Books have always been a long-time companion of people, as a fairy tale, poem, novel, and even biography. Either in the form of hard copy or e-book. Those various genres never failed to feed our imagination and have always been a gate to rich creativity. Therefore, it’s not surprising that everyone has imagined being an author or even a self-publishing author at some point in their lives.
In fact, we also know that it is not always easy to deliver a book to the right readers. Likewise, sometimes it is even more challenging than writing a new world on paper.
Nevertheless, the advancement of online platforms has provided authors with a new chance. Self-publishing authors, in particular, should be aware of this.
Indeed, they only need to publish books and use the proper marketing techniques to reach out to potential readers.
If you are one of those people who finally found the courage to share your book, keep reading! Below you will find:
- What are e-books?
- E-book vs. Printed Book for self-publishing.
- Building the author brand with potential goals.
- Useful websites and applications for self-publishing authors.
- Digital tips to advertise self-publishing books.
- How to stand among competitors as a self-publishing author.
WHAT ARE E-BOOKS?
Definition of E-book
Short for electronic book, the e-book is a book publication available in digital form. It is viewable on the flat-panel display of computers and other electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones.
E-books often consist of text, images and sometimes both of them. Indeed, based on the publisher’s and author’s choice, it might have a printed book. However, it is not a regular case as some e-books exist without a printed equivalent.
Thus, for various reasons, self-publishing authors favour E-books when they start their careers. And throughout this article, we will find out why they do so.
Brief History of E-book
Surprisingly, the traces of the e-reader concept go to 1930. Bob Brown, after watching his first “talkie” (a movie with sound) stated in his book titled The Readies:
A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred-thousand-word novels in 10 minutes if I want to, and I want to.
When it comes to the inventor of the e-book, however, there is not someone widely agreed upon. Nevertheless, there are candidates, such as Roberto Busa, Ángela Ruiz Robles, Douglas Engelbart and Andries van Dam, and Michael S. Hart.
Below is the timeline of the E-book between 1949 – 1990.
Advantages and Disadvantages of E-books for Self-publishing Authors
The advantages of e-books for self-publishing authors are:
- E-books are eco-friendly. Therefore, we do not need to harm the trees to create them. And that function also reduces the cost and has a lesser environmental impact.
- They make searching for keywords in books much easier and faster.
- E-books are portable. Thus, readers can carry the whole library on their devices anywhere.
- They are reasonably priced. Because there are no shipping or handling charges, resulting in a pricing that is 50-60% less than the printed version.
- E-books are adaptable. To improve readability, readers can select the optimum font and size, as well as mark passages and save pages.
- Audio options are also available in e-books for people with disabilities.
The disadvantages of e-books for self-publishing authors are:
- For both publishers and authors, piracy is the most serious issue. However, as it is easier to exchange book material with e-books and that makes it difficult for publishers to trace piracy.
- Some readers still prefer traditional hard copy books to read. As reading through the screen makes it hard for them to focus and causes eye problems.
- We need electronic devices to read e-books and those devices need charging. As a result, until a reader charges their device, the length of time they may spend reading is limited.
E-BOOK VS. PRINTED BOOK FOR SELF-PUBLISHING
Despite the increasing number of e-book readers, there always will be people, who enjoy holding a hard copy. And the most recent paper books vs e-books statistics, research, and surveys back this up.
Hence, according to the survey:
- 72% of adults in the United States read a book in some format over the last year.
- 65% of respondents claimed they read a book in the last 12 months.
- 37% of Americans claim they only read print books.
- 28% say they read both print books and e-books.
- 7% say they only read e-books.
Growth of E-Books
Since 2011, the percentage of Americans who read books on tablets and mobile phones has climbed significantly, but the percentage of dedicated e-readers has stayed consistent.
Currently, the statistics show that printed books are preferred more than e-books. However, the rise in the number of e-book readers is unavoidable. Because of the widespread use of smartphones, tablets, and other eReaders, e-books have grown to become an $8.69 billion market that is still rising.
Thus, considering the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, we can still say that e-books are a suitable place to start for self-publishing authors. Particularly for those with a limited budget.
BUILDING THE AUTHOR BRAND WITH POTENTIAL GOALS
To be a successful self-published author, authors must have some practical marketing skills in addition to creative writing talent. Meanwhile, they must first determine their goals in order to advertise their books.
It is important to have goals as they are the compass of the path an author is about to take. Goals show where one stands and where one aims to be.
Of course, not every goal will lead us down the right path; they must be SMART.
SMART stands for:
- Attainable or Achievable
- Realistic and Relevant
SMART Goal Examples
Think about the goals you achieved and those you are yet to achieve.
- Were they specific and realistic?
- Did you achieve them?
- If not, have you ever thought about what you could do differently to turn those goals into an achievement?
Most of the unachieved goals are not SMART ones. If so, what makes a goal SMART?
Here is an example from indeed career guide.
I will obtain a job as a high school math teacher within three months after graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Education.
- Specific: The goal of becoming a high school math teacher is well-defined.
- Measurable: Success can be measured by the number of applications, interviews and job offers.
- Achievable: The goal setter will have the appropriate degree for the job.
- Relevant: The goal setter is planning to get a job in the education industry after getting an education degree.
- Time-based: The goal setter has set a deadline to achieve their objective within the three months following graduation.
Now that we have an idea about what a SMART goal is, here is the list of some goals a self-publishing e-book author can have.
Goals for Self-publishing Authors
1. Goals for the self-publishing authors before and during the writing stage
Self-improvement should always be the primary goal. In fact, it will be beneficial to improve all parts of writing abilities, including grammar, vocabulary, and so on. Everything must be as close to perfection as possible.
It does not matter how talented someone is, nothing beats hard work. Once everything is ready to shape the story, however, the following functions can lead to setting the goals.
- Number of hours spent writing per day (or week)
- The number of pages produced per day (or week)
- Number of queries submitted per week or month
- The number of projects (articles, stories, or chapters) written per month or year
Moreover, authors can discover a list of important applications that will assist them in achieving their goals below.
2. Goals for the self-publishing authors after the writing stage
After the book is ready and published, it is important to:
• Reach to Beta readers or fellow self-publishing authors.
Beta readers are those who volunteer to read a book before it is published in exchange for a review. They can be found on online book sites, in Facebook groups or even can be a friend. Specifically, getting a review would be helpful to find the target audience.
• Find a target audience.
The book marketing process is incredibly turbulent and unpredictable, and establishing a name can be difficult. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the primary audience. Especially self-publishing authors need to be aware of their audience to estimate the demand.
• Choose your book marketing strategy that fits the self-publishing concept.
Thanks to the internet, it is easier for an author to follow certain marketing strategies. In fact, social media channels are the primary marketing platforms to advertise a book but it is also important to choose the right channels.
Quality over quantity. Indeed, an author can use every social media channel for promotion. Yet, if it is hard to devote time to each one, picking one or two is a better alternative.
Additionally, authors can make a website to promote and sell their books or use that platform to interact with readers. Besides, interaction creates loyal readers.
3. Short and Long Term Goals for Self-publishing Authors
Once the promotions start, authors can make themselves short and long term goals. Every person has their own goals. Therefore, it is important to notice there are various key indicators to measure the success of the goal.
Here are some short and long term goal examples for self-publishing authors:
Short term goals:
- Getting at least 700 visitors during the first month on the author website
- Selling at least 50 e-books during the first month
- Having at least 100 followers on social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) by the end of the first month
Long term goals:
- Having monthly 3k unique visitors on author website within a year
- Increasing the pages per visit rate to 20% within a year
- Having at least 1000 followers on social media channels within 7 months
- Increasing the sales 25% within 5 months
USEFUL WEBSITES AND APPLICATIONS FOR SELF-PUBLISHING AUTHORS
Authors can use digital platforms and tools to not only market their novels, but also to earn techniques to develop their skills. Therefore, here are some websites and applications to help in the book-writing journey.
Grammarly’s algorithms identify potential flaws in the text and provide context-specific recommendations. It helps with grammar, spelling and usage, wordiness, style, punctuation, and even plagiarism. Besides, authors can install Grammarly to their browser or Microsoft Office. They may also use it on iOS or Android to ensure that everything they type on their phones is error-free.
The Hemingway app is a non-distracting writing and editing tool that helps authors polish their work. It focuses on recognizing typical mistakes that degrade the quality of writing. Such as confusing sentence form, misuse of weak adverbs, and excessive passive voice.
Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. It includes a document, note, and metadata management system. Moreover, this makes it possible for the user to organize notes, concepts, research, and entire documents for quick access and reference. The documents include rich text, images, PDF, audio, video, web pages, etc.
Plot templates, character quizzes, subplot managers, and timelines are just a few of the writing tools available at The Novel Factory. All of the Novel Factory’s primary sections are available via a navigation bar on the left-hand side, and they are as follows: Roadmap, Planning, Characters, Locations, Items, Timelines, Scenes, Resources, Notes, Statistics. It is especially useful for new beginner authors.
MindNode is a mind mapping tool that allows authors to visually represent their thoughts. It aids in the organization of thoughts, and its simple interface allows authors to connect ideas, no matter how big, little, or sophisticated they are.
It is a paid app for iOS devices.
Canva is a graphic creation tool that is available for free. Customizing thousands of templates is simple and straightforward thanks to a drag-and-drop interface. Also, Canva’s broad feature set allows users to edit photographs without general photo editing knowledge or experience. It is useful to make book covers, banners, and social media posts stand among many others.
There are also platforms, where authors can start their career or use them to promote part of their books.
Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher. It provides a platform for hidden talents. There, readers choose their next globally successful authors. Therefore, it is a good platform to gain readers, beta readers or promote the book by releasing pre-launched chapters. Authors also have the opportunity to collaborate with a professional team. They can even have their book published in hard copy via its publishing arm, Inkitt Publishing.
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which allows users to create and manage a website without knowing how to code. Users may personalise almost every aspect of their sites with this software. Often used for blog posts, authors can use this to promote their books, post parts of chapters. As it enables interaction, it is also helpful to gain readers.
DIGITAL TIPS TO ADVERTISE SELF-PUBLISHING BOOKS
Although talent shines, it takes time for it to reach a wider audience without the right approach. It only makes sense for authors to adopt a strategy to promote their works in a world where digital marketing is taking over.
Here are some tips for self-publishing authors to follow:
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a marketing approach for attracting and acquiring a defined audience. By developing and delivering valuable, relevant, and consistent content, authors earn an opportunity to gain readers. So, using social media to introduce the book, setting, characters or even favourite book lines would be a good start for advertising.
The video below will show you 5 Ways to Get More People to Your Content.
2. Demography: Social Media and Podcast
Social media includes a huge number of multimedia platforms. It is not only Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, even though they are widely used. Therefore, it is important to choose the right platforms and the right method to expand the demographic reach. Instead of using text or pictures, authors can also make podcasts to introduce the book or characters on various platforms.
3. Contests to promote or to shape self-publishing books
Contests are one of the best ways to get people’s interest. Using social media or an author website to organise a contest would be useful to increase the website traffic and find potential readers. Here are some contest ideas:
- Chosen readers can earn a signed copy
- Designers can apply for e-book cover contents
- Chosen readers can earn an opportunity to read the first few chapters
- Chosen readers can read a part of the book for a podcast or design a podcast
4. Influencers that support self-publishing books
Online influencers are people who have made a reputation for themselves in the online community and are well-known among users. So, it would be beneficial to form a partnership with these influencers that have built a reputation for themselves among the book reading community to reach a wider audience.
HOW TO STAND AMONG COMPETITORS AS A SELF-PUBLISHING AUTHOR
Competition motivates individuals. However, one always needs something different to stand among competitors. And e-book authors are not different. Although each book has its own story, there are similar elements, especially when the genre is the same. So, what could make the author different from others on a digital platform?
Here are some tips:
1. Website for self-publishing authors
A website for an author can function as a business card and a free source of advertising. People tend to search for the author when they get interested in a book. Therefore, having a website that is not only appealing to eyes but also easy to navigate would pull more internet users to the website. Fortunately, creating a website no longer requires coding knowledge. Authors can use website building platforms such as Webflow, Wix, WordPress, Carrd.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a digital marketing technique that focuses on a website’s visibility. It helps with search results on search engines such as Google. So, the right usage of SEO can boost website visibility. It might also increase the rank in search results. Plus, the higher search result would lead more users to the website. Hence, It can increase both the number of readers and book sales.
3. Different languages
Making the book available in different languages or making posts in different languages to promote the book can expand the demographic reach.
4. Book covers
People judge books based on their covers. Even if it is an e-book. Having a killer book cover would gain readers’ attention.
5. Digital Marketing
It is important to know techniques authors can use to promote their books. Therefore, exploring various digital marketing strategies would lead an author to stand among others.
Becoming a self-publishing author is a challenge. Even if the advancement of online platforms makes this challenge a bit easier, without a strategy, readers can not reach the book. Therefore, it is important to understand what authors are doing, where they stand and where they want to be. With the right strategy and patience, every book is meant to reach the right reader.
While deciding on their goals, authors should value patience. It’s critical to be aware of key indicators and to keep promoting the book. Everyone has a starting point. Self-publishing authors have gone through similar methods to discover their potential readers in the past and now. Here is a list of self-publishing authors throughout history as a source of inspiration.
Best of luck to all self-publishing authors!
You can learn more about Digital Marketing and stages to build your business with the International Institute Of Digital Marketing™.
By Sabina Mammadli
Brand Marketing Analyst at the International Institute Of Digital Marketing™. A multilingual and motivated industrial engineer and freelance designer with a solid enthusiasm for tasks requiring both theoretical and expository reasoning.