10 Marketing Tips for Self-Publishers


blank books on a shelf

Hiring an editor isn’t enough if you self-publish – you need to market yourself. It may sound obvious, but you need to give your self-published book the best chance of success and writing a great book is just part of the process. Once your book is written you need to set aside time and money to make it the success you want it to be. This doesn’t only apply to self-published authors, but traditionally published authors too – long gone are the days when a publishing house will go all out to market your work.

Once a book is written, most people realise that having your offering read by beta-readers, edited and proofread is the way to go. Set aside time for a few people to read it, get their opinions and listen to them – it’s hard, they don’t see the work that’s gone into it, not really, but their thoughts are important. Don’t mistake beta-readers for editors though. Publishing professionals will pick up on problems and strengths that others won’t.

And for goodness sake, don’t think that because you are publishing digitally it will be easier to upload a book and alter mistakes when readers tell you what they’ve found. I’ve seen a few blog posts telling authors to do this instead of hiring an editor, and to be quite frank it fills me with horror. Sure, editors cost money, but bad reviews caused by mistakes in your book will cost you too. For every kind person bothering to contact you about an error there will be more who won’t bother and will just ditch the book (and not buy any subsequent offerings you may publish) or, and this is worse, put up a bad review that will stop others from buying your books. Don’t give up anything to the world that is less than your absolute best.

But I digress – let’s get back on track.

Once your book is as perfect as it can be, once it has been written, edited, proofread and designed, you can self-publish with confidence. But it doesn’t all end once you have navigated the publishing process and set yourself up on Amazon or Smashwords or wherever you choose to make your work available. In reality this is when the hard work begins.

No book is going to be a success unless readers know it exists. If you don’t have the marketing team of a traditional publishing house behind you, you have to do it all yourself. I upsets me when I see a great book I’ve worked on disappear into cyberspace because no-one realises how great it is.

bookshelves full of books
In a saturated market your book needs to stand out from the crowd

In a world where anyone can self-publish you need to set yourself apart from the crowd. Here are a 10 tips to help you market your book:

  1. Know your target audience and know where they hang out. Join groups and forums on Goodreads and other places where readers and writers congregate. Get to know your audience and they’ll get to know you. If you need beta-readers seek them out and think about offering a few copies of your book out there. Get early reviews to build your brand.
  2. Don’t forget the description areas on your self-publishing platform. Fill out an author biog and a short description of your book. Give readers enough information to let them make an informed choice.
  3. Know your genre. This is important. Putting your book in the wrong category can inhibit sales, or worse you may not meet your readers’ expectations and they may leave negative reviews.
  4. Let everyone know you’ve published your book – don’t be shy but don’t be too pushy either. Feed people’s inquisitive nature and let them think they’ve found the ‘next big thing’.
  5. Get yourself on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. Social media is king. Be yourself, but get yourself an author page. Encourage communication with your readers.
  6. Get yourself a blog and website. Seriously, it’s hard work keeping it going, but now you’re an author you need to have a presence … have pages such as author info, publicity shots and press releases as well as your blog and book pages. You can create a great looking website cheaply and looking professional will help people take you seriously.
  7. Do NOT troll on social media. And by trolling I don’t just mean those stupid, belittling tweets, or badmouthing your competition. One of my personal bugbears is being followed by authors who only follow to get a follow back, then promptly unfollow … that is SO unprofessional. Don’t hassle other publishing professionals (by all means introduce yourself, but don’t be pushy), and don’t just follow people because they have the words editor, agent, or publisher in their bios. Believe me, we know when people are only following because of our day jobs, or because they are trying to poach followers. So what if we all talk to each other, it doesn’t mean that we spend all our Twitter hours checking out every author who follows us!
  8. Start marketing your book before it’s finished. Leaving it until it’s published is leaving it too late. If you are a serious author you will know roughly when you expect your book to be published. Once it’s written set yourself a timetable and include so many months for beta-reading, editing etc. Let the world know your book is coming, build up momentum and get people interested, then once you publish you should hopefully have readers looking forward to reading and recommending your book.
  9. Ask for reviews. This is business and reviews mean a lot. Word of mouth recommendations are important and Amazon and Goodreads reviews have clout (which is why you want to produce only your finest material).
  10. Don’t stop your marketing campaign. It may go slowly, but sometimes momentum is gained over time. Don’t be disheartened and don’t be afraid to call yourself an author. Get yourself some business cards and flyers advertising your book. Build yourself an author’s business plan and go back to it whenever you need to.

Publishing is now tougher than ever; give yourself the best chance and hopefully your book will be a success.

Are you an author? Have you had successes and failures you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below.

6 Comments on “10 Marketing Tips for Self-Publishers

    • Great cover and pitch are very important, but I’d be wary of an email list unless people sign up themselves (no-one likes being added to lists they don’t choose themselves). Promo sites and advertising have their place too, as long as you’re selective 🙂

      • No offense, but just about every even semi-successful self published author advocates an email list as the, bar none, most important advertising tactic. It’s something the author controls, unlike social media which can limit your reach on a whim, and it’s cost effective. Mailchimp doesn’t charge anything until you have 2000 subscribers.

        There are many ways to build email lists. If you’re going to give marketing advice, I suggest you investigate the subject.

        Promo sites and advertising have their place? How would you suggest launching into the top 100 on Amazon without them? Unless you have a 10k+ mailing list, not going to happen.

      • I have used email lists successfully for myself and others, and am well aware of marketing practices.

        Email lists can be important, however adding people to lists without their permission is against the rules of Mailchimp, Constant Contact etc. and is bad marketing practice. Besides, they often end in the bin.
        By all means set up email lists for those interested, but with email inboxes being full to bursting you cannot rely on them.

  1. Yes, marketing my stories is one of my biggest problems. I try to be active online, get pictures done of my characters, and update a few times a month, but it’s never enough.

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