Once you finish writing your book and it’s published for the whole world to see, all you have to do is relax and wait for the money to roll in, right?

Alas, life for an author is just not that simple…

If you really want to start earning getting steady book sales or even earn a full-time income as an author, you must be willing to promote and market your book like a pro.

It should be no surprise that the internet plays a central role in book marketing and promotion.

Over 60% of all book sales in the US happen online, and every year that number keeps going up.

Online marketing strategies for authors image

That means your #1 source for new book readers and buyers is the internet. So doesn’t it make sense to create an internet marketing strategy to connect with the majority of potential readers for your book?

If you’re a self published author without retail distribution in bookstores and libraries, chances are at least 90% of your book sales will happen online.

Where else but the internet can people learn about your book and purchase it 24/7?

The four best ways to promote your book are via your own website, using social media marketing, email marketing, and Amazon book ads with Amazon Marketing Services.

Let’s make sure you start off your online marketing strategy on the right track with a great author website that helps you promote and sell your book.

1. Create an Author Website to Promote Your Book(s)

Author Website Example for Tim Ferriss image

Tim Ferriss has one of the biggest and most popular author websites in the world, but you don’t have to be a celebrity author to sell books online with a simple website.

The majority of professional authors recommend that you own your website because your website is where you will promote your book and build your community for years to come.

Your book will be available for purchase (along with other items eventually), your fans will sign up for your email list, your blog will be based on your website, and your social media pages will send your fans, followers and new prospects to your website.

Given that your author website will be the hub of your online marketing strategy, doesn’t it make sense for you to have absolute control over the cornerstone of your business?

Yes, it’s a no-brainer to own your own website, yet you can still find many inexperienced writers, bloggers and authors out there telling folks to start a “free” blog on sites like Tumblr.com, Blogger.com, Wix.com, weebly.com, or wordpress.com.

The problem with ALL of these “free” websites is that you don’t control them. If you read the fine print in the Terms of Service (TOS) for each of these sites, you’ll find that they control everything. If those companies go bankrupt, they can pull your site down and delete everything without notice.

If that doesn’t sound like a big enough risk for you, realize that these companies offering free websites also limit what you can and can’t do with your site. In most cases, you can’t build an email list at all with a free site (and in the few exceptions where it’s possible to build an email list, you can’t use best practices for building your email list which is a huge problem that will cost you a lot of money in lost sales and lost email subscribers every month).

More than 25% of all websites on the internet use WordPress (here I’m talking about the free WordPress content management system that you can use to build and run your website, NOT wordpress.com) as their underlying software. WordPress is easy to use for creating websites and even easier for updating them. There are many free and inexpensive author themes available that are easy to install and give you control over the display of text and graphics without programming.

If you’re ready to learn how to get your own website built properly using WordPress in less than two hours for under $100, you can watch the free video training on how to build an author website here.

Depending on your technical skills, you may want to use a website developer to design your website once you have purchased web hosting and installed WordPress as shown in the free video training.

Your initial author website shouldn’t need more than four or five pages to start. You’ll want a Contact Page, an About Page, and a page about your book. As you learn how to use WordPress to add more blog posts and pages, you can fill out your site and add more great content to build your audience and attract more readers.

You should definitely plan on updating your site and writing blog posts at least once a month after your site is live. As your blog grows, you can invite other authors and writers to contribute valuable content for your readers.

Your blog will be one of the ways that you communicate with your community. Fill it full of helpful and interesting information. Write on your blog as if you’re talking to your best frend. Keep it casual but valuable. Focus on the needs and interests of your readers, and always be open to feedback.

Try to write your blog posts in a way that solicits comments and responses from your readers.

Many authors find that ending their posts with a question will increase responses. Will you try that out and see how it works for you?

2. Social Media Marketing for Authors

Social Media provides a way to further build your community and connect with new readers. It is an informal, more friendly way to talk about yourself and your books with your readers.

Social media is an excellent tool to help increase discussion amongst your fans. Consider posting images of yourself, your hobbies, and your favorite writing places among other things.

Here are some other ideas you can use for creating great content that will help you connect more with your ideal readers:

  • How I got my start in writing
  • Why I enjoy writing
  • How I find themes and characters for my books
  • The process I use when writing
  • The writing tools I use
  • Who your favorite authors are and what you like about their work

All of these topics can help you create a discussion and will help your readers identify with you. After all, you are trying to build long-term relationships with your readers. Remember, long-term relationships lead to long-term success in business.

Facebook is the largest social media site and works for nearly all self-published authors. It is easy to use and most readers are familiar with it. You should post helpful, interesting and valuable information on Facebook, targeted to your type of reader.

Facebook Marketing Tip

It is always appropriate to create a post on Facebook with a link to a blog post on your website for your reader to click. I often post a “teaser” on a Facebook page that describes my clients’ website blog post but doesn’t show the post itself. I always include an image on the blog post and also place that on the Facebook page. The results of this strategy are twofold: it provides another location on the web to be found and your reader following the link creates traffic to the website. This traffic is recognized by Google and increases your standing with their search engine.

You should include images with all of your posts on social media. Images coupled with great headlines make a huge difference in getting your posts liked, shared and read.

There are several other social media sites that will work depending on your readers:

  • Twitter is still a huge player in the social media space and can be a great tool if you love to connect with others. If you don’t enjoy using Twitter, consider outsourcing or automating your posts using tools like Zapier.com, ifttt.com, or hootsuite.
  • Pinterest may be an effective social media site and has grown quickly in membership.
  • LinkedIn is another social media site and has a distinctive business / professional audience.
  • Instagram is growing rapidly and is a great site if you like to share images and/or videos.
  • YouTube is a fantastic social network and traffic source for attracting new readers if you like to create video content.
  • Snapchat is new and booming, and although I have no idea how it works, I know several authors who are using it with great results.

3. Use Email Marketing to Reach Your Readers

Email marketing for authors image

Be sure to ask your website developer to create an email signup form on each of your website pages so that your readers can join your mailing list.

Industry average open rates for email marketing are around 22% which may not seem very good, but when you compare it to the 2 – 6%  organic reach you get with Twitter or Facebook posts, you can see that email performs really, really well. That’s why the average Return on Investment (ROI) for email marketing is still a whopping 38x (meaning that for every dollar a business spends on email marketing, on average their email marketing helps them bring in $39 in sales).

Besides much higher open rates when compared to social media, email marketing has several other advantages:

  • Email marketing is a low cost way to advertise. Although it takes time to gather a reasonably sized list of subscribers, email marketing providers are inexpensive. Most charge about $20 per month for 1,000 subscribers regardless of the number of email you send, and you can even start for free with Mailchimp (We use and recommend Aweber for email marketing).
  • Email is personal and direct. The email goes directly to your reader from you. There is no middleman. You can write the emails personalized to your audience and even send emails only to certain segments of your readers, and replies will come directly back to your email address so you can stay connected with your audience.
  • Email requires no special effort from your reader. The email just shows up in his or her mailbox and although he or she does have to click to open it, that is the only action required. If well written, they will more than likely read the complete email. No clicking on links is required to receive your personalized email messages.
  • You control your list and your messages. Social media sites are continually making changes that effect how and whether you reach your intended audience at all. These changes could affect your fans finding you.

You should start setting up your email marketing systems right away if you have not already done so. If you haven’t started with Step 1 and built an author website, do that first.

Then, as soon as your website is live, sign up for Aweber and start building your email list.

You should have sign up forms on both your website and your social media pages.

4. Amazon Book Ads (with Amazon Marketing Services)

Amazon book ads image

You can now promote your books directly on Amazon using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). AMS is a pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform build into Amazon. By advertising on Amazon, you can put your books in front of your ideal readers and have them one click away from buying.

Right now, there are two types of Amazon book ads you can choose from:

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads are targeted by keyword when readers are looking for books of a certain genre. For example, say a reader was looking for a Kindle book about drawing. He or she would choose the Kindle Store from the Department dropdown box and enter “Drawing Books” in the Search box. They would be taken to a listing of Kindle books that were about drawing. First in the list might be a book called Drawing for the Absolute Beginner.

Amazon Product Display Ads allow you to target readers based on their interests in specific genres or book niches, or target readers who have purchased or viewed similar products or books.

Amazon Sponsored products ads vs product display ads

For example, you can target readers who are interested in Romance, Biographies & Memoirs, Education, Children’s books and more.

If you have a book on how to become a better golfer, you could also use Amazon Product Display Ads to put your book in front of Amazon customers who have recently viewed or purchased golf clubs or other golf-related merchandise.

As an author, you may want to have your book appear close to a very popular book with a genre similar to yours. In that case you would use Product Display Ads to select the books which are read by readers who would also be likely to buy your book.

Sponsored Products vs. Product Display Ads

In my experience, sponsored products ads tend to be more profitable about 90% of the time. We have had several cases where product display ads have proved to be very profitable so I still recommend you test out product display ads.

If you’re on a really tight budget, just start with Sponsored Products ads at first because they tend to be more profitable on average.

Amazon Book Ads Profitable screenshot

As you can see in the screenshot above, Sponsored Products ads can be very profitable. In one TCK Publishing ad campaign, $149.19 in ad spend and generated $2,715.06 in book sales.

Whichever ad type you choose, make sure to pay attention to your branding. You want your cover to be well done, attractive and eye-catching. You want your blurb to excite readers and make them want to download the book immediately.

If you have poor branding, an ugly book cover and boring ad copy, it’s unlikely you will earn a profit using Amazon book ads.

Write On!

As you begin implementing these four marketing keys for success, make sure you continue writing and creating valuable content for your audience.

Your chances of making enough money to live on with royalties from just one book are very small, but if you write another book and then another book and so on, your exposure is multiplied with every release.

If a reader reads one of your books and likes it, she will want to read more of your books, and that’s how you can build a sustainable income as an author.

Also, with more books you have more avenues and more reasons to communicate with your readers via your website, Facebook and email. Once you have an audience build up, you have buyers you can immediately reach via social media and email, and that means your next book launch will be even more successful than your last one.

Are You Using All Four Marketing Strategies?

Post your comments below and let us know if you’re using all four of these marketing strategies to sell your books.