As an author, every reader who picks up your book is a victory. However, for your book to go viral, it must accumulate lots of readers very quickly. In other words, you need to have explosive sales velocity.
There are two keys to generate rapidly accelerating book sales: effective book promotion, which leads to getting noticed and demand generation. Promotion and attention work hand-in-hand to fascinate potential readers and increase traffic to your website. The concept of fascination is wonderfully covered in the book Fascinate. Of course, to achieve success, this increased attention will need to be converted to sales.
Book promotion means getting your book to people who will enjoy reading it. Traditional strategies obviously include buying book reviews, advertising on channels like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube & LinkedIn,and building a personal brand. The strategy selected will look different depending on your genre, it gets down to figuring out where your readers spend time. Once you figure out where your readers are, you will have a better idea where you need to promote your book. Regardless of genre, there are several best-practice strategies to help readers find your book.
Hiring a professional to promote your book is the easiest way to achieve viral book sales. Because a professional possesses a solid working knowledge of how book promotion works, you can avoid making awkward and costly marketing mistakes. If you decide to hire a professional service to promote your book you might want to read this article about the best book marketing services and make your choice. But remember you’ll need to buy book reviews and here’s an article on why.
Where to promote your book is impacted by where your book is distributed. As Amazon holds the largest market share in the e-book industry, promoting on Amazon is going to have a big impact. If you release your e-book exclusively on Amazon, you can harness Amazon’s full marketing promise via the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Depending on your e-book’s total sales (number of books sold), sales velocity (how quickly those books are sold), and total profit (how much Amazon makes from each sale), your book can get pushed to the coveted position at the top of the screen.
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While Amazon offers lots of opportunity, it is not the only place to promote your book. Look at which other book retailers hold market share in your genre and medium. If you have physical copies of your book being printed, it might be worth checking in with local businesses to see if any are willing to support a local author. For more on this, please read our article about how to get your book into Costco. Of course, this depends on what your book is and who your readers are. The next step is to get noticed.
Before launching your book, you will want to make lists of everyone that your life has ever touched. At this point if every single person doesn’t know you’re writing a book, you need to tell them. As the book Fascinate shares: “Anticipation is stronger than fulfillment.” So build some anticipation!
The goal is to plug your book into as many networks as possible, and that starts with yours. Make lists of everyone you have ever worked with, volunteered with, engaged in a hobby with, roomed with, and ever been friends with. Then, reach out to let them know that you have written a book. While your percentage of success might not be high, it just takes one person to share with their network for hundreds more people to see your book’s cover.
The way to ask them to share is by simplifying the ask to one person. Something like: “would you share this with one person that might like it?” Otherwise it is too big of an ask. The book Influence talks all about this strategy and the impact specific requests have on success rates.
Maybe your readers move in different spheres than your acquaintances. An active presence on social media can lead to many new potential readers discovering that your book exists. For those who have not built a personal brand we have an article you may enjoy about building a personal brand for pennies on the dollar.
If you are not comfortable with having a social media presence as yourself, this is common. YouTube creators call this a “faceless” channel. If this is your plan, you’ll need to get creative. Imagine launching an account for your book or, in the case of fictional works, one of your characters. Think outside the box to figure out the best ways to cultivate intrigue on Facebook,Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube. Go to the platforms where your readers spend time and begin building connections.
Find out which influencers your readers go to for information, and brainstorm ways to get them buzzing about your book. Read this article to find influencers faster. There are a few ways to approach the influencer question. Depending on the influencer, you could offer to guest post on their blog or sponsor a giveaway. However, take extra time to be gracious. Remember that while you know your book is amazing, they might be inundated with similar requests and might not initially see what is unique about your book. This is another reason to make sure your book needs to appear fascinating.
Perhaps one of the most wonderful examples of how to launch a brand with influencers comes from Magic Spoon. Yes they sell cereal, but the strategy remains the same. In this article you will see how and why Magic Spoon decided to focus on influencers for breakout success! Of course there is paid media involved, but that is necessary. Influencers create credible, targeted, top of funnel awareness, interest, fascination and demand.
For more detail and specific actionable ideas read our article on how to use Influencers for Marketing your book.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, giving away up to 5,000 copies of your book can lead to viral book sales. How does that work? By getting your book to 5,000 potential readers, it is now in 5,000 different networks. This supercharges your momentum by an exponential factor, which can contribute to viral sales.
In order to succeed you create awareness that your book even exists. Getting it in their hands accomplishes that. Instead of waiting for that many copies of your book to sell before reaching all those different communities of readers, you are setting the stage for an explosion of new readers and potential word-of-mouth marketing.
If your book is going to achieve viral status, it will need to harness the fascination factor. What is this fascination factor? It is the idea that, at first glance, your book offers the promise of enjoyment, betterment, and an adventure worthy of someone’s time. The element of fascination drives people to learn more about your book and figure out where to purchase it. Because it only takes a glance, it is important to develop an excellent cover, title, and short book description. Read this for more on formatting yourself or hiring a professional. When the potential reader digs further, you should have visible book reviews to show that others have enjoyed and learned from your book’s journey.
Attracting reader attention is good, but reader interest alone does not translate into book sales. The key to converting book views into sales is to show potential readers that your book is a good investment. Depending on what kind of book you have written, that can mean the promise of learning something new, pure enjoyment, self-betterment, or being better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
Your cover and title determine potential readers’ first impression. If they are successful in captivating a reader’s attention, your book description is the next step in a potential book sale. Instead of a bland summary, write a brief book description that arouses interest. This snippet is the first chance you have to show readers that your book is an adventure worthy of their time and money.
How do you tell readers that your book is a journey they need in their lives? Instead of telling people to read your book, focus on showing how your book will make the reader’s life better. Book reviews and, for nonfiction, testimonials are great ways to show readers that others have benefitted from reading your book.
As necessary convincing as book reviews and testimonials are, some readers need to see to believe. How do you show these readers they need to read your book before purchasing? That it is something they will enjoy? Offer a tidbit like the first two chapters of your book for free. A sample is extremely common for something like Audible. Take this as an opportunity to sell your book! Like an appetizer served before a meal, this small sample is meant to stimulate the reader’s appetite for more. It does not have to be completely free – you could offer it in exchange for signing up to your newsletter.
Launching a book that goes viral is the result of careful planning, promotion focused on cultivating a sense of fascination. The right promotion for your book depends on what kind of book it is as well as who your readers are. Promotion leads to capturing the reader's attention, which, in turn, leads to increased traffic on your website or your book’s Amazon page. From there, you need to show potential readers that your book will enrich their lives.
While writing a book to completion is a triumph in itself, your job as a self-publishing author is only beginning. You need to convince people that your story is worth reading and get it to them. To make your book go viral, you need to transcend creating a story – you need to become the story.
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