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Archive for marketing

How to help your book get distribution agreements

What are distribution and wholesaling anyway? If you believe you only need to write your book to publish it, you’re going to be disappointed at the sales once it’s in the world. D&W are different in a significant way. Distributors do more selling on your behalf. Wholesalers take orders. In the broadest sense, Amazon is a wholesaler, moving one book at at a time.

Librarians rarely order from Amazon. They use wholesalers because the librarians are readers who develop their own tastes and trust their wholesaler to get the books shipped and invoiced.

A great series at Reedsy (where I’ve hired my editing and design pros) is keeping track of what an author and self-publisher needs to get the word out about their book. It’s a short list with a long tail: you’ll be doing these things the rest of your life, once you finish that book.

A lifelong list

Amy Collins of New Shelves Books sums up the list. She’s writing about how to create buzz for your book to impress librarians and library wholesalers. You want to create demand, so your book attracts wholesalers. Libraries buy 90 percent or more of their books through wholesalers.

  • Write articles for news and other print and online outlets.
  • Create fun top 10 lists, listicles, and infographics. Get them published on blogs, other sites, and magazines.
  • Get interviewed — appear in many venues across the internet and print media.
  • Do a radio show tour. Include book giveaways.
  • Develop a large online and social media following

Amy doesn’t say this, but everything above gets you these golden nuggets

  • Endorsements from famous authors or celebrities
  • Reviews by quality, independent, respected media, and industry outlets.

She claims you should never pay for a review from a service like Kirkus or Clarion Foreword. It’s not that cut and dried. Nobody who’s in the industry, like a prospective wholesaler, will think those services are really independent book reviewers. You need to prime the pump, though. A radio tour might factor in some well-written paid reviews. Always excerpt the paid reviews. Never discount the power of any well-written review, either. A new author needs them. Set a budget for that sort of thing.

Librarians are going to need these

Collins has a specialty in getting into libraries. Acquisition librarians do the book buying and need to be sure the new purchases turn into borrows. The librarians’ bottom line is their patrons’ engagement.

Collins adds that “some of these ideas are much easier said than done. All of them can help a retailer or library see that you understand your book has a job to do. And that job is to make them money — or in the case of libraries, increase their total borrows.” If you didn’t know it, library borrows earn money for authors. The borrows also find an audience for a new author.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Write for the fireplace? How to write to publish

If you like running a publishing business, then being a genre author could make some money. I like to tell authors who self publish it’s probably not going to deliver as much money as you want, for a while. You shorten the time to significant profits if you have money to invest, plus the nerve to wait on sales to arrive. That’s the period where you create art (the books) and then see if you have an audience. In the meantime, the advertising bills for your book must be paid.

Art is subjective, of course. It’s a matter of taste whether somebody unleashes their $6 for your latest ebook in your series. With the right investment in advertising, and no desire to make paper books, you could earn your way to getting paid for writing your books. Here’s a good question to answer for yourself. Would you rather wake up one morning to have a book in the world, and have no memory of creating it? Or would you rather revel in the making of the book, then finish it and throw it in the fire?

Everybody says they want that making of the book experience, plus the waking up bit. You can make your book and revel in it, then do the publishing work. The publishing has little to do with creating stories, with one exception. You need to write about your book, marketing-style, to get a readership.

You summon a savory taste of your book. We’re all in a hurry these days. Maybe less so since the pandemic, but there’s still a lot of noise out there. Be succinct and believe in selling. Master the book summary that some people call blurbs. Then make the first 10 percent of your book so riveting that readers decide to buy it from Amazon — or Kobo or Apple or Barnes and Noble — after your audience has read your teaser of 10 percent. The Making It Riveting part is where you revel in creating the book.

Self-publishing, self book marketing: How to tips

So you’ve finished your book! Good news, if you’ve already invested in editing and purchased a pro cover. Now is the time to shoulder the wheel of marketing and distribution. Self-publishing is not real publishing until it includes self book marketing. My concise list gives you tasks to accomplish.

You need to write sales copy. That’s the brief and enticing copy you will find on every book’s page at Amazon. You will also use this copy in a fact sheet (sometimes called a tip sheet in traditional publishing). It’s not all words in a fact sheet. A photo of yourself is essential in one. You send the fact sheet out to reviewers and bloggers you’d like to cover your book. You send the sales copy to Amazon and any other retail outlet you’re using. For example, IngramSpark needs this copy. So does Bowker, where you registered your ISBN numbers for the book.

Try out promoting at Goodreads. You set up an author account there (mostly by “claiming” your book as your own.) Once you have an author status, Goodreads promo tools like giveaways and book feeds (think Facebook-style) will be in your grasp. In the meantime, tell your tribe to review your book on Goodreads. They can put it on their to-read lists, too. Goodreads is the best place to encourage your fans to post their reviews. Of course, if they’re buying from an outlet with a website, a review is good there, too.

Make your website your hub

Double down on your author website. Bare minimums: a fun About Me page (tell a story or two about how you came to create your book, how you decided to be a writer) and links to the places your book is on sale. A blog is super useful to create writing you will offer for free to interested readers. Have links on your website for the social media accounts you will be feeding with delicious snippets. One big plus is a way to take orders for your book from your website. There’s an easy way to take these kinds of orders using Aerio, a service run by IngramSpark. They print your books on demand and fulfill orders. You can also hand-ship signed copies to your greatest fans if they order through your website.

Not only do you make more money per sale by moving books through your website, you also connect to readers (more on that in a minute). Amazon will never tell you anything about who reads a book you’ve written.

Create Advanced Reader Copy files (called ARCs) to send out to reviewers and allies of the book. Digital files should be in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle (MOBI) formats. Have your cover designer help out. You need these copies to help you land some endorsements of the book. Those are sometimes called blurbs. They give your book some validation, and praise, if you’re lucky. Don’t leave home without a few blurbs and endorsements.

Get those ARC files into the world for automatic download. Bookfunnel is a good and inexpensive service to use for this process. In some cases, places like Bookfunnel can even round up a few reviewers. Bookfunnel is like NetGalley but less costly. They both have promotional offers.

Make your outreach

Create and feed an author newsletter. This can be an email with just three links to interesting webpages where something happened that relates to your book. It’s much better if you write a snippet about your writing life and an aspect of your story. It’s best of all if it links to your blog. You create an emailing list of your own to send this newsletter to. Simple ways to build email lists are to swap with other authors in your field or genre. You will be doing a lot of asking with humility while you market. It’s not so bad once you’re used to it

Your author newsletter connects you to fans and readers of your books. Again, Amazon will never do this so you can see who your fans are.

Build a reader magnet to build your mailing list. You might have had good stuff from your book that just didn’t make it into the final cut. Revive it. Write histories of your characters. Write an author’s guide to the best books from your genre. If you’re unsure what a good reader magnet looks like, seek out authors like you who are creating this bonus content. Look over what they’re doing.

Develop posts for social media. People use various kinds, but you’re never far away from connecting to readers and potential fans when you use Instagram and Facebook. Create a Facebook account for your author life, not just your personal Facebook account. Your book is represented by a Page, which lets you attract Likes. Those Likes are a way of pushing your news into the Facebook Feeds of your readers. Instagram works differently — hashtags and listing the accounts of others gets you into feeds.

There is more, always more

Some of the rest will cost you more. Contest entries are the least expensive. Paid reviews will be more, and some people don’t think they’re that important. There is advertising at Amazon and at Facebook you can purchase. Take great care with that, and measure and test as you go. For more connection, you can use YouTube or Facebook for chats with fans: tell them when you’ll be live by putting the date and time in your newsletter. You can even record a little video for use on Instagram, or post one on your YouTube channel.

What, you don’t have a channel yet? It’s easy to set up. Use it to get the word out. Buy a ring light to illuminate your smile for the camera. Tell the world about your book. Then you can revel in the life of a self-published author who is doing their self book marketing.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

How a proposal can get your book published

Every book needs a game plan to play its way into a publisher’s lineup. Things like comparable books and the heartbeat promise of a story are the same for fiction and nonfiction. Unlike what you might have heard, every publisher makes an investment and wants to earn it back when they buy a book from an author — whether that book is a true story or not.

The difference is that a nonfiction book doesn’t have to be finished before it sells. Some key parts of the book need to be finished and look very good, though. Otherwise, you’ll just hear crickets. What follows is a two-page summary of making the proposal, the first look at any book telling a true story. Think memoirs or yoga books, or that passionate story about living every day because you might die tomorrow.

Process

In short, a proposal is finding books that are like yours but missing a key element. Plus, finding a gap in the market where nobody’s writing a book like yours and being able to name that gap. You also find a specific way to describe your readers and where you will find them. You will need ideas and promises about how you will help market and sell the book. Finally, you write: a table of contents, plus a summary into the inside flap or back cover copy. You create and polish a few sample chapters, and buff up an inspiring bio that shows you’re the best-qualified person to write your book.

Comparables and competition

We might as well start here, because it’s the point where the publisher’s sales and marketing team will decide to buy your book. You’re either filling a wide and well-identified gap — holy cow, no books about being a minister and working for gun safety — or you can add something captivating and essential to what’s already on the shelves of bookstores.

If you don’t know it already, you need to think in terms of bookstores while you create a proposal. A publisher will think of them first, since more books are bought in paper than any other medium. If you get the deal done, the audiobook opportunity for you to narrate will follow.

Where to look? I like the daily reports of Publisher’s Marketplace, the thorough reporting from Publisher’s Weekly, the grassroots bookselling stories in Shelf Awareness, and the fun of Edelweiss+ catalogs, and even Amazon’s Also Purchased books. Shelf Awareness has a nice element called Shelf Talker, which suggests what a bookseller might say to a customer about a book.

Dig in. Ask your author friends if they know of anything like your book. Come to this part of the proposal prepared and you will look more professional. Being perceived as professional is much more important for a nonfiction author.

Knowing your audience

Saying that a book is for mothers or dads just won’t do. Those are chunks of the world too big to target. If you say it’s for divorced dads with tough custody agreements, you’re much closer. (My memoir Stealing Home targets those readers among its audience. It also appeals to baseball fans who are fathers of Little Leaguers. “This book is for readers who enjoyed Dan Shaughnessy’s Senior Year.”)

If your book is “For everybody,” it’s really for nobody. That’s because it’s too difficult to discover a book to read while it campaigns alongside the bestsellers published by Bigger Companies Than Your Publisher. Who use Bigger Discovery Budgets: marketing.

Nothing helps you find readers for your book — and convince a publisher you can lead those readers to a purchase — better than specific descriptions tied to resources. For one memoirist I’ve coached, we tracked down associations covering counseling for suicide, another for legislative staffers working to get bills passed, plus associations of law enforcement. Putting membership numbers onto these helps a publisher visualize sales.

Everybody knows somebody. If you have a friend or an author acquaintance who is a police officer, or who works on a senator’s staff, or helps on a hotline, you find out where they gather and trade messages. Believe it or not, Facebook can be a great resource here, if you don’t know people like your prospective readers. And if you don’t know your prospective readers, well, that’s something to look at while you’re choosing a book to write.

The overview writing: table of contents and summary

This doesn’t work quite as well for memoirs, but a table of contents is an essential element in any nonfiction book proposal. (A memoir has episodes that it uses as its backbone.) As an author, you probably already have one of these lists which you call an outline. If you don’t have one, it’s time to go back and create it — as much for the book’s chances at being a good book as for your chances to get a publishing contract to finish it. Good books just sell better at every step, including the step where you sell your book to the publisher.

This is the spot where you look over your contents and then write that summary — the one that seems way too short and turns out to be the very thing you use to decide to buy a book yourself.

The sample writing: your best chapters

The beauty of proposing nonfiction is that your best foot forward does not have to be your first one. You can include a sample chapter from the middle of the book, or a rousing conclusion, and get just as far as submitting an introduction. The writing has to be stellar, which will usually involve an editor or a key reader who also is an author. You can’t see everything that your writing should be, as well as everything it can be.

If you have a couple of chapters, or three, that demonstrate varying styles of voice from the same book, that’s a good reason to include a smorgasbord of writing. For example, you might have case histories as well as an inspiring overview. The point of submitting a sample is to show you’re a good enough writer to invest in; be ready to be edited once your deal is closed. Your book will be different than your samples. Nobody can say for sure how different. Publishers prefer authors with experienced voices.

Bio, or why it’s gotta be you

Authors arrive at the bio with some trepidation, secretly knowing all of the things they haven’t done as well as someone else. This is something to cast aside when you tell a publisher who you are. There’s something personal about your life that made you want to write the book. There’s also something professional or accomplished about you that makes you an expert. Not the expert — that’s too much to ask. As just one expert, you will still know more than most readers. If you’re an expert at testifying before legislators’ staffs because you’ve done it for years, that counts. If you created a style of yoga that puts thousands of people onto mats, people who never thought they could do yoga, that’s expertise, too.

Don’t think this bio is going to be its best on your first draft. It can be a good strategy to have outside eyes help you with the bio. An interview conducted by somebody with journalism skills, just like the one you’d hope for at a resume service, is a grand tool to build a bio.

If you have recommendations or references you use to practice your life’s work, or your superior volunteering career, you can call on this to show who you are, too. LinkedIn offers a way to solicit recommendations. You can use this to fill up your testimonial cup.

Marketing and Selling: It’s kinda on you

Despite how it might seem, a publishing deal to create a book still falls back on you every day. Yes, your publisher has details and experience to guide you, as well as people who do the marketing and sales for a living. However, you are the only person who cares about your book every single day. Publishers recognize this and sign up the authors who know they are the starters in the publishing lineup.

Not only do you create the content, but you also find the readers and sometimes close the deal. Nobody will track down book clubs and blog communities and even TV-social media-Web like you will. If all of that is beyond your experience, you can fix that. Hire a publicist or a social media expert. Lots of big-time authors do this, because publishers have a finite bandwidth to help authors in the publishing stable.

You will need specifics to get a proposal accepted: I’ll approach these communities. I’ll write and submit for these blogs. I will stock a YouTube channel and connect with these existing contacts. I will approach these library systems. If you’ve been covered in the media, this is where you bring it up.

Get yourself out there

Be brave and have swagger. As Brenda Ueland said in If You Want to Write, “Be bold, free, and truthful.” She also says you should “Be careless, reckless — a lion and a pirate when you write.”

Get Brenda’s book. It will feed you like a lion tamer and fill your treasure chests with courage. Writing a proposal is brave, good work.

If you’d like help with your proposal process, I like working with authors who want to make bold strides toward publication. Publisher’s deals are a good thing to pursue, once you add up everything you must do to self-publish. Contact me so we can talk.

Publish yourself — but truly publish

Genuine publishing drives readers to the discovery of your book

This week a mystery author asked me about my plans for publishing my forthcoming memoir, Stealing Home. My book is the story of a father and a son on a road trip to the perfect game. I choose to self-publish because midsize and larger publishers have a limited appetite for memoirs from writers without a big platform, established fiction readerships, or swelling social media accounts.

For me, the story and the writing is the thing. This time through on the self-publishing journey, I will truly publish. Not just produce a professional looking book like my Viral Times and drop it onto the online sales outlets. Publishing means selling, the end result of finding an audience for your book by letting them discover it through your efforts.

I’ve hired an editor, then revised and expanded the story based on Dan Crissman’s evaluation and close edits. I have a publicist to consult with about my push for the book. I manage my own mailing list and I’ll be submitting review requests to bloggers, to review sources like Midwest Book Review, and to my friends and supporters.

There is a lot to recommend when selling paper books. Indiebound is a good resource to get yourself into bookstores. A distributor (Ingram Spark) can make that happen. Nobody will sell but you — first to the bookstore owners, then to the readers you can gather via emails and signing.

Any company that sells the services to edit and produce your book isn’t really publishing, but simply producing the book. Professional or not, this doesn’t drive sales. Getting it sold involves more work than that. Every author hates marketing — and without it, our books have a much shorter reach. Traditionally-published authors still operate their own publicity and marketing efforts to be most successful.

Ebooks may not be enough. Some review providers, for example, won’t review a book unless they can get paperback copies. That means your official release date has to be set months later than the actual availability of your ebook file and printed copies. You can do presales for months in advance on Amazon, for example.

The book advertising and discounting company BookBub shared a checklist from author Debbie Macomber about the steps needed to publish. Summarize with a synopsis (some reviewers need that). At the same time, a publisher must be scheduling for print production and create a cover to begin to draw interest in the book. Everyone must work up a set of author webpages as part of their website.

Reading and signing in Austin is on my own list. I’m considering a trip through the Midwest to the ballpark cities in the book, a tale of two weeks spent with my Little Leaguer in a convertible. I was driving to redeem my fatherhood after a divorce. I found a perfect game and the reasons why my own dad failed and ended his own life.

It’s useful to write such a summary over and over, because things like those descriptions, or podcasts, or video trailers, or appearances on radio and TV, all help people discover any published book. If this all makes the head spin, it’s a least a list of things to ask a prospective publisher about. The good ones can earn their keep and give you the 15 percent royalty.

Getting an advance is the tough part. Publishing yourself doesn’t give you an advance. Your book can be discovered, though, once it’s professionally produced. Your readership doesn’t start to grow until someone commits to publication. Sometimes that best person is you.

If you want to get read, get MAD

Everybody has a book in them, right? Way down on at the bottom of some of your hopes and dreams, maybe. You’re doing something to make yours: writing, rewriting, working with a coach, meeting with other writers in a group. The work is bubbling up, maybe nearing the surface.

When it’s at the surface of your life, you want to get it higher, high enough for the world to see. There’s plenty you can do to make a book rise up. Whether it’s your own, or a friend’s or a relative’s, you need something special to get noticed, read, and yeah, published. You get MAD. That’s Marketing, Advertising, and Distribution.

You might say, hey Amazon does that. They’ve even got a thing called CreateSpace. I write, they publish. Not so fast there. If your book doesn’t come out of a publishing company — and that’s not Amazon, by the way — you need to get MAD. Nobody will do it for you. It’s okay, you can do a DIY on your MAD.

You need marketing for your book, like everything else needs it. You need reviews, even before the book comes out. You ask your friends to read your book before it’s for sale. You send your book to bloggers. They’re the book critics of today. You pay services to review your book. No guarantees there, of course. They’re bound to say something helpful, though.

You need a mailing list for your marketing. A website too, just for you. Not your book. You are the product. You get people to the website through emails you send out. Website visitors sign up for your newsletter. You write one of those a couple of times a month.

The good news is the marketing doesn’t cost too much. It’s an investment in time, plus work to get a simple website up on its feet. Maybe a little to the review companies. You might need an emailing service. Okay, it’s not free.

Then you need advertising. There’s a few places that make sense. Facebook is popular, but you want clicks on your ad there to go to your website, not straight to Amazon. It’s okay, Amazon gets a taste, too. You pay them when a prospective reader clicks on your book ad link. BookBub is another place to go. Advertising is the biggest nut to crack when you’re paying. Once you get some traction, you can taper back the ads.

So that’s M and A, but what about that D? Distribution is the places people buy your book. You want a big set of shelves to sell from. Amazon, sure. Also Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, Kobo. A company called Draft2Digital can help set all that up, for a taste of the sale. 10 percent, and for most people it’s probably worth it. You want more than just ebook, though. You’ll sell paper copies through Amazon. Down at the little bookstores, the indies. Big ones like BookPeople, too. They might take some on a consignment — you only get paid when they sell — or you can get your book displayed down there on the tables. That’s kind of an ad, too. A week or two. Get a reading set up with them for another fee.

Finally, and probably most important, you distribute your books out of your car. Yes, having a box in your car lets you sell them for the highest profit per book. You distribute at readings, too. Clubs, maybe as simple as a fantasy league meeting. I went to an agents conference not long ago and an author who had a big deal with Random House, Walt Gragg, still sold me a book out of his car. “I only take cash,” he said. Good for him. Walt also had a healthy advance from his publisher.

You’re the publisher when you self-publish. You can’t say you’re really published, though, unless you get MAD about your book. I like the sound of that. I’m MAD about my book. You can help an author by getting them reviewed, the M for Marketing in MAD. You buy ads because you invest in your book, the A. Finally you get distribution, from Amazon to bookstores to the back of your car. Have a release party, sure. But get more than just released, along with that Amazon listing and lot of hope.  Get MAD, so you can get read — and truly published.

Get your book in line for a prize

Prizes are important to sales of a book. The kudos make a book stand out and help convince readers to give it a shot. It seems like an easy observation, so why aren’t more indie books submitted for meaningful prizes?

Cost is always an issue, especially for the indie author. After doing your work getting a great edit, a standout cover, ebook formatting and then the crucial marketing and ad efforts, you might have exhausted your budget. The last $60 you’ve got seems like it’s better spent on five good bottles of wine at the release party—instead an entry in something like the Writer’s League of Texas annual contest.

Authors should budget for both kinds of expenses. An indie author needs all the help a traditional publisher gives its authors. Books do get entered into contests by publishers and agents. The WLT annual contest gives that kind of entry a $10 surcharge. It’s a $60 spend to get considered when an author enters the contest.

Keep an eye out for how level the playing field really is. The WLT has a separate Discovery prize in its annual contest, aimed at indie books, plus those published by smaller presses and university imprints. Nice to have the separate but equal prize, but Discovery doesn’t have a list of finalists yet. The main prizes have four runner-ups. You don’t call your book a runner up when it lands in those spots. You market it as a WLT Book Award Finalist.

This is not the same kind of contest as a writer’s prize. That’s for a book yet to be published. A good thing as well. Something like Montana Book Festival’s Emerging Writer prizes led to Cody Luff’s recent book deal with Apex Publishing. Publisher’s Weekly called it a nice deal, which makes sense when you know Apex books have won Nebula and Hugo awards for science fiction.

Cody’s Ration, about a far future society pinned down by famine, is coming out in a couple of years. Keep an eye out for what contests it might win. You can say that the Hugo and the Nebula awards are contests, very high profile ones.

Entries in the WLT contest have to written by a Texas author. The boundaries are broad for that credential. If you lives in Texas for three years or more, at any time of your life, you’re in.

Publishing services operate contests, too. Reedsy’s got a nice list of contests. It’s hard to find a book contest with a fee below $50, so you just need to add this expense to your book’s marketing category.

Hunt down the books you love which are like yours (the industry calls these comps, just like real estate) and see who’s won a prize. That’s a good start on finding the place to get in line for your prize. Even better if it’s a level playing field. It takes a bit of research to figure out who’s a Big 5 winner and who’s not, but it’s worth your time.

The ways that readers find their next book

Readers tend to choose what they already know when reaching for the next book. That’s what BookBub, one of the leading advertising hubs for books, said in a report from a recent newsletter. The ad site’s studies of book buyers showed that readers most often got their next book because they liked the author. At No. 2, and a close second, was buying the next book in a series.

The results about book choices included some surprises. Way down on the list, just 17 percent of buyers said they picked their next book because of the cover. Right underneath author and series familiarity? Plot. At the bottom of the reasons books were purchased was critical reviews.

Some of these results fly in the face of accepted wisdom. “Produce a great cover” is among that advice, along with “Go all out to get great reviews.” There’s a caveat here, in that the readers are looking for another book and will give an author who they already know the first shot — so long as they like the plot, or the previous book in the series.

The takeaway advice for an author starting their career is to have plans for more than one book. If not a series, at least multiple titles. You could always carve up that 500-page opus into two books, tying them together with a great plot. Have the same artist do both covers. If you can afford it for awhile, offer the first book for free.

This is the kind of advice a publisher should give you, should you choose to take the traditional route and give away 90 percent of your cover price in exchange for writing, rewriting after an edit, and marketing. Yes, you’ll do that last one in the list. You’re always the CEO of your books, and nobody wakes up every single day thinking about selling your book except you. Authors, start your platforms, and think about multiple books.

Sell your books easier than the Big 5 does

Independent authors can count on more resources than it seems, sometimes. The latest advice of the day is that your author website needs to be a sales portal. I don’t mean a check-out cart. The landing page for your site should have links to your sales outlets, though. You don’t have to take orders from your site. At the least, you should point to Amazon (where many of us sell books) and collect the sale there.

Amazon’s not on the list of links at the website of Juliet Marillier. She’s got a fleet of award-winning historical fantasy novels, having written since the early 2000s. The Big 5 publishing house imprint Tor publishes some of the books that run in excess of 700 pages each. Such a book demands a lot of resource to put into print. Macmillan, one of the Big 5, is Tor’s mothership company.

A Big 5 deal is supposed to include the full outfit for an author: website, reviews, publicity, editorial direction, sales resources. Marillier is a generous and accomplished author, and one whose website has no links to a sales outlet. Oops.

Fair enough oversight, and if you have 23 novels and 20 years of career, you can be excused for not driving sales. That’s supposed to be the publisher’s job, right?

Except the publisher seems casual about driving a sale, too. Marillier’s landing page at Penguin Random House doesn’t include any link to purchase a book, unless you click on a cover.

What the publisher is doing is collecting email addresses for the author. Sign Me Up for News, says the box on her Penguin Random House webpage. (It’s not clear who’s holding and using those email addresses.) It’s one more click onward to get to the Penguin Random House purchasing page, where this morning the checkout through the publisher’s sales cart is down for maintenance.

You can do better yourself. Put a link on your author website’s landing page that directs readers to an outlet to purchase. Get your book for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iBooks, and more. (Bookbaby and Draft2Digital sell books, too.) Take care of your author webpage at Goodreads as well.

You might be an independent author who wants to sell books more easily than the Big 5 do. Retail booksellers stock just a fraction of the titles available, though. An agent can argue for better sales resources on your behalf, but it’s up to the publisher to sell your books. Indies take care of their own careers. Give yourself the leg up on sales from your author website.

How do you self-publish? Market your book.

You’ve been edited and proofread. You have your interior layout and cover done. Your designer has a PDF file ready for a printer someplace (Print on Demand through Amazon, or Lightning Source, maybe) and you have a ebook-ready file in MOBI (Amazon) and EPUB (everybody else) formats. It feels like you’re publishing.

Not yet.

Your biggest job is to get out the word that your book is available. Most writers don’t like promoting themselves, but you can be the exception. You’re the CEO of your book, as they like to tell us all. No matter when the book will be available for sale, the time to start promoting is right now. Actually about 4-6 months ago. Get your book up for presale at Amazon before you can deliver it. This gives you a running start on rankings on Amazon.

A full overview of a book marketing plan is out on YouTube. Draft2Digital, a sales advice company and a distribution provider, did 90 minutes plus questions. The chart below from the webinar below shows all four pieces of getting a platform (sales market base) for your book. The only jargon on this page is CTA: Call To Action. “Buy this book now and have a better life through yoga.” That’s a CTA.

It’s easy to see a marketing webinar like that and get overwhelmed with all that you can do. But you worked hard on your book and it deserves to be seen and used in the world, so it can help others.

Getting people you never met to read your book, review it, and love life a little more, is not something that just happens. You need to make these things happen.

Make a good website for the book (it can be a very good landing page on your existing site)

You build and use a mailing list

You write a terrific book blurb for Amazon and choose the right metadata categories

You can advertise on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and other places, too. You have a great mystery, thriller, science fiction epic, young adult novel. Ads really help, since there are so many books.

Then there’s speaking, in libraries and at book clubs and in bookstores. You can buy a space on a table in the front some stores to sell your book for awhile. The prices at Barnes and Noble, as well as the space, are for high fliers with publishing contracts. But bookstores are advertising hubs now. Every book on a table in front got there when a writer bought the space.

I didn’t know all of this seven years ago, when I was six months away from releasing Viral Times. I wrote a great book and didn’t follow through with marketing. To be fair, lots of the marketing tools of 2018 didn’t exist in 2011, either. It’s an investment of time and assistance and expertise to get a book noticed, read, and most of all, reviewed. The book deserves the attention. Only by doing your marketing can you say you’re self-published in full.