Continuing my findings as a first-time author… If you didn’t read Part 1 then make sure to check that out too.
So let’s continue with The top 10 things I’ve discovered through self-publishing.
6. The best way to promote your book is probably through making it free.
This is where those Amazon KDP free days come in. You’re allowed five days every three months where you can put your book on promotion and give it away for free. You can get a lot of downloads this way – although don’t expect that all these downloads will equate to someone actually reading the book. But if you’re a first-time writer like I was last year, this is the most effective way I know of to introduce yourself to the eBook market and generate organic reviews for your book. There is also a way of going ‘perma-free’ which is maybe a good idea if you have a series of books, or at least have a large enough catalogue that you don’t mind giving one away for free – something to think of further down the line. It’s like drug dealers will give you a sample to get you hooked and then you just can’t stop going back for more… (not that I know anything about that, of course!).
For the record, I’ve found the best results through Freebooksy and Kindle Nation Daily (in terms of ads that I paid for). As for the free sites, there are plenty of them and you may as well spend time hitting them all. Here’s a list to get you started. There are also (paid) tools that will submit your details to multiple sites so you only have to submit the information once.
In terms of the websites that charge when it comes to advertising your free (or discounted) book, although there are plenty of them, don’t expect that they will necessarily accept your book. If you do get rejected just keep trying though. The big player in book advertising is, hands down, Book Bub. They are pretty pricey, but they get you great returns. Not that I know that from experience, just from what I’ve heard all other authors say. I’ve never been accepted by them, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying!
7. There’s a depressing downside to giving your book away for free.
When you make your book free, it’ll get downloaded and made available on rogue websites, and this can be majorly disheartening for the independent writer, especially as a lot of us self-publishers are essentially one man bands and not making tons of money through this. I don’t know what to do about this other than suck it up and carry on. If you decide to avoid giving it away for free then it’ll be difficult to gain momentum with it. So this is one area where it feels like you can’t win. Piracy is a major pain in the backside and will make you question why you are doing this.
8. Nothing’s free.
As I said, there are numerous websites that will advertise your book on its free days, and yes, a lot of them you will pay, even though you’re giving away something for free and you’ve still got to pay someone to promote it. But there is a ‘kickback’ you get from free days – it’ll lift your book in the Amazon charts and people will continue to download it after the free days, or it will be read through Amazon Prime readers, and in those cases you are paid per page view. So giving it away for free doesn’t mean that you get zero return. Finding effective advertisers can be difficult, and I imagine even the more successful ones have periods where the market is just down and results are therefore down, or maybe they’re just better at different genres than others. I find the Paid Author website a great starting point as they make YouTube videos to show you their results from advertising with particular websites. I’ve used a fair few of them myself. There are some that I’ve had great results with. There are others that I would NEVER use again as I’ve felt ripped off and doubted that they’d even done anything – stick to the ones where you can actually see that some marketing is actually going on is all I’d say. There are free websites out there too, and sometimes I’ve used my free days and gone through these websites only, and sometimes I’ve had brilliant returns. So it can all be pretty unpredictable. You’ll just have to see what works for you. Another thing I’ve wondered through this whole experience, with this ‘industry’ of promoting vain self-published writers is whether somewhere on the other side of the world someone has a ton of Amazon accounts that they use solely to download free eBooks and make authors feel great that they’re getting great results on their promos, but that might just be my cynical imagination kicking in. Sometimes I’ve had a ton of downloads and hardly any reviews, and sometimes it’s the other way round. You just can’t predict it.
9. The more books you have, the more success you’ll probably find.
I’ve only got two books out there myself so far, so hopefully I’ll start to be taken more seriously and snowball more success. Not that I’ve made extensive checks, but I guess there are a lot of one book strikers who’ve had an ambition to write a book someday and once that’s ticked off their bucket list they’ll be on to something else. But if you manage to get a fan of your work, then there’s a good chance they’ll want to read more from you, so you need to be mindful of keeping your audience – remember to promote your other books in your other books, and have a newsletter. The successful writers will tell you that’s a really key thing. Don’t expect that hyper success will come overnight.
10. Know your genre!
Especially if you use advertisers to promote your work. They’ll want to know what genre your book fits in as they’ll target it to specific audiences who are into it. For me, it’s been a bit challenging as I haven’t quite been comfortable about putting my first book, The Tale of the Soul Searcher, inside a box. Yes, it has some crime, it has some mystery, it has some of the supernatural, it has a bit of horror, it has some romance, but it’s not really any of these, not on their own. Maybe it’s its own genre, but I didn’t really think about this before I started writing it. So maybe you should know what genre and what audience you’re targeting before you start the whole process.
Anyway, I hope this top ten list provides some use for someone somewhere! There are plenty of other finer findings, but these are really the main ones. Are there any glaring areas I haven’t touched on? What things did you find as a first time writer? Please do let me know. I’m always willing to hear other authors’ insights!