Marketing for Indie Authors

Last Update: January 15, 2016

For all the other other indie author types on here. I haven't exactly hit it big in my own self-publishing endeavors, but I have a few thoughts on marketing and affiliate marketing for self-published books. Take them or leave them as you like ;)

In no particular order:

1) Get reviews. Reviews make a huge difference in whether a casual customer chooses your book or someone else's on the e-shelf. You can submit to and get a free, excellent, honest review to use as you like. It looks great on the back cover of books, on your website, they'll post it to goodreads, etc {note, set up a goodreads account for your book, it's worth it!}. They won't, however, post it to is amazon. For amazon, google 'how to get authentic amazon reviews' for some legit ideas on ethical ways to up your amazon reviews. You can also enroll your book in the Kindle Unlimited program for a while. Subscribers read for free, you still get paid (though less), and because more people are reading it you're more likely to generate reviews.

2) Build your twitter following with people who will actually be interested in your book. A quick way to do this is: First, search for verified accounts of people related to your topic or genre and follow them. If it's science fiction for example, follow Joss Whedon and Star Trek. Try to follow a good broad sampling of such accounts and try to follow at least 20. Next, wait a day, then go to the recommended follows part of twitter. They populate the list based on your interests, taking your verified/popular account follows into consideration. Follow the people they recommend, they're likely to be interested in the topic you've chosen. Some will follow you back, and some of their friends will follow you back. Next, when a new follower retweets, likes, or comments, retweet like and comment in turn. Finally, while doing all this, provide good tweets of your own so people get value out of your account. If, like me, you're not terribly witty or off the cuff, tweet quotes, pics, other people's interesting articles, etc. I followed this method this week for my new WA site twitter and got over 1800 new twitter followers and a huge boost in interaction compared to my regular account. Just make sure to avoid follow churning by not following more than 1000 new accounts per day and not unfollowing people who don't follow back until some time has passed.

3) Consider services like bookbub. They have a good reputation and publish their conversion rates by genre.

4) Keywords, keywords, keywords. In the title, description, and tags. I wrote a nonfiction e-book and lucked out choosing my keywords; it ended up immediately ranking on the first page for its main search term on amazon. I had no blog or website (still don't for that book), no twitter following, no marketing whatsoever--and just because I was on the first page, I still managed to average 1-2 sales per day. This was after the initial rush of friends-and-family purchases. That 1-2 sales kept on for the six months I had it up. I took it down for awhile because I was living internationally and unsure of visa issues. When I put it up again I changed the keywords, ended up on page 5, and made ZERO sales for three months until I figured out what was wrong.

5) Post free short fiction on your blog, on wattpad etc., and list it free on amazon. Promote it through 'free fiction' services, google will help you find the good ones.

On the affiliate side:

6) You can make links for your own books into amazon affiliate links. This is cool because not only do you end up making more per book, but you also get a commission on anything else a customer buys that day, even if they end up nixing the book purchase itself.

7) You can also do amazon affiliate links for your free books and stories, which is awesome. It gets people to take a look, because, free, and then anything else they end up buying that day you get a commission on. One Caveat: Amazon cancels all your affiliate payments for the month if there are more than 20,000 total purchases of free books through your affiliate link. You'd want to keep a close eye on how things are going and be prepared to pull the link and replace it with a regular amazon link when you start getting close to that number.

A good resource for starting out on the indie author journey is, Joanna Penn's business blog. I got to meet her once at a lecture, it was awesome. There's definitely some good resources there.

Just a few ideas. Anybody else out there self-publishing? What are you doing to market your books? Are they related to your affiliate websites, or something different? Excited to hear what else is going on in this area :)

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You just blew my mind. So much good information here! My road map is looking a lot less like some kind of indecipherable star chart now.

Not only that, but it's given me hope. I feel like I can actually go out and do these things. Taking steps forward, not sitting back and trying to figure it out... all the props to you for sharing this! YOU ROCK!

I have a question, too:

If you had a 60,000 word book completed and ready to go, the introductory novel to a much larger (currently six other books @40,000 words each, written in serial format) ongoing series, would you:

Offer that first one for free through all of the appropriate channels, actively promote it, and hope to bank on its eventual success and that it establishes a decent following?

Or take a step back, establish a following on things like Twitter through short stories and other introductory content that takes less reader commitment, maybe try to land a good review, and then drop the book for sale?

There are so many ways to approach this whole "first book" situation my head is spinning, but I'm feeling crazy motivated for the first time in months!

Thanks so much!
EMSeven Premium
Thank you Voxnihili, I’m so glad it helped! Completing seven novels is FANTASTIC, you should be both excited and hopeful because there is definitely room out there for quality work. And it was good for me to write these things down, so thank you for the inspiration! :)

Personally, my publishing has been on the non-fic side but I love reading and writing almost any kind of speculative fiction as well. I’ve finished two novels and am currently in the process of editing them. I haven’t actually published any fiction yet though, so I have less experience on that side of things. I’ve done a ton of research and talked to a number of self-pubbed authors, so I can share from that but someone else here who’s done more would probably have more helpful advice on what to do with the first book.

But to answer your question, if it were me I would spend some time building a bit of a following and then offer the first book for free. When I get done revising these two novels, I’m planning on putting them out about six months apart, making them free for a limited time to garner reviews, and then charging .99 for the first and regular price for the second. There are lots of approaches, but I wouldn’t stress too much. More people will buy your book will in the months and years after launch then right at the beginning.

Here’s some resources if you’re interested: Reports are long but they can be interesting. They charge a membership fee but there’s a lot of useful posts on their blog for free. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he does have some helpful stuff about how to indie publish successfully.

Good luck with everything! I hope when you do publish you’ll keep us posted here, I’d love to check it out! Books are wonderful :)
EMSeven Premium
Thanks guys, glad someone found it useful :) I haven't actually done everything on here myself yet, especially affiliate marketing which I'm completely new to, but have been doing a lot of research. Plan to get the most out of WA, even on my writing endeavors which I hadn't previously considered from this angle! Good luck to everyone :)
JudeP Premium
Thank you for this, bookmarked for further reference :)
Cristina11 Premium
Thank you for this blog, especially for point number 2.