A solid marketing strategy is crucial to maximize your author career and to gain long-term income from your writing. Your individual goals and circumstances will determine the mix of marketing methods that best suit you.
The six most common methods that authors use to market their books are listed below, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Which methods do you use/are you planning to use to market your books?
EXAMPLES: AMAZON, BARNES&NOBLE, KOBO
Marketplaces allow you to upload your ebook for free, and take a cut every time you make a sale.
Positives: They have huge audiences of readers who regularly browse and make purchases using the site.
Negatives: Your book is competing against millions of others. Marketplaces do not have quality standards, and so they use algorithms to help ensure readers don’t get a large list of terrible books in their search results. These algorithms, combined with the volume of competition, means that it can be difficult for your book to be ‘seen’ on these marketplaces.
EXAMPLES: BOOKBUB, FUSSY LIBRARIAN
Deal sites email free and discounted ebook deals to readers via daily- and weekly- newsletters. Authors pay to be featured in these newsletters. The deal sites link the reader to their preferred buying platform (i.e. Amazon or Kobo), and do not sell the books directly. Authors often use these sites to boost their performance in marketplaces, in order to encourage the marketplaces to organically show their books to more readers.
Positives: A deal site listing means your book should be seen by thousands of readers (depending on the site). Deal sites usually have quality standards, which means readers feel more confident that they will enjoy a book featured in a deal site newsletter.
Negatives: Deal sites require an upfront fee in exchange for a book listing, and there is a risk your listing will perform badly and not be worth the cost.
EXAMPLES: FACEBOOK ADS, AMAZON ADS
Many authors use paid advertising on sites such as Facebook and Amazon in order to drive traffic to their book, increase their sales, and increase the performance of their book in marketplace algorithms.
Positives: Ads allow people to see your book, know it exists, and hopefully be compelled enough to make a purchase.
Negatives: It can be difficult to see a positive return on investment with these types of ads, especially if you are not an expert in running ads on these platforms, if your book does not have a compelling blurb and cover, or if your book is a standalone (i.e. not part of a series)
EXAMPLES: FACEBOOK, TIKTOK, INSTAGRAM, GOODREADS
Today, almost all authors use social media to build a following and post content that garners interest in their books with the aim of making sales.
Positives: The only cost is your time. If you follow the latest trends and use platforms that allow good organic reach, you can make decent book sales without having to spend money on advertising.
Negatives: It can be difficult to gain traction on social media, and something that worked well today may not work tomorrow, due to ever-changing algorithms, platforms, preferred styles of content and trends.
Authors may choose to create their own website, either to directly sell their books, or to direct visitors to where they can buy their books on different marketplace platforms. A key advantage of an author website is to provide an opportunity for readers to subscribe to their newsletter. Newsletter marketing is a highly targeted and effective form of marketing.
Positives: A growing newsletter list means a growing number of fans who are likely to buy your next book, and news about that book will go direct to their inboxes. If you sell your books directly on your website, that money is yours; no one else will take a cut (after payment fees and any taxes).
Negatives: It can be very difficult to get traffic to your website. Unless you are actively growing your mailing list, your website may not be worth the costs of maintaining it.
Online Indie Bookstores are either like marketplaces but in miniature, in that they sell books directly, or they list they books, but direct readers to a larger marketplace to make the purchase. Either way, they have only a fraction of the books, and a fraction of the readership, of a larger marketplace such as Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
Positives: Online Indie Bookstores are often set up with the intention of supporting Indie authors, and some readers may prefer to shop at these stores.
Negatives: These websites may get very little traffic from genuine readers looking for books. The websites often have no quality standards, which could negatively impact the reputation of your book, and decrease the likelihood of genuine readers making a purchase. Some websites charge money in exchange for a listing, in which case you may not see a positive return on that investment.