Writing a book is a lot of work. You spend all the time to get your book published, thousands of dollars in outsourcing for the cover, editing, formatting…and then launch! But after the big buzz wears down, if you don't know how to promote a book, your book will sit on Amazon like a ship that just lost its engines – lost and drifting in a sea of other books.
Without a proper marketing plan and book promotion blueprint, your book risks sinking before help arrives.
In this article, we are going to dive deep into the best ways to learn how to promote a book. These strategies are the best we have seen when it comes to:
- Getting consistent book sales and;
- Maintaining a better-than-average ranking in the Amazon bookstore. (A good ranking is considered anything under #30,000, or selling 8-10 books a day.)
Learning how to promote a book is hard work, and it takes persistence and ongoing effort. But if you put in the time, you can make it work. Your book will stay afloat in the rankings and be ahead of the game, leaving most of the other books behind in your swell.
Learning how to promote a book effectively is key to your book’s success.
In this article, we will introduce you to the best book promotion tools and techniques so you can learn how to promote your book successfully.
This Guide on How to Promote a Book Will Cover:
The Critical Ingredients for Book Promotion (and Selling More Books)
Regardless if you have one book ready to launch or ten books already in your book funnel, you need to begin learning how to promote a book today.
Before we even get into throwing your book out there into the world of marketing, here are the critical essentials that you MUST have before your book can start selling. If you haven’t published yet, you want to use this criteria to make sure everything is lined up.
If you have already published, use this book marketing checklist to make any necessary changes so you can market your book effectively. If not, you could be throwing money away on a book that won’t sell. No matter what you do.
The things you should have ready as you learn how to promote a book are:
A killer book cover
Your book cover has to sell your book. Period. Unless you’re a famous author and can move millions of copies per year no matter the cover, you need to impress people with your book cover design whenever you can. Not every cover is going to win an award, but you do have to win the sale.
Here are some great book covers:
If you are looking for online book cover designers when learning how to promote a book, our top recommendations are:
- 99 Designs – a network of designers
- eBook Launch – services specifically for eBooks and print
- 100 Covers – cover design and book production services
- Fiverr – freelancers of all sorts
- Upwork – another freelancer website
- Deviant Art – a network of freelance artists
A great book launch
If your book has already been published but the launch wasn’t great, you can relaunch it. But if you haven’t let it loose yet and the big launch day is coming up, get ready now so you don’t miss out.
Check out our blog for tips on mastering a successful book launch.
Your optimized book description
Your book description will be a sales page that lists the benefits (and pain points) of the book. It should have a mixture of various font styles and structures to create a clean, attractive description of your book.
We recommend using the free Amazon Book Description Generator Tool. This saves time in having to learn that nasty HTML coding. But if you enjoy that sort of thing…
Here is a shot of a well-optimized book description:
Your book description should include highly optimized keywords selected from Dave Chesson’s Publisher Rocket software.
Optimized Keywords for KDP
Finding the best keywords for KDP will get your book ranking in the top search results, which means it’ll turn up in front of your customers as they search for the relevant keywords.
High rankings mean more visibility, which leads to greater book sales. This makes it easier to promote your book when you already have the best keywords locked into your description and KDP.
A book that has been poorly edited is going to receive negative reviews. By poor writing quality, we’re not talking about the occasional grammar error (which can easily be corrected during a proofread) but a book filled with bad grammar, misspellings, and a sloppy appearance.
This translates to a negative reader experience. And it’s difficult to promote a book that has bad customer reviews. A few negative reviews are fine, but if the majority are bad complaints, you have a problem.
Luckily, it's fairly easy to find a book editor. Ask other authors in your genre if they can recommend someone. Your editing will be the biggest expense for the book but you don’t want to cut corners with this. The cost is worth the price in the long run.
Categories picked on Amazon
When you upload your book for the first time, Amazon KDP will offer you a select list of categories to choose from. At first glance, you will notice that the selection seems rather limited and is missing plenty of categories that you’ve seen other books rank for. Unfortunately, Amazon has done this intentionally so that they can place new books into their own Kindle categories.
Don’t let Amazon determine your categories. There are thousands of sub-categories you can rank for.
Now that you have the essential elements for your book, it is time to learn how to promote your book.
How to Promote a Book: 18 Effective Strategies
Here are the top performance strategies for learning how to promote a book. We know that writing, launching, and marketing is hard work but, if you leverage your book promotion and be strategic in your approach, it will pay you back exponentially.
1. Join (or create) an Author Collaboration Swap
Joining—or creating author swaps—is a great strategy for how to promote a book. It is great to be able to collaborate with other authors, too.
Here is a sample of the email you might receive to join an author collaboration. You can also use this template as a way to invite other authors to your circle.
But after setting up an author collaboration, how does it work? There are two basic types:
- The $0.99 author collaboration.
- The FREE BOOK collaboration.
The $0.99 author collaboration is exactly as it sounds. Every author drops the price of their book to $0.99 for 48 hours. The administrator then creates a landing page with all authors' book covers.
When the promo begins, you share your unique link with your list, and post via social media. Depending on the size of your list—and the authors in your circle—this could generate anywhere from 20 sales…to thousands of sales. It all comes down to the numbers.
You will receive a swipe copy—promotional email—to share with your readers on the day of the promo, which looks like this:
The book swap is similar to the $0.99 promo bundle. But here, you provide a book for free via PDF or MOBI download and promote the landing page—created by the administrator—to use with your list.
Here is a sample of the landing page:
How to set up your own landing page (and event) for an author collaboration
You might be joining a collaboration by invite and, if that is the case, there isn’t a lot you need to do but submit your book format and cover.
Basically what you're doing is looking for authors to participate in this joint promotion that should run for 24-48 hours. Each author submits their cover and the link to a landing page where the book is given away for free. Every author who is going to be participating will agree to share this page with their email list, social media followers, and/or other influencers.
When you're doing the initial outreach and looking for other authors to participate, ideally you want authors who have a similar target audience to you. That's what makes this such an amazing method for how to promote a book.
You can expect to add anywhere from 50 subscribers to 2000 email subscribers to your email list every time you do this. It depends on how many authors are participating and how big their list is.
If you're just starting out, don't go after authors who have big email lists. This would be authors with lists of over 5,000. You might want to reach out to people who have 500 email subscribers or 1000, as that's a good starting point for a first collaboration. From there, you can expect to add about 200 to 300 people to your email list
If you launch more books—or products, or courses—in the future, you now have your own built-in marketing funnel to promote to. This saves you time and energy from chasing people to buy your book.
2. Leverage the Bookbub Platform
What is Bookbub?
BookBub is a book aggregating platform that offers free and discounted eBooks to readers, while allowing authors to gain greater readership through advertised book deals.
BookBub offers a wide selection of books to readers at discounted prices for a limited time. This is available through their Bookbub Ads or “Featured Deal” campaigns.
BookBub has over 12 million readers and a massive fanbase, so authors have the opportunity to reach a massive audience when using BookBub as a method for how to promote a book.
BookBub is an amazing platform when it comes to combatting low book sales. Authors can leverage the platform to increase their readership and maximize their exposure. But how do you promote your book with a platform that is not owned by Amazon?
Here’s how to promote a book on BookBub and drive more traffic and sales:
- Featured Deals. The pinnacle of book deals! Getting accepted for a featured deal means your book will be in front of thousands of readers thirsting for your content.
- BookBub Advertising. Creating highly-targeted ads to promote your book on the platform is a powerful way to increase book sales.
- Recommendations. Recommending other authors’ books will increase your author activity on the site, improve engagement, and build your own readership.
- Pre-Release. Using BookBub’s pre-release feature is another strong way method for how to promote a book.
- Preorder Alerts. Readers on BookBub can follow their favorite authors to find out when they have a deal or new release available. Pre-order Alerts let you email these loyal fans when an author has a book available for pre-order, helping to ensure your launch week is as successful as possible.
- Create a BookBub Author Profile. Setting up an author profile means you have a designated webpage on the BookBub site just for you!
BookBub Ads for Authors
BookBub ads have a similar function to Amazon AMS ads—to sell more books. But the platform is set up differently, so there are some distinct variations.
Depending on your target audience and budget, we recommend testing Amazon ads and BookBub ads when learning how to promote a book. This helps you to see which platform is more lucrative for your particular niche.
How do BookBub ads work?
You can run a BookBub ads campaign at any time for your book. When you create a campaign, you decide which readers you want to target, which authors to target, the budget you’re willing to pay for impressions or clicks from those readers, and the length of your ad campaign.
Once your ad is live, it competes with other ad campaigns in an auction. When a reader opens an email from BookBub, they serve the ad to the highest bidding advertiser targeting that reader at that moment.
The steps for setting up a BookBub ad are:
Step One: Click on the green button “Create New Ad”.
This will open up a new screen that looks like this:
Step Two: Choose your Book
Choose a book. This is the book you added to the BookBub platform when you set up your author profile. Start typing in your book's name and wait for it to bring up your book. If you’re not seeing it, then you haven’t added it to your account.
Step Three: Add your ad creative.
Once you’ve chosen your book, it’s time to create your ad creative. You have two options: Upload an Existing Creative or Build a New Creative.
We always recommend you create your own creative with Canva when learning how to promote a book. Or, you can outsource it to someone on Fiverr or another freelancer site.
Your creative MUST be good. It’s the only thing potential buyers are going to see when they click on your book ad.
Here are some examples of ad creatives for BookBub:
Step Four: Add click-through links.
The next section is choosing your links. BookBub will automatically pull in the links that it can find, but you can also add your own. This is where BookBub Ads are really powerful when publishing on multiple platforms like Kobo, Nook, iBooks, or multiple Amazon countries.
Step Five: Adjust audience targeting.
The next area is audience targeting.
You have the option to target various authors and categories. Only choose one author per ad for tracking purposes when learning how to promote a book.
Run several ads with different ad creatives and test with various authors in your niche. You will get much better results this way and be able to identify the authors that perform well for your book and genre.
This is how BookBub really excels, by lasering in on your target audience and getting specific with the readers seeing your ad.
You can choose multiple categories but, again, we recommend you run with one category and one author when learning how to promote a book.
Step Six: Enter schedule and budget.
You have the option to schedule your ads continuously or for a set timeframe. For your first ad, choose a start and end date.
Next, enter your total campaign budget (start off at $5.00 per day) and tick “spread across date range”. So if you had opted to run your ad for 5 days at $5 per day, that would be a total campaign budget of $25.
The final part of setting up your BookBub ad is to choose your bid type and amount. We’re going to focus on the standard BookBub ad which is a CPM.
You should see this screen:
Step Seven: Monitor and edit your campaign.
Return to the “Manage Ad” section of your dashboard to access ad reporting. You can search for ad names or filter by campaign status to view live, completed, or scheduled campaigns.
If you are interested in learning more about BookBub, you can get in-depth information in our BookBub guide.
3. Create a Powerful (and Optimized) Lead Magnet
Your lead magnet is something that you offer your audience in exchange for their email address or contact information. You should include your lead magnet at the front of all your books, too. Look for any opportunity to get your sign-up link in front of your audience when learning how to promote a book.
Having a giveaway or freebie—also known as a lead magnet or free offer—is a necessary component of any business for bringing in new traffic, and converting your traffic to subscribers, and then buyers.
Planning to include a lead magnet together with your book makes it super-easy for readers to discover your brand.
When learning how to promote a book, your lead magnet has a two-fold purpose.
First, it needs to serve your purpose as an author or business owner.
Second, it must serve the purpose of your subscribers.
Why are they signing up in the first place? You must know why, and be prepared to deliver on that WHY.
Here is a small list of high-converting lead magnet ideas to consider:
- Action guide
- Video series
- 15-minute coaching session
- Next chapter of the next book for free
- Email newsletter
After creating a lead magnet, you should consider placing it in these places:
- Lead magnet in a book (front and back matter)
- On your author website
- Link on your Amazon Author Central page
- Social media pages, including your Facebook Author Page
- Blog posts (embedded in content or at the end of the post)
Here are some examples of lead magnet images:
Your lead magnet builds your email list, and the email list is what you use to promote your future books and products. So be sure to set up a great lead magnet and get people on board when learning how to promote a book.
4. Run Regular Promotions (with Book Promo Sites)
I run regular promotions with my books—at least once every three months—and a great way to leverage this is to use the best book promo sites for bringing in sales.
These are the book promotion sites we use again and again to rocket to a #1 bestseller every time.
Please NOTE: The results vary depending on the type of book (general audience vs. specific niche).
You can use these promo sites to ways:
- Launching a new book: Stack up your promo week with book promo ads.
- Promoting an existing book: You can promote current books every 3-6 months using the book promo sites. Drop the price of your book to $0.99 for 5-7 days and set up the ads. Use this in conjunction with your email list (or influencer lists) and you should have a successful launch/promo week.
How to schedule book promotions:
When learning how to promote a book, there isn’t any one-size-fits-all formula for scheduling book promo sites. You can set up one promo per day over the course of 10-12 days, or stack 2-3 promos per day over five days.
When I launch a book, I usually set up a group of paid promo sites to boost the rankings and get the book onto the front page (and the #1 spot) of that category.
The Top Performing Book Promo Sites
Here is a list of the best-performing promo sites I target for both a new book launch, and running regular promotions on existing books.
The price will vary depending on the category and audience of your book.
Most of these sites charge a standard one-time fee to promote your book for one day at $0.99, or when running a free promo if your book is in KDP.
For best results, and to maximize your book rankings, I recommend using the sites for their paid ads (at $0.99) when learning how to promote a book.
Buckbooks costs $29. You need 10 reviews before they'll schedule you.
Note: You can promote a second book on the same day for only 25% of the price, which is a great deal. But you can only promote each book once every six months.
Robin Reads is an innovative and supportive service for both publishers and authors looking to expand their audiences. They offer several premium promotion plans with genre-based pricing.
Note: RR's calendar is booked out 3-6 weeks in advance.
Reviews: 10 Reviews Needed.
If you can match BookSends up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it's a great little boost. BookSends needs five reviews.
Booksends also partners up with BookRunes and will give the option to sign up with BookRunes at the same time.
You can't go wrong with BKnights for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. You won't get a ton of downloads, but 12-25 on average depending on the book. No reviews needed.
eReader News is a great gig, but it can be hard to get approved and takes several days for a response. No reviews are needed, but they do check if you have reviews – and it may sway their decision to promote your book or not depending on review count.
At Booksbutterfly, you are basically paying for downloads, one of the few (if only) sites that does that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle ($90) that gets you 50+ downloads.
Bookdealio is an eBook deals newsletter designed with authors in mind. Along with an eBook deal promotion, authors may add a link to their website or email newsletter sign-up form. The cost to run a 1-day eBook deal promotion is $70, +$30 for additional social promotion.
To run a solo eBook deal campaign over 4 days to larger and larger lists of readers costs $250.
Authors can run a full-price title (eBook or paperback) for the cost of $250 for 2 weeks.
Paid promotion from: $70
The Fussy Librarian
The Fussy Librarian is a great promo but very hard to book in advance. (Booked out 2-3 weeks ahead.) You need 10 reviews to get accepted.
The number of subscribers in each genre varies, and your book will be included in our searchable database for 30 days as part of your fee.
Price: $20 for one-day promo
Bargain Booksy is a great promo with no reviews needed. You can sign up right away and get approved. $30 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results.
Price: From $20 (depends on genre)
Awesome Gang is a place for Kindle book authors to share their books and get them in the hands of readers. You can submit your book for free and also decide to have it featured in their special books listing for $10/book (this includes a featuring on their homepage for two days, as well as a special mention in their newsletter and social media).
Accepts: Free and discounted books
Reviews: No reviews needed
Paid promotion: $10
Book Runes has a global reach with a mailing list of over 50k people. It is a trustworthy site for both fiction and nonfiction authors.
Reviews: No reviews needed
My Book Cave
My Book Cave offers authors the possibility to promote their book to an audience of 75,000+ readers. According to their notes, they prefer to select titles with over 10 reviews, but will consider books with at least five great write-ups. In addition to promoting links to retailers, authors have the option to offer reader magnet titles to attract new subscribers.
Price: $19—$31 (depends on genre)
eReaderIQ is an eBook database and price-tracking service for Kindle books. You can submit your book for free and also use their paid advertising plans, which allow you to feature in their Daily Deals & Steals newsletters.
Paid promotion from: $10
General nonfiction for $0.99: $20
Digital Book Today
Digital Book Today provides readers with a list of free and discounted books. Permafree books can be listed for free, while other titles can be advertised with plans starting from $30.
Reviews: No reviews needed
5. Create a Series of Books (and a Series Page)
Amazon has an amazing feature that they’ve built out in the last couple of years: Series pages!
Now you can promote all the books in your series at one time by driving traffic to the series page.
For authors in the self-publishing space, writing a series is an effective strategy for how to promote a book (and cross-promote other books).
Once you have two books in the same series written and ready to be published, you can set up your book series page on Amazon.
Check this page on the Amazon site to set up and optimize your book series page.
Requirements for creating a book series page:
- Must have a minimum of two books available and ready for purchase
- Books must be in same series
- Books must be by the same author
- Must be published through KDP
- Must have the correct name in the series name field (series names must match)
- Must have the exact series name and series number (for ordered series) in one of the following places: Book cover, interior (Look Inside), book description, editorial reviews, official website, or Goodreads
- Must be available to buy
- Prequels, short stories, and novellas won’t be added to Series Collections. At this time, Amazon only supports ordered Series Bundles.
- Pre-order titles are not supported by 1-click bulk buys. Readers must buy books on an individual basis. Readers can still buy all the books in your series from the series page on an individual basis.
6. Grow Your Email List
You should always be focusing on email growth as your #1 strategy. Your email list will serve you exponentially in the future when you need instant marketing. Use your author website to grow your email list, and send out engaging content to your subscribers.
7. Improve Your Amazon Author Page
This is where most of your new readers will likely discover you. It’s important to keep this page clean and up-to-date. Revise your author bio once a year, and replace any old photos with new versions.
If you have a website or blog, be sure it is piped into the Amazon author page for greater discoverability when learning how to promote a book.
8. Create a Boxset
When you get several titles published in a series, it's time to consider a boxset. The magic number is three books, but you can set up a boxset with two books, or with ten books! Check out these boxsets:
Or with 2 books:
9. Create a Course Based on Your Book
Learning how to create an online course is a great idea when learning how to promote a book. Your course has the potential to be a strong upsell. You can set up a free-plus-shipping funnel and reap the benefits of giving your book away for free to build a powerful online business.
10. Get Video Testimonials
Getting video testimonials from readers is a great method for how to promote a book. You can post these testimonials to YouTube and your author website.
11. Create an Author Website
If you don't already have an author website, it's time to make one. Your author website is one of the best methods to leverage when learning how to promote a book.
Use your website to blog about content in your books and keep readers engaged through online discussions about your work.
12. Publish Wide with Your Books
Learning how to promote a book doesn't have to be hard. You can upload your book to Draft2Digital or Smashwords, and they will do the heavy lifting for you. Going wide lets you target a different market of readers that might not find you otherwise.
13. Create a Book Trailer
When learning how to promote a book, it's a good idea to create a book trailer for your work. You can hire talent on Fiverr, or create this trailer yourself. Add your trailer to your Amazon Central Account where you can upload up to three videos.
14. Create an Introductory Video
You can use an introductory video on your author website and/or upload to Amazon Author Central. Embed your video into the lead magnet landing page to welcome new subscribers. This introduction can be another method for how to promote a book.
15. Do Podcast Interviews
Get featured on as many podcasts as you can. This is a great way to drive traffic to your book pages and site when learning how to promote a book.
16. Get More Reviews!
You never stop getting reviews for your books. Continue to pile reviews onto your book. This should be an ongoing marketing strategy. Aim for a goal of adding ten new reviews per month.
17. Give Away Free Chapters
Offer sample chapters as free downloads to your website visitors. Take a couple of your best chapters from your best books and turn them into PDF files. This introduces readers to your work and lets them sample what you do before deciding to buy.
18. Review Similar Books in Your Genre
Become a reviewer on Amazon. Use your own name accompanied by “author of the book……”. Review the books you read or from other authors in your field. This supports them and expands your influence and connection. And is also a great way to learn how to promote a book of your own.
Common Book Marketing Mistakes All Authors Make
Here are some of the more common mistakes authors make when learning how to promote a book:
Waiting Until They Have More Books
We know the temptation. Imposter syndrome plays a powerful role in every author’s life, especially if you are just starting out.
You might be thinking “I’ll wait until I get more books out there before promoting”, or “What’s the use of marketing a book nobody wants.” Well, if you don't market it now, nobody will know about it.
You want momentum now, not later. Remove the excuses that hold you back from learning how to promote a book. Somebody wants your book, and you have to find out who they are.
Instead of taking massive action, some of us throw a few dollars into a promotional campaign, try this and that, and don’t really commit to mastering any marketing strategies. This is a mistake when learning how to promote a book.
To sell books and promote your work, you have to move from a scarcity mindset to investing your money for the long-term growth of your book.
Not Testing Enough
Sometimes authors try several ads for a few weeks and when they don’t see the sales coming in, they give up and jump onto the next thing. There are no shortcuts. Learning how to promote a book means spending money. It means testing what works and what doesn’t. And many things won’t work. But you continue to test and play a bigger hand every time.
I’ll make this very clear…even IF writing is your full-time gig, you won’t have the time or energy to try all the marketing strategies out there. Pick and choose. If you decide to go the BookBub route and test BB ads, that is great. But get really good at testing these ads before jumping into another method for how to promote a book.
Taking a Break Until the Market Improves
There is never a perfect time to market a book. When learning how to promote a book, every day and every time is the best time.
If you take a break, your book loses momentum and sales die. That is the way book promotion works.
You can peel back from the promo work after your book has gained considerable momentum. But until then, it needs you to drive traffic towards the book for long-term success.
It's Time to Promote Your Book!
As you can see, learning how to promote a book well takes a lot of work.
What works for another author may not necessarily work for your book. Start researching similar authors in your niche and learn from what they are doing well. And of course, the best form of marketing is writing another book!
How do you promote your book? What has worked for you? Share your story here!