Marketing a new book is a challenge no matter where you start, and marketing a self-published book is a world of its own. Where do you begin? How do you get people to care about your work, particularly if you have not yet cultivated a following?
Pia Silva, self-published author of Badass Your Brand and entrepreneur #girlboss, used some incredible strategies that did wonders for her book’s sales and promotion on Amazon. With over two hundred and fifty online reviews (most of them five star!) and guest appearances on hundreds of podcasts, Pia knows what she’s doing when it comes to promoting and sharing a self-published book.
Natasa Lekic, founder of NY Book Editors, sat down with Pia to pick her brain about the best tactics she used to launch Badass Your Brand into a soaring sales success.
Map Out Your Strategy for Getting book Reviews Early
"I think the difference between having five or six reviews on Amazon and having a hundred and five is tremendous," says Pia.
We couldn't agree more.
Pia’s goal was to get one-hundred reviews for her book. She made a list of one-hundred people she knew and reached out to them for reviews individually. Please note: You shouldn’t automate a message and only change the names — you need to make these highly customized to each and every person on your list.
Download the copy Pia used when she reached out to request book reviews.
In the first email, you need to get the buy-in of the recipient. Ask whether they would be willing to post an honest review if you email a free PDF of your book to them.
In Pia’s email (which you should download!) she also stressed how important reviews are for a new author.
You’re probably thinking this sounds like too much work, and it is. As Pia says:
“Individually contacting one hundred people and going back and forth with them and getting their commitment is a lot of time and work for a review on Amazon.”
When you look at the results and see how 50-60 reviews (which was her number when she launched) tend to create a tipping point, you can understand the importance of putting in that work early on.
To understand Pia’s approach to getting reviews in greater detail, watch the interview by clicking below.
Stress that You Want Honest Reviews
Pia stressed that she was asking for honest reviews, even when reaching out to people she knows. There are two reasons for this.
- Genuine responses help attract the right readers. As Pia told her reviewers, “If you didn’t like [the book] or it wasn’t applicable, I’d like for you to say why because I want people who buy the book to resonate with it. If it’s not for them, I don’t want them to buy the book.”
- A lack of different ratings makes the book reviews look suspicious. If all a new reader sees when they take a look at your book reviews are perfect five stars with little to no nuance, they are going to assume something is up and may not trust those reviews enough to purchase your book. Pia says, “If you don’t like it, by all means put a negative review. I want them to know that these are real reviews.”
Focus on the Pre-Orders
Pia reached out to a bigger list for pre-orders. She said, “Anybody who pre-orders the book, I will send you a PDF copy now.”
To get those sales under pre-order rather than wait until after the book launched, Pia followed these steps:
How to Get Pre-Orders
- Send a pre-order link and ask for a screenshot of the receipt.
- Send a PDF of the book as soon as you receive the receipt.
- Offer another incentive (such as a webinar) to people who pre-order.
Amazon in particular treats sales and pre-orders in the same way. Learn about this in greater detail in the interview.
In summary, getting pre-orders right before your launch day will help your book reach the top seller’s list in its categories, an ideal position to be in to get in front of the eyes of brand new readers.
Be careful that these pre-orders don’t all come in too early, though. If pre-orders are made more than a week or two in advance of your launch date, those sales will not count as much toward your first day and you could lose some of that momentum.
It’s important to note that Amazon rewards sales momentum and is more likely to get your book into a top chart or bestseller list if it sees a cluster of activity surrounding your book. This is much easier to get if the bulk of your pre-orders happen in the few days leading up to your launch.
Keep Track of Your Support and Be Sure to Follow Up
The moment your book launches, check back in with each person who agreed to post a review on that one-hundred reader list of yours and remind them that your book is ready for reviews. Getting as many reviews as possible posted on the first day of sales is crucial.
If some of those people who promised to leave reviews are dragging their feet, just a quick personal check in does wonders. You can even add in the link to your book to make it as easy as possible for them to simply click, rate, and write a few words.
Seek Out Interviews with Podcasts Related to Your Book’s Topic
In Pia’s case, she hired a service called Interview Connections to help book her with podcasters who would be interested in her book and willing to interview her. Pia not only gave free copies of the book to the podcast hosts she spoke with, she also offered the first chapter for free to the podcast’s listeners.
Going this route, another great tip is to add a link to purchase the rest of the book at the end of the listeners’ free chapters. Podcasts have a spectacular trend of helping to move books, so this is an essential way to reach more people interested in your topic. The listeners get hooked, they have instant access to what you discuss on the podcast, and they have greater opportunity to support the rest of your book once they’ve read your first chapter.
The podcasts worked so well for Pia that she continues to do podcast interviews — just not at the same rate as she was during her launch.
To hear more about how many she was doing during the launch and how it worked, watch the interview.
If you have a non-fiction book, you can follow Pia’s advice. In her book, she offers a downloadable workbook which allows her to get readers on her email list. Part of that series of emails includes a request to leave a review for her book.
This is how Pia consistently gets reviews without reaching out to people individually anymore!
For novelists on the other hand, consider adding an Endnote Review Request. This is just a quick note to thank readers and request that all-important review. Don’t be shy about adding this. Some of the readers who enjoyed your book will be happy to contribute a review if they see a little Call to Action like this endnote.
Remember that Bigger Companies Have More Followers — Followers You Can LEVERAGE
Pia’s biggest downloads day was after she agreed to a short partnership with BookBub and made the full book available for free to their members. What happened next?
Badass Your Brand had over 20,000 downloads in two days!
So even though those 20,000 were not sales Pia was making money on, that’s 20,000 more people who had her book in their hands, were able to leave her reviews, find more information about Pia, and recommend the book to their connections, too.
All in all, there many ways to market your book, and some of those ways will take trial and error, depending on the author and depending on the book. Starting with a solid base of reviews and consistent support to drive your book’s momentum is a great way to start.
To hear what didn’t work for Pia (which was a $10,000 mistake) and to get more details on the strategies above, watch the interview.
If you’ve used any of these strategies or you have others to share, join us in the comments to tell us what worked — and what didn’t!
Co-written by Mary O'Brien