(541) 848-5219 joel@launchmybook.com

Like so many writers out there you may be considering the self-publishing route because you’ve read several articles and blog posts about how easy it is to get your book published. 

While print-on-demand companies like Amazon KDP and IngramSpark do in fact make it convenient for authors to turn a manuscript into a book without needing a traditional publisher, we wouldn’t go so far as to call it “easy.” 

Sorry to burst your bubble, but self-publishing is not the “easier” route when it comes to publishing a book. In fact, self-published authors have to be more than just writers. They also have to be their own marketing team. It’s not enough to write the book, you have to know how to make it attractive to your potential audience. 

And like all things, the devil is in the details. So to take your self-published book from good to great here are some of our favorite tips for first-time authors: 

Invest in a Quality Book Cover

We cannot stress this enough. A quality book cover is one of the best investments you can make as a self-published author. While a first-time author might be tempted to utilize Amazon’s book cover generator, an eye-catching book cover is what will set your book apart from mediocre, self-published books. 

Typically we don’t recommend trying to create a cover yourself, or using a free program. Unless you’re a talented graphic artist, creating book covers is an art that requires both skill and talent.

Remember, the book cover is the first thing a potential reader will see so it’s worth investing time and money into it. You may have the greatest book ever written, but if no one wants to read it then it’s not going to do you any good.

Book covers on Amazon also need to appeal to readers differently than book covers in a bookstore. Most of your potential readers are only going to see your book cover in a small, thumbnail format, so it has to be attractive enough to make them click on it. A book cover that might do well in a traditional bookstore might not translate well to a digital format. 

Depending on your self-publishing budget, it’s always a good idea to save a few hundred dollars to higher a book cover designer.

Write a Catchy Book Description

Here is another area where you want to take your time. If your book cover draws in a potential reader, your book description is your one chance to grab their attention enough to make a sale.

This isn’t the same blurb you wrote for the back cover. This is strategic book marketing copy that starts with a powerful hook. What problem do you have the answer to? What emotion are you trying to evoke? Can you grab the reader’s attention in less than three sentences because that’s really all you have?

Take your time here to get it right. And, if you need help, check out an article we wrote on how to write a catchy book description 

Research Keywords and Categories

When you upload your title to Amazon KDP you will be asked to select up to three categories and seven keywords. We recommend using a software like Publisher Rocket to determine the best categories and keywords for your book, but you can do it old-school as well.

Don’t pick broad categories (especially if you’re wanting to hit any category best seller lists).Rather, use the category selection tool to drill down into as many niche categories as make sense for your book.

Before selecting your categories, go out to Amazon and see what other books exist in that category. Do their readers feel like your readers? If so, it’s a good fit.

A similar strategy works for keywords. Too often people think of keywords as single words or phrases when really they should be using the keyword function like they use Google. Ask yourself: what question would someone type into Google (or in this case Amazon) that I have the answer for? What search terms are people using for this kind of content?

Again, you can use a software tool to look at the competitive levels, and average monthly search volume, or you can do some creative thinking about the kinds of questions and search terms people might be using while looking for the content in your book. 

Create an Amazon Author Central Account

After your book is live on Amazon you can go to author.amazon.com and create an Author Central Account and then claim the book as your own. From your Author Central Account you can add a professional headshot, a well-written biography, and even add things like editorial reviews to your book page.

Offer your Book in Multiple Formats

One way to ensure you don’t miss out on any readers is by making sure you have a version of your book in every format, including print, ebook, and audiobook. This gives readers a choice of how to interact with your content in the way that works best for them. 

If you are working with a professional interior formater they can easily convert your print book into an ebook optimized for Kindle readers. Ideally when it is time to launch your book you will have a print and ebook version available right away. The audiobook can come later (and technically has to since you need a live book on Amazon before Audible will let you upload an audiobook version) but it is still worth having.

If recording your own audiobook feels intimidating, it doesn’t have to be! Check out our article on how to record an audiobook. And, if you need extra support, we have an entire course dedicated to recording audiobooks. 

Consider Running an Amazon Price Promotion

Once your book is live you have the option of enrolling your ebook in KDP Select, which gives you access to Kindle Unlimited readers, and Amazon’s price promotions– like selling your book for .99 cents, or our favorite: giving the ebook away for free for 5 days. While all of these promos require other marketing efforts to be successful, they are worth looking into. 

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