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Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

You’ve written a book or two. Sales are slim to none. You know that you need to market, but HOW? It all seems so complicated. Indie author marketing can be a huge challenge, but it needn’t be.

When I coach writers in book marketing, I ask: “what’s fun for you?” because book marketing begins with your mindset.

Here’s a secret. I spent much of my writing career despising marketing. Looking back, that was quite a trick, because I’m a copywriter. I could market anything, but hated marketing my writing, or my writing business. And by “hating” I mean in a visceral sense. The idea made me nauseous.

Finally, I decided that I was being silly: if I could market for others, I could do it for myself. Since I had to do it, I asked myself: what’s fun for you? Fun for me turned out to be blogging.

Your mileage will of course vary, but if you can work out what you like — and could perhaps love, you’re well on the way to becoming a true indie author…

… If you understand how book marketing works.

Assuming that a fairy godmother isn’t about to smack you silly with her magic wand anytime soon, and turn you into an instant bestselling author, you need to understand book marketing essentials. If you’re not aware of the WHY of tools like blogging/ social media and advertising, you can’t use them creatively.

(There’s no shame in that, by the way, some global publishers haven’t a clue either.)

Start with this foundation: indie authors wear two hats — author, and publisher.

Two hats: author and publisher — publishing must be profitable

You’re comfortable wearing your author hat. Toss that hat aside for a moment, and put on your publisher hat.

Hat on? OK. 🙂

A publisher’s goal is the same as that of any other business: turn a profit. No profit, no business. So, as a publisher, how do you turn a profit? You’ve got a book, or a bunch of books (a bunch is better)… your sole aim is to sell those suckers.

You can market and sell your books in any way you choose. However, remember FUN. If marketing your books isn’t a giggle, you won’t do it. So keep thinking about the fun angle. There are so many ways of marketing books that you’re sure to find something you like to do.

Let’s explore some essentials to help you to develop a “profits” indie publisher mindset.

1. Time and money: you need both for profitable publishing

Everyone wants instant success. That’s fine. I want that too. However, I’m realistic, and know that Murphy’s Law applies. Everything takes longer than you expect, and things will go wrong.

To counteract this, make a commitment to yourself: whatever it takes. You can’t be half-hearted about your publishing venture. Expect it to take time to make money.

Then expect that you’ll invest the money you make from your book sales back into your business: you’ll get better covers, will buy advertising, will improve your website — whatever it takes.

2. Hook buyers: buyers buy because of an EMOTION

Humans are emotional creatures, and readers read to experience emotions.

I recently wrote:

Each and every fictional genre has an emotional key — emotions readers want to feel while reading that kind of fiction.

If you can zero in on the emotions that readers want, AND can tap those emotions in your fiction, you’ll write stories that readers will love.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: it’s essential that you read widely in the genre in which you’re writing. You MUST understand what emotions readers want when they read your genre.

For example, in any type of romance fiction, the HEA (Happily Ever After) is pretty much non-negotiable — if your romance doesn’t end in a HEA, you’d better be able to generate those emotions in other ways, otherwise readers will avoid your stories, and you’ve wasted time writing them.

If you’re getting few sales, and readers aren’t connecting with your fiction (or nonfiction), consider emotion. Start looking for your own emotional reactions to what you read too — you’ll begin to understand why books become bestsellers.

Bestselling authors are regularly trashed by literary critics who whine about the poor writing. (Dan Brown springs to mind.) When you check out bestselling books, you’ll see what the critics don’t see: the bestsellers connect with readers on an emotional level.

3. Visibility and discoverability: get discovered

With millions of books available, it’s hard to get your books in front of readers. If you want readers to find your books you need to do marketing and advertising. Every little bit counts.

Consider that perhaps you’re overlooking the simplest forms of marketing, such as the possibilities of marketing in your own books, in the front matter and back matter:

Advertise (subtly) in your front matter

Be aware that Amazon shows the first 10% of your ebook via its Look Inside feature. Keep the essential material in your front matter short. Remember your copyright info, of course.

Use that 10% to subtly advertise your ebook. Anyone reading via Look Inside hasn’t bought your book, so spend a little time thinking what you could show up front, to encourage your reader to buy.

4. Make “free” work for you: get creative

Check any authors’ forum, and authors complain about all the free ebooks which are available, and demand that authors be paid… Well… There are so many things wrong with that mindset, that I don’t know where to start.

Remember that you’re in the business of publishing, and that while “free” is useful as part of your marketing mix, it cannot be your entire marketing strategy. No business can be successful if it competes solely on price.

If you’re using “free”, and only “free” as a self-publisher, you need to rethink how and when you offer readers free ebooks. We’ve talked about using “free” before. Free is a part of pricing your products. It’s not marketing. Think about your marketing mix, which is: product, price, promotion, and place.

In Pricing Kindle Ebooks: Free, Cheap, or Expensive? we said:

Consider YOUR situation. It will be different from other authors. Make a list of what you want. (And please write the list, don’t try to keep it in your head.) It’s essential to assess where you are, because unless you know, you’ll have doubts, and will change your pricing at whim.

Read that article, and then consider developing a simple marketing strategy; it starts with your product. Then get creative, and come up with some creative ideas for your marketing.

5. Make friends and influence people: word of mouth counts

Authors want to write their books. We don’t want to be bothered with things which take us away from our words. However, as indie authors, we don’t have a choice. We need to put on our publishing hat, and market our books.

The more people who know you, or know of you, the more attention your books attract. You need to get onto people’s radar, in any way you can.

Consider these ideas:

  • Partnering with other authors in anthologies, and book bundles;
  • Writing guest posts on large blogs — or smaller ones too;
  • Collaborating with other authors on promotions…

You’re a publisher: think long term for profits

As an indie author, you’re your own publisher. You’re running a business. Your business must be profitable. You can make it happen. Think longterm. What could you do today, to make your business profitable in a year?

For an indie author, marketing is essential. You can develop an amazing business. Create some goals, and make plans to achieve them, today. Start by asking yourself how you can make it fun.

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Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

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Genre: Writing
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month. More info →
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Updated: January 30, 2017

Kindle Author: Improve Your Ideas And Sell More Ebooks

Kindle Author: Improve Your Ideas And Sell More Ebooks

You’ve published an ebook, or perhaps more than one. Congratulations: you’re a Kindle author. I work with many authors and they all want one thing: more sales. We all want guaranteed bestsellers. But it’s impossible to guarantee a bestselling book, sadly.

That said, you can make it more likely that your ebooks will sell more copies, and with very little extra effort. Here’s how I know this. I work with authors every day. They make avoidable errors. Once they correct those errors, their ebooks start selling well.

Often not as well as they’d hoped, and for a simple reason: they haven’t baked-in sales potential. An author writes the book he wants to write, and gives little thought to his readers.

Make the decision: correct your authors’ tunnel vision

All authors have tunnel vision. I do, you do. It means that we’re focused on the writing. Readers don’t care about that. They want what they want — entertainment if you’ve written fiction, and useful, practical information if you’re writing nonfiction.

Long before you start writing, think about readers. What appeals to them? In this article, we’re discussing fiction, but you can use the same process for nonfiction too.

Start at the level of ideas.

Ideas sell, so before you start writing, focus on your ideas

I’m fond of saying that authors can write what they want. That’s true. You can write whatever you like. However, you also need to know what’s selling. Not so that you can slavishly go and clone the latest bestseller… although that does work for many writers.

The best reason to see what’s selling is so that you can work out why it’s selling. Here are the current bestsellers on Amazon.

I like to look at the top bestselling books at least once a month.

Check out the titles. Read the book descriptions, and the reviews. Make notes if you like, or don’t make any. The point of the exercise is that you’re starting to pay attention to what sells.

It’s surprising how many authors (both new, and veteran) focus solely on themselves. However, even if you want to get published the traditional way, the first thing an editor or agent will ask you is: “what’s this book like?”

You’d better be able to answer:

  • “It’s Harry Potter for adults”; or
  • “It’s a modern version of Pride and Prejudice”; or
  • “It’s for women interested in online dating”.

When someone asks you “what’s this book like?”, they’ll usually be able to work out who the book’s targeted at. If they can’t, that’s the next question: “who’s this book for?”

An editor or agent asks these kinds of questions, because they know that no one’s going to read your ebook, and then decide what it’s like, and who it’s for. You need to know that. Moreover, you can train yourself to think in these terms. If you can do that, you’ll write salable books.

You can train yourself to improve your ideas

When you start paying attention to what’s selling, you’ll start thinking in terms of salability, and you’ll have taken a huge step forward in your self-publishing career.

As we’ve said: you’re not trying to copy bestsellers, or clone them, or anything else. You’re trying to gauge the pulse of readers all over the world. Way back in the 1980s, I read a lot of gothic romances. Publishers are putting those books into the Kindle store these days. I’ve downloaded a few, and now dislike the way they were written.

That’s natural. Times change. What appealed to readers 40 years ago doesn’t appeal now.

When you train yourself to improve your ideas, your subconscious mind gets in on the act. It will start feeding you ideas, based on your own experiences, which will be in the spirit of what readers love today.

Start paying attention to what’s selling.

Make lists of ideas of ebooks you could write.

If an idea appeals, ask yourself: “what’s this book like?” and “who’s this book for?”.

If you can do that, you may not write an ebook which hits the top 100 bestsellers, but you will be a Kindle author who sells more ebooks.

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Serial fiction has been around since the days of Charles Dickens. Self-publishing authors love it. Discover how to write serials in our new four week class. Coaching is included — you’re not writing alone.

By the end of the program, you’ll have published several episodes of your serial fiction. You’ll also be steadily marketing, while you’re writing and publishing.

Join us: you’ll have a lot of fun, and you’ll boost your fiction writing career.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Earn while you learn, with Angela’s Writing Classes..

Ebook Publishing Strategy: A Very Kindle Christmas

Ebook Publishing Strategy: A Very Kindle Christmas

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat… On our freelance writing blog, I start reminding writers about the importance of Christmas sales from July onwards. If you’re a Kindle author, you need to create an ebook publishing strategy for the holidays NOW too.

The holidays are the big spending days of the year

Companies small and large make the bulk of their income over the holiday season, and here’s why — people are spending money. Think of all the new Kindles, iPads, phones and other devices which will be given as gifts over the holiday season. Shouldn’t some of your ebooks grace these electronic toys?

I’ll answer that question for you — YES, they should. So start writing. 🙂

Ebook publishing: Christmas can be both fun, and profitable

I reminded a student about Christmas ebooks last week, and he complained that he didn’t have any ideas. No ideas? Of course you have ideas. Writers get ideas more easily than pets get fleas.

Here’s what I suggested to start him thinking:

  • Nonfiction: Christmas recipes; how to create hand-made paper for gift wraps and cards; recipes for easy Christmas treats you can cook and bake to give as gifts; how to create gorgeous decorations…
  • Fiction: a series of ten short stories with a Christmas theme, in a mix of genres, or in a single genre; a mystery novel with Santa Claus as either the sleuth, or the corpse; a romance novel with a hero and heroine who are both alone during the holidays, and…

I’m sure that you can come up with any number of ideas for Christmas-themed ebooks. Make a list now. Use Trello to collect ideas, or my new fave app, Quip. I use Quip as my ideas notebook, accessible to me anywhere, on any device.

Springboard off what you’re writing now

Initially my student wasn’t keen about developing an ebook publishing strategy for Christmas. From his tone of voice I could tell that he was looking at it as just another chore to tack onto his over-stuffed To Do list.

I reminded him that he’d published three thrillers over the past two years, not to mention several mystery novellas. “Can you use characters from your published ebooks for Christmas stories?” I asked. “You’ve done the groundwork. You’ve got characters. Give your characters a little Christmas cheer. You’ve got built-in readers too. Wouldn’t your novels’ fans love a few short stories about the characters?”

Grudgingly, he supposed that that sounded reasonable.

Yesterday my student called me back. He read out a list of five ebooks he’s got planned. His attitude had completely changed. He was excited, and I was pleased for him. He’s going to have a very merry Kindle Christmas.

Why not create your own strategy? Do it today.

Make more ebook sales of all your fiction, when you write a serial

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Fiction serials are platform-builders… consider writing at least one. Not only does a serial build your confidence, it also builds readers’ confidence in you. They’ll join your mailing list, and this has huge benefits for ebooks you’ve already published, and ebooks you’ll publish in future.

Write a serial with our new four-week class, Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.