Marketing Your Self-Published Book

My recent post at the Catholic Writers Guild Blog talks about marketing the self-published book:

After years of creating, editing, polishing and many revisions, the last line of your book is written. You have sent it off to the printer. You are finally finished! Now you can sit back, kick up your feet and relax while your book becomes a bestseller.

Wrong.

For the self-published author, the writing of his or her book only comprises 10% of the work. In my experience, 90% has been promotion and marketing.

I’ve put together some pointers that might help the novice self-published author. These are things that I have learned from ten years experience as a self-published author, things that will help you to market your book.

One: Produce a quality book There is no substitute for a quality book. Don’t take short cuts! Hire a professional editor and cover designer. Hire a book coach…please produce a quality book. If you publish a poor quality or mediocre book, no amount of marketing is going to help it sell.

Two: Create a website for your book, along with a book trailer. Here is my second novel’s website and book trailer: In Name Only.

Three: Attend local Catholic conferences Since I was writing Catholic fiction, the first thing I did as a new author many years ago was to attend a local Catholic conference. I sold 22 books at that conference. I use the word “local” because obviously there will be expenses for attending out-of-town conferences and an author must weigh the cost of attending to the possible income to be made.

Four: Ask friends, relatives and anyone who is willing to write a review of your book. This has been helpful, although friends and relatives can sometimes go overboard writing gushing reviews.

Five: Social networking/Web Presence Ten years ago, the only social networking sites available were blogs. I didn’t have time to start writing a blog, but I did join Facebook way back in 2006 in order to keep any eye on my teenagers. As my friend list grew, it turned out to be a wonderful marketing and promotion tool. Join Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linked in, Google plus. (BTW, feel free to follow me on any of these sites and I will follow you back!) Make a Facebook page for your book.

Social networking takes time, but these websites can be a tremendous help in promoting your book. Once my boys grew a bit older, I began writing a blog. I also write columns for four different websites and I try to comment frequently on other blogs.

Six: Enter your book in book award contests A major award has the potential of selling books. I entered my first book, Emily’s Hope, in the 2006 IPPY Awards. Although I didn’t walk away with a medal, they sent me an “Honorable Mention” certificate and a few stickers. When I entered my second book, In Name Only, in the 2010 IPPY Awards, I had no aspirations of winning anything. When I found out I was a finalist, I automatically assumed I would receive a Bronze medal. Later, I was shocked to discover my book had won the Gold Medal!

Although it doesn’t claim to be all-inclusive, this link contains a list of self-publishing contests to enter: http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2009/01/self-published-book-contests/ Be aware that most of these require an entry fee.

Seven: Release your book as an e-book at a reasonable price (more on e-book pricing in a future post). I wrote about Kindle books in a post last year on this blog.

Putting my books on Kindle has been the single most important marketing device for me. To illustrate this, let me state that in the first six years of my writing career, I sold a total of about 2000 print books, and these sales were mostly from conferences I attended. Last year alone, I sold 5000 e-books and 500 print books (not too bad for a relatively unknown author). In the last six months, over 60,000 people have downloaded my books. Some of these were free promotional downloads, but after the free promotions were over, I saw a spike in sales for all three of my novels (5,000 books SOLD in nearly two weeks). All three of my novels have been in the top ten of Religious and Liturgical Drama for three months, and most of the time, they are in the top four.

Because a self-published author doesn’t have a publisher to help them market, we should add “marketing” to the long list of things we must do ourselves.

You may have just written a literary masterpiece. But if you don’t promote it, it will be destined for oblivion.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Image purchased from iStock.

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11 thoughts on “Marketing Your Self-Published Book

  1. Pingback: Sunday Snippets – April 15 « Plot Line and Sinker

  2. Hi Ellen,

    This is such a helpful post. How does a writer find a good editor?

    Btw, I am Suemacbeth in case you didn’t realise! I don’t know how I posted under that name last time I made a comment. Strange things are happening. I wonder what name will appear with this comment.

    God bless you!

    • Ellen,

      Thank you so much for this info. I’m not a member of the Catholic Writer’s Guild. I have often looked at their site but thought it was for ‘real’ authors. Perhaps I shall join!!

      You are an editor? You must be so busy, Ellen! I will remember your comment when I get around to putting my book together. Or maybe I should get one of my existing books rewritten and edited properly… decisions!!

      God bless you.

  3. I admire the immense amount of effort and energy it takes for you to get readers. Although some have urged me to write books, I know that physically and mentally I’m not up to the marketing and will probably just stick with my blog and the newsletter I publish.

  4. Oh, and I meant to say thanks for visiting and commenting at my blog. I always enjoy my trips to yours and learn a lot from you.

    Also, I’ve decided to download Kindle for the PC so next time Stealing Jenny is offered free I can download it. I don’t mean to sound like a penny pincher here, but we are on Social Security and have an extremely tight budget which is why I don’t have the latest electronic gizmos like Kindles.

  5. One thing that inspired me at the Catholic Writer’s Convention I attended in August 2009 was how proficient certain authors had become at marketing their books. You are one of the people who stood out as a person getting the word out.

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