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9 Powerful Ways to Market Your Book

If you've recently joined the ranks of self-published authors, it doesn't take long to realize the most important rule in the game: learn to market your book and learn it well. But in a literary world that's constantly evolving—especially with digital sales on the rise—knowing how and where to market your book can be a challenge. That's why we've gathered nine of the most effective ways to market your work and build on your success as an author.

Find your reader persona

In the marketing world, this step is one of the first ones taken before putting together a plan to market a service or product. Finding your reader persona involves creating a composite sketch of who your most likely audience will be. Will it be male or female (or both)? Is there an age group your book will appeal to most? Are they in college? Working professionals? What other types of media are they most likely to consume (besides your book, hopefully)?

Just as marketers use a consumer persona to help them find the best ways to market a client's business or product, self-published authors should have a good idea of the most likely audience their book will attract. This not only helps determine the best marketing tactics to use—it helps you narrow those tactics to direct them toward a niche market that is most likely to buy your book.

Look at what's selling

As a self-published author, you obviously want a coveted spot on Amazon's bestseller list. And Amazon makes it easy to conduct your own market research by browsing through their Amazon Best Sellers, which is updated hourly.

On the left side of this page, you'll notice several categories you can select (travel, history, children's books, etc.) to see the bestsellers within those categories. You can then drill down even further within those categories to find the one that most closely matches your book. For example, in the category of children's books, you'll find Action & Adventure; Activities, Crafts & Games; Animals; Arts, Music & Photography; Children's Cookbooks; etc.

So why do this? First, you'll be able to see if there's already a book that similar to yours on the bestseller list. If so, you might need to consider ways to set it apart from the book that's already a bestseller—either in its description or in the sample chapter you provide. Also, you'll be able to select smart categories for your own book, which we'll discuss in the next tip.

Select smart categories

In his article How to Choose the Best Book Categories, Kindlepreneur's Dave Chesson offers detailed instructions on choosing categories for your self-published book that will help boost its sales. The process he explains involves finding categories that would fit your book but might not be as competitive as others.

According to Chesson, Amazon assigns the ABSR of a book based on how many sales or downloads it has had over a certain period of time as compared to all other books on the Amazon market. A lower number means that the book is selling better than others, and a higher number means it isn't. If your book has the LOWEST ABSR of all books in a category, then you are the #1 best seller in that category. It is that simple. And of course—getting onto a bestseller list (even if it's a niche category) will boost your books sales exponentially based on increased exposure on Amazon.

For example, let's consider a current nonfiction Amazon bestseller by Brené Brown called Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. You'll notice that the book has been placed in several categories and is in a different spot within each. Below are the book's current rank in three categories, including:

#2 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Psychology & Counseling > Social Psychology & Interactions

#2 in Books > Business & Money > Management & Leadership > Leadership

#3 in Books > Self-Help > Personal Transformation

Make your sample chapter amazing

When a potential buyer sees your book online and is debating whether to purchase it, your sample chapter could be that final push they need to add it to their cart. On your Amazon page, this is what they'll see when they click "Look Inside" and this is your opportunity to really sell your writing.

While it might seem logical to put your first chapter as your sample, keep in mind that this is your opportunity to really show off as a writer. The first chapter, which is often exposition and getting to know the main character, might not be the best sample to offer.

Make your author bio shine

Your author bio is another great way to market your book, particularly if you have written a novel in a nonfiction category. Most readers want to know a little about the person they are taking advice from, especially if it's related to their career or hobbies. For nonfiction author bios, you should include your experience related to the subject, including any degrees, certifications, or training you might have had that would make you an expert on the topic. You should also list any relevant travel or speaking experience that has shaped your worldview as an author.

For fiction, something shorter and to the point is generally the best choice. If you've achieved any awards for your writing or have been published in any compilations, be sure to include those, as well as brief information about where you live and what you enjoy doing most. This article is a great resource for how to write your author bio and provides a lot of examples to look through when creating your own.

Build an email list through lead magnets

Lead magnets are incentives to sign up for something, most often an email list. This email list can then be used to keep in contact with your most likely readers and let them know about special events (such as book signings), sales, or new books coming out. It's also a way to "bond" with your readership and make them feel like they are an important part of what you do (because they are!).

A lead magnet is your best bet to encourage as many people as possible to sign up for email from you. This incentive can be as simple as an additional free sample chapter, a free download that isn't available without first signing up, a poem, advice, or a link to a YouTube video where you address an important question that might arise about your writing. This article is a great resource for various types of lead magnets you can use. The possibilities are practically endless!

Identify your influencers

Whether it's your family and friends, or a small social media following, your biggest fans will play a large role in helping you market your book. They can share information on their own social media accounts and tell others about how much they enjoyed your book. In fact, consider giving free copies to those who will influence others to buy your book. It's a marketing tactic that could pay off surprisingly well for you if the right influencer really likes what you've written.

Create an author website

Having an online presence is not only important—it's essential if you want to market your book and build an audience. Your author website will be the primary means to do this and should offer both current readers and potential readers an opportunity to get to know you and your writing.

However, make sure your author website is professional and easy to navigate on multiple devices. People are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to access information online, so ensuring that your site is optimized for such viewing will help increase your audience exponentially.

Get your book reviewed

If you've ever bought anything online—say, Amazon, for example—you know how much reviews influenced your decision. Retail marketers understand this and put a lot of effort into curating good reviews online.

In addition to multiple services available for getting your book reviewed (this one, for example) you can also ask for reviews from your core fanbase (even if it's just your friends and family). These reviews will go a long way in influencing others to buy your book.

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