Selling Your Book Online


Selling your book online can be a daunting proposition, so it pays to take some time to think about marketing.

If you’ve spent months or even years honing a novel to perfection, don’t fly off half-cocked when it comes to selling to the unsuspecting public. Take a gander at what everyone else is doing. Find what works for YOU and don’t be afraid to discard what doesn’t.

Experiment but be mindful of how you will appear to followers and fans if you get it wrong.

When describing the greatest book you’ve ever written to the online community, don’t succumb to the formula “it’s X meets Y”:

The film Enders Game was recently advertised as Harry Potter meets Star Wars. You could just as easily say it was The Creature from the Black Lagoon meets The Teletubbies.

It’s Harry Potter meets Star Wars if Harry Potter is in Star Wars and shoving his magic wand up Darth Vader’s chaff. Try to avoid this approach. It’s lame and has less impact than you think.

Equally, don’t say “it’s like X only…”:  It’s Tolkien but darker?  Darker than Tolkien? Really? Seriously, someone tweeted that once.

If you are selling a book online and promote yourself on Twitter and Facebook don’t be all me, me, me. Social media requires you to give more than you take. Okay, you want to get those sales moving but flooding Twitter or Facebook with the same incessant “buy me I’m brilliant” messages will give the average follower a headache.

Remember: If a follower has several thousand followers, they probably won’t notice your excessive, selfish tweeting. If your follower only has a few they almost certainly will and could quickly become exasperated enough to remove your timeline from their list.

Don’t DM followers with a request to tweet your book. It’s a Twitter faux pas and is another way to encourage people to get rid of you. It smacks of desperation. And it rarely works.

It’s a simple thing, but make sure your message is grammatically correct before you send it. How can you expect people to read your book if you can’t even spell?

Find a writing niche and blog it. If you are writing ghost stories perhaps confine your blog to ghosts. Make your blog the place to go for the latest in vampire news if you’re re-imagining Dracula.  If you write books helping people to write, keep to the process of writing, don’t throw in the occasional cake recipe, no matter how nice it is.

Form a collective. Take an interest in other people who are writing in the same genre. If you write zombie apocalypse tales, get to know other zombie freaks. Find the ones you feel comfortable with and form an unholy alliance – advertise each other’s books and blog posts, collaborate on a vlog or two, build your following together.

Opinions matter when selling your book online

Don’t be too opinionated if you’re trying to get people to buy your YA novel “Posy Goes to Washington” or the next great installment of Buffy Fan Fiction. If you want to fly off the handle about tea parties, Obama care, gas prices, thieving politicians, abortion, the futility of life, the universe and everything, do it in the pub not on social media.

But: Do be opinionated if your novel is a searing treatise on the underlying cruelty of humanity or you’re writing an expose of the failure of democracy in Western civilization. People will expect you to vent your spleen.

Above all, don’t be in a hurry when selling your book online. A million copies of your novel are not going to be downloaded this year. Take it slow and easy. Build your fan base, have a nice cool drink and start writing that next book.

2 thoughts on “Selling Your Book Online

  1. Good useful advice for those of us who want a new Porsche next week. I can wait a while.

  2. The thing that irritates me most about marketing on Twitter is the thing you mentioned about messages being grammatically correct – I’d also add spell-checked to that! There’s nothing more likely to put me off clicking on a link than a wrong letter somewhere in the tweet. It tends to be the people who incessantly market online who fall prey to this, a lesson to us all!

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