My Thoughts On Book Promotion

The biggest surprise about becoming a published author, for me, was how hard it was to get the attention of a traditional publisher. Of course, I was like most authors when I first started. I had a “great” book idea. Who wouldn’t want to sign me and my book up to a million dollar deal? But I had done absolutely no research on what the sales prospects might be for the type of book that I was trying to get out to the world. I had no clue, at all, about the publishing business. If I had done a little research, I would have soon learned that literally thousands of new books are published and offered to the public for sale each and every single day – year end and year out. The competition for a particular book to reach the eyes of a traditional publisher is mind boggling and nearly unbreachable for most authors. . .even if you have the most amazing idea ever.

My second biggest surprise was the discovery of how easy it is to self-publish. Literally anyone can do it. Many avenues are available for self-publishing and distribution of books but KDP seems to be the most lucrative because of their close ties to Amazon. That organization absolutely rules the book world today. It is truly shocking how fast they overtook every other book seller out there. My first book was self-published through Create Space. I was so thrilled to have found them. That was before Amazon – KDP absorbed it into its vast organization. The best feature of Create Space was that you could set up a wholesale book page through them. Amazon does not offer that ability. I wish they would because an author on Create Space could hand out coupon codes to anyone who wanted to purchase the book in bulk (like independent book stores, non-profit organizations and such). Those books were delivered straight to the customer from Amazon. That was very useful and convenient.

In the beginning, having your book listed on Amazon almost insured that your book would be seen in keyword searches. It might be on page 100 but at least it would be there. Those days have swiftly departed. Not long ago, search lists were mysteriously reduced to a max of about 10 pages. Even if there should be many more pages because you know without a doubt that your book contains the word or phrase of the key word search, you might not get to see it. In fact, we’ve come to a point where your book title might not even be found when you key the actual book title into the search box. That can be very vexing. At least you can still find it in a search by listing the title of the book and the name of the author. . .for now. So, what, exactly, can this strange phenomenon be attributed to?

I’ve come to the painful realization and I’m sure many others have as well, that it’s absolutely true that whoever spends the most money on advertising gets the most results in getting their books in front of potential readers. Here’s the really sad part. . .even if you are spending money on advertising, your book might not show up on the search list because too many others in that 10 page search result list are spending more than you are. It is sad because most authors really do not have a lot of money to spend on advertising. What is an author / entrepreneur to do in their endless effort to get eyeballs on their book?

When I decided I wanted to be a writer. . .and then later to self-publish, I never realized I was going to become an entrepreneur. I never gave one second of thought to marketing and promotion. When I realized I might have to start doing some of that stuff, I had no idea what avenues to take or what was available down each of them. Now, I know there are more ways than you can count to promote a book. I also now know without a shadow of a doubt that if you don’t promote your own book, no one will ever know it exists. Once it is published on Amazon (or what ever self-publishing service you ultimately choose. . .and there are many) each book has a permanent web address. That address is your link to possible sales and you must promote that link everywhere you possibly can.

Social media has opened up a world of possibilities for marketing and promotion. I mainly use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn for those purposes but there are so many more that it makes your head spin. Since I also work a full time job in addition the this full time job; I have tried to narrow down my interactions to those five. Since their beginnings, each of those sites have offered free use of their apps to all users, so millions of people gather on them every hour of every single day. They might not remain free for long. I was using a a service called Postfity (not free) to automatically schedule daily posts on all of those social media sites, except Pinterest. In 2023, they were bought out by a company called Simplified which is extremely interesting. Most of my weekends are spent creating hundreds of posts that can be scheduled to the other sites, months in advance.

I am also an Amazon affiliate. What this means is that I can list any Amazon product that I happen to like on my blog and other social media sites to try to sell. If an item sells through my efforts, then as an affiliate, I get a few cents from that sale. I mean literally pennies but hey. . .someday it could add up to some big bucks. This could potentially be a big deal if enough people get the word that they can find hundreds of a particularly themed item at your online store. The reason this is important is the same as what I mentioned above about online searches. When searching for anything these days, you might find your search results confined to the 10 page list or even worse, you might get many things in the list that absolutely do not resemble what you thought you were searching for. One of the things I have done is assemble several online stores on my blog that feature books and gifts based on themes from my books. For my Cleo Can Tie A Bow book, I recommend hundreds of unique bow-themed gifts on my Girls Love Bows Gift Shop. The Rabbit and The Fox Book Store features hundreds of “how to tie” books, “rabbit and fox” books and gifts, and books and games meant to improve manual dexterity or eye-hand coordination. Sybrina’s Unicorn Book Store contains at least 1000 unicorn books written by many different authors. (Yes, I have been busy!) There are hundreds of unicorn-themed gifts there, too. The books and gift selections of that store are categorized by Little Kid, Middle Kid and Teen. If you are a unicorn aficionado, come take a look. If you are an author, you might be wondering why you would want to spend any time and energy promoting anyone’s book other than your own. Well. . .with the way search engines are set up these days, there just might be some value in being the Go-To place to find other books (and gifts) in your books genre.

Shortly after I became an Amazon Affiliate, I learned of their Merch program. They started out as a tee shirt Print-On-Demand service but have recently expanded to many other items. You can select from several different countries to distribute your products. If you have any cool artwork from your illustrated book, you can upload the designs to Merch. If you have cool ideas for illustrations inspired by your non-illustrated book you can upload the designs to Merch. If you are not an illustrator, you can find one on Fiverr or any service provider site like them and work with them on your design. When you select an illustrator, just make sure to select to pay for the “Commercial Use” option. This will allow you to use the design you purchased from that illustrator on Merch (or any other print on demand site) with no repercussions. Each design you upload will receive its own product page on Amazon, just like books have. Because of my Blue Unicorn – Journey To Osm series of books, I was inspired to create something I call Unicorn Reader and Unicorn Writer graphic designs. They are all available on Amazon. Now, Merch is offering their Print On Demand service on many different clothing items, pillows, pop socket phone holders and more. These products get promoted everywhere that the books do. They’re not just on tee shirts anymore.

One of my main philosophies is Authors Helping Authors. It’s my view that none of us self-published authors is any real competition for each other. Helping each other is not going to hurt our particular book’s sales. In fact, the more we help each other and spread the word for each other, the better off we all can potentially be in the long run. That is why I am a book tour host on this blog. I share space on Sybrina’s Book Blog for books that I feel my readers might be interested in. I’ve also sent my books on many a book blog tour. I know that it takes a little work to set up a post (and then promote it) so I want to let all the other book bloggers I’ve worked with know how grateful I am that they offered some of their valuable blog space to spread the word about my books. It means a lot to me.

I’m telling all of you, who happen to read this, all of these things that I learned over the years because these are all things that anyone can do. If you want to, you can use similar methods to promote your books and book-themed gifts, too. You may start out with nearly no followers but if you consistently work on your social media, your influence will continue to grow. Trust me, auto-scheduling is the way to be most efficient at that. One day you may wake up with thousands of followers and daily page views and some sales, too. You just have to keep at it. PS. . .once you reach 2000 followers on Facebook or Instagram, you can apply to become an Amazon Influencer. That title has a nice little ring to it. Just remember, however far you end up going, is totally dependent on how much time and energy you are willing to put into it. It is truly all up to you.

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