Five Tips for Selling Your Self-Published Book

February 6, 2020

Five Tips for Selling Your Self-Published Book

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There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing your book. You have full creative control and you get to keep most of the profits. Who doesn’t love that? But it also means you’re responsible for 100 percent of your sales—so how do you sell your book when you’re a self-published author?

In this post, we’ll share our five favorite tips for selling your book and making the most of this incredible journey.

1. Don’t rush it

According to industry insiders, rushing your book release is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. You only get one chance to grab a reader—and if you haven’t taken your time and ensured that your book is as polished as it can be, the results can be disastrous. Don’t focus on a quick launch and short-term gains. Make sure that when you’re planning your book release, you hit all of these important markers:

  • Ensure that your book is carefully edited.
  • Unless you are an experienced graphic designer, consider hiring one to design your book cover.
  • Craft a catchy and well-written back cover.
  • Make sure your e-book is properly formatted and error-free.
  • Create a solid marketing and promotional plan that includes social media, blogs, a mailing list, and reviews.

Remember that if reading your book is a terrible experience, a reader will tell everyone they know that it was poorly edited or badly written. So take the time to do it right.

2. Get reviews and use them

An endorsement by a trusted third party—such as a newspaper, trade magazine, or popular book blogger—is an incredibly powerful tool for selling your books. It can entice book buyers, raise your status as an author, and open the door to promotional opportunities . . . all of which can result in more book sales.

  • Approach reviewers early. Some publications have a long lead time and need up to two to four months before the book is published.
  • Carefully check for any submission requirements. Your book has a better chance of being reviewed if you follow instructions to the letter.
  • Target every reviewer who might review a book like yours. Chances are, a parenting magazine isn’t going to be reviewing a sizzlingly hot erotic romance!
  • While self-published books are less likely to be reviewed in major media outlets, such as the New York Times or the Washington Post, you can guarantee that your book gets review attention by exploring options like our own Kirkus Indie program.
  • Don’t avoid smaller outlets. Approach local publications and bloggers and remember that every review counts.
  • Turn any positive review comments into blurbs. You can quote praise for your book on your book cover, in your book description, in printed ads and promotions, in press releases, and more.
  • Don’t neglect reader reviews. Ask your fans to review your book on Goodreads, Amazon, and any other bookseller who is selling your book. Send advance copies to your favorite readers to get those reviews coming in early, and consider sending complimentary books to your local libraries.

3. Look for other places to sell your book beyond traditional bookstores

It’s often not enough to just sell your book on Amazon and wait for the money to start rolling in. You may need to get creative about how and where you’re selling your book.

  • Remember to target your audience. Depending on the kind of book you're selling and what it’s about, chances are you know who your readers are. This means you might have some interesting and innovative places to sell your book.
  • Try selling your book at stores that aren’t specifically bookstores. Local and specialty gift shops, grocery stores, and sometimes even convenience stores sell books along with magazines. Take the time to approach store owners and see if they might make space for your book.
  • Speaking engagements are a great opportunity to bring copies of your book and do signings. Are there specific places or organizations that might like a visit from a local author? Readings and workshops are a great way to make some extra coin, sell some books, and promote both you and your work.
  • Selling an e-book for $5 or less? Some authors have found success selling their books on places like Fiverr.
  • Look for bulk order opportunities. Depending on your subject matter, you might be able to offer your book to specialty organizations, book clubs, and even corporations who want many copies for their members or employees. Tip: Make sure that bulk orders receive a special promotional price, and maybe even include a speaking appearance.

4. Don’t restrict yourself to North America

Many authors make the critical mistake of assuming the biggest book market is the United States. It’s not. In reality, many authors have found—quite by accident, in some cases—that their books became bestsellers in Europe, Asia, Australia, or some other part of the world. In order to give your book the best chance it can have, think globally.

  • Price your book competitively for other countries. With ever-changing currencies and different costs of living across the world, make sure your book is priced to compete with other bestsellers in that region.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to one format. What formats are popular in different parts of the world?
  • Explore different global booksellers and try to sell your book in as many different markets as possible.
  • Change your marketing strategy to include as many potential markets as possible.
  • Consider having your book translated into other languages.

5. Don’t price your book too low

The lower the price, the better, right? Not actually. Pricing your book too low can actually hurt your book sales because some readers make assumptions that cheap (or free) books are not valuable.

Readers are looking for the best value for their buck. If you price your book too low, some readers might be tempted to buy it . . . but others might think the reason the book is so cheap is that it’s not very good.

  • Steep discounts will affect your regularly priced book sales. Once you start offering discounts, your readers won’t want to pay full price for it anymore.
  • Take the time to look at what other bestselling books in your genre are selling for, and price your book competitively.
  • Ask around, and explore how other authors handle limited-time promotions and discounts.
  • Remember to look at global pricing changes when you are setting your prices. It’s always worth investigating the exchange rate and how much books cost in other markets.

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