How Self-Publishers Market Their Books


Once upon a time, self-publishing was neither a well-accepted idea nor a popular market. For decades, authors have sought out traditional publishers to market their books, and the idea of self-publishing was more of a death sentence, a tangent people who could not find an editor or agent used. Today, however, self-publishing is very like running a small business. More and more self-publishers are putting this path on the publishing map, and figuring out how to best market their books.

A great place to start is through selecting one of the most popular publishing platforms, a few of which include Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace and Lulu are at the top of the list. Not only are all these sites free to use and easy to step up, they allow a resource to publish the author’s book online right away. It only takes a series of steps. With Amazon’s publishing platform, specifically, authors sell digital copies of their book and receive 35-70 percent in royalties on the sale price. This is the most popular choice among self-publishing authors because of the freedom and independence they have over their books.

Then the real marketing phase commences. Generating interest and networking are the most crucial components of the entire process. Without that, self-published books, while published and available for the world to see and enjoy, do not go anywhere. Each individual author must commit to spreading the word about his or her book to have a successful marketing campaign. Popular methods of accomplishing this are with social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Amazon and Goodreads are two more recommended outlets. Professional pages and posted profiles have proven to be a great tactic for self-publishing authors to successfully market their books.

Publishing in multiple formats is another good way of marketing. Self-publishers who use the various types of publishing found with LuLu are known to “sell about four times as many copies as those who publish only in one format.” Not only does it increase the number of readers, but it also presents a greater signal that their book is professional and from a real author.

Books with catchy titles often have more success in the marketplace. In fact, the title can be the deciding factor as to whether the book sells only a few copies or thousands of copies. James Altucher found huge success with his self-published self-help book Choose Yourself! which sold over 200,000 copies.

Finally, self-publishers have discovered that attending book signings and similar events provide excellent platforms to market books. This can be done at large or small events and at local bookstores. It is not uncommon during the year to see posters announcing the author coming to visit to read part of the book aloud, and offer autographs afterwards. Chances to give away free copies through a raffle or contest are also used as ways to attract more people, and having well known or more familiar authors present at the event can help self-publisher’s sales and exposure.

Through the years, self-publishers have had to figure out how to market their books. They have found that anything which establishes them more in their community and creates opportunities of awareness for them and their books have taken them far.

By Rachel Roddy

Digital Book World

5 Responses to "How Self-Publishers Market Their Books"

  1. Michelle Campbell-Scott   September 24, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Great comment Heather. Love the Lulu stat. My experience is similar, many more sales since publishing in the three biggies – Kindle, print, and audio (most of my print titles outsell their Kindle versions by a large margin). My concern is having all my eggs in the Amazon basket. Kobo and the like didn’t work out well for me, each book only managed monthly sales in single digits on each platform compared to hundreds per month on Amazon. But I don’t trust big corporations!

  2. Veena Gokhale   August 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I am not even a self published author but did tons of marketing for my book published by a small publisher. It’s friends of friends who are your best buyers, I found. So get your pals to host readings at their place (ideal) or have them drag their pals to your reading, wherever it may be! People like an autographed copy and actually meeting the author, I found. Reading at libraries and doing appearances at bookstores generated the lowest sales for me (book’s a short story collection mostly set in India called Bombay Wali so not the most attractive proposition off the bat) but still worth doing if you’re going to be in a city doing another gig. You may also make contacts there. Bookclubs, would be a dream to get, but again friends’ book clubs were the most interested.

  3. Shelby F.   August 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree with Heather Townsend, this article wasn’t a how to article. And everyone’s experience is different when it comes to publishing books. You may not have heard of authors in your area doing book signings and what not but I know a lot of local authors who do, it is a great way to invite people to read their books and meet the author.

    This article was well written and a lot of good information I didn’t know about before like Lulu. Great information.

  4. Heather Townsend   August 4, 2014 at 7:44 am

    A long article on marketing your book which actually tells you very little. My apologises for being rather blunt.

    I would have expected to her more about how self-publishers are using great tools such as:
    * social media
    * their blog
    * their mailing list to build up a large base of followers and fans
    * PR

    Book signings is a little cliched. Being part of a large network of business book writers, I’ve never heard of any business book author having a signing event at their local book store.

    The lulu stat about authors selling more than 4 times more copies if they sell them in more than one format. This isn’t the same with my personal experience. I sell physical books to ebooks in a ratio of 2:1, with my main channel to market being amazon.

  5. Zen Benefiel   August 4, 2014 at 6:06 am

    I’m hoping Zendor the Contrarian has one of those catchy titles… It’s a very deep book… A Seminal View of Consciousness, Cosmology and the Congruence of Science and Spirituality


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