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Books are roadmaps to personal growth, exercise tools for the mind, and even vessels that sail to adventure. For authors, books also yield another powerful purpose: establishment.
Writing a good book is one of the simplest ways to establish yourself as an expert on a topic. Your book can serve as the ultimate business card, both as a way to connect with people and build your reputation. As the owner of a self-publishing company, I am an adamant believer in the value of self-publishing. Not only does self-publishing give you have complete control of your book, but you’ll enjoy higher royalty rates as well.
The other major difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing boils down to marketing. Authors who traditionally publish are giving up around 80% of their royalties for established distribution and marketing channels. Of course, marketing is undeniably important. Even if you write the best book on your topic, it can quickly get buried in search results unless you actively promote it.
But instead of handing over most of your profits to a traditional publisher, you should just keep the rights and perform low-cost marketing strategies to get the most out of your self-published book. The following five strategies are the five book marketing tactics that’ll get you the biggest value for your content.
1. Use your book to support or enhance your personal brand.
We all have a personal brand. Some people actively work to grow theirs, while others invest less time and effort. If you want your book to succeed and help establish your reputation, you need to be active. Moreover, entrepreneurs should write books that align with the topic in which they’re working in to establish expertise. For example, somebody whose platform is about leadership should write about — you guessed it — leadership.
By aligning topic with expertise, your book is working to fortify your position as a topical expert and enhance the offerings of your platform. This will lead to much more growth in terms of personal brand. To make sure your book effectively aligns with what you’re striving to become, take a step back, assess your online platform (if you don’t have a website, make one!), and see how well they overlap.
Of course, you’re not breaking a law if you write a book and use it to try to expand into a second area of expertise. Nobody said you can only be knowledgeable about one thing — but the first option is much more effective if you’re in the early stages of building a personal brand.
Related: How Self-Publishing Can Establish You as an Expert
2. Encourage reviews.
Reviews drive sales. It’s really that simple. But only an estimated 5% to 10% of shoppers actually leave reviews, so you’ll need to be intentional about gathering reviews for your book. Where should you start in your quest for reviews?
Remember that it’s against Amazon’s Terms and Conditions to have family and close friends review your book. While those might seem like the easiest customer reviews to gain, you can find better reviews from impartial and enthusiastic readers in other ways.
NetGalley is a perfect place to start. The site connects readers of influence to new books or soon-to-release books, and this can be a great way to build buzz or receive feedback and Amazon customer reviews for your work.
Another great approach is running a Goodreads giveaway to help garner Amazon customer reviews. To do this, you need to list your book on the site and claim your author profile. Then, simply establish how many copies you want to give away, select your dates and provide a short description. It’s a very simple, affordable process that can even be done with advanced reader copies (ARCs) to generate reviews before the release.
Also, consider looking up book bloggers who review books for free. While this will cost you a book and there’s no guarantee you’ll get a review, when they do leave reviews they’ll return divedends in exposure based on the sheer amount of followers many of them have. It’s a great return on investment.
There are also some reputable book reviewers, such as Kirkus Indie, that you can hire to write professional “editorial reviews,” but please do your due diligence before paying anyone for an editorial review. Keep in mind that you should never pay for customer reviews!
3. Build an email list.
An email list can not only gather reviews, but it can also enable you to directly share news, info and happenings with people who care about what you have to say. There is a lot of value in this. The larger following you have, the more quickly you’ll be able to scale-up and share your ideas with a bigger audience.
But there is a rule: never sign people up for your list. Make sure they opt-in on their own. The numbers might not be as impressive that way, but at least all of your subscribers will be receive your updates based on their own interest.
The easiest way to encourage opt-ins is with a lead generation piece. In other words, give people something for free in exchange for their contact info. Better yet, you just so happen to have a book and control of the rights, so you don’t have to look far for a great lead-gen. Consider giving away a free chapter of the book in exchange for users signing up. If not, create some sort of related giveaway that will provide informational value.
Setting this up is very simple with services such as MailChimp, and the effort will grow your list without costing you a dime.
Related: Planning to Self-Publish Your First Book? Avoid These 6 Rookie Mistakes at All Costs
4. Don’t wait on opportunity — seize it!
Opportunity doesn’t come knocking for most self-published writers unless they are really connected or have a great platform. Instead, most authors need to create their own opportunity.
One way to create opportunity is through the cold call. Sure, the thought of dialing a stranger to pitch an idea might dissuade a few people, but this is a must-do if you want your book to sell. Call anybody and everybody to spread the word about your new release. You can contact book stores, bloggers, podcasters and even the local news. If you write for a specific niche, call related people or organizations that would be interested. Offer to speak and offer to interview — help them help you. You can always cold email too, but calling is more personal and will typically lead to better results.
5. Generate supporting content.
Your book will stand a lot taller if you create supporting content to help prop it up. The best form of content depends on the topic you’re writing about, but it could be anything from blog posts to webinars. If you create enough consistent content that’s relevant to your book, your platform will inevitably expand.
When creating supporting content, don’t forget to leverage social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter will probably be your best bets for finding followers interested in your topic, but don’t be afraid to venture outside of those three. If you’re active on your platfom of choice, you won’t need to boost your posts to expedite the process of growing followers and creating engagement. Posting consistently will give your content buoyancy, and eventually the followers will trickle in.
The process might be slow at first, but your invested effort will eventually compound and you’ll reap the rewards!
Related: 7 Ways Self-Publishing Can Make You 6 Figures