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The Largest Self-Published Author Survey Ever Has Some Surprising Results

BookBaby conducted a 56-question survey that was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors. This survey is the largest survey conducted for the self-publishing world to date. IndieReader is proud to share some of the top results and insight with you. Read on for the best marketing and promotional actions you can take for your book.

Why Marketing Matters

According to the survey, if you want to be a successful self-published author, “marketing starts before your book is even published.” This means you should be establishing your author brand and building your online network as preliminary steps. This will ensure that you’re building a relationship with your readers over time, while also building excitement about the release of your book.

First things first, marketing matters. You may be a phenomenal writer with a good story that thousands of readers would go nuts for. However, if you’re not putting your work in front of the right people on the right platforms, your book might not reach its maximum potential.

According to the survey, successful published authors (those that have earned over $5000 in sales in the past 12 months) engage in about 5.3 marketing tactics to promote their books while lower earners are only using 2.2 tactics.

The top 2 marketing tactics reported by authors in the survey results were soliciting book reviews and maintaining the right social media accounts as a marketing platform.

Soliciting Book Reviews

When soliciting book reviews, authors split their time fairly evenly among approaching book bloggers, Amazon reviewers, and beta readers:

“Prolific book bloggers are a gold mine for self-published authors,” said BookBaby President Steven Spatz.

This means the best reviewers to seek out are potential reviewers that have the power to influence public opinion. The BookBaby results reveal that over “61% have contacted book bloggers… and 47% have contacted beta readers. The less financially successful authors, meanwhile, are more likely to harangue friends and family to review their books.”

So what if I ask for book reviews and I receive negative ones? When survey respondents were presented with the statement, “I would rather receive zero reviews on my book than any negative ones,” 63% disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.

it would seem that all publicity is good publicity.

Social Media

You’ve no doubt heard it before: social media opens up many different doors for engagement with readers, other authors, book bloggers, reviewers, etc.

A key social media takeaway from the BookBaby survey shows Facebook pages devoted exclusively to a single author or book are popular. 59% of the published authors surveyed that they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that maintaining a Facebook author or book page is a great way to interact with readers and promote an author brand.

The more successful authors also utilize social media to execute pre-sale promotional activities. According to the survey, one top promotional activity is offering eBooks to consumers at heavily discounted rates: “50% of authors with the highest levels of financial success agreed or strongly agreed that the habit of heavily discounting their eBooks has resulted in more downloads.”

These authors can easily promote these kinds of discounts through their social media channels (primarily Facebook and Twitter) because they’ve already built an audience on those channels. Social media is the perfect place for contests, giveaways, and other promotional content. About half of the survey respondents who use social media for book promos also threw a book launch party, sent out press releases and participated in book giveaways through both Kindle and Goodreads.

More content, more money

When survey respondents were asked how many books they’ve released, the majority of financially successful authors answered “10 or more books” while the majority of less successful authors answered “1-5.” Thus showing that the more content you provide for your readers, the more likely they are to come back and consume your other content, resulting in more sales. Staying active in the indie world is important because if you put all your eggs in one basket, the payoff might not be as great as multiple eggs in multiple baskets. A larger book inventory often means a larger fanbase.

“Don’t just toss schlock out,” Spatz says. “Write the best book that you can. But don’t spend the next six months saying, ‘You know what, maybe it needs that fourth copy editing—that’s gonna do the trick!’ No, it’s not. Get it out there, let the critics go at it, get some reviews coming in, and find out what readers like and what they don’t.”

Lots More to Come

We chose to highlight some of our favorite takeaways from the 2017 BookBaby Self-Publishing Survey, however, there are many more findings that should be noted; for example, romance fiction is the most successful genre among successful authors. Or, that audiobooks are popular among top earners. We commend BookBaby for taking on this research project and showing the indie world what is clearly working when it comes to book marketing and book promotions.

We’ll be teasing out more takeaways from the survey in future installments — look for those in the coming weeks! If you’d like to be alerted to more information from this one-of-a-kind study, sign up for email updates on the right side of this page, and you’ll also be notified of all of our exclusive content tailored just for indie authors.




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