5 Exciting Secrets to Selling More Books

Every self-published author has different goals for their book. 

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For some, it’s to collect and share family histories or recipes. For others, it’s to serve as an extension of their business expertise and services. For others still, it’s simply to share their love of the craft of writing with the world through a poetry collection or novel.

Many self-published authors have the goal to sell as many books as possible. While this takes a lot grit, planning, and marketing expertise, some authors have paved their own path to success.

Get advice from the book sales pros themselves with these hot tips from authors who sold over 20,000 books on a shoestring budget. 

Have a Quality Cover

Think about the first book you ever bought on your own dime. What drew you to it?

Chances are, the cover was a factor. Because it turns out we do indeed judge books by their cover. 

Just ask Johnny B. Truant, author of the best-selling series Invasion: 

“You can have the best story in the world and nobody will give it a chance if the cover isn’t right. Although no self-respecting writer would put out a bad story, the truth is that you can sell a bad story if the cover is good. “

In fact, there’s a direct correlation shown between the attractiveness of a book cover and its sales. 

Founder of Smashwords Mark Coker explains: “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words. When we see an image, it makes us feel something.”

A good cover shows that you have a knack for creativity that meets a level of professionalism that could potentially provide the perfect combination for a great author. 

Unless you have extensive design experience, you might want to hire a book designer. 
A book designer can help ensure your work looks professional and catches the eye of readers. When explaining what you’d like in a book cover, make sure you have a few things prepared:

  • A visual to describe — include colors, themes, and your book’s settings. 
  • Some examples of other covers in your genre that “pop out” to you
  • A clear direction. Have a good idea of what your vision for the cover is. 

Your book designer should be able to take it from there, and help you create a cohesive and attractive design to use throughout your book and its brand.

Record an Audiobook

If recording an audiobook is a step you’ve skipped over due to time, lack of experience with the platform, or just general overwhelm, you may want to seriously reconsider. 

Why? According to science fiction author Rob Dircks, who sold 10,000 copies of his book, Where the Hell is Tesla?

... “Because audiobooks continue to be on the rise, in a big way, with 148% sales growth from 2010 to 2015.”

If you prepare properly, you don’t have to break the bank in order to record an audiobook that will sell. To start, you’ll just need:

  • A laptop or tablet
  • A recording app like Garageband or Audacity
  • A microphone that’s compatible with your device
  • Headphones (optional)
  • A space with very little outside or ambient noise
  • Optional blankets or foam to line the walls and help with a “sound booth” effect

Once you have your setup complete, you’re ready to start recording! 

Follow the recording directions for whatever audio app you choose, and keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep your face 6”-8” away from the mic when recording
  • Make sure the “noise gate” is set and set to -65DB
  • If you make a mistake, do a sound effect or loud noise to create a spike in the waveform so you have visual cues on where to go back and edit
  • Keep your pace and character voices consistent

Not looking to become a voice actor? Add hiring one to your budget. Many freelance sites like Upwork provide audiobook readers and include their reviews and samples. 

Before you know it, you’ll be adding audiobooks to your vast collection of content, and creating another form of revenue as a self-published author.

Create a Consistent Brand

Being conscious and consistent in your brand as an author is how you can find like-minded people who are likely to become fans or even investors. 

Your brand is the personality and mission you portray to the public. It includes everything from the voice you use and the beliefs you share to the color schemes and shapes in your visuals including any covers, website design, or illustrations. 

To build this trust with your audience, you’ll need your brand to be relatable and consistent. Don’t panic if you haven’t dug into branding yet. Chances are, your book is a great start!

Nathan Bransford, author of How to Write a Novel sums up a great way to determine where to focus when establishing a brand: 

“Do what you’re best at. Don’t make yourself miserable doing what you think you should be doing, do what you enjoy doing. Utilize your tie where it’s best spent. If you have a talent and passion for blogging: Do that. If you enjoy Twitter and know the ins and outs: Do that.”

To create a comprehensive brand, first do a bit of research. Look at the websites and other content of some of your favorite authors. 

Notice what stands out to you, and what sets them apart from other authors. Perhaps it’s their constant wit, or their dark, ominous visuals for a horror novel.

After that, you’ll just need to check a few more things off your list:

  • Get to know your audience. Learn more about them than just their demographics. Where do they shop? What challenges do they face in life? Why are they drawn to your book?
  • List the things that set you apart from other self-published authors, and find a way to communicate them. 
  • Create a consistent look throughout your content…books, videos, emails, the whole 9. 

Once you’ve established your brand, you’ll have a special language to speak to your audience and help them feel more included in your endeavors. 

When they’re comfortable, chances are they’re a lot more likely to make that final purchase. They might even help spread the word!

Create an Ebook

Much like audiobooks, ebooks are an added source of revenue that have been proving to be fruitful. 

Ebooks currently account for around 25% of book sales, and that percentage is predicted to climb steadily. That’s a market you don’t want to miss out on!

Percentages not convincing enough? 

Take it from author Amanda Hawking, who sold over 1.5 million books after making them available on Amazon Kindle. 

“It went from zero to 60 overnight. Everybody was buying my books, and it was overwhelming."

You can create an ebook in 5 simple steps:

  • Format your book to fit ebook standards: the usual font and sizes, short paragraphs. 
  • Design a cover…luckily you already had one in the works, right?
  • Convert your document to .EPUB or .mobi before uploading
  • Publish your book on one or more ebook publishing platforms such as Amazon, Smashwords or Google Play
  • Promote your ebook with email blasts, social media campaigns, website landing pages and more

You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your book on the web, ready for anyone in the world to read, and your readers will enjoy having options. 

Give Some Books Away


On a trip to @ikeauk and @costco_uk, an Edinburgh book fairy hid several books for people to find. A copy of @wurdsmyth's The Day We Meet Again was left in the showroom of @ikeauk. About the book: The brand-new novel from The Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson. ‘We’ll meet again at St Pancras station, a year from today. If we’re meant to be together, we’ll both be there. If we’re not, it was never meant to be . . .’ Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months' time if they still want to be together. But is life ever as simple as that? This is a story of what-ifs and maybes – and how one decision can change your life forever… #ibelieveinbookfairies #instabooks #bookobsessed #bookaddict #sharetheloveofreading #bookfairies #bookfairiesworldwide #edinburghbookfairies #bookfairy #thebookfairies #freebook #findme #ikea #thedaywemeetagain

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You read that right. Sometimes in order to make money on books, you need to give a few away first.

Mark Dawson was able to sell over 300,000 copies of his series called John Milton. 

His trick? Giving away copies of the book he wrote before that series on Amazon. 

“I was cycling my bike and I decided to take a break. I parked my bike, sat down with my back against this tree and got my phone out. Miraculously I managed to get some signal and I thought ‘I’ll check how the book is doing.’ It had sold 50,000 copies!”

The free book Mark Dawson made available for free via Amazon promotions sparked the interest of 50,000 people, and while his “sales” didn’t involve money, just downloads, he’d convinced many of these browsers to become loyal readers.

Giving away some of your books is a great way to build a repertoire through reviews, word of mouth and interviews. 

These things give you an opportunity to build relationships with more readers by drawing them to things like your website, social media, email list and book releases. 

The best part? For platforms like Kindle, you make money off the books you give away for free, too! 

Kindle pays for page reads, not purchases. That means if you advertise your book for free for a while and get a few thousand downloads, those few thousand reads can create a decent starting income for you to build off. 

If your goal for writing a book involves sales, it’s best to have a plan that includes visibility and multiple revenue streams. 

With things like a reliable brand that includes an attractive book cover, going digital with audio and ebooks, and hosting some giveaways, you’re on the right path to selling 20,000 books or more. And now, you can say you had some consultation with the experts!

While these steps are handy and reliable, we recognize they take time and attention to detail. It might feel a bit overwhelming to do it all on your own. 

Luckily, there are literary agents who are happy to help with things like marketing, design coordination and more. Literary agents can take a bit of time to find. 

Cut that time short by hooking an agent with a killer query letter »

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

If i was a rainbow

I can't say enough about everyone at Steuben Press and their help in bringing If I Was A Rainbow to life. Their dedication and artistic insights have helped me realize a life long dream.

– Timothy Imbriaco, Colorado

Learn more about If I Was a Rainbow and purchase your very own copy at www.ifiwasarainbow.com