (
-Goodreads Giveaway (
-Story Cartel (
-Beg your friends and/or family

2.  Offer A Free Book.  I've found the best route is to go permafree with either a prequel to your series or with the first book in your series.  Other than a Bookbub promo, having a permafree book is one of the few ways to gain exposure on Barnes And Noble, Apple, and Kobo. 
--Note:  A free book could be a complete novel, novella, or even a short story.  The point is to give readers a taste of your writing and hopefully they'll like it to come back for more.  Also, although not necessary, I've found much better success with offering freebies as part of a series.  Readers tend to be much more series dependent than author dependent. 
The free strategy is also the best way to build a mailing list.  And make no mistake, building a mailing list is the best way to bulletproof your career.  Seriously, go to or and start a mailing list now.  Post a link to your mailing list sign up page on your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and Amazon Author Central profile.  To entice people to sign up for your mailing list, you can offer a free story, novella, or book. 
--Note:  For best mailing list practices, check out my previous post on the subject:

3.  Cross Promotion.  Marketing is a tough job, so the more help you can get, the better.  Not to mention no two authors have the same audience.  So by the mere act of teaming up with other authors, you'll reach eyeballs you normally wouldn't have access to. 

What are my best cross promotion options?
-Chapter Swap.  This option is pretty straightforward.  Find one of two authors that write similar material to you and trade sample teaser chapters in the back of each others books.  I did a three author chapter swap that worked out quite well. 
-Multi Author Boxed Set.  This one builds on the chapter swap idea and takes it to the next level.  Get a group of authors together (I've seen anywhere between three and ten) and create a mega boxed set.  The beauty of this is that the more authors you can get, the better exposure.  These boxed sets can be short stories, novellas, or even full novels.  And once you have the collection together, there's a good chance you can get picked up for a Bookbub or Pixel of Ink promo, which will maximize your exposure even more. 
-Create Listmania Lists.  The beauty of Listmania is that it's one of the few ways to advertise your work on Amazon that will not get you torched.  It's also relatively simple.  If you write fantasy, create a Top 10 fantasy list.  If you write romance, create a romance list.  So how do you get exposure from this?  Under qualifications, you can put "As the author of the (insert your genre) book (insert your book link) I know a lot about the subject."  Note:  Do not include your book in the Top 10 picks, just mention it briefly as part of your qualifications. 
-Create a niche blog/page/feed.  This option is the slow burn option.  Create a blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook fan page for your niche whether it be Dystopian, Steampunk, Sports Romance, or what have you.  Post links to other people's books in your genre.  You'll slowly build up a following (not to mention some great pay it forward author karma).  Then when your following gets big enough, start mentioning one of your books every week or so.  It's a win win for you and your fellow genre authors. 

4.  Try out new Categories/Keywords.  A lot of readers only search for books in their corner of the ebook universe.  That means that if you publish only in the same two categories on Amazon, you'll miss out on potential eyeballs.  You can branch out in a number of ways--either move your already published books to new categories to try and reach a new audience, or fan out your categories with the release of each new book. 
For example, if you have a four book series, you can reach as many as eight different categories from your KDP dashboard.  Not to mention the other categories that can be added through keywords. 
Then of course there's the option to try out niche categories.  You can check out my post on category selection here:

How do I get extra categories through keywords?

There are a number of categories that are inaccessible directly through your KDP dashboard.  Things like galactic empire, superheroes, sword and sorcery, colonization, and the like.  But by putting in those categories exactly as they appear in the Amazon categories list, sometimes Amazon will grant you a third or even fourth category for your book.  This can add some serious extra exposure.
5.  Write another book.  This is the tried and true piece of advice.  The major obstacle keeping most authors from more sales is a lack of visibility.  But with each new book you release, there's a better chance of people stumbling upon your material.  Also, with the right mailing list, you can get immediate sales with each new book you put out.  So get busy writing. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ebook Marketing -- Self Publishing Tips And Tricks -- Never Give Up On Your Book

You should never give up on your least not right away.  Not until you've given it as many makeovers as you can dream up.  But before I get into that, I should probably start at the beginning. 
Look, I get it.  Your book is your baby.  You've poured countless hours into crafting the plot and characters.  You've created a unique story that you're sure people will just go ape for.  But what if they don't?  What if your precious tome just sinks like a stone?  What if you can count all the people who have bought your book on one hand?
It happens.  I've been there-far too much.  And faced with that kind of lukewarm response, it's easy to get discouraged.  But just because your book hasn't gotten any love doesn't mean you should give up on it. 
Faced with lackluster sales, you have a number of options.  You can go right back to writing on book two, then when that is complete, put book one permafree and hope the freebie will spur sales of your second book. (an option I recommend, by the way). 
But that option doesn't address book number one.  That's the head in the sand approach.  While writing a second book in your series is always a good option, it's also one that requires a significant time investment.  And while you're writing book two, book one can still be making you money as long as you give it a little makeover. 

What kind of makeover?

There's four main things you can do for a book that's lagging in sales. 
1.  Change the title
2.  Change the cover
3.  Change the blurb
4.  Change the books categories

I know these seem very simple, but that's because they are.  Just because they're simple changes though doesn't mean they're not effective.  Sometimes a cover change can make all the difference.  I've seen some indie books cycle through as many as five covers before they hit on one that works.  But each new cover gives your story a chance to attract a different set of eyes. 
The key is to make sure your cover looks as professional as ever.  You need a striking cover that conveys your books genre and appeals to your target market.  And although writing is your specialty, your cover is the last thing you should ever skimp on. 
With your title, you want to do one of two things.  Either A.  Convey exactly and indisputably what the book is about, or B.  Try to intrigue them with a mysterious concept hoping they'll want to know more. 
As for the blurb, make sure you sufficiently tease the reader.  You have to hook a potential buyer on your concept.  Make them wonder what happens next.  Make them desperate to click that buy button.  How do you do this?  With a sense of urgency.  Appeal to the readers emotions. 
The final change is not as direct as it seems.  Changing categories can be as simple as going to your book dashboard and popping two new categories in for your books.  Sometimes that works.  You have to remember, a lot of book buyers only shop in their genre.  Sci fi readers sometimes will only look at other sci fi books.  Same with fantasy or romance, or what have you.  So if you put your book in an entirely new category, you may catch the eyeballs you've been missing.  For an idea about potential category changes, check out my previous post about niche categories. 
*Note:  I'm not advocating putting your book in a category it doesn't belong ever.  It's just that most books have a varied enough subject matter that they can fit into more than just the two categories that Amazon allows you to have.
The second option with categories is more akin to rebooting your book.  If a tale is universal enough, it can be adapted into multiple genres with a little rewriting. 
But no matter what, you should consider rebooting your book if you change the title, cover, blurb, or categories.  For one, you're trying to sell a new book.  Secondly, if your book was largely ignored, no one will there's no one to take offense with you starting over.  Even more importantly, rebooting your book resets the clock on the hot new release book.  So if you're going to undertake a makeover, you can take your book off sale if you wish, change the title, cover, blurb, and categories, then hit publish as a completely new book and get a fresh thirty days to try and prove itself.  Who knows, a little tweaking just may work. 

What if none of that works though?

I know you don't want to hear this, but some books just never take off.  I know from experience.  I spent the first two years of my self pubbing career writing humor books--twenty of them.  And none of them took off.  It was demoralizing.  So what did I do?  I found a new genre.  I started over from scratch.  New pen name.  New genre (romance, if you're interested in knowing).  New start. 
Then something amazing happened--I started making money.  People that weren't closely related to me were buying my books--and lots of them. 
It was amazing.  The lesson?  Sometimes a change in genre can make all the difference.  Sometimes it is ok to give up on your books, as long as you never give up on yourself.  After all, my writing skills didn't get any better.  I just started writing in a more popular genre.  And it made all the difference.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ebook Marketing -- Self Publising Tips And Tricks -- What Sells Best

I've spent a lot of time on this blog talking about niche marketing and categories, so I figured it was time to cover the other end of the spectrum.  Namely, what sells best in the book world.  Let's face it, some writers prefer to swim in the deep end.  So what does it take to hang with the big dogs?
At last calculation, it takes about 1000 sales a day to crack the Top 100 on the Amazon paid list.  Granted, that's 1000 sales in a 24 hour period just to be number 100 overall.  To break the Top 50 or Top 20, that number goes up to 1500-2500 copies.  And although these numbers are approximates because everyday sales fluctuate, there is one thing that never changes--romance and thrillers rule the charts. 
I know, that's hardly surprising.  But what may make you do a double take is just how dominant those two genres really are.  I did a quick tally of the Kindle Top 100 yesterday and found some overwhelming results.  Of the Top 100 ebooks on the bestseller list, the genre breakdown went like this:
Romance -- 45 books
Mystery/Thriller -- 24 books
Literary Fiction -- 13 books
Dystopian -- 6 books
Non Fiction -- 5 books
Science Fiction --4 books
Periodicals -- 3
That means nearly every other book in the Top 100 was a romance.  One out of every four books was a mystery or thriller.  And seven of every ten books was either a romance, mystery, or thriller.  That's amazing news if you write in any of those genres, but awful news if you write anything else. 
But there's even better news if you write romance.  Of those forty-five romances, there was a mix of New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Erotic Romance, and Paranormal Romance. 
Even more staggering were genres that didn't make the Top 100 at all.  No horror, no humor, and the only Fantasy books were paranormal romances. 
So what does this mean for you?  Well, if you aren't writing romance or mystery/thriller, it may mean that the odds just got longer for you.  Or maybe it just means that chances aren't you won't be a best seller.  But there's good news--you can still find your niche and make livable wage.  It's up to you though--are you up for swimming in the deep end?