Thursday, October 22, 2020

Advanced Business Practices for Marketing Your Books

By Dave Chesson, @DaveChesson

Part of The Indie Authors Series 

JH: There are so many options for marketing a novel, and it's often hard to know which one to try. Dave Chesson shares a few options you might not have considered yet.

Dave Chesson is the founder of and creator of Publisher Rocket, a software that helps authors market their books more effectively.

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Take it away Dave…

There’s a lot you can do to market your books. If anything, it can be difficult finding the right strategy. In this article, we’ll look at some advanced techniques you can use to get your book in front of as many readers as possible. 

Work With Other Authors

There’s a lot of other authors out there. You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, collaborating with other authors is a great way to market your books (and make new friends along the way). 

It doesn’t matter what your niche is, odds are there are other authors out there who are facing the same problems you are in regards to getting more eyes on your books.

Here are a few handy ways you can collaborate with other authors. 


A tested method of collaboration is cross-promotion. You may be more familiar with the term newsletter-swaps though. Basically, you promote another author’s book to your email list, and the other author will promote your book to theirs.

This works for a few reasons. 
  1. If you choose an author in a similar niche to you, there will probably be a lot of people on their list who’ll like your books. 
  2. Your book is promoted to new readers by a person they trust. Having your book recommended by someone is a far more effective marketing method than a paid Amazon ad. 
  3. You get to give your own readers some new books they might be interested in.
There are a bunch of ways you can find newsletter swaps and cross-promotion opportunities. The old-fashioned way is to reach out to authors directly and strike up a relationship with them. If you don’t know any authors off the top of your head, think of any author targeted forums or Facebook groups you might be a part of.

There are also services that help you find cross-promotion opportunities too. Bookfunnel has its own paid service that’ll connect you with authors. Or you can use StoryOrigin, which has a bunch of free tools for authors--including newsletter swaps.

With StoryOrigin, you browse the opportunities other authors have listed and apply to work with them. 

But, before you start applying to every newsletter swap, you’ll need a decent email list yourself. It’s unlikely an author with a 7,000-subscriber email list will do a swap with someone who started their list last week.

You can also create your own swap, and other authors can apply to work with you. 

Release a Bundle

If you’ve done a few newsletter swaps, you can level up and release a book bundle with multiple authors.

With a bundle, all authors contribute one book--ideally around a shared genre like mysteries and thrillers for instance. Then, you sell the entire bundle together for a heavily discounted price. All authors market the bundle to their readers, and with any luck, all businesses are better off as a result. 

Market Your Book Overseas

The US version of Amazon is definitely the biggest version. It’s also the most competitive. With a little work, you can make use of the other 12+ versions of the Kindle store. Especially the stores in languages other than English.

Often, these readers have a much smaller selection of books to choose from. This means there’s a huge opportunity for those who want to do the extra work of translating their books.

Mark Dawson from Self Publishing Formula has translated his crime books to German to sell on the German version of Amazon. The German market is actually a great market to target with your book translations. With a similar consumer culture as the US, you’ll be able to make a decent amount of sales.

If you don’t speak another language, it can be expensive to translate though. You’ll need to find a top-quality translator and an editor who can make sure the translator has done a good job. If you go cheap with the book translation, readers will definitely be able to tell. 

Release an Audiobook

Another way to get more sales is to release your ebook in audio format. Audiobooks are huge, with 20% of Americans listening to audio versions of their favorite books. In fact, I know a bunch of people who don’t have the time to read every night, but listen to an audiobook on their daily commute.

Malcolm Gladwell mentioned in a recent podcast interview that the Audible version of his latest book Talking to Strangers sold as many audio copies as it did hardcover. When you think about the profit that comes from a single audiobook, that’s massive.

Findaway Voices and ACX are two of the best services for creating audiobooks, but there are other services out there too. You can also find freelance voice over artists who’ll be happy to help. However, most of the time, these freelancers will also be on Findaway and ACX anyway.

Audiobooks aren’t cheap though, if you want to create a decent audiobook, you should budget around $225 for every 10,000 words. This includes sound editing and all the technical work too. So when you get the audio copy sent to you, it’ll be ready to release.

Keep in mind though, if your readers are used to hearing your voice, it may be a better idea to record your own audiobook. So, if you have a YouTube channel or podcast, try recording your own audiobook. Your reader is expecting to hear the voice they’re familiar with.

I’m not going to lie, I once bought Arnold Schwartznegger’s autobiography solely because he was narrating the first few chapters. 

List Your Book in 10 Categories on Amazon

Marketing is all about getting your book in front of more potential readers. A great way to do that is to increase the number of categories your book is listed in.

When you first publish your book, you’re allowed to select two browse categories to list your book in. And on top of that, you’re given an incomplete list of Amazon categories to choose from.

Anyway, the categories you choose are make-or-break for your book’s success. If you choose a category that’s too competitive, your book will get lost in the pack. If you choose a category that doesn’t have enough readers, it won’t matter how long your book is number one for. If you choose the right category though, you’ll be able to generate more sales from a dedicated readership.

So, regardless of the type of book you’re releasing, you should look at all the categories you think your book has a chance to rank well in. You can use a tool like Publisher Rocket to streamline any category research too.

Once you’ve selected your categories, it’s pretty straightforward. Just follow these steps:
  1. Visit the help/contact page in Author Central and sign in to your KDP account.
  2. Go to ‘Select an issue' and choose ‘My Books.’
  3. Click the option to ‘Update information about a book.’
  4. Select ‘Browse Categories’ in the field that appears.
  5. Click the ‘I want to update my book’s browse categories' option.
  6. From there, you can either call (if you’re an American resident) or email in and ask to change your book’s category. In this email, you can add up to ten categories.

It is important to remember to include the full category string when you send this email. A science fiction category string looks something like this:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Fairy Tales & Folklore > Anthologies

This way, your “Anthologies” category won’t be mistaken with any others. Also, make sure you mention your book’s ASIN number to make the process as easy as possible.

With the help of my software Publisher Rocket, you can research categories and send the email off in well under an hour. So without a whole lot of work, you can get your book in front of more potential readers. 

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter how good your books are, if you aren’t a good marketer, you’ll never make a living selling books. Look to these best-practice strategies to get your book in front of as many readers as possible.


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash


  1. Thank you for these encouraging tips. I'm a wannabe in self-publishing.

  2. Looking forward to implementing these advanced marketing tactics for my next book launch! Thanks for the valuable insights. 📚✨