You’ve self-published. But how do you advertise a book? As an indie, marketing your book is an ongoing part of the publishing process. Full-time authors promote as much as they write; that’s just the nature of self-publishing. So here’s your guide on the tactics to know.
I go over:
- Marketing essentials
- Book advertising tips
- Other tricks and insights
Note: The art of novel advertising depends on what genre you’re in. With all tactics, look at bestselling authors in your genre for better ideas on how to craft your promotions.
Marketing essentials to know
How to promote your first book? Or second and third? Before spending any money on ads, lay your foundation for advertising self published books –
Set up your website and/or social media accounts. This is a prerequisite. In the world of online advertising, you need some kind of online hub or home base for people to find and connect with you. Wordpress and Wix are easy go-to's for building a website with minimal web-building skills.
If not a website, start a dedicated social media account to update your people on new releases and general life things. This is about establishing your author brand. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – consider at least one. Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. It’s a popular choice for running book ads (more on Facebook ads below).
Set up an email list. This is important because “it allows you to directly target readers who enjoy your books, update your fans with new releases, and boost your leverage for professional collaborations. Trendy marketing tactics may come and go, but your mailing list will always remain one of your most powerful marketing tools.” See our guide on how to set up a mailing list for authors.
Place the sign up link on your website and social media bios. You can also add a call-to-action link at the end of your book.
Have an amazing cover design and book description. All book ads direct viewers to your book cover and description. You can have a fabulous ad that generates a bunch of clicks, but lose out on actual sales due to a poor book blurb. You want these elements to be as enticing as possible.
For a high-quality design, opt for a professional designer (search for freelancers on sites like Upwork or Fiverr). Or optimize your own design with this guide on book cover designs. For your book description, ask yourself if it’s catchy enough to convince people to click purchase. Are your strongest hooks in the first few sentences? How about cliffhangers? Check out these low-fuss book description hacks.
Land at least five solid book reviews. People won’t buy when there are zero reviews (the rule of ecommerce!) Attaining a handful of good reviews increases your conversions. Ask your family, friends, and network for reviews. Reach out to influential bloggers in your genre. Read more tips on collecting book reviews.
P.S. With PublishDrive, you can send book reviews to friends and influencers straight to their reading devices. Plus, get self-publishing support from start to publish.
Book advertising tips
After assembling the basics, you’re ready to run some advertising campaigns. If this is your first time handling ads, here are the terms to know:
- Impressions: the number of times your ad gets displayed.
- Clicks: the number of times someone clicked on your ad.
- Click-through-rate (CTR): the number of clicks divided by impressions, to gauge how well your ad converted from viewing to clicking. The higher your CTR, the better.
- Advertising cost of sales (ACOS): how much you spend for every dollar you make, calculated via total spend divided by total sales. The lower your ACOS, the better.
Knowing these metrics should help you analyze your performance for most book ads out there. Let’s go through your options.
Amazon is the mecca of online books. Its Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) gets your content in front of visitors based on related products, keywords, and consumer interests.
- Start with a budget as low as $5 a day. Each time someone clicks on your ad, your daily budget will cap the maximum spend. Raising your budget doesn’t always mean you’ll perform better. That’s why you want to start with a low-cost test campaign.
- Be patient with results. Amazon counts sales in a 14-day window, sometimes taking up to 90 days to get paid by Amazon for the sales made.
- Learn how to interpret your results. “If your ad has low impressions, focus on improving your targeting method. You can use automatic targeting, which helps with getting more impressions and optimize your conversions (getting someone to buy) from there. If your CTR is low, look at your book cover. If overall sales are low, your ACOS may be too high.”
- Here’s a complete guide for running Amazon book ads.
As I mentioned, Facebook is the #1 social media channel. Facebook ads can help create buzz with a small investment. You can set your budget for as low as $1 a day (perfect for testing). All it takes is targeting the right group and crafting your ads just right.
- Use an image that captures the vibes of your book plus a 1-2 sentence hook. Your copy should be concise and easy to read. And it should resonate with your target audience. Once people click, it’s up to your blurb to make the sale.
- Experiment with your targeting options. Try setting the goal to have people like and follow your Facebook author page. Building a following for your author brand can reap rewards in the long run.
- Engage with the comments. Responding to people not only bumps up the relevancy of your ad but lets people know you’re an actual human.
- Get creative. Run a contest and run ads for that. Or promote a post about signing up for your newsletter/email list.
- “Advertise a character or a cool location from your book to persuade Facebook readers to click on your ad…If your story takes place in an old castle, take photographs of old castles and use them as the ad image. Tell a little about the castle in the description and include a call to action (CTA).”
- Check out this list of creative book campaign ideas.
BookBub is a favorite for indie authors. It’s a “flexible marketing tool, offering authors and book marketers the opportunity to tailor their campaigns to reach custom audiences of readers for any title at any time.”
- Use a free or discounted book campaign to boost your sales. Your image should appeal to your target audience and emphasize your special price.
- Use author targeting. It’s proven to have 61% higher click-through rates than targeting by category interests.
- Use your strongest hooks in your image. For a new release, you want to maximize your exposure. Got awards or mentions from reputable orgs? Showcase them.
- Read everything you need to know about promoting with BookBub ads.
Take a look at some of BookBub’s highest-performing ads. Pay extra attention to the images and copies used in these book advertisement examples.
This copy is large and easy to read. The call-to-action button “GET IT FREE ON AMAZON” stands out.
This call-to-action “Get Inspired” relates to the target audience. It also uses a quote from a reputable source.
“For a limited time” creates a sense of urgency.
Other book promotion ads
Heard of Written Word Media? Its platform reaches four main channels to help advertise your book:
- Freebooksy: over 368,000 registered users looking for free book deals.
- Bargain Booksy: over 277,000 registered readers looking for titles priced at $3.99 or below.
- NewInBooks: over 576,000 readers looking for titles released in the past six months across genres.
- Red Feather Romance: the #1 site for romance books with readers looking for titles priced below $4.99 or free.
Consider releasing your book at a special price (or free) to promote with channels like Bargain Booksy. Price promotions work. Under the self-publishing platform PublishDrive, indies who ran discounted price campaigns generated 10x more sales.
Other tips and tricks
Now you know how to advertise a book. I’ll close with a handful of other tactics you gotta know:
- Distribute your book in multiple formats like ebook, audiobook, and print-on-demand. This way, you can tap into all audience types.
- Distribute your book in multiple spaces (not just Amazon). Sell in other large retailers like Google Play Books, Apple Books, and Kobo. Plus, don’t forget about niche markets like Dreame.
- Join reading and writing groups in your genre to build your brand. Share your own tips, chat with others, and get plugged in. Check out Reddit for groups like Self Published Writers.
- Plan a special book launch event around your release day. Send out emails, post on social media, and ask people to post their reviews.
- Self-publishing veterans will tell you one thing: write and release as much as you can. To maintain a rapid release schedule, try co-writing with other authors.
- Make a bundle of your books. This is a great way to not just release more content but reward your readers with an entire set of books.
- Try cross-promoting by reaching out to blogs with guest post pitches.
- Participate in book festivals to meet readers as well as industry pros.
- Get more ideas for your book marketing campaigns.