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Book Marketing Beyond the Basics for Indie Authors

Can you make money from ebooks? Do self published books sell?

The answer is a resounding yes, to both.

Your books will sell, as much you sell them. Simply putting your book on Amazon will not start revenue flowing. Active selling is the key to making your book sales climb up. In this series of articles my goal is to arm you with the tools, easy steps, and free book marketing resources to promote your book online.

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The first post in this series “Book Marketing Strategies : Quick Start Guide for Self Published Authors“, was meant to give you a framework for getting started quickly with the most essential elements of book marketing.

In this post, we review how successful self published authors grow their book sales and start making money. This is a comprehensive guide to selling which you can use as a checklist to create your own marketing campaign.

    Identify your customers

  • Make a list of people who are likely to buy your product – e.g. college graduates, teenagers, women etc.
  • Where do you expect to find them: e.g. coffee shops, art shops, Facebook
  • Once you have identified your customers focus on advertising and social media campaigns relevant to them. If you have written a book about cooking, then leaving your flyers on cars parked in front of grocery stores is more effective than leaving it on cars in subway parking lots. If your customers are old people, then you are more likely to reach them on Facebook, rather than Twitter.
  • Identify your competitors

  • Research your aspirational authors. What do they write, what do they say on social media and who is endorsing them. Find out everything about them.
  • Pick three things your customers are doing that you can emulate
  • Focus on Direct Email Marketing

  • Build a mailing list on your site. Put in contact forms and other email collection forms on your websites, blogs and social media
  • Offer visitors access to “members only” area resources as a way to collect email addresses.
  • In your book have links to your websites and other resources so you can collect email addresses of your customers for future books.
  • Refine your Elevator Pitch & Author Platform

  • Refine your social media profiles, author bio, author pages on publishing platforms (e.g. Amazon), book description, back cover and author platform (website, blog etc.) and landing page.
  • Do A/B testing of various landing page designs and marketing strategies.
  • Your webites represent you online: Keep your website clean and use a light theme. If you are an artist and absolutely sure of what you are doing – you can get creative with your website.
  • Use Storytelling to Sell Your Book

  • Try to connect to your readers hearts – not just their minds.
  • Make a book trailer – Tell the story about how your book came about, read small snippets from your book and talk about your book writing experience.
  • Find high quality illustrations and photos for your blog posts.
  • Make 10 short videos and release them on your YouTube channel every month. Talk about life after your book, events you are organizing (e.g. book signing) and other stories (e.g. day in the life of an author). Create mini documentaries or video series based on your book.
  • Consider weekly podcasts
  • Exploit Cross Promotion Strategies

  • Get your book translated into one or more other widely spoken languages – spanish, Hindi, French.
  • Write another book. It is easier to sell more books than just one.
  • Create some merchandise related to your book (e.g.t-shirts with characters or quotes from your book, prints of illustrations from your book etc.)
  • Create online video workshops on topics related to your book.
  • Improve Visibility

  • Focus on improving Search Engine Ranking of your website, blogs and YouTube channel. Ensure that the headlines of your blogs, videos and podcasts are optimized for search engines with the target readers in mind.
  • Do a SEO (on-page & off-page) audit of your site, blog and YouTube Channel. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) includes both On-page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-Page SEO refers to optimization of your site itself – e.g. focusing on the right keywords, meta tags, favicon, performance and mobility. Off-Page SEO primarily refers to getting good external sites to link to your site. As Google sees many people (& important sites) referring people to your site (via links), it will give you higher ranking.
  • Set up a monitoring system for your blog, websites and social media channels – use google analytics and other tools.
  • Comment on other peoples threads in Facebook Groups, Quora and Yahoo Answers- always offer useful resources, never spam. This will give you links back to your site. Here is some good advice for executing an effective social media strategy: How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan From Scratch
  • Make a list of other social media channels – create a Squidoo “lens” on some extracts from the book; share updates and phones from your blog on LinkedIn (create posts on LinkedIn Pulse), Wattpad (social network for authors and readers), Ning, Instagram (e.g. behind the scenes photos), Pinterest (e.g. create a board for your book – themes could be art that inspired you, fan art etc.) and Google+ (create a Google+ Community page).
  • Put buttons on your website to enable automatic sharing.
  • Consider setting up automatic sharing by connecting your blog to these social media channels.
  • Write a press release. It is an easy way to get some backlinks to your website and increase its search-ability. Explore the free press release services:
  • Explore Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
  • Reach out to a few journalists
  • Submit a post to Buzzfeed, Forbes and other channels
  • Post some free content sample from your book on Scribd and SlideShare. Link back to your book landing page from these samples and your profiles on Scribd etc.
  • Do some low cost advertising – Bookbub (& others like FreeBooksy, BargainBooksy, Red Feather Romance, and NewInBooks), Facebook ads, Google Adword campaigns, Twitter follower ads, print flyers, advertise on low cost billboards.
  • Try to get into some best seller lists by concentrating your activities within one week. Bestseller lists are based on the number of units sold in a single week. Try targeting one list to optimize for its cycle. Focus your selling, including price discounts, social media contests, and email marketing within one week to boost your chances of hitting the list. However I would suggest not being too much focused on such quick shots. Focus on executing a durable solid overall marketing campaign.
  • Host Events

  • Reach out to your local book stores and arrange to do some book signing.
  • Do book readings in various venues – retirement homes, rehab centres, libraries, churches, the setting town of your book, fairs or festivals – invite the local newspaper or radio stations to these readings.
  • Do Book giveaways on other bloggers blogs. Explore Rafflecopter and Amazon giveaways.
  • Book bundle promotions if you have multiple books
  • Create an event on Facebook and on Goodreads — you can invite people for a virtual book signing, Facebook live video Q&A, Twitter live Q&A (using a unique hashtag), Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA), Q&A via Snapchat and YouTube
  • Explore doing online book tours (also known as blog tours) as virtual book tours, free promotional events, charity events, book donations. Find book bloggers who are willing to review your book at
  • Host live events on Google Hangouts.
  • Find some local groups on to give talks about topics related to your book. Reach out to schools and universities in your area as well.
  • Consider KDP free promotion and Goodreads giveaway – remember you are opening up for reviews from a large number of people so be prepared. Try to get some good reviews before you opt for the giveaways.
  • Reach out to people for reviews –, Kirkus, Publishers’ Weekly, RT Reviews and other review sites. Here is a very comprehensive list of book review site: The Best Book Review Websites and Book Reviewers Directories
  • Get active

  • Write at least 52 posts and post one every week. Consider using a tool like HootSuite to drip feed your blog, YouTube and other social media channel. Remember people need to see you a couple of times before they actually press the buy button.
  • Make your website or blog interactive – invite visitors to ask questions, comments, post ideas. Interview other people and post it on your blog.
  • Post reader interviews on your blog.
  • Create advice posts for new authors – this gives you an aura of thought leadership.
  • Create an affiliate program.
  • Join an affiliate program.
  • Partner with other authors to run themed promotions
  • Explore the possibility of partnerships – joint venture partnership with other authors or illustrators to promote your book and their products together, join in via skype in various book clubs meetings, product sponsorship in which you invite companies to give away products to your book buyers in exchange for advertisement of their products
  • Submit your book for awards. See list of awards for Indie authors here:
  • Make it Fun

  • Swag and Promo Material Send a digital gift pack to your customers who preorder – these swag items could be exclusive items like short stories, deleted scenes, a personal thank you video or high resolution illustrations or posters.
  • Run a Facebook contest.
  • Trivia contest of Tumblr – participants email you the answer and each correct answer is worth points.
  • Run other contests on YouTube and on your website – e.g. invite readers to create illustrations/videos based on book.
  • Invite fans to customize parts of book – e.g. by picking what happens next, or by providing ideas for titles, chapters, content.
  • Get Reviewed

  • Search on the internet for bloggers and YouTubers willing to review your book.
  • Create a Movement Around Your Book

  • Partner with organizations that support the ideas that your book espouses.
  • Create a Facebook Group for people interested in the theme of your book. Get them excited about the values and ideas (e.g. Vegan, peace, child education) you care for. Engage them in discussions, ask questions, invite people to join your group. Create an emotional movement around the themes of your book.

Case study

Maria who published her first book on her 39th birthday, created a multi pronged approach based on the above checklist.

As a continuing, long term strategy, Maria set up her blog to post one post per week over a period of one year. She created high quality downloadable posters which she sent as gifts to reviewers. On her website the links to these posters were available to those who signed up for her newsletter. This way Maria continued to grow her email list. She also interviewed some of her readers and poster their interviews on her blog earning a great amount of goodwill and friendship. Eventually these readers formed “Maria street teams” and were instrumental in promoting her subsequent books.

During the launch of her subsequent books, Maria used her email list, Facebook ads and blog announcements to spike sales in one week, to get into Amazon best seller lists.


The book marketing strategies in this post can be your foundation for a very comprehensive publicity strategy. Remember what separates the winners from the losers is that winners execute while losers ruminate. With this post, you already have more knowledge than 99% of the Indie authors. Now is the time to start executing!