If you decided to self-publish and go it alone, you are not alone. In 2015 self-published titles made up 22% of theUK e-book market. By 2017 that figure was expected to have risen substantially and continue to rise into 2018.
The accessibility of publishing has meant that it is now much easier to get your book into a format that is ready to be seen by the world. But once it is in format, just how easy is it to get it in front of potential readers?
Even if you haven't finished writing your book, you still need to be thinking about marketing. In fact, the sooner you can start, the more of an advantage you will have when you do finish your book. Not only that, but a waiting audience might give you just the motivation you need to keep going.
It's no secret that if you want to self-publish you need to become a little savvy in the ways of book promotion, email lists, websites and building yourself an author brand. But, it doesn't have to be difficult or torturous.
It may sound mercenary, we are here to create after all, but, in order to sell your book, you need potential readers, so you need to market your book and in order to market your book, you need interested and engaged people to market to.
So here are the first things you need to think about when you have a book ready (or nearly ready) to meet its reading public.
Guest posts and articles on sites with already existing big audiences are fantastic for building visibility on a platform that is already reaching a vast number of people. Whether it is in reading groups, writing groups or posting articles on sites like medium.com, Huffington Post, Thrive, Goalcast or even guest posting on someone else's blog specific to your subject area or your target reader - there are plenty of opportunities out there that will help to boost your visibility and get people noticing your name.
You don't have to post about your book - in fact it's usually better if you don't use these sites for blatant self-promotion. Get people interested in you and who you are. Write around topics that you think your target readers will be interested in.
Social media is one of those vast platforms that makes it incredibly easy to reach potential readers. But use the platforms with care - remember, first and foremost you are trying to find your potential readers and build relationships with them and find out what they want and what they enjoy. What are they reading - are they the type of people you think will love your book?
When you join Facebook groups, you will notice that they come with a few rules and a few unspoken ones that you need to take notice of and that generally means, don't just appear in groups and start pitching your book.You aren't there just to promote - it won't work and people will get annoyed and you will find yourself kicked out of most groups pretty quickly. Build relationships, help others and above all be genuine, honest, supportive, positive and encouraging.
You will be surprised at how many doors open to you as soon as you start to show up and be yourself.
There is much debate in the indie author industry about whether you need your own website or blog. It's all very well connecting with people on social media or building followers on medium.com, but you need a reliable way to always reach the people you want to reach. Social media is built on shifting sands and everything you do on these sites is borrowed.
Value is unrivalled when you build your own platform and you bring interested people to your platform and engage with them. An active blog is great for getting people engaged, offering value, and getting people familiar with you and your books.
It is incredibly easy to set up a blog - particularly with sites such as wordpress.com. You can have a site up and running in about 15 minutes (or less if you are technically minded) and start blogging away. Getting into the discipline of blogging or writing a post on a regular and consistent basis is also a great way of practising your craft.
Not only will your own platform help you to get your book in front of interested and engaged potential readers, it also means that you can sell your own books without having to pay fees to platforms such as Amazon. You can run your own promotions and maintain control over what you sell.
Having your own platform also means that you can engage with your readers through a medium that really suits you. It is important to keep up a conversation but you might find that you prefer to shoot videos, or perhaps you are more of an audio/podcast kind of person, or you may even prefer the traditional way of communicating with your audience through blogs works better for you.
Either way - there is nothing better than owning your own traffic and mailing list and having your own additional platform from which to sell your book.
Building an email list opens doors to building buzz around your books and engaging with a genuinely interested audience. The aim is to build a list of people who are happy to receive your content, love what you do and want to buy from you.
To kickstart this list of engaged readers, you need to create an opt-in that they will love and want to sign up for. An opt-in is something that you are offering, that the reader needs to sign up for. This could be a chapter of your book, the first chapter or an exclusive bonus chapter, or even a bonus short story related to your characters.
The chances are, those who do sign up for your free opt-in are exactly the type of people who are going to love your books.
If you have more than one book you could give away a first book for free. It may sound counter-intuitive but having an interested and engaged potential reader that you can keep marketing your books to is much more valuable than a single sale and no way of contacting them again. If you are a non-fiction writer, you could use a workbook or a downloadable cheat sheet as an opt-in for your list.
The possibilities are endless - it's just about how creative you want to get.
The key to an effective mailing list is to make sure that you use that list to stay in touch with your reader. Above all, the most important thing is to make sure you are always giving value. People hate to feel cheated and as though they have handed over their email address for something of very little value.
Remember that you are not just building a mailing list, you are building trust and a relationship with your reader and that means giving them value over spamming them every week with blatant self-promotion.