Wednesday 7 February 2018

Book Marketing for Beginners

On Quora a new author asked the following:

What's the most effective way for a person with a limited budget to market his e-books which have just been listed on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords?

Here's my answer (Updated September 2018):

What you really need is a magic button which will find all your books, work out things like the best titles, keywords and description, produce an astonishing book cover and then find low cost ways of promoting it.
Unfortunately no such button exists (but I am working on it) Instead, you’ll have to make do with some of the advice from the answers here.

I would agree with Tom Corson-Knowles - a new author with limited books available is probably best sticking with Kindle Select because of the boost that gives. If you are already published elsewhere that’s not an option though. Select has its disadvantages too—especially Kindle Unlimited which has been infamous for it’s ability to be scammed by unscrupulous ‘people’ (who don’t deserve the title ‘author’.

There are numerous book promotion sites. BookBub is the clear leader but it’s out of the question for someone on a limited budget. There are other cost effective sites too and unfortunately a great many which charge money but offer little in the way of a return. Try the list at List of 100+ Book Promotion Sites & Free Submission Tool. Reedsy Learning has recently produced a vetted list of book promotion sites which you can try here.

Remember that each time you promote, the spike in sales will quickly dissipate so it’s a mistake to target lots of promotion sites on the same day. Instead spread your spikes from promotion over a whole month. If you can do that - it’s almost impossible - then your sales will become self-sustaining.

Social media can be very effective but you need a LOT of followers and shouldn’t post promotions more than 10–15% of the time. Social media is all about interacting and that can eat up your time. Beware of fake followers on Twitter though. You will need to check each new follower for signs that they are fakes. Never auto-follow. Twitter can be automated but still needs personal interaction each day.

Advice given to join Goodreads is worth following too. Your book at Goodreads will raise it’s ability to be found by a Google search. Personally I hate the place - it’s full of trolls. Be very careful not to offend anyone there and NEVER sign in to Goodreads using your Facebook account! If you do then Amazon is likely to link the two and may reject reviews from some of your friends on Facebook.

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) can be effective for marketing but it's a frightening place for an author on a limited budget. There you have two options - a book advertisement or to pay for your book to appear when a reader at Amazon searches for keywords. This last option is the best bet. The frightening bit is that this is a 'pay-per-click' service. You have no guarantee that your keywords will generate a click and no guarantee that a click will lead to a sale. The good news is that you can set a maximum budget and also that Amazon will usually not charge the full keyword bid price. Your advertisment may well cost you less than the maximum price you set. The bad news is that you are going to need a LOT more keywords than the 7 you chose at Amazon KDP. Do a LOT of research before you get involved with AMS. The same is true for using paid Google keywords.

One effective tool is to make use of email lists. At the end of each book invite readers to subscribe to this and make them an attractive offer to entice them to do so. You could offer a free book/short story. I offer a way for them to make money from ebooks—even though they didn’t write it. Smashwords works best for this and I see you use that.

As others have said the most important factors are:
Got a website/blog? Use it/them to promote your books and make sure they can be found.

There are lots of things you can do but none of them will prove to be your magic solution. What you REALLY need is luck. The secret of getting that is persistance,  searching the web for good advice and of course reading books on the subject such as the one on the right.
So get it!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I would love to have that Magic button. I believe I've tried every free type of promotion in the market place. Co-promote has been the best so far. I tried Facebook ads twice. Big mistake. I'm keeping my money and not squandering it on social media sites.