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On January 1, I finally put up my self-published book for sale. Within a few days of publishing, the book made it to the Top 10 of new releases within its category on Amazon. Getting the word out about books can be a challenge. These are the steps that I took to launch and promote my book to encourage sales:

Write a book that people need.

This is a preliminary step that should really come before publishing, but it’s something to think about during the whole process. Who needs your book? Who will your book appeal to? You have to know who the book is for so you can market it in the right places.

I’ve done many projects where I assumed I was making something people wanted. I rushed to launch and found out the hard way that no one was interested in buying it. This time around I did surveys, I did a beta version of the book as an ebook, and I asked for a lot of feedback.

Another tip is looking at reviews for similar books on Amazon and other platforms. You may be able to use some of that constructive feedback to create your own book.  

Do category research.

The categories for your book listing are important. Clicking through the various categories are how many people find new books to purchase. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the different categories where my book would fit. I paid attention to the details and design of the top performing books in the category to see how my book would fit into the mix.

Amazon gives broad categories and micro-categories. Your book may have a better chance of getting to the best seller list if you choose a highly specific category with fewer titles. Experiment to see what works.

Do keyword research.

Using the right keywords can also help your book come up in searches. Thankfully, keyword research is pretty simple with Amazon. I went to the top search bar and started typing in keywords I was already considering to see what would auto-populate. I used keywords on the back cover of the book and in the description.

Get early reviews.

The exact formula that Amazon uses to choose best sellers is unknown. But it’s likely a mix of purchases and reviews. You can get a sense of how many reviews you need to get to show up higher on the list by looking at the top sellers in your category.

I ordered several physical proofs ahead of time as a sample to show people who were interested in the book. When it went live, they were able to make pretty quick reviews because they had already seen the product. Reviews are important. They show potential buyers that other people have actually bought the book and have something to say about it.

Show and tell.

I started promoting the book several weeks before the actual launch. I did Instagram stories showing the cover and flipping through the pages. This created some noise about the book before it actually launched and helped me boost sales. I also assembled a launch crew of people who bought the book and promoted it on the publish date.

Offer a promotion.

Lastly, I’m offering a discount on the book for about a week to push for quick sales in the beginning. The discount has encouraged people to buy multiples spreading the word about my brand and business. Take a look at the pricing strategies for books within your categories to see what’s working for top sellers.

Self-publishing a book is something I wish I had done sooner. It takes a lot of time to create and effort to sell, but the results of the work can pay off with an extra stream of income and exposure for your business.

Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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