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Steve Alvest


How to Sell 80,000 Books

This list was adapted from a post from my blog, Shock Notes.

With the launch of Kindle in 2007, Amazon started a revolution in the publishing industry. The Kindle cut out the middle-men and allowed anyone with a computer to publish a book.

Today, there are millions of self-published books available on Kindle. The vast majority of books only sell a few copies. Most authors ignore one of the most important things that traditional publishers do. Traditional publishers are experts at distribution and marketing of books.

In her book How I Sold 80,000 Books, author Alinka Rutkowska shares the book marketing strategies that propelled her to success. Instead of selling a handful of copies of her books as most authors do, she sold 80,000. Here are my biggest takeaways from the book.

How to Sell 80,000 Books

    1. Product

    It doesn’t matter how good you are at marketing. If your product sucks, you will not have long-term success. Pay attention to details. Hire professionals to do your editing, covers, and formatting. Pay particular attention to selecting a good title and writing a book description.

    2. Place

    Amazon represents the biggest book market, so it makes sense to concentrate your initial efforts there. Once you’ve established yourself as an author, you should try expanding to the other book markets. Draft2Digital helps you easily publish to the other e-book platforms.

    3. Price

    Many Kindle readers are price sensitive when it comes to books. If you are an unknown author, you should price as low as possible. You might also consider distributing your books for free to gain exposure. Free books get 50 times more downloads than $0.99 books.

    4. Promotion

    There are numerous awards you can win for your book. All you have to do is submit your book to them along with an entry fee. If you win an award, you can put it on your cover and use it as another marketing weapon in your arsenal. The author’s favorite award contest is the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest (probably because she won it once). She lists dozens more in her book.

    5. Grow your email list

    Ten ways to get subscribers to your email list: offering permafree books, Wattpad, StoryCartel, NoiseTrade, content marketing on your blog, Goodreads, contact Amazon reviewers, Facebook ads, Twitter ads.

    6. Giveaways

    You can increase your subscriber base with a giveaway. Some popular choices are Rafflecopter, KingSumo, and UpViral.

    7. Social media

    If you’re going to use social media to promote your book, the most useful sites are Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

    8. Bookbub

    Bookbub is one of the biggest e-book deals sites. They are very selective of the books they promote. It can also be expensive to promote your books on Bookbub. But despite the expenses involved, if you can get a Bookbub promotion you will sell hundreds of books.

    9. Reviews

    Reviews can make or break your book’s success. The quantity of reviews often matters more than quality. For every 100 books you sell, you will only get one unsolicited review. You can get more reviews by sending out free copies of your book to people in exchange for an honest review. Once the first 5-star reviews come in, get as many people as possible to click “Yes” on the “Is this review helpful?” question below the review. Doing this will make sure the best reviews are shown first.

    10. Further reading

    The author recommends reading these books: How to Make a Living with your Writing by Joanna Penn, Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran, Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl, Reader Magnets by Nick Stephenson, Book Reviews that Sell by Gary Webb, On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.

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