If anyone has earned Bestseller status for a book than it is YOURS. You worked very hard for years on your first novel, invested in a professional editor (who also edits for big trade publishers) and you chose one of the best book cover designers. But your book sales are still disappointing… and your friends are postponing their promised book reviews from week to week.
You get more depressed from day to day and don’t even want to read tweets or posts on Social Media where authors are bragging over their bestselling works. Even worse for you is to check the weekly NYT Bestsellers. Becoming a bestseller author seems to be totally out of reach – or is it? Here is what you can do about it, but first some hard facts:
7 Million Self-Published Titles: Stiff Competition
Since 2010 roughly 7 million new self-published books appeared, almost all at online retailer’s websites. And these titles will be offered for many years to come, as most of them are in digital format. The “gold rush” seems to be over.
How NYT Bestsellers are “Made”
Bestseller does not mean an outstanding book in quality-writing, it means only: sold in high numbers during a certain period, compared to other books who sold less copies. And it means a print book, mostly in hard cover and sold at book chains and mass market in the United States. This way excluded are: ebooks, audiobooks, books sold in other countries than USA, and self-published books.
If you can spend between $60,000 and 100,000 to spend for marketing you can use the services of a promotion company, e.g. San Diego-based ResultSource.com who will buy your books en masse in chain stores to get your book into the bestseller lists … We explained in detail “The Dark Side of Bestseller Lists”. First investigated in The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike by Jeffrey Trachtenberg in Wallstreet Journal.
Even More Roadblocks for Independent Writers
Be aware that:
- Without your personal ISBN (not from a POD) and without national distributors e.g. Igram, LightningSource etc., bookstores will / cannot even order a book for a customer. If your book is not internationally listed at Bowker, bookstores cannot find it in their computer.
- Big media reviewers do not even accept 10% of the submissions they receive – and as an independent author you are competing with traditional publishers (who know these reviewers for many years and might even be friends with them – and mostly also are their advertising customers – you get the idea?).
- Bookstores are still very reluctant to order self-published books from CreateSpace – after all, Amazon is their hardest competitor.
Dreams Don’t Work – Unless YOU Do!
Bestseller Authors who are the most successful understand that publishing is a business. If no one knows about your book, then how can you expect to make sales? Nobody ever made money writing a book – only by selling it!
Here at SavvyBookWriters.com/blog we have more than 1,130 articles, explaining authors in detail how they can overcome all these obsticles. Succeeding at self-publishing means also to use some traditional marketing methods, and a Budget, including anywhere from 5-10% for your overall book marketing, including website, paying for IT help, designer, or Google ads.
Start early and do Market Research! Authors, and especially self-publishing authors need to study their competition carefully too: Read their books, study book covers, pricing, reviews, and the marketing of competing books.
Bestseller Authors Need Years
Building up their audience takes lots of time, so it is surprising, that authors dream of their first book as a potential bestseller, and don’t realize that it takes a long time and hard work to get an audience, one reader at a time – especially if they did not do the groundwork to build a huge following at Social Media, in reader forums or in real-life before they start publishing.
A book marketing professional has to learn years and years. Why, as an author, not take advantage of their knowledge to keep your head free for writing and interacting with readers? No one would start a catering business without learning to cook, and knowing how to present food or how to find customers. Writing a book does not make for a publisher. Take the time to build your author platform and establish a brand, it will eventually give you an advantage in the market, no matter if self-publishing or going with a trade publisher.
Print is a Must!
Print books still make up for about 60% of the book market, depending if you look at book sales numbers or revenue per book. The audio-book market is certainly growing too. Libraries order both book forms, however prefer hardcover with spine. How to sell / distribute to libraries is explained in detail in our blog article.
Books for library-use need a Library of Congress Catalog in Publication block or, for a self-published book, Publishers Catalog in Publication block and / or a listing with Bowker word wide.
One more tip:
Be very carefully in which categories you place your book, especially on Amazon and other online retailers, so that readers find you easily and that you are not placed in a category with too much competition.
How to Get Prestigious Book Reviews
Check out professionally published books: Many of these trade books have either on their back cover (paperback) or on their binding flap (hard cover) several snippets of the book reviews, as well as endorsements from bestselling writers or other professionals, that were already written before the book was printed. It is not easy to get your book reviewed in these journals; however, it is possible.
Librarians read reviews — at least those in Library Journal and Kirkus. Both are paid reviews, so are a couple other professional book reviewers, which are often used by Trade Publishers, and are open to independent authors as well.
Find Professional Networks
Long before your manuscript is finished (or even better: before you start your book) get yourself into professional networks:
- Join lots of Reader Communities
such as Goodreads, Wattpad, LibraryThing etc.
- Write for Newspapers / Magazines
Why? These networks with editors and publishing professionals will not only help you to improve your writing portfolio (and maybe even get you paid for it) but it also improves your chances to get coverage by your “colleagues” – in contrast to begging a prestigious newspaper / magazine to review your book.
- Clever Marketing and reaching millions of people can be done totally free (other than your time). Just use your creativity and imagination!
- Be self-assured and don’t hesitate to pitch international newspapers / blogs. It takes as much time as to pitch your local neighbourhood paper.
- Write something of value for readers – which is “by chance” part of your book, such as travel tips to the location of your books plot, museums, festivals or public transportation that are mentioned in your book.
- You have to do your research anyway, why not use the material you gather and write several articles that you can offer – always mentioning your book.
- As a writer you know how to write, just learn how to write online content by reading lots of online articles and how they are set-up
- Have a stunning photo on your books cover!
- Prepare a Media Kit on your website – and in print, with perfect book description and professional photos.
Send out Advanced Reader Copies:
ARC’s, or advance review copies (8 – 6 months! before your publication date), to booksellers and journalists. Because ARCs may not have been put through the entire editing process, the copy will often differ slightly from the standard edition of the book. You need professional reviews to entice pre-orders and early readers / reviewers.
Study these Magazines’ / Newspapers’ review submission guidelines – and follow to the point! Read also their previous columns, maybe a book review fits into this column, rather than the book review editors section.
Online Marketing and Social Media
Blog / Website
“At the very least, new authors should be blogging” – that’s what publishers and agents expect. Blogs are an essential tool of any writer. Not only does it get you writing on a regular schedule, it lubricates your writer’s brain, eases that fear of putting yourself out there in the world.
In order to be found on the Internet’s Search Engines you need to be on Google+. Second comes Goodreads where all the book lovers are, and then Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Try to stick with readers, reviewers and book bloggers on these Social Media platforms.
Become Friends with Book Bloggers and Reviewers
Careers everywhere depend on networking, same with a writing career. Start making “friends” with reviewers, long before your book is finished: Search on your social media sites for reviewers, reviews, book bloggers, etc. when using the search function on top of Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and Google+ pages. At Goodreads, reviewers are listed, so you can conveniently choose them as friends and follow them for a while, see which book genres they prefer, before you approach them.
Check out the bestsellers in your genre (in bookstores or online) and find names of reviewers. If these reviewers have a blog (and most do), comment on their articles. Offer them well-written guest blogs, geared to their topics and readership.
Joining reader communities, such as Wattpad and posting sample chapters also helps to attract book lovers who often are approachable for review inquiries.
Here are a Half Dozen Links to Book Marketing
The possibilities to market your book are endless, and it should be an ongoing process to build your author brand and to establish a huge platform from where you can interact with your readers. However to become a recognized and “real” author with lots of book sales, you need to write at least 3 to 5 books and dozens of magazine or newspaper articles for your portfolio. It will take time – a couple of years – but you will eventually become a Bestseller author. Take Stephen King as a role model and never, ever give up! Have fun writing and meeting your readers.
If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
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.7 Million Self-Published Articles > How Bestsellers are made > How to publish a book and become a bestseller > NYT Bestseller List > Roadblocks for Indies