This week, a few days after our one year podcasting anniversary on the Open Book Besties podcast, we announced our efforts to provide more helpful resources for authors, since that appears to be a large share of our listeners. Me and my cohost, Misty Walker, put our heads together to come up with a helpful topic every author wants to know more of:
How do I increase my book sales without spending money?
We get it. We totally do. Marketing your books can get quite costly. When you’ve already spent money for cover design, editing, formatting, etc, it’s almost painful to shell out even more money to then get your finished products into the hands of readers. Many professionals out there tout the way to successfully market your books is through CPC ads via AMS or Facebook, or even rolling the dice to get a much coveted BookBub deal. And while that’s all great and wonderful, there are other ways that don’t cost anything but time and a little grit.
1) Social Media
I know, I know. social media sounds like a given, and it’s not necessarily what you want to hear, but it is a fantastic way to reach new readers, build relationships with current readers, and to ask the reader for the sale in various ways. Social media is important in building your brand. By regularly engaging in groups, making posts, and answering reader questions or comments, you’re keeping the shiny object (you and your books!) front and center. In the podcast, we dig into the power of TikTok and some examples/experiences to support this. Remember, posting and interacting on social media is free but yields fantastic returns making it incredibly powerful in achieving more sales.
2) Stepping Up Newsletter
Newsletters are an invaluable tool that I only started taking advantage of in the past year or so. In the podcast, we discuss what’s worked and provide some in depth discussion regarding newsletters and ways to improve them. A quick rundown would be: be personable (because readers really enjoy seeing the real you!), tell stories, be consistent, book spotlights, create automations, and more. I’ll explain how my sales began to jump each month when I started doing consistent book spotlights, so make sure you have a listen to the podcast!
3) Approach Bloggers
Another impactful way to increase sales without spending money is to approach bloggers individually. No, we’re not talking about a copy and paste message into every blogger’s inbox from a massive spreadsheet you created. We’re talking a little bit of research here on your part that will set you up for better success and won’t get you ignored or shot down. Misty discusses the right way to go about this without sounding salesy or desperate. We also dig in a little more into building relationships with your “network” as that’ll be a key component in the foundation of your entire author business. It’s not about what they can do for you and you only. This is a two way street, as with any successful relationship, and will require some give and take.
4) Write a Reader Magnet
This particular tip has been incredibly successful for me. Often, I get asked to write a short story for a blog or a project. I might even get asked to write a novella for an anthology. Eventually, those stories are returned back to me to do with what I choose. I’ve made the good majority of them for free on my website (but nowhere else). This drives traffic to my website (where I hope they’ll snoop around and check out other things I have like signed paperbacks) and it also gives me the opportunity to ask them to join my newsletter. Once the book has been downloaded (and hopefully they read it), at the end of the book, I send them to what they need to read next. I try to be strategic in where I want them to go, usually funneling the reader into a book that isn’t free. In the podcast, not only do we discuss this in great detail, but we also have suggestions for authors just starting out or authors who don’t have such magnets in their arsenal…yet.
5) Newsletter Swaps
In this portion, Misty discusses what newsletter swaps are, how to go about doing one, and tips on who and how to align yourself in the most beneficial way. Sure, you’d love to swap newsletter spots with EL James or some other superstar, but it doesn’t really make sense if you’re over here writing sweet, small town Hallmark romances. It’s going to be a better fit if you can find other sweet, small town Hallmark romance authors because their readers are already eager for these types of reads, which, in turn, will be most often more of a success for you then simply chasing after “big fish” with huge subscriber lists. Quality over quantity really is key here.
6) Fresh Content
You’ve probably already exhausted your budget on teasers, covers, and graphics, so you’re wondering what other content you could offer that’s fresh. If you can’t make your own teasers or graphics and feel like your photography is something to be desired, it’s okay. There are still ways to come up with fresh content. Your readers like seeing sneak peeks into anything you’ll give them whether that be your work in progress, books that have just arrived, your workspace, you, etc. The sky’s the limit. No need to be a professional photographer here. It can be as simple as screenshotting a highlighted juicy part of your book on your kindle (blacking out the bad words for added mystery) and posting on your socials. It could be as simple as a selfie with your book in hand. Heck, take a picture of your book in the grass, beside your coffee, stuffed between Mom’s bibles on her bookcase. It’s really that simple. I suggest downloading a simple app like Snapseed to help you brighten your photos with ease to give them a finishing touch. In the episode, we give lots of examples of fresh, easy content ideas.
7) Be Consistent and Schedule
This one is incredibly important and essentially ties into all of the above. When doing all of these things, you’re going to want to make sure it’s not a one and done situation. Put it in your calendar. Make it a habit. Of course, no one wants you spamming them with YOU-YOU-YOU-YOU, but they do want to see you, read updates, and learn new stuff. By creating a schedule for yourself, you can organize your thoughts and plan out a plan of action.
We hope this is helpful and that you’ll take the time to watch our podcast on YouTube (if you want to see all the silly faces I make or Misty’s lovely lipstick shade of the day) or play it in the car while running errands. This information in this podcast is valuable and we hope it helps you on your journey to sell more books.
Don’t forget to download your free PDF to keep on hand and make notes on if you need to. Also, leave us a comment on the blog or YouTube. We love hearing from you all and listening to what you want to know/learn about. This podcast is enjoyable for us and relaying important information in a fun, relatable way totally gives us life! Thanks for reading/listening/watching and we’ll see you again in two weeks for another episode!
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