How to promote your books?
To be honest, most authors, including myself, are not marketing specialists. The alternative of hiring a marketing specialist is probably outside the realm of our non-existent or laughably low budget. So, how do we promote our own books?
Again, I'm an Industrial Engineer with a Diploma on Marketing and Sales and a Masters Degree on Business Administration, so I'm not a marketing specialist or a publicist. I want to make that clear, so you understand I'm telling you about my own successes and failures, mostly failures, as a guiding light for your efforts. Take them with caution!
The biggest myth I've read and heard in life is that "you should not judge a book by its cover". Let's be honest... we all judge a book by its cover. The colors we use determine if our potential readers will notice it on a bookshelf, or if they will find it appealing within our Amazon landing page. Therefore, my first advice is, don't save money on your book cover and contract the services of an amazing designer (in the case you are not one).
Trust me, the covers I designed before hiring a professional are laughingstock and would have resulted in zero sales for my books.
Amazon Marketing Campaigns
Amazon allows you to have Free Book Promotions, Kindle Countdown Deals and Ad Campaigns. Free Book Promotions can be programmed every three months and their objective is simple... get your book's ranking up. How successful this endeavor is depends strictly and how well you communicate your upcoming promotion via your social media and email marketing. Honestly, I do not like giving my books for free.
Kindle Countdown Deals are, in my opinion, a better option. You set your book to a lower price, and it gradually increases until returning to its regular price. You choose how many price increments will occur during the promotion's duration. Its objective is to raise your book's ranking, but also to generate some low margin sales. Again, if you promote it aggressively you may find this option lucrative. Consider it for holidays and special occasions (such as book anniversaries).
Last, Ad Campaigns are a world of their own. They are used to make sure your book appears as a sponsored product at specific locations within Amazon's search page. I've studied a lot about this topic, read about keywords, bidding, targeting, and tried them out in different markets (Spain, UK, US). Until this point, I have never been able to get more royalties than what I invest (although in my last attempts my total sales are higher than my investment). I believe this option may be useful, but I have not yet cracked the code to make sure it is.
Readers are emotional beings. We love the experience of receiving a book as a gift or buying a new member to our already full library. As an author, remember this and ensure your books are an emotional experience beyond their story. What I mean is that you should never send a book to a reader who buys it directly from you without some additional gift.
I always send my books with a bookmark designed by myself and specific to the book my reader purchases. I also write a personal note in the first page of my book, unless the readers asks me not to. Additionally, I send a wooden page holder which I purchase from an artisanal company in Costa Rica. When my reader purchases a special edition, I send additional marketing materials such as letters written by my characters, leather bookmarks and pine-wood boxes.
Be creative and be sure to show your readers how grateful you are for their time spent reading your works!
These evil bastards are a must. Without social media, as an independent author, you do not exist. Make sure you have an Instagram Page and a Facebook Page. Share insights about yourself, your books, your interests, and constantly interact with your readers and prospects. Trust me, most of my sales come via my social media.
Also, use them wisely to redirect people to your website or to capture their emails to add to your mailing list. Last, use your social media to create demand for your books and redirect readers to the libraries who have purchased your novels. This way you will ensure they do not kick your books out of their shelves and back to your house!
I really hope this was helpful, and please take my words with caution since they are based on my experience, which may be different to your experience and circumstances. Finally, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any doubts or comments. I'll be happy to read you!