The easier that publishers like Amazon make the process look, the harder it actually is.
Do you know the real reason why some authors choose to sell their work to traditional publishers rather than self-publish on Amazon these days? It’s the same reason why most self-published authors don’t get rich on Amazon.
The answer in one word is: marketing.
Even if a very low-publicity publishing house buys your book and expects you to continue actively promoting your book on your author platform, you still have a valuable marketing advantage over a self-published e-book. Why? Just the fact that your book has the backing of a traditional publisher’s label is social proof that other people believe it’s a book worth reading. Because Amazon allows everyone to self-publish freely without any real screening process, the quality of most self-published books is much lower than books published by traditional publishing houses, places where your work receives thorough editing, reworking and ample feedback before anyone else ever reads it.
You see, the act of publishing an e-book on Amazon is relatively easy, which is why
However, actually making lots of sales on Amazon is much more difficult than writing, editing and e-publishing the book itself. Here’s why:
1. Their book market is one of the biggest in the world.
2. Competitive pricing doesn’t matter.
You can’t use the appeal of lowering your price anymore to attract sales since an increasing number of new books, especially from new indie authors, are already free.
3. Your window of visibility is extremely small.
The odds of discovery on Kindle Prime are shockingly low. In fact, only 18 free e-book listings appear on the front page of the new Kindle books section, which is constantly updated since new books are published every few minutes. At best, you might get an hour’s worth of publicity before getting bumped off this page by other new titles. Now 7,517 books have been published in February 2016, most of which are free to help “promote” the new releases.
What marketing tactics DO sell e-books?
You need a high-profile referral.
Trying to get lots of Amazon reviews to promote your book is like trying to hitchhike from Florida to New York — you’ll reach your destination eventually, but there are a lot more effective ways to travel.
While lots of Amazon reviews can help your e-book look better on a superficial level, Amazon is likely to remove all reviews written by someone who didn’t actually buy a copy of your book through Amazon. If you hire others to write reviews for you, then you’ll risk getting a bad image from those who can tell the reviews aren’t legit.
However, one link from the “Oprah Winfrey” of your book’s target audience to your book is enough to open the door to greater sales and lots of reviews. You have to find your Oprah and win her heart with the awesomeness of your book so that she’ll be thrilled to help promote you. Offer her something in exchange. You can’t find a shortcut formula to get a high-profile referral. It requires lots of research to seek out good bloggers with a big crowd who love your book’s genre. You can try tools like buzz sumo to get leads, or just find another book similar to yours on Amazon and research where their good press came from to help give you ideas.
Use your book to help promote a charity.
For example, if you wrote a book that has a central theme of someone struggling to beat cancer, then reach out to local charities supporting cancer survivors. Offer to donate a percentage of your sales to their latest fundraising campaign for a specified amount of time if they review your book in their newsletter or on their website to create a win-win situation.
Submit a teaser.
Before self-publishing, send in one of your best chapters or excerpts to a literary magazine or enter it in a writing contest for flash-fiction pieces. Poets and Writers has lists of literary magazines accepting submissions. This type of strategy could help your book win an award and/or a bigger audience with high anticipation so that you’ll have a good surge of buyers as soon as the book gets published.
Do a slow release.
By giving your subscribers just one chapter to read at a time for free at regular intervals of a week or more, you can build extra suspense that will make more people want to buy the whole book on Amazon soon to find out what happens next. Naturally, this tactic works best for fiction, mystery and suspenseful novels.
Time your book release to line up with a relevant event or at your genre’s optimal audience time.
Look at your social-media posts to see when you got the most engagements on any posts directly related to your book’s genre — this would require posting daily on several social-media sites for at least six months first to get accurate results. Was there any holiday around that time or a news event that triggered this interest in your post? Schedule your book release for the same time next year or the next time this favorable opportunity arises. That way, people searching through new titles on Amazon will see your book at the same time that they’re likely to search for it. New titles have a short window of opportunity to catch their attention of millions of Amazon readers — an estimated one hour max of visibility on the Kindle New Releases page — so hit the market at the right time to help beat the odds of getting discovered.
By getting creative using these organic marketing tactics, you’ll be able to prepare well to get the reception your book deserves at its release!