Figuring out how to sell books in 2020 means facing a pair of imposing challenges : the multiplying complexity of book marketing and — speaking of things rising exponentially — the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns, recessions, as well as no small amount of tragedy.
And I want to focus on that second challenge for a moment — before we dive into all the ways that you can get your books into readers’ hands — because there is something rather different about this year.
Writers are generally quite fortunate in that they can work from home and sell books online and, for the moment at least, the digital side of the publishing business looks less exposed than the physical end.
Indeed, retailers and distributors are reporting a boost in ebook sales, and freebies in particular seem especially popular. Anecdotal reports concur, and also seem to confirm that there has been a surge in new entrants to the ebook market — which makes sense when people are stuck at home or less inclined to go browsing in meatspace, for painfully obvious reasons. Read More…
This fourth edition of Digital has been completely revamped to reflect the needs of self-publishers in 2020. The structure has been completely streamlined to reflect the ten steps involved in publishing your work like a pro.
Reflecting the specific challenges that writers face today, the advice on each step goes much deeper than before. Instead of just showing you how and where to find a cover designer, for example, Let’s Get Digital will show you how to brief your designer effectively, and learn what effective commercial packaging is for your niche, so that you end up with a cover which isn’t just pretty, but also very effective at appealing to your specific target audience.
And the same goes for writing, editing, formatting, pricing, metadata — all the areas where an author must make crucial decisions which affect the viability of their book.
Of course, the largest section of the book, by far, covers the entire topic of marketing from the ground up, showing authors not just how to find their first readers in the most cost effective way possible, but also how to construct a real author platform, one that will capture interest from readers and use those seeds to grow a community of fans around your work, who will send each new release higher in the charts. Read More…
This blog has been a little quiet in 2020, but I’ve been beavering away at a veritable smorgasbord of stuff for authors which I can finally start talking about.
The headline news: three new books for authors, a huge surprise which isn’t book-shaped, and then lots more cool resources coming to this here website; let’s expose each of these projects to the merciless glare of publicity.
First out of the traps is Following: A Marketing Guide To Author Platform and it is FREE – exclusively available as a bonus when signing up to my mailing list – which you can do right here. (If you are an existing subscriber, check your inbox – you don’t miss out!) Read More…
Apple Books For Authors has launched and the all-new site now provides help to authors for every stage in their publishing journey. And here’s the biggest news of all: PC users can now publish direct with Apple Books. That’s right!
Before now, anyone using a PC device could not publish direct with Apple Books (unless they went to the trouble of using a Mac emulator) and had to use a distributor to reach all of Apple’s customers. Now that has changed, and the new Apple Books publishing portal is accessible by web browser, and on a PC too.
That’s going to be the headline news for many people, so I just wanted to get that out of the way up top. But before we dig into that a little more, let’s take a look at some of the other aspects of Apple Books For Authors – which only threw open its doors to the public this very morning.
Hot off the presses, people. Read More…
Having a big email list is great, but utterly pointless if your open rate is in the toilet. Quantity might get the headlines but it’s quality which pays the bills.
You need engaged subscribers, ones that care about getting your emails, people who open your messages and act on the contents. If you are putting effort into growing your subscriber count but not proactively taking steps to assist open rates, then all you’re really doing is bailing out your boat with a leaky bucket.
People often say things like “it’s natural for open rates to fall over time” – and that’s true… if you do nothing about it. Also, there are plenty of practices you might inadvertently engage in which might accelerate the natural wastage you tend to get over time. But there’s also plenty you can do to address falling open rates and even reverse them. Read More…
Authors these days are getting great at offering enticements to sign up – commonly known as magnets or bribes or sign-up bonuses – and also at deploying automated sequences to further warm-up new subscribers. But sometimes we can be a little… overeager.
Your first priority should be to keep the promise that you made to the reader, which means ensuring the subscription happens smoothly and they get their free ebook.
If you overload the first emails the subscriber receives, you might get dropped into Promotions or *gasp* Spam. If you’re lucky the subscriber will email you complaining they didn’t get their gift. If you’re lucky. Most probably won’t even bother complaining which means you’ve just lost a sign-up. Read More…
One big change in my business over the last few years has been recognizing the importance of branding… and doing something about it too, I guess. Because I was always somewhat aware of the role branding plays in marketing but really fell down in the execution.
Which is a nice way of saying my branding was awful.
That’s no slight on the designers who turned out excellent work for me. My book covers were great, for example, I just didn’t have a coherent vision across my titles which was then parlayed across websites and Twitter headers and email graphics for brand cohesion – or really why that would be so important.
These days my site looks more professional, and the branding lines up with that of my books, social channels, and newsletter. And I’m quite proud of it as I handle all of it myself. Well, almost – I still outsource book covers. But I do the rest, and the funniest part about that is that I’m not remotely artistic in that sense; I couldn’t match colors if you paid me and can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. Read More…
There is no question that email marketing is the most powerful tool at your disposal; not taking advantage of all the unique benefits of email marketing is really missing a trick. Here’s why.
I’m sure all of you know the power of having thousands of committed readers signed up to your mailing list, allowing you to send each new release into the charts. Even if you’re not there yet personally, this should be something you are aiming for. Every single author should have a mailing list and be seeking to actively grow it.
But before we fly through the basics and delve into more advanced topics, let’s be clear about something: email marketing is not about spam. It’s not about fake intimacy. It’s not about posing BS questions to create false engagement. And it’s not about bait-and-switches, contrived urgency, click-baiting subject lines, or other emotional tricks; that’s what cheesy internet marketers do. Read More…
There is a huge change coming to Facebook Ads which could have a profound effect on the performance of all new and existing campaigns from next month onwards. You need to start getting your head around this now as the change is quite unpopular and the solutions for managing it are all a bit… fiddly.
In short, the new feature that Facebook is rolling out is called Campaign Budget Optimization. You might have seen it in your account already – it’s a feature which allows you to nominate a budget for your entire campaign and then hand the reins over to Facebook’s friendly neighborhood AI and allow it to determine how it should be spent.
Campaign Budget Optimization has been available as an optional feature for several months now so lots of people have been experimenting with it and sharing data – which we’ll get to. The big change is this: from next month, it will start being compulsory. Read More…
BookBub is a wonderfully passionate community of over ten million book buyers – and its ad platform is the only one at this scale which is exclusively made up of readers. BookBub Ads is unique in lots of other ways too and I’ve received hundreds of questions from authors over the last few months who are confused about one aspect or another. Today, we’ll look at the most frequent issues… and give you solutions to all those problems.
I’ve been using BookBub Ads for two or three years, I’ve been covering the platform in some depth for my mailing list for well over a year at this point, my dedicated book came out a few months ago, and the course… I can’t quite remember when that launched. Around the same time?
I’ve also run some giant campaigns for authors in a range of genres, as well as my own ads, and compared data and strategies with hundreds of other authors writing every kind of book imaginable. These are the issues and questions which come up most frequently. Read More…
Mailchimp made some major changes recently which were received very negatively – causing many users to flee into the arms of alternatives like MailerLite.
I moved to MailerLite myself last month and have been very happy with the change but there are a few things you need to watch out for, whether you have multiple, big lists with lots of automations, or are still growing on the free plans. This post should guide you through all the issues.
First we run over the differences between Mailchimp and MailerLite – things like free plans, pricing, features, and integrations, and which of those differences really matter. Next we look at the steps involved in physically moving your list across to MailerLite. This is actually the easiest part of the whole process, but there are important things to look out for. With that taken care of, we move on to more advanced topics like switching over your automations, what to do about those pesky website forms and sign-up links, and also how to sweep up any stray Mailchimp forms out there in the wild so you don’t have precious reader sign-ups going to the wrong place. That last part can be tricky. Read More…
Mailchimp attracted extreme criticism this week when it became clear how its new marketing services would impact its core email offering — particularly in terms of pricing — leading many long-time users to start explore alternatives (including this one).
I have been a loyal and happy Mailchimp customer for over eight years. I have also recommended Mailchimp to thousands of other authors. There have always been cheaper services, or those with more bells-and-whistles when it comes to advanced automation options and the like, but — for me at least — Mailchimp was always the perfect combination of price, user friendliness, and reliability.
Until yesterday. Read More…
Marketing these days can feel like tackling a high-wire on a unicycle… while juggling chainsaws. And that’s for experienced authors. For those with lower budgets or fewer books, the challenge can seem like entering the World Ice-Sculpting Championships armed with a box of matches and an ice cube.
Because what you are aiming to do is this:
* Sell enough to rise in the Best Seller Lists and get seen by lots of new readers.
* Shift sufficient units over an extended period to jump up the Popularity List and get pushed en masse to Amazon customers via emails and on-site recommendations.
* Keep that higher level of sales consistent enough over at least four or five days – i.e. minimizing spikes and, especially, dips throughout – hoping to convince the Kindle Store algorithms that you are the real deal, whereupon they may take over and do the selling for you.
Errr, and this also:
* Exclusively target the right readers so that your conversion rates are decent and the bloodthirsty Amazon algorithms don’t take your book to the woodshed.
*Avoid having the wrong readers purchase, so your Also Boughts are in fine fettle and Amazon has a clear idea of who might like your book. If this get muddled, Amazon will start recommending you to all the wrong people, often a one-way ticket to the primordial ranking ooze.
At this point, you might be planning some quality time with a bottle of vodka. Read More…
Many people try BookBub Ads and fail. There is a learning curve – no doubt about that. If you tried the platform without adequately preparing, and without knowing how the system works, you probably got cleaned out. I still have scars from my first time. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
BookBub Ads Expert will show you a whole range of uses for Bookbub Ads, from supporting a launch or reviving backlist, to boosting a permafree, creating an international audience, or pushing an entire series at once. And there’s also lots of ninja tricks and killer moves to take your ad game to the next level. Read More…
Author websites are an increasingly important tool, but one that can cause a lot of aggravation. While most people have a handle on the basic set-up needed, they can quickly run into issues when trying to level up; these days your Author HQ needs to be slicker than the cobbled together afterthought we got away with a few years ago.
There are a bunch of solutions out there, but most aren’t fit for purpose in one way or another — either too expensive, overly complex, or just not attuned to the specific needs of the modern writer.
GoCreate.Me addresses all these problems with a selection of free and premium themes designed specifically for authors. I’m using one of their themes here at DavidGaughran.com myself and it is wonderful — with so much cool stuff going on at the back-end which will make your life easier. And it’s just plain nice to use, which is big for me after previous struggles. These days, I only use WordPress themes which spark joy. Read More…