In a time of wide-scale shutdowns and social distancing, we’ve lost a handful of ways to market books. In-person activities like book clubs, fairs, launch parties, or local meetups have become near impossible to engage in. But good news: digital ways to market books are delivering huge successes for authors and publishers.
This year, PublishDrive indies selling and promoting books online saw sales growth by 69%. And, 70% of those sales are from international markets. What’s more, digital channels like online retailers, libraries, and subscription-service platforms are skyrocketing:
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, more people are staying in and purchasing books via digital means. To meet this enormous traffic of book seekers online, you got to promote online.
Let’s assume you got the basics set up for yourself. Meaning, we won’t mention running a website and multiple social media accounts or writing emails and blog posts. Instead, this post goes over four promotion tactics that directly helped our indie authors boost their sales – manageable online with PublishDrive and without a huge marketing budget .
If you'd like to dive a little deeper into budgeting, this article by Dexatel is a great place to begin.
P.s. We’ve published over 200,000 digital books since 2015. Globally distribute with PublishDrive’s easy-to-use platform.
#1: Get Book Reviews Online
After publishing a book, your description or sales pitch alone won’t get people to buy. Readers want proof that your book is worth purchasing. That proof is online book reviews; collecting them is a must. Not only does it create credibility, but it helps you rank higher in search results and qualify you for things like getting featured on newsletters. Some stores even ask for a minimum number of reviews and ratings to consider your book for in-store promos.
Indies usually reach out to their own mailing lists, which is time-consuming. Or they use third-party services to find reviews, which costs money. With PublishDrive’s built-in tool, you can send free copies of your book to directly show up on recipients’ devices via Apple Books and Google Play Books. These files are digitally protected (DRM), meaning they can’t be copied and expire after 28 days if the reviewer doesn’t read your book. This is a secure and easy way to push your content right in front of readers and get those free book reviews.
How to get book reviews for your book with PublishDrive:
- Step 0: From PublishDrive’s dashboard under “Promotions”, click “Review Copy”.
- Step 1: Select your book.
- Step 2: Select which store (Apple or Google).
- Step 3: Add the recipient’s email address – click “Request review copy”.
Tip: Take a day or two to research and compile a list of email addresses. With your existing mailing list that may include your inner circle or previous customers, add influencers and digitally active people. Search for book bloggers in your genre. Reach out to authors on Facebook or Reddit willing to exchange reviews. For nonfiction, find experts in your field.
#2: Get Featured In Stores And Newsletters
If you can land a handful of solid reviews, the chances of getting your book featured in store promotions and newsletters are absolutely higher. We’ve had authors get on the front page of Apple Books for two weeks and achieve significant spikes in sales. We’ve had some get on newsletters like with BookBub for categories such as discounted books. There are tons of libraries like Hoopla, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca running promotions for different types of target audiences. The options are out there – reach out!
Another one of PublishDrive’s tools lets you easily submit your work for these featuring opportunities. Pulled from our network of over 400 online stores and 240K digital libraries, we compile current and upcoming promotion options into a single list. We recommend you regularly check in to see what campaigns are running for a variety of book genres and categories. Many stores are interested in news releases and free or discounted books, so definitely make a submission when you have any of those.
How to get featured with PublishDrive’s partners:
- Step 0: From PublishDrive’s dashboard under “Promotions”, click “Featuring”.
- Step 1: Select your book.
- Step 2: Write a comment on why your book fits the campaign.
- Step 3: Submit and wait – PublishDrive’s merchandisers take a look to make sure it’s suitable for the specific campaign. If approved, your title is passed to our partner to review. Just saying, we get indies featured 90% of the time.
Tip: Distribute and promote in digital libraries to widen your reach and be discovered by new readers. Library users include bigger entities like corporations, quite different from the retail market. Or they are institutions choosing libraries as vendors to lend books from their own platforms. Plus, we saw indies’ income from digital library sales increase by 179% in 2020.
#3: Run Price Promotions
Promotional pricing is one of the most powerful sales strategies out there. Typically after a book launch, there’s a good three to four months of sales before it starts to flatten. We recommend running a discount, then give your sales a helpful boost. Don’t stop there; experiment. Plan a price promo for your favorite holiday with nicely designed graphics and share the news everywhere via email, social media, and even Facebook ads.
Take note of upcoming store and newsletter campaigns specifically for discounted books, like the ones by Bargain Booksy or BookBub. Run your discount at the same time and submit your title for those features. The cool thing with PublishDrive, you can operate both on the same dashboard just a few clicks away.
How to run price promotions with PublishDrive:
- Step 0: From PublishDrive’s dashboard under “Promotions”, click “Price Promotion”.
- Step 1: Select your book.
- Step 2: Select the start and end date.
- Step 3: Add your discounted price. If applicable, do so for discounted currencies (or click “pretty price for all” where it sets the closest but psychologically appealing discounted price in local currencies). Schedule for launch!
Tip: With books offered free or under a certain pricing bracket, we suggest checking out one of our best book promotions sites Written Word Media. This one is a paid service, but for as low as $25 you can reach millions of active readers and subscribers looking for great book bargains.
#4: Optimize Amazon Ads
Why Amazon ads? As one of the world’s largest online retailers – books being the #5 bestseller category – an enormous amount of people looking for books are on Amazon. With it being the mecca of online consumer shopping, it gives you that much room to get creative with ad functions like product targeting. For example, you don’t have to stay limited to targeting similar books but try targeting products like electronics or kitchenware.
PublishDrive’s Amazon book promotion ad tool is built to optimize your performance with suggested categories and products for targeting options. It’s also very simple to handle. Although it does cost money to run ads, you can start with a small budget – $10 works. In the beginning, we say get a feel for how it works anyway. Choose “automatic” targeting as a starting point, then advance to product and keyword targeting.
How to set Amazon ads with PublishDrive:
- Step 0: From PublishDrive’s dashboard under “Promotions”, click “Amazon Advertising”.
- Step 1: Click “create a campaign”.
- Step 2: Fill in the basic details: campaign name, start and end date, and budget.
- Step 3: Choose targeting option. Keyword targeting is using keywords relevant to your book to rank higher in search engines. Product targeting helps your book show up on detail pages or filter search results for products similar to yours. And that’s it!
Tip: If you’ve never done Amazon advertising before, this one is a bit complex to get a hang of. See our in-depth help guide that goes over everything you need to know about successfully setting one up.
Promote Your Best While Digital Books Soar
Whether you just started out as a published author or have 20 books under your belt, it’s not enough to publish your book and leave it at that. It’s essential to invest your time and energy into a marketing plan. 2020’s unprecedented year of the pandemic has been tough for many of us. But know that it’s a demanding time for digital books, so keep your chin up.
PublishDrive built online tools to help indies like you utilize promotional tactics throughout your publishing journey. With a 69% increase in digital book sales recorded this year, online marketing is the way to go. To get a fuller picture of our best practices shared in this post, do watch our webinar recording with PublishDrive CEO and book market expert Kinga Jentetics:
Want to try out PublishDrive’s book promotion services and tools for yourself? Start a free 14-day trial and sell books to millions of readers around the globe: