Authors: This Is How You Sell More Books
Amazon is not the be-all and end-all of self-publishing
I released my first three books in 2006.
At the time, bookstores and readers had to contact me to request my poetry collections. And many did. I did not have to spend money in ads or use social media to promote myself. My books actually sold!
(At the time, I had zero experience in self-promotion. I would become a social media coach years later.)
Then, something happened. In the early 2010s, the pimp-like rhetorics used by Amazon made me believe that exclusivity would help my brand. So, I stopped selling my books directly (using Lulu as the printer) and went that route.
First, sales stalled. Then, they stopped completely.
For months, I wondered what I had done wrong. I read tons of articles on marketing, asked questions, chatted with fellow authors who were in a similar situation, and started cursing occasionally. To no avail.
By that time, I had grown tired of poetry and wanted to try my hand at other things. I discovered my passion for photography and got involved in social media as a coach. I released a few books (social media marketing and photography), which sold very decently. I even received an award for one of them!
My strategy had never changed: guest blogging, interviews, curation, building rapport with fellow authors, engaging with readers, helping/supporting other people, etc. So, I was unable to figure out why my poetry books were not selling.
It took me years to realize that the releases that sold quite well were also available outside of Amazon.
Back in 2018, I came across Draft2Digital, a free service that offers wide distribution to its users. They were a lot easier to use than Smashwords and Lulu, the big guns at the time.
What attracted me to D2D was the automated conversion system that works directly with your manuscript to turn it into a professionally-looking ebook in minutes. And the author pages and universal book links are great perks.
Within a few months of using D2D, the titles of my books (mostly ebooks) started popping up in hundreds of bookstores around the world, as well as libraries. You can see the whole list below.
That new visibility came with an added bonus: consistent sales.
Every month, readers pick up copies of my books from stores and libraries—because they can actually find them. Had I just stayed with Amazon, the Facebook-like filtering system in place would have continued to hide most of my titles (because they are not labeled as best sellers), hence preventing me from enjoying any form of success.
Will I ever make it rich as an author? I highly doubt it. And, honestly, it’s not the point. The point is that I deserve to see results from my hard work. While my Amazon sales dashboard is often desperately empty, the D2D one shows me money month after month.
Dear self-published authors, unless 100% of your readers buy books from Amazon, there is no rhyme or reason in playing the exclusivity game.
People cannot read your books if they don’t know they exist. And trust me, a majority of regular human beings (meaning non-authors) do not use TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter because they are looking for new reads. If they want recommendations, they will visit blogs and/or Goodreads, or ask friends.
Stop limiting your reach. Go wide, so you can actually sell books and pay your bills.
Thank you for reading!
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This post was originally published on Medium.
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!