Self-publishing is getting more popular every day. More than 30 percent of books on Amazon’s Kindle Store are now self-published, and the number is gradually growing. These authors dominate a number of writing genres, including romance, mystery, and sci-fi, so it’s safe to assume you’ve read at least one book by a self-publisher if you’re into reading.
If you’re interested in writing as well, it’s very likely you considered publishing your books without any outside assistance as well. If you still are, we have prepared seven hacks for you to become great at it.
Hack #1: Create a Great Website
A website is your online resume, portfolio, and a business card. If you’re applying for a job or querying an agent, someone on the receiving end will surely look you up online. Your potential readers will, too.
The first critical thing to consider is domain:
- Domain name: it’s much better to buy a domain to have a professional-looking URL. For example, authorname.com, booktitle.com.
- Try to include keywords. For example, instead of johnjohnson.com, you can use johjjohnsonauthor.com.
- Think about creating your own brand. For example, the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Joanna Penn created a website called The Creative Penn. She has been owning all searches on creative writing since.
Consider these assets for your website:
- Your professional bio
- Book cover images
- Succinct descriptions of each book
- Long descriptions of each book
- Links to online stores that sell your books
Hack #2: Work on SEO
Once you’ve created your website, you need to make sure that people can find it on Google. SEO could be a difficult concept to grasp for those without a marketing background, so some tips will certainly be useful.
- Perform keyword research. If you have been told that researching keywords is for content marketers, forget it, you’re your own marketer now. Use Google AdWords keyword planner and find the keywords used in your industry.
- Install a SEO plugin. Tools like Yoast are great for improving overall friendliness of your website to Google and teaching you a bit about SEO.
- Optimize images. This is done by using keywords in title and alt tags.
- Insert links to external articles in your blog. Google recognizes if the article is trusted by investigating the links to external, reliable websites.
- Use professional help if SEO still seems too complicated.
Hack #3: Create a Stunning Book Cover
It’s clear that writing and design are two distinct skills. Even the best writing skills in the world don’t guarantee that your design will be the best as well. Since it is a known fact that good-quality covers help to sell more books than those without, you need to ensure that the cover works for your benefit.
Even though there are some great (and free) book cover makers like Canva, your best bet is still to go with professional designers. An experienced reader will immediately notice an amateur cover, and, despite what people say, many of us judge books by their covers.
Anyway, if you decide to use a professional, check out this guide to finding the best book cover designer.
Hack #4: Find Your Niche
This is a tricky one. If you have already published at Amazon, you noticed that it allows to select only two categories for listing your book. The choice is clearly inadequate, so you have to do your best to find your niche and reduce the competition as much as you can.
For example, if you’re writing fiction books for men, you will find out that “Men’s Fiction” category is huge and you will be competing against everybody there. A better way is to list your book in this case would be “Sci-Fi” category, “Sci-Fi fiction for men” subcategory. This more focused targeting will ensure minimum competition.
Hack #5: Create an Amazon Author Page
If you’re a self-publisher, you need a representation on Amazon because, well, it’s the largest book store in the world. By creating an Author Page there, you will have access to some great features, such as sales tracking, help with using Amazon for authors, and others.
Having a page there increases the exposure of your works and Google rankings. Seriously, there is no harm in creating but benefits. Have your bio, images, and other information about you ready when signing up.
Hack #6: Use Kindle Direct
Amazon has another great feature for self-publishers called Kindle Direct Program, which could be a huge help for sales. It allows to publish ebooks and paperbacks and sending them to Kindle stores within 48 hours, which is a kind of exposure no other platform provides.
Amazon charges up to 30 percent of all sales of your book, but it seems fair since they send it to all their stores worldwide. Registration and publishing are free, so they charge you only when you begin to make profits.
Interested? Here’s a step-by-step guide to Kindle Direct Program.
Hack #7: Raise Awareness!
The last hack on our list is one of the most complex ones. Since you’re in charge of promotion of your book, you have to make sure you tell people big news. It is recommended to start promotion several months before the release to create some anticipation, so your website should contain regular updates on progress and even a Pre-Order button if necessary.
You should be getting busy on social media as well. Update your followers on a regular basis and keep them interested. Do as much you can to get the word out there!
Bonus Hack: 2014 Smashwords Survey revealed that $2.99-3.99 was the sweet spot for a bestseller. Don’t go too low and set your price at $0.99, it won’t make you rich plus, it’s bad for your image. Adjust your price accordingly!
The number of self-published authors grows every day, so don’t hesitate and begin your journey. I hope these hacks will be useful for you to get to Amazon best-seller lists!