Being an independent publisher can be very discouraging. You spend months or years writing a book, only to have readers ignore it to death.
I made a great many mistakes marketing my first novel. I was so focused on the content that I didn’t realize how hard it is to attract readers, no matter how good your book is.
In this blog, I’d like to offer the benefits of my own experience. Although I’m still learning, I’ve discovered a number of marketing tools.
This author spent twenty years writing a memoir about how she rescued her two kidnapped daughters. Like other writers, Lizbeth had no idea how to market her book and spent a great deal of money on paid advertising. So she set about learning cheaper methods. The result is her free course, Get More Online Reviews for Your Book.
I like Lizbeth’s course because it’s a good starting point for inexperienced writers and self-publishers.
Lizbeth also offers a paid course, Book Marketing on the Skinny. Presently, she’s enrolling subscribers for an updated version.
Kindlepreneur: A Course for Amazon Ads
When I first tried Amazon’s Kindle advertising campaigns, I became confused and discouraged. Nothing I tried resulted in sales. The more I studied Kindle’s advertising instructions, the more confused I got.
Dave Chesson, a highly-respected name in self-publishing, has created Kindlepreneur, a beautifully organized and detailed course in Amazon advertising. He’s also developed Publisher Rocket, a great tool for choosing the right keywords to advertise your book. With these resources, and a few hours of study, you can easily understand and effectively tailor your Amazon ads to potential readers.
Unlike social media readers, Amazon customers are already looking to buy something. And Amazon is the favorite source of book buyers. When they shop, they search for book titles, author names, or topics. If you advertise your book with relevant keywords, you have a good chance of attracting buyers.
Dave offers many free courses on other publishing topics. Publisher Rocket sells for a one-time fee of $97.
Eric Preston: Facebook Ads
I stumbled onto this guy while browsing the internet for help with Facebook ads. Although Eric uses them to sell real estate, his tutorial covers all the bases. It’s an excellent introduction to Facebook ads – and it’s free.
Eric starts his course by assuming you know absolutely nothing about Facebook. He shows you how to set up an account. Then, step by step, he leads you through the process of creating an ad campaign. My only criticism is that he assumes you already know how to set up your pixel. For this, I got help from my website designer.
Eric also assumes you know how to design a display ad and download it to your computer. Happily, there’s a free and easy-to-use app for this. Canva has a nice introductory tutorial that shows you how to build an ad to your own specifications. For example, you can upload your book cover into Canva and add text to attract readers. Once you’re satisfied, you can download it to your computer and post it in your Facebook ad.
Facebook is a great source for independent authors because it allows you to target readers who are interested in your topic. The amount of money you spend depends on what you can afford, and it doesn’t have to be a great deal. The trick is setting it up correctly. If your campaign doesn’t work, you can always terminate it and build a new one.
Click here for Eric’s free Facebook ads tutorial.
Eric Preston: Google Ads
As he does with Facebook, Eric walks you through the process of setting up a Google ad campaign. I especially like these because they’re easy to build, less technical than Facebook, and you only pay for the clicks on your ad. Also, you don’t have to create a display ad. Google uses your keywords to attract people browsing your book’s subject matter.
Google has a tracking device that shows how your ads are performing. It also sends you emails with suggestions on how to improve results.
Click here for Eric’s free Google ads tutorial.
Nick Stephenson: Your First 10,000 Readers
After watching Eric Preston’s Facebook video, you’ll be set for Nick Stephenson’s course,
Nick is a well-respected source in the self-publishing industry. Some of his videos are free, but his most comprehensive course, which I use, is Your First 10,000 Readers. In it, he walks you step-by-step through the technical details of building readership. The seven-day course is free. I purchased the more comprehensive course, which is a bit pricey but much more detailed.
Nick demonstrates how to use book giveaways, author collaborations, and other enticements to build an email list and launch your book. His methods are much cheaper and more effective than conventional paid advertising. However, be prepared to devote many hours to completing the paid course. The details can seem overwhelming at times, but Nick and his team are good about responding to questions. And you can replay his videos as often as necessary.
On the downside, Nick assumes everyone is in the business of writing series novels. That’s not much use if you write stand-alone books. However, the principles are the same; you just may not get the monetary results he does.
If you plan to use Facebook to advertise your book, Nick’s course includes an eleven-lesson series with a lot of strategies on how to create cost-effective ad campaigns. For anyone new to Facebook advertising, I recommend beginning with the free Eric Preston course (above) so you can get an idea of how it works. Eric’s video, which is only an hour, is a good lead-in to the Nick Stephenson course, which is highly detailed but aimed exclusively at authors.
Before committing yourself, click here for a review of the Nick Stephenson courses and links to them.
To use Bookbub ads, it’s a good idea to upload your book to the website first. To do that, you’ll have to create an account with Bookbub Partners.
Bookbub has a brief, easy tutorial to walk you through the process. It even has a simple template to which you can upload your book cover and add some text beside it. Or, you can create your own ad using Canva. Be sure your ad meets Bookbub’s size specifications: 300 x 250 pixels.
You can also link your book to the names of successful authors in your genre. This increases your chances of attracting readers who like those authors.
Like Google ads, Bookbub only charges you for clicks on your ad. You can terminate a campaign and start a new one at any time. It also sends you emails to tell you how your ad is performing, with suggestions on how to improve responses.