Online publishing services such as Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Smashwords, or Draft2Digital have enabled new authors to self-publish their books. Self-publishing your books on platforms such as these is relatively simple and straightforward – all you need is a Word file and a book cover and you are set to become a self-published author. Within five minutes you can upload your book and have it ready for sale in less than 24 hours. And the icing of the cake is, the whole process costs nothing.
But now that your book is self-published, what after that? How will you find an audience for your book? You may approach your family and friends and then rely on their word-of-mouth. However, this will not give you the exposure you need to make your self-published book a success.
Book marketing for the publishing industry is a complex process. The publishing companies have to prepare an appropriate marketing plan to launch a book. As a self-published author, you too will face the same challenges in marketing your book and realizing its commercial benefit.
Some Common Problems Faced by Self-publishers and How To Avoid Them -
1. Research And Analysis
The first problem that any self-published author faces is to find the right audience for their book. No book is ever meant for everyone. You are less likely to sell a book on World War II to a romance book reader. And a romantic book would not work well with a Sci-fi loving audience. So the first step is marketing and research.
Spend some time on identifying your potential readers. The internet has simplified this process to some extent. Browse through the internet and check out some competitive titles in your genre to know what holds the interest of your audience. Read through the book review for more reader insights to understand their likes and dislikes. Based on your analysis, you can tweak your manuscript to their taste. Or better still, do this research before actually writing your manuscript. This will help you market your book better.
2. Book Cover Design
Although there’s a popular adage that says don’t judge a book by the cover, in reality, this is precisely what people do. Nothing kills a book than a cheap cover design. The platform you choose to self-publish will provide you tools to design your book cover. While DIY may seem a good option, you may like to invest in professional book cover design services.
The quality of the design, the message it provides, the interest it evokes, the color scheme, font, content placement can either make or break your book. A self-designed cover may save you some money but will kill its commercial potential. So, if you are not familiar with design tools, invest some money in hiring a professional eBook cover design service and get a cover that intrigues the readers, is pleasing to the eye, captures their attention, and motivates them to buy your self-published book.
3. Editing Your eBook
You may be an expert in your domain with volumes to fill with your insights and experience; but your book will disappoint the readers if it has grammatical errors, long and winding sentences and lack of thought flow or consistency. The best way to avoid this trap is to hire professional editing services. In case they are out of your budget, you may wish to share your manuscript with someone you trust who can give you some feedback on something that is not clear or far too detailed.
In case you don’t have access to this kind of assistance, you can hire the services of a freelance editor to refine your book. For proofreading, you can use online services such as Grammarly, an effective tool for self-editing. Another tool is ProWritingAid that also gives you some in-depth analysis and detailed reports on different aspects of your writing. Besides, the tool will also provide you reports on issues such as grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, repetitions, typos and overused words.
4. Book Formatting
This is another major issue faced by self-publishers. Nothing annoys readers more than poorly formatted eBooks. While formatting, give thought to margins, line spacing, text justification, font size, consistency in titles, headings and subheadings. Also, give thought to image placement and their description. Avoid inconsistencies, for instance, for one image, you have a description below the image, and for another on the side. Inconsistencies and poorly formatted books are not just unpleasant to the eye but also take away from the reading experience. As a self-publisher, make sure to format your text perfectly for eBooks and PDF books.
5. Book Description
Another problem which self-publishers face is with regards to the book description. Writing it as an afterthought will not get you your desired audience. As with the book cover, give extra thought to the book description as it is an important means to draw in your audience. Most software provide a 4000 characters limit for the back cover description. Use it wisely to inform your audience what the book is about and what they can gain by reading it. While you may have complete command on the book subject, writing the back cover description could be tricky because you have to weave in an appropriate sales pitch. Also, since you are marketing and selling it online, be sure to add your keywords in the description. If this is not your cup of tea, you can hire professional content writing services to write an appealing back cover description.
6. Select Keywords
Another problem faced by self-publishers is choosing the right keywords to market their eBook. Most online book purchases are made by readers searching on Amazon or other online book retailers. Online search is a very powerful means to sell your eBook. When you self-publish, you will be asked to select the genre/ categories and some search keywords. You must do a detailed research for the best fit keywords for your eBook. One way to do this is using Google or Amazon. Many self-publishers use the tool Publisher Rocket to access the data they need to find categories and keywords that will help to increase the sale of their books.
7. Marketing Your Self-Published Book
The next problem with self-publishing is marketing. Your book will be lost in the crowd if you don’t market your eBook. Major publishers have an extensive plan in place to market their books through the print and digital media, as also through book tours etc. However, as a self-publisher, you are most likely to have a limited budget. You can use your social media accounts to market your eBook. While there are several social media channels, use the ones where you are more likely to encounter your audience.
For instance, if your eBook is on current affairs, you may use Twitter; for a book on cooking or other activities, Pinterest may work well where you can use photos/videos to amplify your post; in case of travel, you can leverage Instagram and use photos and videos of the place to support your storytelling. You can also use a combination of these to market your eBook. Devise an appropriate social media strategy to drive sales. You can also ask your more social media savvy friends and acquaintances to help you to amplify your message.
As a new author, self-publishing is an attractive option to publish your book. To gain an audience and drive sales, you have to follow the publishing industry’s best practices even at a micro level. Make sure that you publish a high quality eBook, which is attractively designed, and searchable, and that you have an appropriate online marketing strategy to reach an audience.
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