As part of The Hot Sheet email newsletter for authors (which I write and publish in collaboration with Porter Anderson), I regularly round up and comment on book marketing advice that writers are talking about. Here’s a list of what sparked discussion in 2017.
Better book packaging and descriptions
- Five ways a book cover can hurt sales: This was one of the most insightful and memorable posts of the year. Indie author Johnny B. Truant offers insight (from hard-won experience) on book cover design. Read at the BookBub blog.
- Learn how to improve your book marketing description by seeing the results of BookBub’s own A/B testing. First tip? Call out accolades right away. Learn more at BookBub.
- Firebrand Research Labs has been researching how marketing and discovery strategies work in the real marketplace with real readers. One study demonstrates that keywords drawn from readers’ own reviews (and that therefore match readers’ own terminology)—such as bad guys, action-packed, surprise ending, and courtroom drama—work much better in the market than publisher terms, such as noir atmosphere, urban settings, and harsh realism. Improved keywords led to sales increases for 34 percent of titles, with an average sales increase of 20 percent. Get more information on the Firebrand Research Labs data and results.
Selling through Amazon (for indie authors)
- Indie author marketing strategies should be customized based on whether you’re exclusive to Amazon or selling wide. Indie author David Gaughran details two paths to selling books based on whether you’re enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (and thus exclusive to Amazon). Read at his blog.
- Wondering about Amazon algorithms and how “also boughts” get determined? Indie author David Gaughran has written insightfully about how to strategically and ethically work the system. Read at his blog here and here.
- Strategies for Kindle Unlimited: Even though indie author David Gaughran is frequently a severe critic of Kindle Unlimited, he acknowledges KU has positives. He has determined that aggression, sacrificing income for visibility, and patience are key principles to maximizing page reads. More here.
- Wondering how to effectively advertise your ebook on Amazon? Dave Chesson has a free course available. Check it out.
- More on mastering Amazon ads: If you’ve been avoiding Amazon’s Product Display Interest ads, check out author Brian Meeks’s description of how they work, plus his discussion of other ways to optimize your Amazon ad strategy. Read or listen at the Creative Penn.
- Indie author Nicholas Erik offers an extensive guide to self-publishing ebook promotion. Read at his blog.
Book launches and bestsellerdom
- How a pre-order strategy can build a book’s platform: Indie novelist Cheryl Bradshaw describes her step-by-step process for pre-orders as part of a book launch. Read at the BookBub blog.
- A self-published nonfiction author offers a detailed case study of how he sold 180,000 copies. Part IV is most relevant to authors who are preparing for a book launch or actively marketing and promoting. Read at GrowthLab.
- Romance author Kelly McClymer discusses step by step how she became a bestselling author. Her key to success was a coordinated marketing plan. Find out more at BookBub’s blog.
Facebook marketing and advertising
- Why there’s no perfect time to post on Facebook. I expect the same is true of just about every social media network. Learn more at Buffer.
- Another case study on optimizing Facebook ads for books: Indie author GD Harper describes her process in detail. Read at the ALLi blog.
- What you’d learn if you spent $100,000 on Facebook ads. The folks at HubSpot break down the key takeaways and offer a step-by-step process for ad development. Take a look.
Pricing, discounting, and giveaways
- Reedsy has created a database of free and paid book-promotion sites. More than 50 services are mentioned so far, and you can sort by genre as well as by Reedsy’s tiered star rating. Take a look.
- Making the best use of BookBub CPM ads: Indie novelist David Gaughran offers tips on maximizing click-through rates for CPM (cost per thousand impressions) ads in BookBub email newsletters. Read at his blog.
- A comprehensive look at ebook bundling for authors: Check out Joanna Penn’s interview with the creator of BundleRabbit on the benefits and how-to of multi-author bundling for indie authors. Read or listen.
Selling rights and selling internationally
- How indie authors can sell foreign or translation rights: Longtime author Kristine Rusch details in plain English what any author can do. Scroll way down to the second half of the post for the steps.
- Self-publishing outside of your home country? Joanna Penn features a guest post by Zsofia Macho from PublishDrive on how to best sell and market to readers in countries such as China, Germany, Japan, and France.
- Ebook pricing in Europe: Again, the folks at PublishDrive offer advice to indie authors on how to price appropriately in the EU, based on their own sales data. Learn more.
Book reviews / Goodreads
- Reedsy has created a database of nearly 200 book-review blogs. It’s searchable, and Reedsy promises to updated it regularly. Take a look.
- An ideal Goodreads marketing timeline: If you plan to use Goodreads as part of your book-launch strategy, the folks who work there have created an author timeline to follow. Check it out.
- Author Kristine Rusch discusses email newsletter strategy at length. She distinguishes between “old school newsletters” and “ad circulars.” Read at her blog.
- How do pop-ups, interstitials, and other intrusions affect your site traffic and optimization? The Moz team offers an easy-to-read and understandable analysis of whether your pop-up email newsletter sign-up forms might hurt you with Google. Visit Moz for more.
- The definitive guide to personal email newsletters. It’s long, but easy to read, and it includes lots of examples. Read at Hacker Noon.
- What are effective ways to market and promote a podcast? The folks at Patreon offer concrete tips, such as creating detailed show notes. Read more.
- 10 easy tips for professional audio quality: If you’re doing any kind of sales or marketing that involves audio (podcasts, audiobooks, videos, and more), check out Copyblogger’s tips.
What were your favorite book marketing articles and tips last year? Share in the comments.
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.