I cannot pretend I have cracked the marketing mystery so rather than offer my own advice I will point you towards specialists who have, or claim to have much more knowledge and expertise than me. I cannot specifically vouch for their methods as I haven’t fully tried them, and in any case my book is not a mainstream novel so they don’t necessarily apply.

What I will do first is reproduce some of the findings of market research into book-buying in the UK in 2012, courtesy of Bowker Market Research.

  • The most popular ebook genres (20%) are romance, crime – true and otherwise – and ‘classic’ fiction; followed by erotic fiction, fantasy>Sci Fi and popular fiction. Children’s books and graphic novels, perhaps not surprisingly, hardly rate at all.
  • The most widely-bought books are by authors the reader has already read, and word of mouth and reviews come surprisingly far down the list.
  • Ebooks are discovered mostly by readers browsing online for a particular author or series of books, whereas self published ebooks are discovered mostly by readers searching for a particular subject.
  • Reasons for buying are, in order, for self published ebooks: price (if the book costs less than £1), blurb, subject.
  • Social networking doesn’t sell books.

Bear in mind these statistics are from 2012.

There are almost as many differing opinions on how to market your book as there are books. Some people claim social networking is crucial, and have the sales to show for it, others say it’s irrelevant. Some say how you categorise your book on Amazon and Smashwords websites is the most important thing, and the market research findings do tend to echo this.

One thing almost everyone agrees with is that since ebooks (and to some extent Print on Demand) never go out of print there is no need to do all your marketing up front, as traditional publishers tend to do. Yours can be done in steps, the idea being that with each new little ‘idea’ you come up with you are keeping your book in the public eye. So for instance you can first of all contact everyone you know about your book and send them the Amazon or Smashwords link. Then you can look for people prepared to review it, online or otherwise. Then you can play around with your categories, keywords and pricing – all at different times so you can see how each change affects your sales, if it does. An organised person might devote one day, or half day a week on this, to begin with.

Here are some links to books by marketing specialists which you may find helpful:

Michael Alvear, Make a Killing on Kindle, Woodpecker Media, 2012
David Gaughran, Let’s Get Visible: How to Get Noticed and Sell More Books, Arriba Arriba Books, 2013
Catherine Ryan Howard, Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, 2011
Joanna Penn, How to Market a Book, The Creative Penn Ltd, 2013
Alison Baverstock, Marketing your book: an author’s guide, A & C Black, 2009

Needless to say if you have any marketing tips to share I would be delighted to hear from you.

Patsy Trench, London 2015


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