With all the false "conventional wisdom" out there, it's surprising that you'd be reading something like this. I mean, all that stuff is supposed to work, isn't it?
Well, not too surprising, since most self-publishing authors still can't quit their day job - because their books simply don't sell. And "most" is about 97% or so. So the smart ones like you are still looking.
So - Welcome.
There's a reason some authors sell and some don't - it's audience.
Not "platform" - Audience.
Your actual audience will buy your current books, your earlier books, and tell you want they want you to write next - setting that up for an "instant bestseller." Audiences buy things. Platforms just sit there.
The term "platform" has been used to include all the things you do to market you book which take you away from anything that actually gets the earlier ones sold and the next ones written. It comes from traditional publishers, who want to make you feel good about all those things you do which are supposedly marketing, but are mostly time-wasters. Big numbers of Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends doesn't equate to sold books. Tweeting or liking someone's cat pictures doesn't get your books promoted.
Real promotion means building your audience. Anything that doesn't do that isn't worth your time. Might as well go off and perfect your horseshoe game.
After the decade of study I've done to narrow down and isolate the basics which actually do help you sell your books online - this is the bottom line. Everyone talked about it, or around it, but no one would say exactly how to get it. Meanwhile, there was a lot of justification for doing all sorts of things which never wound up as sales or building a verifiable audience.
I was talking to a couple of self-published authors recently, and they had the same exact problem - no audience and no clue how to get one. But it brought up that they missed the point: Build Your Audience First.
This post is how to build a foundation to your continuing online book sales, not just a "platform" where you maybe, might just possibly get someone to think about buying one.
How to Get an Audience (not a platform.)The bogus term is to call it a platform - it isn't. Social media isn't something you build on - it's just a time suck. That is, unless you are actually using it to get people to join your audience.
Since you already have a book published, we are going to fill in the missing steps:
0. Get an autoresponder.
Do nothing else until you get this done. Don't make my mistake. If you don't have an autoresponder, you aren't building any audience, and your book sales are poor (if not non-existent) without one. Every single multiple-hit author I've researched had one of these. Every one. When others put in the time to set one of these up, their continuing sales took off - not just a spike from a "one-shot wonder".
A recommended autoresponder to start with is Mail Chimp as it's free for the first few hundred emails you collect. (There are other autoresponders with free plans as well. Mail Chimp is just really easy to get started.)
Go directly to your autoresponder and sign up. Like I said, it's free. And will take you maybe 15 minutes.
Do not pass "Go". Do nothing else.
Get this done first.
(No, it's not particularly logical, but it is the single one thing which separates profitable winners from starve-in-the-garret wannabe's. Get This Done First before anything else. I'm not kidding.)
1. Get a domain. This can be anything. Your name is fine, your pen-name is fine, your dog's middle name is fine. Just get something that's fairly easy to spell and remember. Maybe you want to start a publishing company - it just doesn't matter. Pick something. Really.
Your blog will get no respect if you've got ".blogger.com" or ".wordpress.com" or ".anyotherbloghost.com" after it. They'll know you're an amateur - and so will the search engines. Get Your Domain Name. Maybe $11 a year. Invest in yourself.
2. Get a blog and put the domain on it. Maybe you want a Wordpress blog. I'd get a Blogger blog as they host you for free. The point is to get someone else to host your site for you that doesn't cost you money that your books aren't earning yet. You want to spend your time writing, not caring for a blog everyday and updating plugin's, fighting security problems, etc.
We'll go over what you're going to put on that blog in a little bit - just hold on. Not a big deal, actually. Just get it set up. Don't add any content or anything. Make sure http://yourdomain.com works. One step at a time.
3. Put the auto-responder script so people can opt-in to your list via that blog. Just follow the directions -it's pretty simple. Put that script right up top - so people see it as one of the very first things on the blog. That's called "above the fold." I like to put it over on the right sidebar, with the content on the left. But you can do whatever you want. Just set it so any visitor sees it right off.
4. Now create a landing page for your book using it's existing title, cover, description, and links to the distributors that sell it. Then I'd suggest getting something like Ganxy to help you sell it directly on your blog. (That 95% royalty should excite you a bit.) But we really want to list all the various places people can buy it. Because they have their preferences. This seems counter-intuitive, but it's not. Providing value is the key.
Ganxy can link to your hardcopy versions as well as audio books - even if you don't have them now, this sets it up so you can update your landing page in the future to sell those then.
5. Go back to that ebook and add the link in both front and back so people can "Visit [domain].com for more material and related books." That's where they go directly to that landing page on your blog. Update that ebook on all your current distributors.
Note: Ebooks are audience-builders, they are emissaries. They are not an end-all to everything - they are only a starting point. (Read that as many times as you need to in order to get it to sink in.)
- - - -
Technically, that is all the bare-bones you need to build an audience. You could stop here - but your audience actually won't let you. And you do want as big an audience as you can manage.
6. Post your first three chapters of your book - one chapter per post - on your blog. Make sure each of them have a link at the bottom where you send people to the book landing page to get their own copy - and tell them to opt-in to your list if they haven't already.
And you can continue doing this through the entire book if you want - but for now, just get those first three chapters up.
Oh - and go visit Pixabay or any other public domain image host. Find some appealing, interesting, appropriate images for each post. Put these at the top of your post. Keep that in as a habit. People love pictures.
- - - -
All of this costs you nothing, particularly, except your time.
Get all of the above done first before you do anything else. Get these done.
I'm emphatic here as this is exactly what struggling authors don't do. And it hardly mentioned by the "authorities" on how to sell your book online.
Do nothing else until you get all the above done. Period.
- - - -
OK, with that done, we can start getting some real traffic to your blog:
7. Podcast each chapter you've posted.
You'll need to find my posts on podcasting and follow those steps. You'll need to buy a decent USB podcasting microphone (under $100 - Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti are popular, but Plantronics headsets are acceptable as well.) And you'll need to download Audacity (free) and learn how to use it. It's short learning curve, actually. (Hint: click on the red "record" button and start talking.)
The reason for this is that podcasting immediately jumps your blog traffic. Weird, but true. People especially want to hear the author read their own book.
What this also does is to give you an audio book later which you can also self-publish. Or at least audio chapters you can post on for people to download as part of your book bundles.
A key point: at the end of each podcast - make sure you tell people to opt-in to your list.
Every. single. time.
8. After this, keep adding to your blog. Yes, there's a lot of study you can do on SEO and all that. And you can study copywriting to really make your blog posts stand out. But your book chapters should do fine. If you do nothing but the steps outlined here, you'll start seeing traffic and getting people opting-in to your list.
Blog and podcast that whole first book. Then drop the price to .99 so they can get it easily.
Ask for feedback from your audience from time to time - what do they want, what would they like to see more of, what problem (non-fiction writers) do they most need to solve? The ones which write you regularly - get their honest reviews of your writing style.
9. Once you have an audience and a direction to go, then you'll find what your next book should actually be. (For public domain indie publishers, this will tell you what your next book series should be about.)
10. These steps - regular blogging and regular podcasting - will continue to grow your audience. Just keep giving them a call-to-action to join your list. Each release you make is announced to your audience first. It's only when you have an audience that you can really take advantage of your pre-release specials and pre-orders, etc. Not to mention Amazon reviews.
11. Notice that I didn't mention social media. If you're not doing this, you don't have to start.
Otherwise, the two best social networks to be on are LinkedIn and Google+ - because they are content-based, not cute-kitty and ailing-relatives-based. Join and participate in appropriate groups on those two platforms.
Set up IFTTT to take care of posting updates and links everywhere else. (LinkedIn will post to Twitter for you.)
Yes, that may sound a bit harsh. LinkedIn is much bigger than Twitter. And you can do full-length posts there (not just a hundred characters or so.) Google+ will help your blog standings. Communities on these are very educational. Just give great value and never spam or even once say "Buy My Book!" They'll find your blog and find your book - once you've helped enough other people openhandedly. Always, always - give value first.
- - - -
Those 11 steps are simply all there is to selling books online. The rest is built on this as a foundation. It's only taken me about two years to boil everything down to this one key factor:
The only way you get an audience is to build a list for their emails and let them join. Then you can talk to them and find out what you should actually be doing to best help them.
In return, they'll buy your books and recommend them to the people they talk to regularly.
Engaged fans are the proven route to success.
Let them join you on your own journey - and their success will be yours.
- - - -
Make sure you're opted-in above to not miss a single white-fisted, hair-raising, cliff-hanging adventure in self-publishind.
This podcast brought to you by LiveSensical.com