So you’ve spent what seems like countless hours (and dollars) writing your book and getting it self-published, and now you need to sell it.
“Write it, and they will come” isn't really a thing, so that means you’ve got to pound the pavement—in person and online—if you want to make off-the-charts sales.
There are loads of things you can do to sell your book, but some of them take lots of money to pull off, and the results can be slow.
But if you want to know how to promote your book without spending tons of cash, and you want to focus your valuable time on book promotion efforts that actually work, then read on.
1. Write an Eye-Catching Description
Your book description is more than a mere excerpt from your story—it’s a sales pitch. If you want to pique readers’ interest in your book, your description should be an exciting invitation to experience a transformation.
It should speak to your readers’ emotions, draw them in, and show them why your book is perfect for them. If you have killer back cover copy, you can re-purpose that text for your book description anywhere online, including product descriptions, social media posts, emails and your website.
2. Use Social Media
Love it or hate it, social media is a force to be reckoned with, so use it to your advantage. Focus on one or two platforms and create engaging posts that tell your audience more about you and your book.
Random musings will confuse your followers and probably won’t attract new ones, so be intentional in your approach.
Take some time to map out a social media strategy and schedule so that your posts are thoughtful and consistent.
And don’t forget the most important part of a social media post—the call to action. Don’t assume people know what you want them to do and how they should do it. You have to be direct and tell them exactly what to do next, like “click the link in my bio to get the book now,” or tap here to join my email list and get chapter one for free.” More on the free chapter in the next point…
3. Give a (Free) Sneak Peek
A great way to build your email list, generate interest in your book, and make more sales is to offer people a free chapter as an instant download in exchange for their email address. When you send the free chapter, you can include a link to pre-order the book or purchase it now if you’ve launched already.
Readers love a free chapter because it gives them a chance to preview your book before buying the full copy, so if you send them an amazing excerpt, they’ll be eager to buy the rest.
And the best part is this: whether they buy your book or not, they’ll be a subscriber to your email list, which means you’ll have ongoing opportunities to connect with them, build a relationship, and offer them your book or other products and services later.
4. Do a Local Event
While there are lots of great opportunities to sell your book online, one of the best ways to get exposure and sales is by doing good old fashioned local, in-person events where you can talk with people about your book and offer it for sale.
Sure, it takes time (and sometimes money) to plan local events, but don’t underestimate the power and profitability of the human connection and personal touch. Look for opportunities at bookstores, churches, and restaurants with event spaces. You can also check out Peerspace for unique, affordable venue rentals.
The key is to be resourceful because, after all, you want to make money at the end of the day. Low- or no-cost events that you can plan yourself are ideal, or you can sign up to be a vendor at a local event like a festival or conference if the vendor fee is reasonable. You could potentially get exposed to thousands of attendees at large events, so it’s a worthwhile book marketing strategy.
Keep in mind that some people don’t like to make impulse purchases at events, so create branded free giveaways or promotional items like palm cards or bookmarks that people can pick up and take with them even if they aren’t buying your book. When they look at your materials later, they can visit your website and make a purchase, or they can share it with someone else who could be interested.
5. Get Reviews
We all do it: we find something we think we want to buy online, then head straight to the reviews to see what other people said about it. And for many of us, the reviews make or break that purchase.
Social proof is priceless, and that’s exactly why you need some great reviews for your book. Offer a free copy of your book to a small group of people in exchange for a review that you can post on your website, social media, and online third-party booksellers (like Amazon) if you’re selling somewhere besides your own website.
If you’re using third-party sellers, your readers will have to post their reviews there, so make it easy—give them the direct link to post their review and provide clear instructions on exactly what to do. Once they post, you can copy those reviews and re-purpose them on your website and social media pages.
Be selective in identifying your review group—pick people who you know will take the time to read your book and write a thoughtful review. To get quality feedback, prompt your readers with some questions so they know how to start writing.
6. Create Your Own Website
If you don’t have an author website already, you need one. But don’t fret, because you can create a simple site in a matter of a couple of hours for a reasonable price. Just make sure you have the essential website pages so people can learn enough about you and your book to encourage them to buy.
And don’t forget to include an invitation to opt-in to your email list so you can start nurturing visitors even if they aren’t ready to buy your book yet.
Having your own website also allows you to offer visitors bundled products, like your book combined with other merchandise (mugs, t-shirts, etc.), and you can also offer special upgrades to your book like autographed copies. A website that you own and control opens up limitless opportunities to grow your business and brand, so it’s worth the time and small investment.