“To reach more readers and take your sales to the next level, you must proactively market your book”.
— Mark Coker
You have just written a book, spent thousands on getting it to market, and now…you’ve sold a few copies.
You heard about this passive income strategy but it’s now clear that selling more books isn’t as easy as it was made out to be.
Making money from your book isn’t as easy as they say, but it doesn’t have to be impossible either if you set your book up for success right from the start.
This post will show you how to sell more books.
There are no hidden gimmicks or a secret formula to making money from your writing. When I started out book publishing, I struggled for the first year to break the hundred dollars a month mark. Gradually, with troubleshooting, testing and learning from the people who were making five figures a month, the passive income model for making money on Amazon [and other platforms] makes more sense.
So if you’re an author wanting to make money from your book [and who doesn’t, right?] this post will take you into the trenches of bookselling.
Is it easy to make money from your writing? No, there is a lot of work involved. We have to do things right and set our work up for long term sales. As an author, you should know as much about marketing your book as you do about writing it. After all, the writing will get your book published, but promotion and marketing will get your book sold.
Selling lots of books begins with the basics of book production and leading up to the book launch, so we must create our book with the goal of getting it into the hands of our audience and bringing new readers into our brand.
When it comes to selling books and making money, this depends largely on your goals as an author. If you are doing this part time and you just want to recoup your expenses for the cost of publishing your book, your marketing strategy will be much different than author who has a goal of earning a full time income.
In this post I will run you through the essentials of marketing, packaging and promoting your book in order to maximize book sales and earn your money as an author. After all, who doesn’t want to get paid well for what they love to do?
Regardless of what your book selling goals are, there are seven elements, the criteria for any book, that must be met if your book is even going to stand a chance in the marketplace. Remember: you’re competing with millions of other books out there and that there are about 4500 books published everyday. That’s a lot of books.
But not to worry.
If you follow the criteria below, you will jump to the top of the heap where the top 5% of authors making money are hanging out.
Selling your book begins, not when your book is published, but from the very get-go, before you even put pen to paper.
It begins with…
The 7 Essential Elements for Selling More Books
“Thirty seconds. As an author (or publisher) that’s about all the time you have when talking to someone to generate interest in your book.”
— Sarah Bolme
You may be thinking right now: “Wait, where are the marketing strategies? How can I sell thousands of books a month?” We will get to that. But first, before you think about earning thousands of dollars and retiring early, the foundation for selling books begins here.
When it comes to selling a book, you have short window to convince someone that your book is the best investment they are about to make. You can do this right away by sticking with the essentials that a good book must have.
1. An awesome book cover that gets a second glance.
Someone once said: “You can never tell a book by it’s cover.” That was true back in 1946 but in today’s publishing realm, readers DO judge by the cover and they will buy your book based on the front-end window dressing. The principle here is simple: If it looks good, it must be valuable. Most books get three seconds to sell a reader. If you want to sell more books, have a cover that grabs attention and gets your browser to take the next step.
For cover designers we can recommend a few sites here:
2. An Intriguing Book Title and Subtitle.
If the cover is the gateway to drawing a browsers attention, the title of your book is what sells it. Your title will depend largely on the theme of your book but taking time to craft a title/subtitle will be a deciding factor for potential readers to buy…or not.
The title is the hook that draws readers in and the subtitle is your elevator pitch that tells them what they can expect to gain by reading this book. Will they lose weight? Become better at saving money? Run a full marathon in under six hours?
Brainstorm as many possible titles as you can for both the main title and subtitle. Although the title can make them guess what the book is about, the subtitle is what sells it. Good books that sell often have great subtitles that gives browsers a stronger idea of what is behind the cover.
Check out these great titles for inspiration:
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy
3. Book Reviews & Book Launch Sales Volume
If a browser is sold on your cover and the theme resonates with subject they want to know more about, a quick scan of the book reviews will be the final selling point for most.
A book with less than ten reviews, or no reviews at all, may get passed over in favor of other books with a strong review ranking. The bottom line is: Reviews sell more books. Getting reviews is an ongoing marketing strategy you should always be working on.
Amazon’s algorithm is strongly linked to the volume of book sales and reviews. A book that sells well within the first two weeks supported by a healthy volume of high ranking reviews will push your book higher into the popularity ranks of new releases during the launch phase.
The long term strategy for selling more books over an extended period of time is to focus everything you have on the first 2-3 weeks of your launch. Basically it comes down to selling loads of books and getting people to leave reviews.
Getting reviews is a lot of work but the effort is well worth it. Aside from the cover, the reviews will make or break your sales. You should focus your efforts on building a strong launch team of early reviewers who will receive a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
To stack up on reviews during your launch you can:
- Provide a request to review page at the back of your ebook with a direct link to your book.
- Invite people to join your launch team and provide early reviewers with a copy of your book to review 2 weeks before you publish.
- Scroll through the list of Amazon’s Top Reviewers and request a review
4. A Killer Book Description
Amazon allows authors to include a lengthy book description on the author page. This is definitely an area that you want to spend time on. Your book cover, title, and reviews are generally enough to make the sale, but a solid looking book description adds weight to the overall quality of the product.
Your book description is a sales page that lists the benefits of the book. It should have a mixture of various font style and structure to create a clean, attractive description of your book. We recommend using the free Amazon Book Description Generator Tool at Kindlepreneur.com. This saves time in messing around with nasty HTML coding.
For some great examples for book descriptions check out these titles:
If nobody can find your book, they can’t buy it either. This is where researching and implementing the right keywords plays a big part in driving traffic towards your platform. Regardless whether you blog, have a website or you sell products online, setting up your keywords is a prime strategy. But where do we find these keywords? How do we know what keywords are the right ones?
Finding the right keywords will get your book ranking in the top search results when customers plug in the relevant keywords to discover your kind of book. Why does this matter? Yes, a book that ranks well gets more visibility and this leads to…book sales!
There are two tools we recommend for researching relevant keywords for your book. They are:
Using the right software you can get results for the number of times your keyword is searched. Google also shows you related searches and the competition that particular word has. What you are looking for is a word that has good search volume but not high competition.
Another tactic is to search for your book’s title and keywords by using Amazon’s search bar. Check the suggestions that drop down. Imagine what your readers are searching for when they are looking for your book.
You are allowed to include seven keywords, or short-tail phrases, in your book. Most browsers, when they search in Amazon, are more likely to type in a short tail phrase instead of a single keyword. You want to be specific with your search. Specificity narrows down the choices and makes your book more searchable.
For example, if you are looking for a book on losing weight, and you are over 50, type in losing weight after 50 and you will target the books related to your short tail phrase. Readers search this way. Eventually, if you become a successful author, most people can just plug in your author name and go right to your Amazon author page after they have trust in your brand.
6. Professional Editing
A book that has been poorly edited is going to receive negative reviews. Period. While it is perfectly fine to have negative reviews on your book, you don’t want those reviews to be about the writing quality. It is an instant turn off for book buyers.
Of course we expect a book that is, not only well-written but, mostly error free meaning, the occasional error may be tolerated. But, a book riddled with bad grammar, misspelling, and a sloppy appearance is not going to sell.
You can hire a great editor through Upwork or Freelancer. Ask other authors if they can recommend someone. Your editing will be the biggest expense for the book and you don’t want to cut corners with this.
These are the core essentials of any book. Even if you are not a good marketer, you can sell more books if you get these steps right.
Now, let’s take a look at some more advanced marketing strategies that includes book promotions and building an author brand.
7. Pricing Your Book
One question that I often get from authors is: “How much should I price my book at?” I know, we want to maximize our profit but not scare away potential readers because of an overpriced book. First, remember that for any book priced $1.99 or 0.99 cents, the royalty is just 35%. Books priced between $2.99 – $9.99 net 70% royalty. The sweet spot for many books is $2.99 – $5.99.
Price your book accordingly and by that I mean, take into account the size and quality of your platform. If you are an established author with a strong following, you could potentially charge more. Books that are priced slightly higher than the norm may do better if they are packaged well [aka quality cover, large volume of reviews].
You could start pricing your book at $2.99 and move it up $1.00 a week, testing the boundaries until you notice a significant decrease in sales. You might sell less books at $4.99 but if your book has all the best elements mentioned in this section, and you market accordingly, the perceived value of your product will stand the test.
As for paperbacks, most INDIE authors are averaging a sales price from $9.99 – $12.99. Take into account there are printing costs, your royalties can do better per sale based on the higher price of the book at a 60% royalty rate.
The Permission Marketing Plan
“Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers. It’s not just about entertainment – it’s about education. Permission marketing is curriculum marketing.”
— Seth Godin
Now that we have looked at the basic elements you need to sell your book, it is time to get into the initial marketing. Generally speaking, most authors are not marketers. But you don’t have to be to sell.
If you follow the steps above, that would place your book in the top 10% at least. Then, take it a step further with a marketing plan and now you are making some real money.
Mind you, the strategies I am laying out for you here represent the infrastructure of a book business. These are not quick ways to make a buck but rather, you are laying the foundation for setting up passive income and drawing monthly income from your books.
I’ll be honest, if you want to create a long term, sustainable income from your books, you have to do a lot more than send out ‘tweets’ or weekly blog posts. Selling lots of books can be narrowed down to one word: traffic.
How do we get traffic? By invitation. How do we invite people to buy our books? We give stuff away and provide so much value that they can’t possible say no.
It begins with setting up an email list of raving fans.
With an email list, you can create a sustainable platform of fans that are waiting for your next book release. When you launch a book, can you imagine if you had 1000 eager readers waiting to grab your latest release on the first day when it launches? Not only would you have an instant bestseller but, you’ll end up in the top of your category and the Amazon top rankings and search engines. How great would that be?
Building an email list takes time, patience, and a lot of work. You need to be strategic with your list and deliver valuable material that they need. This could be free giveaways or a weekly blog post. Consistent engagement builds your list and becomes the foundation for your author infrastructure.
Without an active email list, we are relying heavily on luck and organic traffic. Although you can still do well without a list, you’ll work twice as hard to get your book into the top search engines.
If the money is in the list, you want to start building your list right now. You can do this by first offering an incentive inside your book. Do you have something of value to provide readers to entice them to sign up? If so, offer it now and begin list building.
But remember: People are giving you permission to email them. This is the beginning of a relationship with your readers. Value that relationship and you will have started the foundation for a business. Write for your readers and you will never have to worry about selling more books. Your readers will help you to market your book and they will always be your best customers.
You can start by signing up with an email subscriber service. There are several to choose from:
Mailchimp: This service is to free for up to 2000 subscribers. However, there is no support until you pay a monthly fee.
Mailerlite: a nice platform, very simple with easy-to-navigate features.
Once you have a comfortable list that you are engaging with regularly, it is time to focus your core efforts on providing value to that list. The subscriber gave you permission to email them, and now it is your responsibility to follow through by building that relationship.
Run Book Promos Every 3-6 months
You’ll find that, even the best of the books out there drop in rankings over an extended period of time. This is where we can keep things fresh by running promotional campaign for the book every 3-6 months.
Here is how you can do this.
Drop the price of your book to 0.99 for 5-7 days. You can adjust the price by going into the KDP dashboard. It takes Amazon anywhere from 6-24 hours to set this up.
Stack multiple book promotional services for each day for the week your book is set at the promotional price. Setting up book promos does cost money but it gets your book rankings moving up again and gives the book a fresh kick. You can set up promos with the following sites:
BKnights [Fiverr] You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. You won’t get a ton of downloads but on average 12-25 depending on the book.
Robin Reads. [Requires 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating] Takes a couple days to get approved [$55].
BookSends. Requires average 5 reviews at $40.
Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction.
Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10.
Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29.
Book Runes. Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25.
eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10.
Booksbutterfly. Various promo packages with guaranteed paid and free downloads.
This is an opportunity to set up a small support group to read the book and leave a review during the promotion period. This boost in downloads and new reviews boosts the rankings of your book. If you have multiple books, it’s an opportunity for traffic coming into your platform to be introduced to your book library.
Create a Library of Books and Build Your Brand
It is really hard to make money from just one book. This is why I recommend writing and publishing a lineup of books that your fanbase can’t wait to read. Writing multiple books is a long term strategy that can build a profitable book business over the course of several years.
Can you imagine if you had ten books for sale and each one is set up for success to bring in an average of $1000 a month? You can do this with a strategic plan for your author business.
Publishing new content regularly builds your email list and pushes your Amazon Author Ranking up the charts. By putting out a new book every 3-4 months, you are creating new content that keeps your author platform sizzling with activity.
In addition, it is easier to promote several books at the same time. You can set up a book bundle and have your books available in multiple formats including audiobooks and paperback.
Action Task: Block out 30-minutes a day for the next 30 days. Come up with ideas for at least ten books you want to write. Do a mind map followed by an outline for each one. Then, set out to create a publishing schedule for each book.
Questions to ask yourself are:
- How long is each book?
- Am I targeting a general audience or a specific niche?
- What is the estimated profit potential for this book?
- How can I out out a new book every 3-4 months?
Here are a few authors creating a library of books and doing very well with their platform of consistent releases:
Patrick King, Social Interaction Specialist
S.J. Scott, Develop Better Habits
Martin Meadows, Self-Discipline and Grit
Peter Hollins, Human Psychology
Zoe McKey, Communication and Personal Development
Oh, and let’s not forget Stephen King, who has published over 65 books with 350 million copies sold since Carrie was published in 1974.
Wrapping It Up
If you want to sell more books and earn money as a paid author, write and publish books that sell. Target a specific audience and write your content for that fan base. Build a brand around your work and market your writing accordingly.
Stick to the essential elements of book publishing and be sure to write a book that engages your readers interest, provides them with entertainment [fiction] or life lessons [nonfiction], and invest your time into creating a series of books that have impact and branding appeal.
Selling books and making money is a long term strategy. There are hundreds of ways to promote your book and brand. But you don’t [and can’t] do everything. Focus on the strategies that will have the long term results you want.
Now, I’ll leave you with a list of additional marketing and promotional strategies you can consider to build your brand and promote your work.
20 Ways to Promote Your Work and Build an Author Brand
- Create a book trailer and post the video on YouTube or Vimeo.
- Set up an Author Page on Facebook and have readers sign up. You can take this a step further and create a private facebook group where you share some of your best content and insider information with your tribe.
- Create an author website. Use this to promote your books, blog about content in your books, and keep readers engaged through online discussions about your work and mission.
- Set up a professional author email. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Get professional author pictures taken. Post these to your website, social media, and the paperback copy on the back.
- Approach foreign book publishers and try to get your book translated into other languages. Nowadays many authors are translating books into Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish.
- Get video testimonials for your book. Post to YouTube and your website.
- Send your paperback to fans and ask them to take a photo holding up the book. Use this as a promotional tool by creating a landing page for your book. Additionally you can create book pages for your books on your website [Note: We strongly recommend you have an author website].
- Run a book giveaway on Goodreads.
- Write a series of blog posts related to your books and overall branding theme.
- Guest post blog for well-known sites and drive backlinks to your website or Amazon author page.
- Get featured on as many podcasts as you can. This is a great way to drive traffic to your book pages and site.
- Set up a URL forward that sends people to your Amazon author page. When you promote your books, you can use this URL as your main website even if you don’t have an actual website yet.
- Continue to pile reviews onto your book. This should be an ongoing marketing strategy. Aim for a goal of adding two new reviews per week.
- Set up an AMS ad for your book. You can check out this free course right here: Book Advertising: Free AMS Advertisement Course for Authors
- Create free content [checklist, mini ebook, or audiobook] and give it away for free inside your book.
- Create a virtual bundle of your books when you get several titles published.
- Create a course based on your book. This has the potential to be a strong upsell. Take a look at udemi and teachable for launching your course to these platforms.
- Create an email autoresponder series for subscribers.
- Create a slideshare presentation using the best material from your book.