5 low-cost marketing strategies to get the best value for your self-published book

woman writing
A self-published book can help enhance your personal brand and position you as an authority figure in your field.

  • Publishing a book in your field of expertise is a great way to establish yourself.
  • However, marketing a book through traditional publishing can cost a great deal, says publisher J.J. Hebert.
  • Low-cost strategies like books reviews and lead generation through email lists can help promote you book instead.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

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.

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 dividends 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.

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 Twitterwill 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 platform 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!

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3 reasons entrepreneurs should forego traditional book deals for self-publishing

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One advantage of self-publishing is that there are no literary gatekeepers to hold your book back.

  • MindStir Media CEO J.J. Hebert says now is the time for entrepreneurs to self-publish their books.
  • With shrinking bookshelf space and more people buying online, using a traditional publisher isn’t as practical.
  • By self-publishing, the author also maintains creative and financial control of their work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Many entrepreneurs are using newfound time at home to finally write down their unique ideas and stories to be published in book form. The Internet is rife with contradicting information about self-publishing and traditional book publishing, so which path should an entrepreneur – or writer in general – use for book publication?

As the owner and founder of MindStir Media, I’m confident in saying that self-publishing is the proper route in many cases. Here are three main reasons why:

1.You’re guaranteed to get your book published

With traditional publishing, you’ll generally need to find a literary agent to represent you and your work. But finding agent representation can be a long and arduous journey. I know writers who’ve spent upwards of a year or two sending out query letters and still haven’t been able to land an agent. Most traditional publishers will only look at a manuscript if it comes in through an agent, so literary agents are a valuable resource and contact when going the traditional publishing route.

The major problem with this approach is that nothing is guaranteed. You could be one of those people who spend years trying to find an agent, or you could land an agent, only to get rejected by the traditional publishers anyways.

With self-publishing, the ball is in your court. There are no literary gatekeepers holding you back. The consumer will be the final judge of your book.

2. You’ll keep control over your book

Writers don’t always consider the topic of rights when comparing self-publishing and traditional publishing. With a traditional publisher, it’s common for you to relinquish your publishing rights to that company, meaning that you’ll lose control over your publishing rights as well as any creative control. If you get to the point where an agent pitches your book to a publisher and said publisher accepts your manuscript for publication, the publisher will own the rights to your book and will ultimately have final say over the content of your published book.

Self-publishing is the complete opposite in every way. The self-publishing author keeps their publishing rights and all creative control, from the cover design to the editing and book production. In fact, you can research and select your own book designer, professional editor, printer, distributor, and more.

3. You’ll enjoy much higher royalty rates

It’s a bit of a dirty little secret in the publishing industry that traditional book deals only payout about 10% – 15% royalties to authors. Some traditional publishing advocates tend to argue that it’s worth giving up 85% to 90% royalties in exchange for superior support and distribution. But with physical bookshelf space dwindling and most consumers buying books through Amazon and other online retailers, that argument doesn’t hold much water in 2021.

An author can simply self-publish online and reach a large network of online retailers through a distributor such as Ingram. In turn, the self-published author can keep 70% t0 100% royalties. If your book sells 10,000 copies, for example, you could see tens of thousands of dollars in your bank account from those sales through self-publishing, whereas traditional publishing royalties might only reach $10,000 or less from those same 10,000 copies sold.

Read the original article on Business Insider