By now you know that you’re not going to start selling books by ignoring the marketing side of your author business, or worse, trying to sell on social media.
I’ve published eight books across two complete YA contemporary romance series. The first book in each series has reached #1 in its main category, Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance, several times. One book got as high as #136 on the overall free chart and the other peaked at #176.
It’s important to know that these were books mostly written for love, not for market. They’ve never been crazy bestsellers, but they’ve also come a long way from selling one to two copies a month.
If you’d like to do the same and sell more books as well as reach more readers, try these six strategies for yourself!
1. Create a Reader Magnet
The goal here is to cultivate an email list so you can communicate with your readers regularly.
This way, you can let them know what’s coming next, what other books you have available, remind them to review your books, ask them to join your street team, and overall form a relationship with them.
Some authors use social media for staying in touch with their fanbase, but your email list should be the biggest way you communicate to your readers.
The thing is you own your email list, but you don’t own your social media followers or their contact information.
The rules on social media can change from one day to the next and platforms die off (remember MySpace?), so it’s way better for you to have your readers’ actual email address and go directly to their inbox.
Back to the reader magnet and its role.
You’re gonna entice readers to join your email list with a juicy reader magnet.
Let me explain.
A reader magnet is something of value that you give a reader in exchange for their email address.
It can be a short story, deleted or bonus scene, prequel, starter guide, checklist, cheatsheet, or template.
Important: your reader magnet should complement your existing book.
For example, I offer my readers an exclusive prequel full-length novel for one series. For the other series, email subscribers receive a bonus alternate POV scene revolving a scene in the first chapter of that first book.
Your true fans want that extra bit of story and will be happy to share their email address in exchange. I make it an even better offer by making it clear that they can’t find these stories anywhere else, not even to purchase. I make it clear that these freebies are exclusively for my VIP readers (my email subscribers). Who doesn't want to be VIP? :)
Non-fiction authors can use a companion course, a cheat sheet, or any kind of extra information related to the book the readers just purchased.
You’re going to set up this reader magnet so that someone clicks a link in the front or back of your book, lands on your website or other landing page with a sign-up form. Then readers should receive the freebie instantly.
I use BookFunnel to do this, and I wholeheartedly recommend their ebook delivery service. They’re very reasonably priced, look nice, and have amazing customer service.
The important thing to remember when you create your reader magnet offer is to make it about the reader and what they’re getting for joining your list.
You can also post the sign-up link on your website and social media profiles.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that any kind of marketing strategy should come back to growing your email list with readers who love your work.
This is probably the biggest way you’re going to sell books consistently.
2. Cross-Promote with Other Authors in Your Sub-Genre
Spend some time finding and getting to know other authors in your sub-genre.
This is one actual good reason to spend a few minutes on Facebook a few times a week. There are tons of groups full of authors looking to work together.
A good place to start is the 20Booksto50K Facebook group or running a FB search for authors in your sub-genre.
Remember to only cross-promote with other authors in your sub-genre. You want to make sure their readers will absolutely love your books.
If you write clean romance, don’t cross-promote with a dark sexy new adult romance author. Readers will not be happy, and it’ll mess up your also-boughts on Amazon.
The great thing about cross-promotion is that you’re getting in front of another author’s readers, who probably don’t know about you but have shown they read in your sub-genre.
Cross-promotion is perfect for authors who are just getting started and building up their mailing list.
If you make a valuable offer to a more seasoned author and promise to share something of theirs in the future, you’d be surprised at how many will be happy to give your book a push.
Always remember to give some love back in these cases (and overdeliver if you can).
The most effective way to cross-promote is through a newsletter swap when your book is free or on sale. Again, you want to offer something valuable to these new readers that will be free or cheap for them to try.
This can work especially well when it’s a book one in a series and you can get multiple authors to share your book.
3. Try a Giveaway
Giveaways can be hit or miss, but they’re worth trying to see how effective they are for your genre, especially if you see other authors in your genre running them.
You can run your own giveaway or team up with other authors in your niche to find new readers and grow your lists together.
You can give away paperbacks or ebooks of your own books or popular books in your genre. The tricky part is finding traffic to run to your giveaway, which is why a lot of authors team up or just go with Instafreebie.
Another good resource is Ripley Patton. She runs group giveaways by sub-genre for a small fee and does the hard work for you.
At the end of the giveaway, you add these new readers to your email list. Make sure to introduce yourself and remind them where they signed up.
Don’t be surprised to see tons of unsubscribes. It comes with the territory, but you should also find at least a small pool of readers interested in your books. I like to overdeliver and offer them a freebie of my own.
Remember to clean out your list of unengaged subscribers a few weeks after adding them to your list so you’re not paying for them and seeing lower open/click rates.
4. Run a Sale/Free Promotion with Stacked Newsletters Every 6-12 Months
This strategy is good for getting higher sales for 2-3 months and overall keeping your sales consistent or gradually increasing.
This involves making your book 99 cents or free for a few days, and ahead of time, you’re going to book some newsletter services to email their subscribers about your book sale.
Most of these newsletter services require you submit a form at least a few weeks in advance and might not accept all books so give yourself enough time, at least a month.
Make sure you do your homework and ask around which ones are working well because this kind of thing changes.
As you apply to these newsletter services, make sure you stack them, which means you’re not going to book them all for the same day.
Instead, you’re going to run one right after the other for 3-5 days as you build up to the biggest, most effective ad.
This is the kind of spike Amazon wants to see and will maximize your visibility for a longer period of time everywhere.
5. Experiment with Amazon and Facebook Ads
Ads can be another very effective strategy for creating consistent or increasing sales if you have the time to learn how to make them work.
Most authors get an okay or poor ROI on AMS and FB ads, but plenty of other authors have seen tremendous growth in their book sales thanks to these ads.
Start with a small budget ($1-$5 a day) and find out what works before you start spending a ton of money here.
Spend time learning copywriting and studying other ads that you see before you jump in. You want to make sure your headline, ad copy, and book description are all doing their job of hooking new readers in.
Also, make sure you have a great cover and look inside.
6. Utilize Perma-Free or Perma-99 Cents for Series Starters
This strategy worked especially well for me in 2015 when I relaunched my YA romance series, although I hear it has less of an impact now.
It’s still worth trying if you know you want to stay wide. You can’t do this if your book is in KU.
This also a great way to do evergreen promo if you’re limited on time to market your books. You should have a steady amount of readers discovering your book one and going on to buy and read the rest of your work.
This is exactly what I saw when I did this. I wasn’t making money on the free book one, but it was getting a hundred or so downloads a day with zero promotion from my part, and book two was my biggest moneymaker.
You’ll also always have something to share in cross-promos with other authors or to offer to new readers of any sort. There will be little to zero investment on their part to try you out.
One downside of this method is seeing more negative reviews come in (as opposed to higher priced books).
Another is it makes it a lot harder to get a Bookbub or other book newsletter ad because they want to offer their subscribers a significant savings.
You can also do this with Instafreebie, but it’s not as effective as sending readers to Amazon, iBooks, and other online retailers.
So there you go!
Six proven methods for selling more books and finding new readers. If you really want to ramp up your sales, try all of these strategies or a combination, especially for a new series launch!
As always, focus on writing the next book first and focusing on growing your email because these two things will make the biggest difference for your author business any time, no matter what.