“Selling My Book – Where Do I Start?”

Aside from being a new author which means that no one has heard of you and isn’t listening because they haven’t heard of you, yet, you have the added drawback of not really knowing how to sell on the internet.  As an author you will have to advertise, not just your book, but yourself, your talent.  That’s where today’s market is buying – eBooks, iPads, Kindle, etc. gradually becoming the largest market for readers that need to find new books.  That doesn’t mean you can’t sell paperbacks or hardbacks or both in addition to being active in the eBook market. Where do you start?

While talking about methods for promoting books and increasing sales on the internet recently, someone said to me that they would rather have a toothache than to have to learn more technology that will only change in a year.  Common knowledge – technology is constantly changing and affecting what we have to learn to get anywhere, every day.

Fear of learning new technology shouldn’t stop you – its not what you need, what you need is not this ever changing scary code thing.

  • You wrote a book and you want people to read it.Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...
  • Where are the people that want to buy books and read about authors hanging out?
  • Where are they shopping for new books?

People don’t change as quickly as the internet and you are trying to sell to people that are using the same technology that you are!  You do have to be aware of how the changing technology is affecting people’s trends and behaviors but all of the programs you use will have some kind of performance reporting tool that will help you with that.  Yes, there are tools out there that will do most of the work and most of it is free.

Sample Marketing Plan:

  1. Identify your target audience.  Who reads your genre?
  2. Where do they hang out?  Make a list of websites that have large followings and connect readers with books based on genre, not authors.
  3. Open a twitter account and start following other authors, writers of all types, readers and anyone that shows up under #(your genre) and any other keywords you can put a hash tag in front of and see tweets that have them in it.  (see twitter’s help pages to understand how to use hashtags to target specific followers)  I personally recommend twitter, there are other social media platforms, choose what you like but don’t get caught up trying to manage an account on too many platforms.
  4. Grow your twitter following daily: reply, favorite and retweet other people’s tweets, look for people with similar interests as your own and connect with them, use the twitter “who to follow” tools.  Never lose sight of this being a social media marketing tool – it only truly works if you are SOCIAL.
  5. Create your online presence – you need a website and/or blog site that tells who you are, what you write about and showcases your talents.  Many authors also do blogging to accomplish this last and connect with readers.  If you know a lot about the publishing steps, there’s your niche for writing articles on your blog site, for example.  This is of key importance, readers want a personal connection with an author before they will spend money on their books.  In other words, until your name is known, you must work on developing a following and getting your name recognized.  Example, I own every Stephen King book in hardback though I didn’t enjoy every one of the books (most of them though) I am loyal to the author…you want this loyalty to be successful too.
  6. Use your twitter account to send tweets about your website, your books sales page and more than anything else, about other stuff, news headlines, a good movie you just watched, etc.  No one wants to see sales ads over and over again on twitter and that will get you un-followed very quickly.  Your focus is building a following that will be interested in you as a person and your book as reflection of your talent…not on selling cars by telling everyone all about them.
  7. Link your social media accounts and your website/blog site so that you are automating posting to some degree.  For example, when I posted this article on the blog, WordPress automatically sent a tweet and a Facebook page update and sent an email to the blog’s followers, all at once, no work from me.  However, I spend time every single day cultivating connections, making new friends and tweeting real responses to others – the actual social effort must be there and must not be automated.
  8. Search for and contact legitimate book reviewers and author interviewers.  If you scroll through their book reviews and find all 5 star, icky sweet reviews, RUN!  You need to have your book reviewed and that review published on your sales page (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.) by the reviewer as many times as you can.  The legitimate ones tend to be booked weeks, even months out and that is ok.  Get on their list and in time it will pay off.

Your question was “where do I start”, right?  You start by creating an online presence and getting your name out there.  Selling will come later and will start right under your nose without you having to learn car salesmen skills.

  • Do what you do naturally at social events, among friends and people with similar interests, just do it online and do it consistently.
  • Don’t pass up little opportunities to have real conversations with authors and readers alike and don’t ignore what the people you will start meeting through social networking are saying.  Other authors are going to talk about and demonstrate the use of online tools that are working for them and try to sell you stuff.
  • Try everything that interests you, but don’t spend a penny on any kind of internet product or tool without a free trial and proven results.  Then make sure your cost is similar to other providers and you don’t pay too much.  Also, some services will offer multiple options and you can use one account to manage several aspects of your campaigns. Always look for the free versions first!
  • Feedback from other people doing the same things will be useful, don’t get excited and drawn in, research things carefully and make sure it fits you.  Too many authors are caught up in self-promotion and do nothing else.  This is not effective marketing.

You need to start by making your name known, becoming known for being talented through your online presence, site content and book reviews and by consistently demonstrating that you are more than a sales machine only interested in selling books.

Recommended Tools

  • Twitter.com – of course.  Who isn’t on twitter?  Make sure you offer interesting tweets and lots of variety…people should want to see your daily activity, quotes, links, quips, jokes, etc. – Related article – Using Twitter to Find New Readers for Your Book (faymoore.wordpress.com)
  • Hootsuite.com – manages multiple social networks, has reporting and a scheduling program that lets you schedule tweets and posts to any connected social networks in bulk – $9.99 a month
  • justUnfollow.com – the free version lets you set up automatic reply DMs to new followers, unfollow and follow to synch up and a few other things – FREE
  • wordpress.com – obviously, my favorite blogging tool
  • webs.com – of all the free website services, their FREE version has the least obtrusive domain name requirements and the easiest to use tools for creating your site.  It can be a little quirky but compared to the many other sites I tried…well, I’ve used webs.com since 2005 and use to sell web design services creating sites on there for local businesses on the side
  • Office.com – I actually saved money and took care of two problems, my new laptop didn’t have Microsoft programs on it ($199 retail value) and I had already gone through the expense of having to pay someone to recover all my files off my old laptop when it crashed, didn’t want to do that again.  Needed “cloud storage” to make sure I never loose my files again and have the bonus of accessing them from anywhere I can sign onto email.  For $9.99 per month I have the cloud storage, completely mobile files, automatic file syncing and all of the office programs I needed.
  • Goodreads – this is a great place to meet readers and other authors, also looking for readers.  The library is great, has events tools, social based and is FREE. – Related article – Goodreads – the #1 Choice for Authors by Doris-Maria Heilmann with 111Publishing (thelindenchronicles.com)
  • OPB – Other People’s Blogs and if you start typing that in your URL address, you can stop and giggle now, nobody is looking.  You should be visiting other people’s blogs and Following all of the ones that interest you and have something in common with your goals, genre, etc. as well as commenting.  Comments should be intelligent, relevant and non-promotional.  You will increase your realm of influence and followers doing this and meet some wonderful people.  Hmmm…big part of becoming known!

~~~~~~~~~~>Debra L Hartmann, Author, book reviewer, Host of the Talk Radio with NO Radio show at http://dlhbookreviews.wordpress.com and CEO and Editor http://www.theprobookeditor.com

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6 thoughts on ““Selling My Book – Where Do I Start?”

  1. Well-named. This is one of the best summaries I’ve seen, covering the steps with just enough detail to be friendly and encouraging without starting to run long. It took me months to put together a lot of the same information myself, and here it’s all lined up.

    I know a number of writers who are just starting out professionally, and this will be my First Step recommendation to them from now on.


    1. Thanks so much! I do a bit of consulting work with new authors and put this together as a “jump start” piece to help them see that big picture and start building their author platforms. Really appreciate your feedback. Debra


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