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In this ultimate tutorial I will show you how to market your self published ebook online for sales and exposure.
And you’ll learn a ton about digital marketing strategies.
As much as we authors hate to admit it, the marketing a self published ebook is really 90% of the battle. In fact, for sheer sales alone, the way you market a self published ebook is actually more important than the ebook itself.
Harsh right. Because it took so long to learn the secrets of writing a great novel. Now you need to learn how to market a self published book because the marketing is more important the book itself?!
Want proof? Fifty Shades. There’s your proof.
But seriously. Take a look at the top 100 bestselling ebooks of the past year and you’ll notice that the authors marketing them knew how to do successful online marketing campaigns.
Those authors knew how to market self published ebooks.
It’s a challenging learning how to market a self published ebook
The marketing of a self published book requires a lot of effort.
You need a beautiful cover, a captivating blurb, a sizzling author bio, a burgeoning online presence… Honestly, you’re in for one heck of a challenge when it comes to marketing your self published book.
But wait. Don’t hang up the towel just yet. Because I, like some sort of superhero, have decided to single-handedly save your day.
I’ve gone ahead and created this list of the best ways how to market a self published ebook.
Honestly, this article is going to make it so much easier for you to learn how to market your ebook. How do I know that? Because I created this article as much for me as for you.
I spent hours and hours reading through every book and article I could find about how to market a book. Because of that, I now know precisely how to market a book.
So let’s get to it! Let’s start marketing your self published ebook.
Here’s how to market your self published ebook, ,the stuff Amazon & Barnes & Noble just won’t tell you!
I’ve divided the guide into four parts: Pre-Writing, Writing, Getting it on the shelves, and Marketing. Feel free to jump forward to which ever part you need, or to read through the whole article.
How to market a self published ebook, part
1 : Start marketinng your self published ebook before you write it (but don’t give up if you didn’t)
After you have read this article, go back and create a complete business plan that incorporates all the entries in this list.
By planning things out in advance you will save yourself time and money. Your book will probably take hours and hours to write and to market. Having everything planned out in advanced is just good business sense.
2: Genre = Money:
Trust me, I know, oftentimes we want to write outside of genre conventions and create something truly original.
Being an author means we get to be creative, right?
Why bother writing formulaic fiction?
The thing is, those formulas sell. They make money. And they’re what people want.
Publisher’s Weekly maintains sales data for all genres. Their data shows that most book sales come from genre fiction. Specifically, romance, thrillers and fantasy are the bestselling fiction genres.
So, given that we are talking about how to market a self published novel: bear in mind that some genres are a lot easier than others! It’s easier to market a romance novel than to market a literary novel, for instance.
This chart shows the breakdown of ebook sales by genre for 2015.
If you want to make money, write genre, if you want to create something more original do it, but just be aware that it might be a lot harder to profit from it.
3: Market your ebook by including problems
If genre = money in fiction, then problems = money in nonfiction.
This chart shows the sales by genre for non-fiction in 2015.
With the exception of memoirs and People buy non-fiction books because they want to solve a problem.
The problems people are trying to solve range from learning to cook to understanding social media to losing weight to finding a husband. But the underlying theory is the same, problems = money.
When it comes to marketing your self published ebook, problems are you friends.
If you want to create a bestselling non-fiction book, know what problem you’re solving for the reader.
Popular opinion among publishers and authors holds that it’s better to focus one book on one problem. Make your reader a promise: “After you read this book your problem will be gone”. Or in other words, “This book is the solution to your problem”.
What is your book about? Make it one thing; one problem that you’re solving. Then write everything in order to solve that problem.
4: Market your self published ebook by making it a fully-realised product:
I’m going to put my hands up right now and confess that lots of my earlier books were written too haphazardly. I just threw various articles together, articles that I’d already written as blog posts.
People don’t buy articles, they buy products.
A product is a conceptualised and then fully realised item. Make sure that your book is a product, not just a random assortment of articles or ideas thrown together because you felt like it.
This will make it a lot easier to market your self published novel.
PRO TIP: Put the premise of your novel above every page of the book while writing. If it’s fiction write the premise out using this guide. If it’s non-fiction put the problem / solution on every page. This is just while you’re writing so you have a reminder that will keep you focused and on target.
A book like Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People is a fully realised product. It offers something (to be an effective person) and it delivers it.
5: Market your self published ebook by analyzing what readers want
Never, never, never presume that you know what readers want:
You might think you have an amazing idea, and you might love to read that idea yourself, but you should never presume that your readers are going to love the idea you have in your head. Don’t use gut instinct, use research.
Many fiction flops are written by authors who think “I know what would make an amazing book…” They write books based on their presumptions and gut instincts, not on facts, figures and research.
Instead of writing the book you think people will enjoy, write the book that your market research tells you to write.
6: Market your self published ebook by making it unique
How many books are there on the same topic?
Your book is unique to you because you wrote it. No doubt your book feels like your baby. It’s a wonderful piece of work of which you’re proud. And that’s great. I love the feeling of having created a book I’m proud of. But your readers won’t feel the same way.
Ask yourself, is your book genuinely unique to your reader? Or, are there a million other similar books out there that they could read? The more competition the harder the sell. Take a look at the shelves and consider who you’re competing against. If there’s too much competition refocus your aim, or create an absolutely amazing premise that will make your book standout even among the crowd.
Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is in a highly competitive niche: relationships. But it has a unique twist. It reveals how to communicate with your husband or wife in a way they will understand. The result is a place in the BYT bestsellers list.
7: Remember to not just market your book but to market the author too
Know that your ebook can you make you a millionaire, but not necessarily through sales: There’s more than one way to profit from a quality ebook. Money is just part of it.
Many businesses put out a free ebook to invite their customers into their business. They show their knowledge and skills in the ebook and essentially use their ebook to sell their services.
Some authors have put out ebooks in order to gain recognition as a specialist in their field. They then use that recognition to gain lucrative jobs.
Be aware before writing that monetary reimbursement is just one way in which can profit from a book. Writing a book to be seen as a specialist, for instance, is a different challenge to writing a book to make money.
Consider the many other ways, besides money, in which your ebook might help your career.
8: Market your self published ebook to a specific niche
There are a lot of people in the world. And a lot of those people have similar problems. Those people with similar problems are essentially a niche market that you can sell your non fiction self published ebook to.
Likewise, there are millions of people with similar likes and interests. Those people form a niche market for fiction. For instance, you can lump all the vampire-lovers into one niche, people who love cops and robbers in another, and hey presto you’ve got yourself two niche markets.
By considering people based on their likes and interests (for fiction) and their problems (for non-fiction) you can find yourself a niche market that perhaps has yet to be tapped.
Find your niche market based on problems / interests and then target your book specifically to those people.
This will make it so much easier to figure our how to market the self published ebook.
You might think “But I want to sell the next Harry Potter. I don’t want a niche market. I want everyone to read my book”. But chill out, cowboy, because those niche markets are bigger than you might think. Even a niche within a niche within a niche can make you money. Some authors actually make money by producing lots of different ebooks on all different subjects. It might not be as glamorous as writing an NYT bestseller, but it can pay the bills, and when you’re starting out as an author, that’s one of the hardest challenges.
Also note that just because you’re targeting a niche doesn’t mean other people won’t read your book. Harry Potter targeted a specific niche: kids who like fantasy and magic. It sold to that niche, but then because it was such an entertaining read it also sold to everyone else too.
Your target niche is your beginning, not your end. It’s the people who will buy your book first. That doesn’t mean others won’t also buy it.
Harry Potter targeted a specific niche (kids who like magic) but went on to sell to billions of other readers too.
9: Market Your Book Online With Blog Posts
Write great blog posts that market your ebook online.
Even better, organise your blog posts so they become your book. And then
If you’re a blogger you have to write blog content anyway. Ask yourself whether it’s possible for you to make your blog posts and your book the same thing.
For instance, let’s say you’re writing a book about social media marketing and you’re also producing a book on that same subject. Is there any reason why you can’t divide the book into logical subjects and make those subjects serve as both the chapters of your book and the pages of your blog? Your readers won’t mind.
If you use this technique you might like to give your readers the option of either reading your book online via your blog (in which case you can make advertising money) or buying the book. Two birds. One rocket launcher.
As mentioned above, however, if you do this, make sure the chapters of your blog do truly belong together.
10: To market non-fiction books online, have a very clear benefit:
Make one very, very clear benefit that you’re going to give your reader.
If you’re writing a dieting book your aim is obvious: Getting to the ideal weight. Focus all your effort on conveying that benefit and on making the reader believe that they will lose weight when they read your book.
You might think it’s a good idea to discuss other interesting topics like, for instance, toning up at the same time. But if you make your book about toning up and losing weight you’re splitting your audience in two, because half your target audience will just want to lose weight and won’t be interested in toning up. So be sure to focus your book on one (and only one) very clear benefit.
One mistake people make (and I’ve done this myself) is that they try to cram all their blog posts into one book and thereby include too much information on too many different subjects. Focus on the one thing.
You should be able to put the benefit into one line: “This book will make you lose weight”.
Joe Casanova’s Socially Accepted is a fantastic example of a book that’s focused on one clear benefit. Socially Accepted meets three of our marketing criteria right in the title. It has a clear problem (being socially awkward) a niche market (socially awkward people) and a clear benefit (being socially accepted).
11: Make it easier to market your ebook by being honest with yourself:
So you want to write an ebook. And you know what you would like to write an ebook about. But just because you want to write an ebook on a specific subject doesn’t mean people want to buy an ebook on that subject.
Ask yourself: Is this a topic that people would be willing to pay to read about? If so, proceed to the next question: Can I actually be marketable in this niche?
If there are already many famous writers working in your niche and they’re all putting out top quality content, why would readers buy your book? You have to have an answer to that question. You have to have some reason why someone would, for instance, buy your book about spirituality instead of Deepak Chopra’s. And it had better be a good reason.
I personally write about meditation as one of my main subjects. That puts me in direct competition with celebrities like Deepak Chopra. Honestly, can I compete with Chopra? Certainly not on name and recognition. But so long as I recognise that fact I can look for alternative approaches. I can market myself as a different kind of spiritual author, with a different kind of spiritual book. That sets me apart from the competition and gives readers a reason to buy my book rather than Mr Chopra’s.
One thing I recommend is to take a picture of your book and line it up against the competition. This may be a very sobering occasion, but it clarifies the reality of your situation and it also gives you an opportunity to see how you might set yourself apart from the pack.
Here’s my own meditation book as it is right now, lines up against some of the competition (mine is on the far right)
Compare your book to the competition
You are bigger than your book: More often than not, your personality is more important than your book. That’s precisely why so many ghostwriters write books and then slap a celebrity name on them because the personality sells the book and the rest is just words. And yes, you and I love words and are very proud of our writing, but for the average person the personality is more important than their work (trust me, I hate it too).
The more famous and notable you can make yourself the more people will buy your ebook. That’s why some of the bestselling books of the past year have come from Youtube personalities, the majority of which are not truly “authors” but rather are people using books as a means to capitalise on their celebrity.
12: Make it easier to market your ebook by actually asking readers what they want
Survey your readers to ask them what they want.
Do you already have a good online presence? Do you have a popular blog, an email list, or a popular social media page? Use that to your advantage.
Survey your audience to ask them what book they would like to read. You’ll need to guide them through the survey, giving them different options (“Book A, B, or C?”). You’ll also need to give them some incentive because most people don’t enjoy completing surveys. Perhaps tell them you’ll give them a free copy of your ebook when it’s done provided they complete the survey. The information your readers pass on could well make the difference between a bestseller and a non-seller.
12: Market your ebook by testing it in blog posts
Run product testing by creating blog posts that are mini-versions of your books and then seeing which one your readers click on the most:
This is one of my personal favourite tips. Because the reality of the matter is this: a lot of people don’t actually know what they want until they see it. To truly test your book ideas, write them up as blog posts. Share those blog posts on your social media profiles and see what sort of a reaction you get. You might find that one idea sparks a lot of engagement. If one idea gains more traction than the rest, go with it even if it’s not the idea you would have chosen. Remember, your instincts aren’t as accurate as your research.
Share your book ideas as posts on Facebook. See which posts get the most clicks, likes, and shares.
13: Research the market before you begin writing your book:
To make it easier to market your ebook, research the market before you start writing.
Read. Read. Read. If you really want your book to take off you need to know precisely what’s happening in your market. You should read as many books as you can and work out why they do or do not sell. You can also use that research as a way to find popular writing styles and popular design styles and to inspire you to find bigger and better ideas. Knowledge is power.
14:To seriously market your ebook, get over yourself:
You think you’re the bee’s knees. And maybe you are. But unless you’re famous, your readers don’t know you and honestly they more than likely don’t care all that much.
No offense. That’s just the reality we’re all facing, right?
Readers want entertainment (for fiction) or help / advice /facts (for non-fiction). Don’t think that you can simply sell whatever you want to your reader because you’re so darned amazing (even though, let’s face it, you are pretty amazing). Give your readers what they want. If they’re ordering a burger and fries, don’t give them the paella.
15: Market your ebook online with the Bubble-Up system:
I love this system. It’s another one of the ways in which you can take advantage of an already established online presence.
The bubble-up system let’s you test how different content results in different actions.
Let me clarify.
Let’s say you want to write a book about meditation (a subject I personally write about) but you don’t know how to go about it, what writing style to use, what title, etc.
What you need to do is extensively test every aspect of your book before you begin writing.
To do that you need to take advantage of your online presence. For instance, you can test your title by posting it on Twitter and seeing how many people click the link. Same with your cover image. You can test different promises, for instance, is “Beginners guide to meditation” as good as “How even non-meditators can use Zen to become happy”. I’m just throwing stuff out here. The idea is that you test every aspect of your book using your social media pages and your blog. That way you can get a clear idea of where your book needs to go long before you start writing it.
16: Market your ebook with SEO
Another great way to market your book online is with search engine optimization.
Consider basing books around the keywords your blog gets traffic for.
If your blog is getting lots of traffic for a particular keyword, it’s likely a sign of a subject with high demand and low competition. That’s precisely the sort of topic you want to write about, a topic that lots of people want to read about and which few people have written about.
Use your Google Analytics or Webmster Tools account to find out which of your pages are receiving the most traffic. Then take a look at which specific keywords people are using to come to your site. These keywords are words you’re ranking for. These are subjects that have lots of demand and little competition (or, at least, competition that you can compete with online). These are perfect keywords for you to base your book around.
17: Market your ebook by writing a traditional book proposal:
When you submit non-fiction books for traditional publication, you submit the first three chapters of your book along with the proposal.
The proposal provides a formal overview of your book idea, the title, the intended market, a competitive analysis, your author bio, a table of contents, and sample chapters. Of course you don’t need a proposal for a self published book.
But it’s still a good idea to do one.
Writing a traditional book proposal will help you to plan your book and to realise what you need to do in order to make your self published book a success.
Jane Friedman has written a fantastic guide to writing a non-fiction book proposal. I recommend it.
18: Market your ebook with online competitive analysis
Part of the non-fiction book proposal is a competitive analysis.
Personally I like to really go to town on my competitive analysis. I go through the top 100 bestselling books in my niche, read the first 3 chapters and make notes on the style of writing, the title, the premise, the cover design, pretty much everything.
This is an exhaustive process but it’s worth it in the long run.
By knowing precisely where the market is at you allow yourself to make the right business decisions, decisions that will make your self published ebook a bestseller.
19: Market your self published ebook by standing out
When it comes to marketing a book you need to stand out.
Imagine there are 5 diet books in the world. 4 of those diet books all share the same idea. They give complete nutritional information on all popular foods. The fifth book is different. The fifth book doesn’t include nutrition or even facts, it just discusses the journey the author went through when losing weight.
Which of those diet ebooks do you think will sell the best?
The answer is book 5. The reason is because it’s different. Books 1 to 4 are all going to compete for the very same demographic and they all do the same thing, so books 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all sharing their profit. But book 5 is different. It has its own demographic. And not only does it have its own demographic it also offers something different. Even those people who buy books 1, 2, 3 and 4 might still buy book 5 because it’s a unique read.
The moral of the story is that you should make your book unique somehow.
If you were going to market a self published ebook, would you prefer to work on the book that’s the same as everything else, or the unique one?
For instance, let’s return to my meditation books (which I’m currently working on). Let’s say I want to write a complete guide to meditation. But there already are hundreds of those, so I’m drowning in competition. By making my meditation book unique I can a) create a unique demographic, and b) give readers a reason to buy my book even if they’ve already ready the other meditation books.
It’s far easier to market self published ebooks that are unique.
Finally, a unique idea, or a different twist on an old favourite, can make your book stand out on the shelves, giving it more attention and leading to increased sales.
Here’s a very unique take on the extremely competitive subject of money-making. Even if you’ve many books on the subject, you’d still be intrigued to take a look at this one.
20: Market your self published ebook with… more research!
Seriously, if you want to know the best way how to market your self published ebook you will need to research.
Know precisely who will buy your book and why, and build the book around that:
It’s too easy to look at sales as nothing more than numbers. 1 million, for instance. That’s a nice big number. You want to sell one million ebooks. But to sell one million books one million people need to buy your book.
Who are those one million people? Are they male or female? Young or old? Do they have a degree? Are they rich or poor?
The more you know about your demographic the better you will understand how to market your self published ebook.
You should have a precise idea of who your demographic and is why they will want to buy your book. Then you should write that book specifically to appeal to that demographic. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get buyers outside of that demographic, but it does mean that there will be one large group of people who will be very interested in buying.
21: Market your self published ebook online using Amazon keyword analaysis
If you’ve been blogging for a while you’ve probably heard about Keyword research. It’s a little outdated now, but the idea is that you use a tool to discover the “keywords” or terms that people are searching for.
For instance, if you’re writing about happiness you could enter “Happiness” in Google’s Keyword Tool and it would suggest a list of related terms that people are searching for, along with the number of people searching for those terms.
You can do the same thing on Amazon. And this is a great way how to market a self published ebook.
When people run a search in Amazon the results page shows products related to that term, based on the number of times the search term appeared in the titles.
You can take advantage of this by writing about the specific keywords that people are searching for on Amazon.
Include keywords in your titles, bios, and book descriptions so that Amazon will place you high in their search engine results pages.
For instance, if you’re writing a book called “How to be happy” put that very term (“how to be happy”) in the title, in the book description, and in your author bio. This will help your bok to place highly in the SERPs.
22: It’s easier to market ebooks that have high demand / low competition
Find a niche with high demand and low competition.
Read Project Life Mastery’s guide to this. It’s excellent.
As in all business you want to create a product with high demand and little competition. That way you can help yourself to a health piece of commercial pie.
But just how the heck do you find out what niche has high demand and low competition?
There are a few ways.
First off, you can use your own Google Analytics data from your blog. If you’re getting a lot of traffic for a specific keyword, it’s a good sign that people are interested in that subject and also that there’s little competition (because unless your blog is DomainAuthority 8+ you most likely wouldn’t rank highly for a highly competitive term).
It is so much easier to sell and to market ebooks that have high demand and low competition (supply);.
First thing to do is to hit up your analytics and see which terms you’re getting traffic for. Write about these terms and you’ll give yourself a good chance of writing a self published ebook that will sell well.
Secondly, hit up the SERPs and use MOZbar to determine keywords that other minor website are ranking highly for. MOZbar is a browser extension that will tell you the PA (Page Authority) and DA (Domain Authority) of websites listed in the SERPs. If you find a highly competitive term that low PR / DA sites are ranking for, it’s a good sign that that term has high demand and low competition.
23: Market your ebook by writing book descriptions that rock
Here’s one reason to hire a professional copywriter for your ebook.
Get your ebook description professionally written by a sales copywriter.
This is one of the most important ways how to market your self published ebook.
I’ll be writing an article about book descriptions soon (join me on Facebook to be notified when I publish that) but for now let’s just say that your book description should be top-notch.
Take a look at the descriptions of bestselling books in your niche. Note the sort of language they use, the personality of the author, the promises they make, the way they describe the book, etc. Use this information to decide how to write your own book description.
There are some websites that will write a book description for you (they’re called “Book Description Generators”). But let’s be totally honest about this. If you’re a skilled author why would you possibly want to automate one of the most important parts of your product?
24: Market your self published ebook with related blog posts
Blog about keywords and topics closely related to your book:
The more eyeballs you can get to look at your book the more sells you’re going to make. One great way to get more people to look at your book is to blog about related subjects. If your book’s about cookies, maybe write about chocolate and candy too. If your book’s about holidays to Barcelona, write about Madrid and Seville. Simply create as much content as you can that targets people who will be interested in your book.
25: Market your self published ebook by keeping up with books and authors in your field:
To you your book might feel like an exclusive that’s set apart from the pack, but in truth your book is one item on a very long and packed-out shelf. The more you know about the other books on that shelf the better. The more accurately you’re able to position yourself relative to your competition, the more you can control the way your market audience perceives you, leading to more market awareness and better sales.
26:Market your self published ebook with a SEO landing page on your author website
Make sure your landing page meets the standard SEO criteria: keyword optimised, low bounce rate, high time-on-page, fast page load speed, etc. The best SEO guide I’ve found has to be MOZ’s beginners guide.
And that’s how to market your self published ebook
This is just part 1 of my epic ebook marketing guide.
Part 2: Writing Bestselling ebooks
Part 3: Selling more books on Amazon
Part 4: Digital marketing for authors
Part 5: Social Media for Authors
Part 6: Building an author platform