Success is all about the brand

In the modern world of self-publishing, the author has become a brand. We have to learn as much about marketing as we do about writing and publishing. And then we have to take risks.

Sales are an author’s ultimate goal. With sales we can give up our day jobs and write full-time, with sales we can get a publishing deal, with sales we can buy a Caribbean island…

So some marketing is counter-intuitive. To sell books, we have to give away books.

Let’s state that again. To sell books, we have to giveaway books. At least that is the easiest way to reach the top of the rankings on online retailer websites and hitting the top of the rankings means those retailers push your books harder. Retailers design those ‘customers who looked at this also look at that’ helpful guides to sell more books, and you only get mentioned on them if you are selling – even if the sales price is zero.

And back to the brand. If your first little book hits the rankings, you are likely to get more followers (providing your social media strategy is working), and when you launch your second book, those followers will consider buying it. Suddenly you are Enid Blyton, Ian Patterson (insert your go to author here), writing a series of books that draws in new readers and keeps alive the back catalogue.

How to run a book giveaway

First, you need to give away your book – not as easy as it sounds. Probably you have placed your book with multiple retailers to get coverage and do your bit to champion choice. But if you want to giveaway from Amazon you have to sign up for a Kindle Direct Publishing Select Account to set your sales price to zero. And that means giving Amazon exclusivity. [Sure you can load your epub documents onto websites that will distribute them, but you entirely lose control of those copies.]

Second, you have to let the world know you are giving away your book. This is the interesting bit. There are businesses who thrive by acting as the middleman in the giveaway between author and reader. They provide links to thousands of free books and even send subscribers lists of books. Most of them charge, I would like to say ‘not a lot’ and, indeed, some of them subscribe to the concept of micropayments. However, just as many charge tens, if not hundreds, of dollars to advertise your free book.

That brings me to the third point. Most of these freebie givers are American. For some reason, UK readers haven’t generated the demand for a home-grown service. So the humble British author can’t be sure her (or his) market is seeing her (or his) book.

For me, my book giveaway is my last marketing ploy. I could be way too late, or completely off pitch, but I will give it a whirl and let you know how I get on.

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