MF 251 : Even more on marketing, KDP select, reviews, and expectations
Updated: Jun 23
On this episode, I talk about why marketing your book isn’t a one and done. We’ll also cover some important post-launch considerations including KDP Select (what is it?), reviews and expectations. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]
Part 1: Writing and publishing your book is just the first step
Building off last week’s episode and episode 247, the earlier you start your pre-launch marketing, the better. This is especially the case if you’re a new writer and / or don’t have a big following yet.
Once your book is out, marketing is going to be an ongoing process. A lot of new writers make the mistake of promoting their book just on launch day or launch week. In this day and age of too much content and short attention spans, you have to continually get the word out on your book, especially to those who may have missed it on launch day.
One way you can do this is with a podcast. Last week I talk about launching one but I get it. Many of you may not have the time or desire to do that. But at the very least you should be pitching yourself as a guest on existing podcasts.
Do a keyword search on Apple podcasts or Stitcher and reach out to the hosts of those shows. This can be a great way to introduce yourself, your story, and your book to new audiences and turn them into customers and fans. Know going in, that some podcasts may ask for complimentary copies. Be aware, if you’re self-publishing or even if you’re traditionally publishing (in many cases), you’ll have to buy author copies (copies that you can give away or sell). They’re typically much less expensive than retail but this is still money out of your pocket so weigh whether it’s worth it. Giving away a book to an established podcast with a large following is going to get you more traction than a new show with 20 listeners. In the case of the latter, you may want to find a less costly way to answer the request. You can encourage him or her to download the sample chapters from the Kindle version or you can provide a PDF copy of your book. If you do this, I recommend you watermark it with a message indicating this is a comp copy for a podcast and that it is not for distribution. Just be careful that your self-publishing platform doesn’t have any restrictions on doing this. For KDP, you should be fine so long as you’re not enrolled in KDP Select which I’ll talk about in part 2.
Finally, continue creating social media content – posts, articles blogs, LinkedIn pieces to get the word out.
Part 2: KDP Select, reviews, and expectations
Today, we’re going to look at three topics today: KDP select, reviews, and expectations.
KDP Select is a program that Amazon offers to self-published authors to enroll your book into the Kindle lending library. Once enrolled, readers who have purchased your book can loan it out to other Kindle readers. Amazon pays you a small royalty for this so it can provide a potential revenue stream. You can also run promotions including giving your Kindle book away as a free download for up to five days to increase your readership base. The caveat is that enrolling in KDP Select is restrictive. You cannot publish your book elsewhere nor can you give it away as a PDF for a restrictive period of 90 days. You can see the full terms here. Think about whether KDP Select is right you if you’re self-publishing on Amazon. You don’t have to decide right away either. It’s always available as an option for your book.
This is important for people to find your book for SEO purposes and for new readers to see if they want to purchase your book. Think about when you buy a product on Amazon. You’ll likely turn to the reviews to get an impression and this can often make the difference if you’re on the fence. The same is true with books. Two common-sense rules that are worth emphasizing: 1) don’t buy reviews and 2) don’t bargain for them (eg give away a copy of your book in exchange for a review). Amazon is very strict about this. The truth is that getting book reviews is hard. Most people who buy a product, if they like it or love it, won’t take the time to write a review. So make sure you communicate this to your followers and in the case of podcasts, listeners. Ask. Let people know if they love your book to leave a review. Also be aware that if a family member loves your book, even if they leave an unbiased review, Amazon will most likely take it down. This is a little draconian in my opinion, but I wanted to give you a heads-up in case you find a review left by your uncle or sister gets pulled. The bottom line is that reviews take time. If you’ve written a book that resonates and you continue marketing it, then you will start to see them on your product page. The best thing you can do is to continue building the momentum as covered in part 1 so people will buy the book, read it and want to spread the word. The key is to be patient with this.
My hope is that when your book comes out, it’s a runaway bestseller and you may a lot of money. But realistically speaking, most of you when you publish your first book, experience a nice run of sales from family, friends, and followers and then, you’ll have to continually work at it to maintain the momentum. The average book sells around 250 copies in its lifetime so have realistic expectations. One book is probably not going to be your escape hatch or your pathway to millions nor is it going to make you famous. However, a book is both a wonderful accomplishment and a great way to build your brand or business. Some of you may want to segue you into a career in writing so this will be your first step. Have realistic expectations and make sure you’re doing this as much for the satisfaction of accomplishing a goal or creating some lasting content as for the possibilities of what it may do for your business or career. That said, you never know: your book may become the next big bestseller that’s later adapted into a movie and brings you fame and riches. It does happen just know it’s very not common.
As you launch your book, look at KDP Select and see if it's a good fit for you (assuming you’re self-publishing on Amazon), continue marketing your book, and finally, step back and make sure your expectations are measured and realistic. It’s also ok to daydream just make sure you have other goals that make this meaningful for you.
Part 3: What I’m reading
The Entrepreneur Equation: Evaluating the Realities, Risks, and Rewards of Having Your Own Business by Carol Roth (****). Unlike many of the books, I’ve read on entrepreneurship, this neither over-glamorizes it nor encourages it. On the contrary, Roth argues that it is not for most people, backed up with hard facts, figures and compelling case studies. It takes a lot to start and endure being a business owner and if you don’t have the right expectations or know what you’re getting yourself into, then you could be in for a rude awakening. If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur I recommend you read both this and The $100 Startup to get a “balanced diet,” if you will on the subject.
Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.
Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.
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