For what it’s worth, you aren’t alone. You are actually among millions of other authors, both traditionally and self/independently published.
In order to overcome the competition, you need to do a better job at using all the tools available to you — and you absolutely must be ready and willing to do some hardcore marketing.
When I say hardcore marketing, I’m not talking about social networking. The main thing you need to remember about social networking is that it’s just that: social. Although I’m not always successful at getting this point across to some authors, I ask you to think about how you feel when an author-friend on Facebook posts blatant self-promotion over and over. For most people, it’s a complete turn-off. There is actually a good way to market using social networking, but that is a subject for another day.
Back to Amazon. Here are some tools and resources that you can leverage to become a best-selling author.
#1 Maximize your Author Central Page.
If you don’t have one already, set one up. The link for Author Central is https://authorcentral.amazon.com/. Make your bio interesting, link all of your books to your page, add a good author photo, and plan to post updates on a regular basis. If you’ve created a book trailer, be sure to post it here.
#2 Create an author account at shelfari.com.
Sign in using your Author Central username and password. Add your books to your bookshelf, and be sure to include as much interesting detail as possible to your books. This can include character information, settings, themes, keywords, and more. The beauty of Shelfari is that the information you add to your book will also appear on your Amazon.com book page. There is quite a bit more you can do with Shelfari, so visit this link to learn more: http://newbieauthorsguide.com/2012/03/26/shelfari/.
#3 Join Goodreads (another Amazon site) and then convert your account to a Goodreads Author account.
Follow this link for more information: https://www.goodreads.com/author/program. Keep in mind that Goodreads is a social network for readers. The same rules about blatant self-promotion apply here as well. My best suggestion is to join one or two groups focused on reading books within your genre(s) and initially just observe. There will be no need to introduce yourself as an author, because your author status will be included in your posts. When you are comfortable with a group and feel it’s time to join the discussion, do so as another reader. Don’t try to recommend your own books. Let other group members ask you about your books first. Then be very humble!
#4 Run a deal for a limited time.
When you run a deal on your e-book, $1.99 is good, but 99¢ is much better. Do it for a limited time. Talk to your friends and family again. This time, enlist their help. Ask them to be a partner in helping you become a best-selling author by posting on Facebook and Twitter and talking your deal up. You might even want to create a flyer to share. Whatever you do, this is one time to do it up big. Regardless of what happens, be sure to thank each and every person for helping.
#5 Reviews, reviews, reviews!
The bottom line is reviews. Everything I’ve suggested thus far is leading up to this one major goal that will help you achieve Amazon best-seller status. If you have to give away e-books or print copies of your book to get reviews, it’s a good investment.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your family and friends about reading your books and posting reviews on Amazon. The more reviews you have, and especially those five-star treasures, the better your chances of being included in one of Amazon’s promotions.
There are outside services such as Bookbub that – if you have a large number of reviews, like 100 – will take your money and include you in a daily email blast going to literally millions of e-book readers who have signed up for deals in specific genres. Keep in mind, the more readers signed up for a genre, the higher the cost. I’ve run Bookbub deals for many (many) authors who are now Amazon best-selling authors, and even a couple who made it to New York Times and USA Today best-selling author status. The great thing about Bookbub is that this is one rare instance in which you stand a very good chance of recouping your investment, PLUS you should gain more reviews and increase your exposure.
Now that you’re on your way to becoming a recognized brand, here are a couple of “Don’ts” to keep in mind.
▪ Don’t waste your money on advertising. If you’re tempted to place an ad, figure out how many copies of your book you will need to sell to pay for it. Just be very cautious. If you are traditionally published, approach your publisher for a release ad in Booklist, Library Journal, or Publishers Weekly. If they are willing to give you the exposure, great.
▪ Don’t try to do it all. The assignments listed above, along with an author website, Facebook, and possibly Twitter, provide plenty of social and professional interaction for now. If you also have a blog, great! Just don’t let all of this take away from your writing.
Achieving best-seller status is work, but the results are rewarding. If you believe in your writing, your message, and your talent, don’t give up!
Our guest blogger, David, is our author advocate, publicist, and marketing consultant who provides insight into what it takes to get an author’s books into as many hands as possible. He creates scalable, custom marketing programs based on each author’s individual budget and goals.
Ella Hearrean Ritchie is the owner of Stellar Communications, a Houston company that delivers quality business communications and book publishing services on time to nonfiction authors, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, and federal government agencies. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out the website for more information.