Five book marketing lessons I learned from my first indie book

Today’s guest blogger, Sonia Frontera, is one of my favorite self-published nonfiction authors because she puts in the effort required to create a first-class product. A practicing attorney and empowerment trainer, Sonia’s first book is Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist? Her second book, Relationship Solutions: Effective Strategies to Heal Your Heart and Create the Happiness You Deserve, will be published in November 2020.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, Build Book Buzz will receive a couple of pennies (at no extra charge to you). 

Five book marketing lessons I learned from my first indie book

By Sonia Frontera

Publishing a book is a rewarding experience. It can also be an asset to your business, a calling card that highlights your expertise and makes you stand out among peers.

If writing a book is on your bucket list, the good news is that the self-publishing industry is making it easy to fulfill your dream. The bad news is that the process can be tricky and, when done incorrectly, your efforts may not deliver the payoff you expect.

With 4,500 self-published books coming out every day (in addition to those that are traditionally published), making sure your book stands out in the crowd is a challenge.

That’s why it’s important to put your best foot forward by creating a quality book. You need a well-written and professionally edited book with a catchy title, professional cover, and solid book description that will convert potential readers into buyers.

book marketing lessons

Learning the hard way

But, sadly, that’s not enough. I found out the hard way. After doing many of “the right things,” I was disappointed that my book, Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist?, was not selling like hotcakes.

I realized too late that a few changes before hitting the “publish button” could have made a huge difference in my publishing experience.

You can get it right the first time and publish a great first book that sells!

Here are five book marketing lessons from my publishing debut that I don’t want you to learn the hard way.

1. Have a game plan and take the time to do things right.

After dreaming for decades of being published, I decided to take the plunge when I came across a program that guaranteed becoming an Amazon category bestseller in 30 days.

While I devoted six months to creating a professional quality book, I narrowly focused on a quick launch and becoming that category bestseller. I gave little thought to what would happen next and had no strategy beyond 30 days. I became a number one seller in four categories, but was quickly disappointed when my sales and rankings tanked in a few weeks.

Get your ducks in a row. What you do four to six months before launch is key to the long-term success of your book.

I spent months with my nose to the grindstone writing the book. When I was finished, I rushed to publish, neglecting a series of steps that could have kept my book in front of buyers.

Early in the journey, decide where you’d like to sell your book, the requirements of those outlets, and study the tactics used by other successful authors in your category.  Don’t assume free publishing on Amazon through KDP is your best or only option.

2. Put a publicity strategy in place.

book marketing lessons 3Publicity is one of the most effective and affordable tactics for getting exposure for your book.

But successful publicity relies on relationships with the media and developing these relationships takes time. Start building these relationships long before pub date.

I first heard about book publicity two weeks before launch and completely missed the boat.

Give yourself at least four months to connect with the media, bloggers, and influencers in your niche. Start soliciting reviews, blurbs, and testimonials early to boost the credibility of your book. Boast about them on your website to create buzz.

Have your book announcement press release ready to go and start lining up interviews with your local newspapers and radio while your book is hot off the press.

3. Devise and deploy a consistent marketing program from day one.

Your book won’t sell if readers can’t find it. I rushed to publish without giving much thought to devising and implementing a robust marketing plan beyond the initial promos.

Book advertising can be tricky. Research in advance where books like yours sell best and learn the best practices for those platforms. And be ready to deploy your plan immediately after launch. Don’t wait until the sales tank to try to figure it out.

And have a Plan B, C and D, if necessary. Advertising success entails lots of trial and error.

And remember that book marketing goes way beyond advertising. Stay on top of current trends; stay active on social media; blog regularly; and keep your website, sales, and author pages up to date.

4. Stay out of the rabbit holes.

As I found myself scrambling to boost sales, I attended every webinar, watched every video, and read every blog post I could find. I tried hundreds of expert tips with no discernible reward. Most of these strategies didn’t work for a book about divorce, and I felt exhausted and overwhelmed.

With so many experts in the business, you could easily spend every waking minute and every cent in your bank account trying to learn the tricks of the trade. After all this effort, you will realize that most of them say the same things, many contradict each other, and much of what they say doesn’t apply to you.

There is no one-size-fits-all book publishing or marketing formula. Instead of going down every rabbit hole, follow a few respected experts whose strategies apply to your book and whose style resonate with you. Talk to other authors in your genre to find out what’s worked for them.

If you can afford it, invest in coaching. Work with someone with expertise in the areas you need to improve and whose personality meshes with yours.

5. Don’t be discouraged.

As a new author, you’re bound to make mistakes. While I regret every one of my publishing blunders, I don’t regret bringing my book into the world. And I will do it again — the right way the next time.

Do not despair! These errors can be fixed by relaunching your book, adjusting your strategies as you increase your knowledge, or by starting over with a new book. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and to not give up on your dreams.

What’s your best book marketing lesson? Tell us in a comment. Let’s discuss! 

Tip of the Month

book marketing lessons 4I like to share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

This month, it’s BundleRabbit, a service that lets you create book bundles with other authors in your genre.

With this resource, you can create the bundle, invite other authors registered with the service to participate, and publish it on e-book retail sites. The curator receives five percent of sales; participating authors receive a combined total of 70 percent.

BundleRabbit also provides a way for dividing royalties among collaborators for a bundle or other types of shared publishing projects. Learn more and browse books at BundleRabbit.com.


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  1. Thank you Sonia for this evaluable lessons learned; all of them resonate with me! To answer your question, my biggest book marketing lesson is to learn how to use social media properly. I’m still on the journey to success, having published only 3 books so far, but I have at least gained a lot more exposure for what I do and why I do it, thanks to careful use of particular social media channels. The No 1 lesson for that is one’s attitude: when approaching social media, the attitude should be not to try and sell, but rather to build relationships, thus gaining a genuine following, organically. To achieve this one must ‘give’ far more than ‘ask’. Still working on that and learning every day from countless mistakes, but learning is growth!

  2. Seems like you’re on the right track Alan. Developing a following is a challenge and it has been an uphill battle for me as well. Achieving social media success is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep learning and growing!

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