When a person decides to self-publish, they dream of having an overnight bestseller. The reality is that sales are slow, marketing is expensive, and advertising doesn’t always work. Fiction books are a hard thing to market, because nobody needs them, and thousands of them—some well-written and some less so—are flooding the market now that self-publishing has become so affordable and accessible. The abundance of less-well-written books makes readers understandably skeptical of the quality of anything independently published.
Once an author has published a book, she has to find readers. Everyone has friends, and some of those interested/supportive friends will buy the book. Selling to that inner circle is easy. The hard part is breaking out into the wider world of people who don’t know you. And that’s where readers can really help an author whose work they enjoy.
The first way to help is to buy the book—or books, if you like the stories and enjoy the author’s writing style. The next way to help is to tell everyone how much you loved the book. Word-of-mouth is THE BEST way to advertise books. You have many resources available to you to tell your friends about the fantastic story you just read.
Not comfortable talking about the book? You can write about the book! Write reviews. You don’t have to give five-stars unless you feel the book deserves it. Any review is helpful, so long as it’s fair. Your critique doesn’t have to be flowery or intellectual. It can be as short as saying that you liked/loved the book, you recommend others should read it, and you are looking forward to reading more from the author. Leave reviews everywhere! Goodreads is an excellent place to review books. Book retailers’ websites (like Amazon,) and your social media/social media groups, are also good options.
Lend your copy to friends. People are willing to spend a few dollars on food or drink they’ve never tried, but they are far more reluctant to try a book by an author they’ve never heard of for a similar price. Allowing them to read your copy might open their minds to the idea of purchasing the rest of the titles for themselves. Some readers are reluctant to lend their book, thinking that it will hurt the author’s sales. Yes, lending the book does reduce sales, but the early stages of an author’s publishing journey are about getting people to read the book, trust that the author can deliver a good story, and want more. Sales are secondary. If I get 10 fans who love the story for every copy I sell, I’m happy.
On that note, consider donating a copy of the book to your local library.
Follow the author on social media—whichever platform(s) you use most often. (Yours Truly is on Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!) Your friends will see that you follow the author without you having to say anything directly. Like, comment on, and share posts from the author’s accounts. People will see it! It’s as simple as a click, and maybe a few words of your own about how much you liked the book.
Sign up for the author’s mailing list. I cannot stress this enough. My mailing list is the best connection I have to my readers. Amazon does not share your information with me when you buy one of my books, and social media limits the posts that you see. Mailing list subscribers get exclusive content, like advance viewing of text and back cover copy, cover and other images, as well as background and inside information about the books that I don’t share anywhere else. They get all the news about sales, contests, and events, with no fear of missing anything important. In addition, if I need to move my books from Amazon to a different vendor (for example), or my website goes down indefinitely, my mailing list subscribers are guaranteed to find out where I’ve gone, where they can find my work, and how they can contact me.
One mailing list subscriber requested an autographed copy of a book for a family member, and another, fearing a missed title, got direct information about book availability. I respond to every reasonable request or inquiry personally, and I consider every subscriber on my list my friend. So if you’re not on the list, get on the list! You can sign up right on the homepage of this website—I require only your email address—and you’ll receive one or two emails per month from me.
Lastly, consider giving the book(s) as gifts to others who might enjoy them. Christmas is coming—you can shop from the comfort of your couch! Books make a great gift for any occasion: birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, going-away parties, housewarmings, thanks-for-having-us-for-dinner-this-was-cheaper-than-wine, and “just because.”
YOU are my best marketing resource, and I am grateful for any assistance you can give me. Word-of-mouth is THE BEST form of advertising. Nothing beats you saying, “I loved it. You should read it.” And every time you do, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
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