This is a guest post by debut author Natalie Shell*
Have you always dreamed of writing your own book? Have you already written your masterpiece, but have yet to find the right publisher? Whatever your story, if you’re considering self-publishing, here are a few tricks I used to get my self-published book, The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets, to debut at #1 in its category on Amazon’s Kindle store. If you’re serious about self-publishing, this is what you need to know:
Writing a book and designing a book cover are two very different skills. And since you only have a split-second to catch someone’s eye (yes, people do judge a book by its cover), you want to make that second count! My biggest tip here is to hire a professional designer that will help you make your book stand out from the crowd. Be sure to brief the designer as much as you can on the direction you want the cover to take, possible color schemes, what type of feeling do you want to invoke – don’t hold back! This is your book and your cover should do it justice.
It’s undeniable: if you want to self-publish successfully, you need an amazing website. Luckily, platforms like Wix make it easy to get a beautiful website up in no time and without needing to know how to code. I love how Wix lets you personalize your website to match the exact look and feel of your book. Starting from a template, you can easily customize anything , making it your own with simple drag and drop tools.
Take a look at the website template I started with and what I was able to create from it, by clicking the ‘Reveal’ button and then dragging the arrows between the two images:
Once I created my website I wanted to make sure it was going to be found on search engines. I’m no SEO master but I was able to apply the basics and those were enough to land me the #1 spot on Google for the term “The Wedding Virus” and get my website on the first page of Google search results. How did I do it? I spent some time tweaking my site using the Wix SEO Wizard and Monitoring Tool.
Don’t get intimidated by professional jargon that may be thrown your way, there’s a walk-through for just about anything online, and here’s a useful place to start.
If you are self-publishing, Amazon is likely your main sales point. Don’t just sell, Take it a step further and set up your own Author Page on Amazon.com. Use your Author page to provide more info for your readers: a detailed description of your book, upcoming events, pictures, links to your website and anything else that helps people get to know you better. An Amazon Author page also helps you climb up Google’s rankings and lets you add a preview of your book to your book’s sales page, which is only available with an Author Profile. Slam, dunk, you’re welcome!
When you self-publish, Amazon only allows you to choose two categories to list your book. So choosing the right niche category is key. What do I mean? Well, let’s take my book as an example. I write what’s called “Women’s Fiction” or “Contemporary Women’s Fiction” but these categories are huge. If I had listed my book there I’d be competing against every fiction book ever written for women. Instead, I honed in on my ideal reader and what they might be searching for. I found my niche to be “Humor,” a subcategory of “Women’s Fiction.” I also found another niche in the category of “Humor & Entertainment.” This type of niche targeting helped ensure my book’s success and will help ensure yours, too.
If you want to sell your book in eBook format (which I strongly encourage), you should definitely consider Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program (KDP). Why? Firstly, KDP lets you list your book for free for 5 days. On Amazon, free books get a lot of traffic, and that traffic translates into more downloads and reviews. Later, when you put your book price up, if your Amazon ranking has improved, you are likely to sell more books. Whatever works, right? The second reason it’s so great (which I unfortunately missed because I didn’t know), is because you can use KDP to take pre-orders. This is huge as it allows you to pre-sell your book and helps you become a best seller even faster!
Finally, don’t be shy. Tell people your big news before you even release the book! I didn’t do this enough and I wish someone had told me the importance of this step. Book selling is a long game but there’s never a better time to start than now. Put up a big “Pre-order” button (tips on that here) on your website linking to your book’s page on Amazon so people can start buying it before it’s even out. But don’t stop there. Tell your followers on social media (more than once). Find blogs and sites your audience frequents and offer to write articles for them. Look for websites that will review your book or do a giveaway with you when it’s released. Do as much as you can to get the word out there! When you do finally release your book to the world, don’t be scared to ask all your friends and followers to help promote your book. It was the best thing I did, and it was beautiful to see how my tribe rallied to support me.
*Natalie Shell is a storyteller, design thinker and coach. Her debut novel The Wedding Virus & Other Snippets is out now.
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