OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
There are two main ways that people will find your books.
This is all about your book retailer sales page, targeted email marketing and promotions and other things that have nothing to do with your “platform”. After all, how many books do you pick up where you know nothing about the authors at all? Quite a few I'd imagine.
(2) Through you
This is all about your platform and how you reach people in the world. This includes content marketing, social, multimedia, PR and anything that relates to you.
One thing to keep in mind when weighing up how to spend your time is that you can never sell as many books as Amazon can. (Or Kobo or Nook or any of the other stores who have rampant readers.)
Now I believe that (2) is important. I have spent a lot of time and effort building my own platform and it has changed my life. I'm a full-time author-entrepreneur because of this site. BUT/ I definitely sell more books to people who haven't got a clue who I am and nor do they care.
Readers shopping on Amazon buy more books
David Gaughran is an author and a blogger with a strong voice in the indie camp. His in-depth, critical and intelligent analysis of the publishing scene is well worth following. His first book on self-publishing was ‘Let's Get Digital: How to self-publish and why you should‘ and now he has released ‘Let's Get Visible: How to get noticed and sell more books.'
You need to immediately allocate a couple of hours to reading this and assessing what you need to change. Here's a couple of things I learned (and I've been at this a while!)
(1) Amazon algorithms are different for different charts and different territories
I'm not one of those people who likes to track data, but I have known for a long time how important the Amazon algorithms are for selling books. What I didn't know was the difference between the Sales Rank, the Recommendation Engine, Bestseller Lists, Popularity lists, Top-Rated in Categories, Hot New Releases, Movers & Shakers and all the other ways you can target the lists and prime the sales pump.
There's also a fantastic section on choosing the best categories for your book, which is certainly how the ARKANE books have sold. If I had stayed in Action-Adventure, I wouldn't have sold so many, but I moved to Religious Fiction and have been in and out of the bestseller charts since release.
(2) Staggering your launch is better for long-term sales than a big initial spike
A few years back there was a boom in ‘Amazon Bestseller' promos where people would try to spike sales on one day, hit the charts and that would make everything a success. However, Amazon's whole aim is to give people fantastic content and those kinds of programs were boosting books that didn't necessarily deserve visibility. David talks about how the algorithm now pushes those books back down as fast as they rose, so when you launch, you want to have a slow start, with sales spaced out over time. He has a lot of specific ideas around the launch, definitely worth taking note of.
There's also a great section on free pulsing and price pulsing which you should read if you're still confused about ebook pricing! Plus a detailed method of evaluating paid advertising and doing group promotions.
The book also reiterates that most of these strategies are only effective when you have a couple of books out.
I'm as guilty as anyone of focusing on selling the first book, but it's always important to remember that the one of the best ways to sell more books is to write more books!
Highly recommended. Go get your copy now and get your book sales moving!
You can find Let's Get Visible: How to get noticed and sell more books' on Amazon here
There's also a special price on Let's Get Digital for the launch, so get that if you haven't already!
You can find David's fantastic blog here and he's on twitter @davidgaughran
You can also listen to a great interview with David on the empowerment of indie publishing.