I self-published my first book onto Amazon in March 2011 and to date I have sold over 100,000 ebooks. Paul (Bookpumper) has asked me to write about the top three things which I feel helped sell my books. I have thought long and hard about this, but the three things which I keep coming back to are, write and write and write, then write some more. Acknowledge those people that are good enough to buy and follow your books, and pricing.
Write and then write some more: I know the temptation when you first publish your book is to tell the whole world about it. And I wanted to do the same. But the thing is, you can get so bogged down with twittering, facebooking and blogging that after a few months you still only have the one book out there. What about those people that have read your first book and want another? I found that by adding books to my back catalogue helped my sales and to spread the word about my books. Blogging is important, so contact some good book bloggers and ask them to review your book and offer to do giveaways. I know of some self-published writers that spend so much time in groups twittering about each other’s books, but that is time that could be spent getting your second and third book written.
I know of an Indie author group with over 100 members and each day they have to twitter twice about each other’s books. That’s over 200 tweets that they are each sending out per day, 1,400 tweets a week and 72,800 tweets a year – spend that valuable time writing! All those words that you’ve tweeted probably amount to several novels that could be out there on Amazon. The more books you have available the more chance you have of people coming across your work. That amount of tweeting is just spamming and people get turned off by it.
Acknowledge those people that are good enough to buy and follow your books: I feel that another thing that has helped me is to engage with those people that have read my books. I’m not talking about going on a twittering frenzy, hoping that someone who may like the sound of your book might go and buy it. Why not spend that time actually engaging with the people that have already been good enough to spend their hard-earned cash and time on your book. I am truly grateful for every sale and review that I get. I therefore take some time each week, to send a short ‘thank you’ message to those that have been kind enough to leave me a review. I have made some great new friends this way and it seems just a more natural way of connecting to the people that follow my books, rather than bombarding them with over 72,000 twitter messages a year about other people’s books. I have no problem plugging other writers work and have links to other Indie authors on my website and I mention their books in mine. But talk to the people that leave you messages, ask what they liked and didn’t like about your characters. It is great fun and they will really appreciate the time that you spend talking to them.
Pricing: I think getting the price right is also very important. When first starting out, it was more important for me to find a readership than to make money. I’d rather sell ten books at 99C than one at $5. The more books you sell the higher you will appear in the Amazon charts, the more Amazon will recommend your books to others and on it goes. Although I now have a steady fan base, I still keep the prices of my books low and all are set between 99c and $2.99. I do this for a couple of reasons. I can keep my books low because I have far less overheads than a traditional publisher, so why charge more than I have too? Secondly, it’s still important to me to broaden my readership and sharing my books with as many people that I can.
I don’t know if the above will be of help to anyone, but this is just my experience with self-publishing. It is hard work, and nothing happens overnight. I had been self-published for seven months and had four novels available before my books started to get a following. But just keep writing and put the best possible books that you can out there.