#Publishing: 6 Hot Trends in Indie Book Marketing

KJ Waters
KJ Waters is the Amazon best-selling author of the short-story called Blow and time travel series Stealing Time. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, is in development and is slated to be released in the spring of 2017. In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit. She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.
KJ Waters
RT @mjmfiction50: Will Paige tell Justin a secret that could shatter her dreams forever? #romance #baby #IARTG #AllBook #KU #free https://t… - 25 mins ago
KJ Waters
KJ Waters
KJ Waters
Blondie's Custom Book covers specializes in book cover design using professional photographer and designer sevices. Covers can also be designed using stock photos. Visit their website for more details. Twitter: @BlondiesBookCov Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlondiesCustomBookCovers?ref=hl

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.

 

Picture of Indie Book Marketing Pricing Sweet Spot

 

#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.

 

Picture of Indie Book Marketing Distribution Channels

 

#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.

 

Author: KJ Waters

KJ Waters is the Amazon best-selling author of the short-story called Blow and time travel series Stealing Time. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, is in development and is slated to be released in the spring of 2017. In addition to her writing, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit. She has a Master’s in Business and over 15 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company.

Share This Post On

55 Comments

  1. Glad to hear you survived Oktoberfest, Jeri! Very informative blog KJ – I think eventually writers do have to focus on only a couple of social media outlets and do them well instead of being spread too thin. I still struggle with the branding thing – always feels disingenuous to me. Ah well, complaining as usual (I guess that would be me!) Jan

    Post a Reply
    • Ha, yes, if your brand is you it should be easy to post genuine things. My advice would be to focus on what your brand strengths are and post a few things from those areas every week.

      Post a Reply
  2. You are so right about branding and personal style. Now the trend to have your voice read for audio is booming. I’m a voice over and before I’ll consider narrating a particular book I examine everything you mentioned in this post.

    Post a Reply
    • Good thinking! I’m curious about the voice over for your own book. I might have to do that after I release my book. Of course I’d not want to hear my own voice, but how cool would that be?

      Post a Reply
  3. Welcome home Jeri – and thanks for a great guest post. Lots of good advice here, and the stats are really very encouraging. I’ve just started using justunfollow, and it’s made a bog difference from the previous twitter tool I was using. It’s easy to spread yourself thin, but it doesn’t help anyone. V. enjoyable post. Thanks.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks A.K., and you’re so right about spreading yourself too thin. Very easy to do. I maintain instagram and pinterest but put most of my time into Twitter and Facebook.

      Justunfollow has made my stats improve greatly because it keeps my twitter numbers in line so i can keep following new people and get rid of the dead weight.

      Post a Reply
  4. A perfect article and one I will reference often I have no doubt. Thanks for the advice about price point and the reiterated points on book cover, social media exposure etc. I haven’t as yet stepped into the world of indie authorship but am excited to do so. Thanks very much.

    Post a Reply
  5. I am a publisher of online periodicals at the moment but will consider book publishing in the future. Great reminders and ideas about marketing and very true, “you are a brand”. Your post will help me and others when the time comes to market a publication.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes, I hadn’t thought about the crossover marketing potential of this article but I can see how some of the information could be helpful, especially the branding. Your publications have a brand and a target market that relate to that brand. Best of luck if you break into the publishing of books.

      Post a Reply
  6. I was fascinated by that statistic that the top five publishers only have 16% of the bestseller market on Amazon! I don’t have a book, but several of these concepts (3, 4, and 5) are great for blogs too, so I can still use these ideas.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes, great point! I have a blog too and you’re right that these points cross over to blog marketing as well. Best of luck with your blog and thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      Post a Reply
  7. Interesting statistics and great information on book marketing. So many writers claim to hate the marketing and not want to deal with it, but it comes with the territory.

    Post a Reply
    • It is so true now. Even the authors that have publishers are required to do most of their own marketing (yes it’s true) so you have to take off your writing hat and put on your big girl marketing panties and get the job done hun. 😀

      Luckily for me my background is in Marketing so it’s an easy transition. I know a lot of writers who are in their cave though and hate this part of the game. I feel for ’em!

      Post a Reply
  8. Jeri – Welcome back – hope you had a great time. This is a great post and one I know I will refer to when the time is right. I am definitely bookmarking this. Thanks.

    Post a Reply
    • So honored to have your bookmark. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Lenie!

      Post a Reply
  9. There are a lot of encouraging signs here. Over time I think you will see the distinction between indie authors and those of the major publishers continue to blur.

    Post a Reply
    • I agree and I can’t even believe the market is as blurred as it is now. When I started writing my novel 9 years ago there were no other options for authors but to stick it out with a publisher and who knew if that would ever happen. Now look at our choices. It’s a bleeping miracle in my book. Still feel very thankful the market changed so much in that time to allow me the freedom to publish on my own. I have utter confidence in us Indies! Let’s take over this market and stick it to the proverbial man (big publishers).

      Post a Reply
  10. I think it’s really exciting that indie authors make up 40% of the eBook earnings. Happy to hear too the new pricing sweet spot is a bit higher. And wow, we get to pre-sell on Amazon just like the big guys. How cool is that? 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • I know Susan! I’m giddy with excitement at the latest trends in Indie publishing! There has never been a better time to go out on your own!

      Post a Reply
  11. I love this site for all the information you have and the people you bring on board to write. Thanks again for a superb post.

    P.S. justunfollow is a great tool. I also recommend flitter for those wanting to use twitter for analytics.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks so much Duke! Really appreciate you taking the time to read the post and to comment. Great advice I’ll check out flitter. Not heard of that one yet, but worth looking into.

      Post a Reply
    • Yes Jacqueline, I think it’s 100% guaranteed to change, and hopefully along the same trend as we’ve seen the last five years. Seems to be a writers market!
      Thanks for your comments!

      Post a Reply
  12. Welcome back from Oktoberfest Jeri. I hope you had great time there.
    It is nice to know that self-published authors did good on Amazon. This is good chance for writers from Amazon to pre-sell their books.
    There are many good tips in post for new authors. In all this what matters is a strong social media ties.
    I like the one to keep prices low to attract more audience and make them your follower. I think this is a gradual process of write-reader-relation. You have to climb step by step without leaps on the ladder . All the best.

    Post a Reply
    • Andleeb, you are so right. You really can’t skip steps in building relationships. It is so important to take the time and talk to people, make them laugh, inform them and build trust. If you can do this over time you will have real loyal followers. It works. I’ve been working my social media platform for two years. I just found out by accident that I’m ranked among the top 5% in social media users. I’ve only done what I found is normal by making friends and listening to my followers. My theme in life is the same have fun, be nice, and be respectful and they will follow.

      Post a Reply
  13. Great article, well done. I enjoy reading anything that will help me with the sale of my book. As authors, we tend to be writers and not sales persons, we need to be both.

    Post a Reply
    • William, you are so right! It can be really hard to switch gears from creating an amazing story and characters and then have to be their advocate in getting people to know them. Not an easy switch but well worth it. Thanks for your comments and for taking the time to read the post.

      Post a Reply
  14. You make some very interesting points. All aspects of the same whole. As an Indie author myself I plan to take advantage of the new presale option Amazon is now offering.

    Post a Reply
    • Great Cheryl, please get back to me and tell me how it worked out for you. I’ll do the same!

      Post a Reply
  15. That’s all very good news. Yay! We aren’t the underdog anymore. I’m going to use some of your tips to push my book. Thanks. Glad you had a great trip!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Beth, let me know what works for you. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for marketing your book. We can always learn from each other.

      Post a Reply
  16. I know zilch about E-book publishing but this is helpful for the future. I can tell you that for every e-book that I’ve ever read or purchased, it was the artwork that caught my attention. If the artwork/cover is crappy, I’m gonna assume the book is too. Packaging and presentation is so important.

    Post a Reply
    • I agree with you completely. I don’t even bother to click on the image if the artwork is lame. Such a lost opportunity for the author to be passed over for something they have complete control over.

      Post a Reply
  17. I’ve been using the justunfollow app for more than a couple of years and can highly recommend it! It’s also awesome that indi authors can now pre-sell on Amazon. Now I just have to figure out how to actually market more efficiently… it’s definitely my Achilles’ Heel.

    Post a Reply
    • It’s endless Jeri. There should be an app for that. Push the button and your book is marketed. Ha! Keep working on it. This blog is a great tool for getting noticed. I’m very impressed with the quality and quantity of comments!

      Post a Reply
  18. I am not writer but respect those who are. You tips should not be limited to writing a book. I think you can use them not only for blogger but sending out newsletter to customers. I think it is great that writers can Pre-Sell On Amazon.

    Post a Reply
    • Yes, I’m seeing a lot of comments on how these tips crossover to other types of writing.

      And I agree about the presale! I’ll be diving into it next month. I hope it helps me with my sales! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Post a Reply
  19. Wow, I thought that writing was the labor, but it seems that marketing your book can be just as or even more consuming. Thank you for sharing the comprehensive steps getting your book to sell. I often go back and forth between traditional and self-publishing. It is always good to get another perspective, especially from someone who has experienced it first hand.

    Post a Reply
    • Dana, thanks for your comment. Yes I’ve heard from most of my author friends who’ve published multiple books say that the writing the book is the easy part. Crazy that it has to be that way, but it seems the only way. Luckily there are so many free choices to promote your book in this market.

      I would love to pick your brain on what went well for you using both indie and traditional publishing, and what didn’t. Would be a great to get that perspective.

      Post a Reply
  20. I’ve been reading a lot about self-publishing right now and everything you’ve said here is spot-on! I was struck by the idea of presales, which I’d read about before but the slant you put on it in comparison to the free giveaway gave me fresh perspective. You might also consider Smashwords. It’s another ebook self-publishing and distribution platform. But if you’re using KDP, then you can’t distribute your book anywhere else because they ask you to sign over exclusivity. I’m going to go the KDP route with my first eBook and see if I need to change my method after that.

    Post a Reply
  21. Thank you all for the great comments. I will respond as soon as I can. I’m preparing my novel for the editor (yes, Jeri!).

    I really appreciate your comments and insights!

    Post a Reply
  22. This is a great reticle on indie publishing and covers many points. I can’t wicket to see your book when it comes out later this year. As an indie writer I have to say it’s a constant learning curve but never boring!

    Post a Reply
  23. I think there are two avenues that are changing the book world – the emergence and success of indie writers and the e-book. I haven’t published a book, but I could imagine it’s hard not to equate the worth/value with the price. I’d think that I did all this work, research, writing, etc. possibly for several years and now it’s being sold for $2.99. Surely, it’s worth more than that? But that’s what the market recognizes.

    Post a Reply
  24. I’m surprised to see that stat about bestsellers and word count. I guess sci-fi and fantasy are behind those numbers in a big way!

    Post a Reply
  25. I was skeptical of the pre-pub order thing, so this is good to know. I did notice my latest “free” did not get near the buzz my first one did. My publisher is doing pre-order this time through Amazon. So I’ll let you know. As a reader, i rarely pre-order. I’m starting to more now, though.

    Post a Reply
  26. I might have to check out justunfollow. I’ve been wary about it, because I’ve seen auto tweets saying “Find out who just unfollowed you”, and that, to me, isn’t cool. It makes me want to unfollow the person. It might’ve been a different app, and it might’ve been a setting the author didn’t turn off, but it does worry me.

    Post a Reply
  27. This post just proves what I’ve always suspected – that the writing of a book is almost the easiest part! But I’m glad to see people publishing independently, since it gives you so much more control. Eventually I imagine most authors will self-publish, as the markets adjust for it. Surprised (pleasantly so) to read your stats, especially about the popularity of non-fiction. A real story is always so more compelling!

    Post a Reply
  28. KJ this was a surprise, “40% of the e-book earnings are going to indie authors.” Even though my first book by a publisher is coming out, some of these tips can apply to the books I have on Kindle as an indie author.

    Thanks Jeri for having KJ keep us straight with this!

    Post a Reply
  29. Great info. I will use this once I finally get started on my next ebook.

    Post a Reply
  30. Informative post as always with practical tips to help other writers. I was caught by the fiction vs non fiction statistic. But it seems to make sense given the invasion of TV by reality shows. People definitely want more real stuff than unreal. Your question of branding is a good perspective. Who is a brand, not what is, because it is a persona. Loved this.

    Post a Reply
  31. Hi KJ,
    So excited that we’re connecting! I’ve read your post and you’ve got me even ore excited to try out the presale option. Thanks for a terrific summary of what’s hot right now. Fascinating that we indies are doing so much.
    Thanks for posting that and best of luck with your book!!

    I’ll need to check out your book as well.
    Keep in touch!

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *