I made it through Oktoberfest alive, but need time to recover so to speak. Please enjoy the final guest post in this series. How do you promote your book in this complicated indie author world? Join me for the latest research on indie author trends while I also provide up-to-the-minute indie book marketing advice. As any good marketer knows, you must build your strategy based on what is going on in the market. The e-book market has exploded in the last few years and the latest research shows some fascinating trends.
Indie Author Trends
As of July 2014, the Author Earnings Report shows that if the current trend continues for this year in that self-published authors will have 31% of the e-book market on Amazon. This the first time in history that indie authors lead in market share passing the big five publishers, AND the small and medium publishers. The consensus is that indie publishing is here to stay. You can see from all the scrambling of traditional publishers that they can see the writing on the wall and it says “nanny nanny boo boo” to their world domination. To see the full report click here. Other gems that excite me greatly are the following statistics from Publisher’s Weekly article titled Surprising Self-Publishing Statistics.
- The top five publishers have only 16% of the bestsellering e-books on Amazon.
- A whopping 40% of the e-book earnings are going to indie authors.
- Indie authors are way ahead of the traditionally published books in sci-fi/fantasy, mystery/thriller, and romance genres.
- A majority of the bestsellers on Amazon are over 100,000 words.
- Series are much better sellers than stand-alone books.
- Non-fiction is selling at a higher price than fiction.
6 Hot Trends in Indie Book Marketing
The key factors that affect a book’s sales and reader satisfaction are the quality of the story, pricing, distribution, social media marketing, branding, cover design, and breadth of distribution. Obviously if the book is not written well it won’t sell and none of the other factors are going to help.
#1: Price Smarter
The new “pricing sweet spot” for e-books is between $2.99 and $3.99. If you have been at the .99 cent price point you should consider raising it to be on trend and increasing your revenue. I will sell my book at $2.99. Why? I’m a new author and I see this as an advantage to sell at the lower of the sweet spot pricing points to increase my volume. Do not… I repeat DO NOT overprice your book. I have seen a few authors selling their e-books at $9.99 and above, and for a first time author you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Your goal as a newbie is to get a following. When you overprice your book you’re turning away readers who will potentially review your work, talk about it, and be a future reader. They are more likely to pass if they’ve never heard of you and your book is priced too high, no matter how good the rest of your marketing efforts are.
#2: Pre-Sell On Amazon
Amazon KDP recently added a feature that was previously only available to the big fancy publishers. You can now offer pre-sales of your book, up to 90 days before the release date. This affects your rankings before the book is even released! The book is purchased and delivered directly to the customer’s Kindle on the day of release. It has been compared to the previous success of the free book offer of recent self-publishing wisdom. The free book is not as successful of a strategy as it used to be, however, as the market is saturated with free e-books. But times are changing, get on the bandwagon of presales and allow your book to reach new heights. You will find my book on presale soon! I’ve already set up the Amazon account, and will be gearing up for presales in early November for a release date in December. I would love to hear from you if you’ve used this new feature and how it worked out for you.
#3: Boost Your Social Media
This is probably the most important marketing tool for indie authors. First of all it is free, the only thing it costs is your time, and loads of it, (OK Facebook advertising is not free, but I’m talking about free stuff). If you compare it to the traditional marketing avenues it is the most successful of your choices in terms of your return on investment, if you do it right. Choose one or two social media sites and do them well. Add new followers every day to grow your following and use tools like justunfollow.com to clear out the dead weight. You can build on this but don’t spread yourself too thin. I covered this in more detail in my last guest post on Jeri’s site 4 Invaluable Tips for Indie Authors.
#4: Cultivate Your Brand
One important thing to keep in mind with all of your marketing is your brand. What is a brand? How do you develop one? Here is a quote from Susan Gunielus on branding:
Rather than asking, “What is a brand?” a better question might be, “Who is a brand?” Every brand has a persona. Think of your brand as a person. What is that person like? What can you expect when you interact with that person? From appearance to personality and everything in between, your brand persona is one that consumers will evaluate and judge before they do business with you.
Susan is referring to traditional brands like Land O Lakes butter or Sony Corporation. But in your case, you are your brand. And to be very clear, your novel is not the brand. After all your novel isn’t making friends on Twitter, you are. Most likely our book is just one of many you will write, so you need to broaden your branding strategy to include the bigger picture–you as the author and your future books and other projects. On Facebook your interactions are your brand. Are you informative? Are you snarky? Do you make people laugh? Do you challenge them? Do you educate them?
Still confused? I’ll use myself as an example. My brand can be summarized as follows: Author, humorous, water lover, with an intelligent and friendly demeanor. The brand covers my novel that a time travel thriller set during a hurricane. My social media posts reflect the brand. Just today on Facebook I posted an article on Time Travel based on Stephen Hawking’s research, a few funny posts, and my favorite watery pics from Instagram. My blog provides writing samples about my water adventures infused with humor, and I try to have people get the tactile sensations of being in the water with me. It’s how I write my novel as well, you will feel what my characters feel. My overall brand is consistent across my media outlets. Where ever my potential readers find me they will see the same message consistently.
How does this translate to book sales? Your brand is what people feel when they think of you. You are selling your personality. If they like your brand, or can relate to it on some important key level in their world, and you make a connection when you post your book links they’re likely to support your efforts. When they see your tweet on their feed your goal is to evoke certain feelings of kindred spirit or joyousness, (or whatever your brand strategy is) and they will RT, share, and support your cause, if you’ve done your job correctly, because you’ve created an emotional connection with them.
If you’ve only pushed your book at them without building the relationship they’re more likely to ignore your posts, and even worse, have bad feelings when they see you online. That is a failed brand. Whatever you do don’t tarnish your brand by being petty or arguing on-line. You may enjoy stirring the pot but be sure it is worth the bad-will you’re creating with that person, and the numbers of others who see the interaction who don’t comment. Your brilliance may have won the argument, but in the end if you’ve lost potential customers and that is a shallow (and counterproductive) victory.
#5: Grab Them With Your Cover
You are competing with every author out there, including those with massive budgets. The first thing any reader sees of your book is the cover. High quality covers that hit your target market are a crucial element to your sales. If your cover sucks, all of your other marketing efforts will be hampered because people do judge a book by its cover. Your book cover must: capture the reader’s attention, evoke emotions, hint at the story without being cluttered, be visually pleasing, and be simple. For more on these points, click here.
#6: Distribute the Hell Out of it!
You can’t just put your book on your website and think you’re done. You need a strategy for distribution as well. Amazon Kindle is the most popular avenue but by all means it is not the only one. What other channels have you used for your success? Barnes and Noble and other e-book outlets are important as well. Will you print your book and sell it at book fairs and local book stores? I recommend as many different avenues as you can get into. I would love to hear about what other outlets you’ve used with success.
I hope you have found a few kernels of wisdom here. Thank you to Jeri for providing me with the opportunity to guest post again, it has been an honor and a privilege to join this great group of bloggers, writers and followers. I look forward to connecting with you on my social media sites.
What indie book marketing trends have you tried or been impressed by?
Permission must be granted by KJ Waters to use the images in this post.