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How to Market Your Self-Published Book | 45 Steps



Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by Ben Oakley

It’s unsurprising that this post is one of the most popular on the site. How to market your self-published book is one of the most searched terms in self-publishing, simply because it’s the hardest part to get right.

Many authors work hard to get their book from the idea phase to publication but find themselves swimming in an ever-expanding ocean of other books.

Like the process of self-publishing, marketing can take time to get right but if you put in the work with just some of the tips provided in this post, then you might see book sales take off.

The great thing about learning to market your self-published book is that there are endless possibilities. With a little creativity, you can put yourself ahead of the crowd!

How to Market Your Self-Published Book in 2022

2022 has taking off in a big way, with eBook sales on the increase, and the book industry going from strength to strength. Read the guide on how to make a living self-publishing to better your chances at success.

Here’s what to expect in this guide on how to market your self-published book in 2022:

1. Social media platform of your choice

Social media platform of your choice. How to Market Your Self-Published Book | 45 Steps

The ‘choice’ is important because not every social media platform is going to work for you. You could have better, more productive interaction on Twitter than you do Instagram.

Some authors swear by Facebook, whereas others prefer Twitter. The key to marketing well on social media is to combine self-promotion posts with helpful or insightful ones.

  • Self-promotion should account for no more than 50% of all posts.
  • Post regularly and often.
  • Share links to your books and website.
  • Share new blog posts AND old ones.
  • Know which platform your readers use the most.

2. Author site

An author website is considered necessary, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are easy-to-use website builders out there, and even website designers who do all the hard work for you.

Check out a complete guide to setting up your author website with all the tips and tricks you need. As with social media, plan to post regularly and often.

3. Amazon Author Central

If you’re selling your book on Amazon – and you should be – then you can sign up for an Amazon Author Central account.

By linking your books to your AAC account, you have more control over how they appear on Amazon. You can even change the description of the books you have published through KDP.

But the real benefit is having your own author page on Amazon, complete with author biography, RSS feed to your blog, and a landing page you can direct people too.

4. Blogging

How to Market Your Self-Published Book in 2022

Now you have an author website and AAC account, you can begin to reach more people by consistently posting on your site.

Stuck for ideas of what to blog about for a self-published author? Here’s just a few:

  • How you created your characters.
  • Deep dive into your work strategy.
  • Sharing insights and information.
  • Places/people that inspire you.
  • Reviews of other books.
  • Your self-publishing journey.
  • Why you became an author.

5. SEO blogging

Yes, there is a big difference in blogging for your current readers and blogging to bring in new ones. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is one way you can write your posts that help people find your website.

If you write a post about ‘Harrison’s boat trip along the Camden Canal towards London Zoo‘ and someone searches for that exact sentence on Google, then you’re likely to be found.

Let’s face it, few – if any – will type that into Google. In fact, if you do so now, you’ll find this post in the top position of the search listings.

Incorporating good SEO practices into your posts with keywords, professional metadata, and images, can bring traffic to your website from organic search.

Check out Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide for the best free SEO guide on the internet.

6. Guest posting

Are you a prolific writer, who writes enough content to fill three blogs? Then guest posting could be right up your street.

To help market your self-published book, you can write original articles for other blogs or websites. The general rule of thumb is to not go all in on the self-promotion but share something that is helpful to the readers of the blog you want to write for.

How to become a guest poster:

  • Know your niche or genre.
  • Search blogs or sites in your niche.
  • Search for an article submission page.
  • OR contact the owner of the site.
  • Ensure your article matches the content of the chosen site.
  • Submit and wait to see what happens.

Some sites allow other authors to submit relevant content via write for us pages while others do not allow guest posting.

Most blogs that accept guest posters allow a link back to the author’s own site or books but check first to avoid a misunderstanding later on.

7. Getting reviews

Getting reviews for self-published book

Getting reviews is one way to increase visibility but can be difficult to do. The first thing to do is to remove all emotional attachment to your book and view it as a product you have put out for sale.

Remember that reviews are for readers, not for authors.

Ways to solicit reviews:

  • Send out ARC (advanced reader copies) to your email list.
  • Ask for reviews in the front and back of your book.
  • Send free copies to readers/authors in return for a review.
  • Ask readers on social media to review your book.

Never buy reviews. Not only does it make you look needy and fake, but it can also cause you real problems. Be true to yourself and your integrity.

Paid advertising should be part of your plan to market your self-published book. Organic marketing and free promotion only work well to a point.

To really boost your marketing strategy, you should incorporate at least one of the following ad programs:

  • Amazon Ads (#1 choice for many authors)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Ads
  • Bing Ads
  • Instagram
  • TikTok

9. Email newsletter

Building an email list is one way to boost sales of new books and keep readers informed of recent updates. However, just because it works for many authors, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Getting subscribers takes a long time in a world where so many authors and publishers are scrambling for readers attention. Make sure to offer something in return for subscribing to your email list.

I’ve tried many email marketing platforms in the past but Aweber works best for me. Other recommended services include Mailchimp, Sendinblue, and Constant Contact.

10. Giveaways

Giveaways offer a fantastic opportunity to add more subscribers to your email list and create viral posts on social media.

Engagement on a Twitter giveaway post increases 400% compared to average posts from a user. You can also solicit the accounts who share or comment on the giveaway to join your email list for future subscriber-only giveaways.

You can use paid-for prize software that automatically picks the winner for you or use your own system. Asking the winner to share their prize with photos also boosts your social media profile.

11. Cross promotion with another author

Don’t be scared off by this. Readers are insatiable in any genre. Cross promos with another author don’t lose you sales, in fact, it can increase sales.

By utilising multiple email lists and combined promotional techniques, all authors involved in cross promotion will inevitably see a rise. Reach out to other authors in your genre by:

  • Email
  • Social media
  • Contact page
  • Phone (in some cases)
  • Via the publisher

Don’t let it get you down if they don’t respond or don’t want to take part in cross promotion, there are tens of thousands of other authors and books out there in the same genre.

12. Free eBook promos

Giving away free eBooks splits the self-publishing crowd right down the middle. Some wholeheartedly refuse to give their books away for free, while others see it as a vital marketing tool to entice readers to buy further books.

If you’re part of KDP Select, you can set your book free on Amazon for up to five days in a 90-day period. If you have a series, which you should, then setting the first book to free can help increase sales on additional books in the series.

By self-publishing wide, you can make your first book permanently free on other distribution sites like Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Google. Amazon will then pick up on it and lower the price to zero.

This is known in the industry as a loss-leader and is most famously used by supermarkets to lure you in. If it works for them, then it can work for you.

13. Special deals

Self-Published Book deal

If you don’t want to giveaway your book for free, then you can regular special deals on the price of your book or series.

Drop the price by 50% for one weekend every couple of months and promote the price drop heavily on social media. Everyone loves a sale!

It’s a good idea to run a special deal in line with popular holiday periods such as Christmas, Halloween, Black Friday, and Amazon Prime Day.

14. Celebrity endorsement

Sites such as Cameo offer business alternatives to the traditional personal messages the site can provide. With other 40,000 celebrities listed on their site, there is a wide choice.

Not all personalities offer business or endorsement packages, so check their profiles first and message beforehand if required.

You can secure a celebrity endorsement through Cameo for anywhere between £100-£5,000. Alternatively, if you want an ongoing promotional run, try contacting their agents on IMDB Pro.

15. Influencer endorsement

Influencers, love them or hate them, have a reach that sometimes far exceeds that of celebrities, and many influencers love to read.

What better way to promote your book by having a influencer share your book with their vast followings on social media. Contact them direct or use an influencer management company.

16. Marketable book cover

Good book marketing starts with the book itself, the product you have released to the world. To market your self-published book well, you should have a good genre specific cover.

A good cover doesn’t have to stand out from the crowd, but it should be relevant to the genre you’re writing in. Readers of romance won’t often buy a romance book with an SF cover.

A book cover should:

  • Be genre specific.
  • Contain all relevant information.
  • Be easy to read.
  • Have a matching colour scheme.
  • Well-designed typography.
  • Follow general rules of design.

17. Write Voluminously

Write a lot of anything, regardless of whether something becomes publishable. The more you write, the better you get, the quicker your voice will materialise.

Incidental writing is a great tool to use anywhere and at any time of the day or night. Don’t let yourself be restricted by time concerns. Writing more gives you an ample back catalogue to market.

18. Metadata to the max

Utilise all metadata on book listings to the absolute max to give you the edge. There are spaces for keywords, use them, change them, try new ones out. Experimentation can bring interesting results.

Don’t title your book something weird, look at the market and see what sells, and use that research as a basis. Good metadata is all about the research!

19. Merchandising

Why stop at books? You can have your book covers or designs associated with your book printed on t-shirts, other wearables, and print-on-demand products.

Amazon Merch is one of the biggest and easiest but it’s difficult to get into. Alternatives are Redbubble, Teemill and Spreadshirt.

20. Leafleting

Back in the old days, leafleting was one of the major ways to advertise a product, and remains one of the most easily accessible offline promotional techniques to this day.

Either use a fully dedicated leafleting service or print your own and start delivering around your hometown. Once you get the hang of it, move to larger cities, employ a street team, and spread the word.

21. Poster advertisements

Like leafleting, traditional printed posters, in A3 or A2 size, are one way to increase visibility. Some shops allow for posters in their windows, while others may allow a stand outside.

More recently, high streets and shopping centres, allow advertisers to place their posters on the outside of garbage bins, empty shop windows, and promotional stands.

22. Banners

Banners are another offline method to help market your self-published book. As with posters, many shopping centres allow areas were banners can be positioned or displayed.

Free-standing roller banners are also a must have if you’re taking your book on the road, talking at an event, or selling at a book fair. In the UK, Instantprint offer the best value and highest quality. In the U.S. check out Got Print.

23. Billboards

When you think of billboards, you’re probably thinking it’s going to be expensive, but there are cheaper ways to get your name in lights, as it were.

Sites like Blindspot (formerly TPS engage) allow advertisers to take advantage of prime digital billboard locations such as Times Square for as little as a $5/minute.

billboards in times square
Imagine having your book flash up on a billboard in Times Square!

Alternatively, go all in and book your own billboard with the relevant company in your own city, and have your book or series displayed in a giant format to everyone passing by.

24. Shopping centre stand

One of the most exciting methods of promotion – and selling – is to book your own area at a major shopping centre. Prices range from £100-£2,000 depending on the deal you get and the size of the centre.

Bringing your own stand to a shopping centre for a weekend can be hugely beneficial. You can use your area to:

  • Sell books.
  • Hand out leaflets.
  • Giveaway bookmarks.
  • Give free books in return for email sign up.
  • Offer a free book in exchange for a review.

One exciting method is to gift an eBook on Amazon in exchange for email sign up and review. Most eBooks are £2.99, so if you royalty is 70%, you’re getting £2.09 back per gift purchase.

Which means, for 90p, you get a bump in rankings (when the person accepts their gift), a subscriber to your email, and potentially a review. Alternatively, lower the price to £0.99 for the weekend you have the stand.

25. Book fairs

Since the early 20th Century, book fairs have been the bread and butter of the publishing industry, with many major ones now costing tens of thousands to be a part of.

Luckily, there are more smaller book fairs than there are larger ones, which means a larger pool to choose from. Make sure the event you choose has a large enough footfall and is suitable for your genre.

26. Business events

Many authors skip over business events as they are not book fairs and don’t have a focus on books. Which is actually a major benefit!

Self-publishing is a business, and you can book a table or stand at any business fair. Check out local guides across your country to find the most suitable and cost-effective one.

Remember to hunt for photo opportunities with businesspeople – with your book in their hands!

27. Book signings

Book signings can help drum up interest in your books and bring you face to face with your readers. As with attending book fairs, ensure to have a good table layout, freebies, and banners.

Book signings can take place anywhere and everywhere, including:

  • Shops.
  • Libraries.
  • Universities.
  • Pubs & bars.
  • Sports events.
  • Street events.
  • Museums.
  • Train stations.
  • Airports.
  • Supermarkets.

Be creative in finding book signing locations and you might find yourself somewhere you never would have expected.

28. Book tours

Book tours for self-published authors

To help market your self-published book, a good old fashioned book tour does the job. In 2022, online book tours are the way to go but don’t discount offline book tours.

You can use a combination of shopping centre stands, book fairs, signings, and paid advertisements to create your own hit-the-road style book tour.

For online book tours, set up a succession of interviews and guest posting on other authors and readers websites.

29. Networking

Not only reserved for businesspeople, networking with other authors and self-publishers can increase your visibility and authority.

Remember to perfect your elevator pitch when attending events or signings. To network online, look towards social media, and author blogs.

30. Markets

We’re not talking about the stock market here but traditional market stalls! Getting a slot at your local Saturday or weekday market is easy but you need the equipment.

If the market you choose, doesn’t have pre-defined stalls then you’ll need a gazebo/small marquee, tables, stands, and promo material. If you want higher footfall, you can even book space at Camden market or Covent Garden market!

31. Book shops

Book shops for authors

Book shops are built with readers in mind, which is why book signings at those locations tend to work better than elsewhere, provided your chosen bookstore has a high enough footfall.

Independent and high street bookstores are always open to author signings. Check in with your local book shop and find out their rules.

You can request to be stocked in your local book store or at your nearest chain store but be prepared to jump through hoops. They’re also a great place to meet readers and other authors.

32. Radio ads/interviews

Though podcasts and video sites are taking over radio in terms of advertising and marketing strategy, they still provide an important marketing avenue.

Many local radio stations will be happy to interview an author about their latest book. If you know that a discussion is coming up regarding a subject in your genre, then you can contact the station to request an interview about the subject.

If you’ve put your name out there enough, you might find yourself being contacted. As a true crime writer, Talk Radio got in touch in 2020 to discuss serial killers at Halloween, and I couldn’t turn that down!

33. Create a podcast

Podcasts are all the rage in 2022 and you might feel like you’re missing out. Creating a podcast doesn’t have to be difficult, provided you’ve got the right equipment.

As a way to market your self-published book, starting a podcast can help gain a new readership while entertaining your current readers.

Here are some subject ideas for author podcasts:

  • Discussing your own books.
  • Reviewing other books.
  • Talking about your publishing journey.
  • Offering writing insights.
  • Sharing the secrets to your success.

34. Guest on a podcast

Aim to secure a guest spot on a podcast related to your genre. They are easy to set up and tend to have a built-in audience.

Reach out to podcasters through their own sites or on social media to open a conversation about a guest spot. Many podcasters are open to having guest talkers on their shows.

35. Talking events

Not for the faint of heart, talking events can take you out of your comfort zone but provide a great way to market your self-published book.

Consider having a page on your website where event organisers can invite you to speak on the subjects you are good at. You can also solicit events to include you as a speaker.

Just make sure to have the confidence and knowledge about your subject to answer all questions. Most talking events include a book signing and can be used as part of a book tour.

Want to really step out on your own? If you have a good enough following and sales record, then you might want to consider organising your own speaking tour around the country.

36. Book donations

One of my favourite ways, not only to help market your self-published book, but to make you feel good in the process.

Not only will someone read your book, but they may add it to their collection and seek out the rest of your series!

Here are some places to donate your books:

  • Charity/thrift shops.
  • Hospitals.
  • Schools/colleges.
  • Prisons.
  • Psychiatric wards.
  • Retirement homes.
  • Care homes.
  • Churches.
  • Community groups.

37. Local/national press

Like radio, local and national newspapers are on the decrease, but their readership is still high. You can contact your local newspaper to see if they want to run an interview about you as a local author.

Soliciting national newspapers is a little harder but if you have a story related to your book, your book’s content, or your personal journey, a reporter may pick it up. Getting your name in a national newspaper is one way to securing a blue tick on Twitter.

38. Press releases

The easiest way to contact local or national news outlets is to write a press release, including a selection of titles, short and long description, and keywords.

Press releases can also be distributed digitally to various online-only outlets, large blogs, syndication sites, and online magazines. Keep a list of emails you have sent the press release to and follow up a week later.

As part of the process to market your self-published book, you need to be building external links that direct to your website, blog, or book page.

There are many SEO companies that can help with link building as it can be a time-consuming business. Only use legitimate techniques to build links as bad link building can result in your site being punished by Google.

40. Forum posting

Back in the early days of the internet, posting in forums was one sure fire way to market your book, without needing to spam the sites with self-promotion.

Forums are still with us in the form of social media and places like Reddit and Quora, which are the modern evolution of the old forums.

Search for a traditional forum in your genre, join, and start posting, but don’t go overboard, as you want to spend most of your time writing the next book!

41. Video content

Video content self-publishing

YouTube and other video streaming sites have been going from strength to strength with many authors attempting to start a successful video content channel.

There are many routes to success, including:

  • Utilising affiliate marketing.
  • Sharing insights.
  • Talking about your book.
  • Discussing self-publishing.
  • Providing answers to readers’ questions.

Other ways to use video content are to make a book trailer (though these have limited success), create a video advertisement, or a video slideshow for your website.

42. Public placement

Like donating your book, you can leave a copy at a public location for another reader to pick up. Just be wary of littering laws in your council area or state.

You can include a small note written in the front and back of the book asking readers to pass it on when they are finished.

Here are some places you can leave your book:

  • Public transport.
  • Cafes.
  • Book drops.
  • Benches.
  • Phones boxes.
  • Hotels.

43. KDP Select

After years of testing, exclusive enrolment in KDP Select has produced far better results for general eBooks than going wide. For print copies, the more places you can publish, the better.

The marketing benefits of being enrolled in KDP Select is that you can promote your book for free for five days out of 90 and reach a bigger audience.

44. Hire a professional book marketer

If you don’t have time or the skills to implement the above 43 steps, then you could always hire a professional book marketer.

There are many PR firms that exist exclusively for authors so feel free to shop around. There are also freelancers on sites like Fiverr and Upwork who have better reviews than some PR firms.

45. Have patience

But the most important step in learning how to market your self-published book is having patience. Without it, you’ll lose faith in yourself and likely give up before things ever really get going.

Successfully AND continuously selling comes over time. It takes time to build a readership – and book expectation, which are both important to the continuity of a writing career.

You must allow your books to breathe and find their audience over time, not everything happens with the first book, and sometimes things won’t start moving until you’re in double digits.

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Ben Oakley is a bestselling author, researcher, publisher, blogger, and mental health advocate from Camden, England. Usually found on Twitter or in the bars and parks of Camden. Agathokakological is his favourite word!

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