self-publishing success for indie aiuthors


10 ways you can use to sell more books (The $100 dollar marketing plan)

Self-publishing authors need to worry about a ton of things. Beyond the basics of book design, book formatting, printing and distribution, they need to take care of their author website, their author platform and brand, book promotion and marketing – and that’s just the beginning.

It can all be overwhelming.

I learned a few years ago to focus my time on where I can produce the most value. So I spend all my time on core, critical, only I can do it stuff, and I outsource everything else.

Sure I could be doing more, on my own, but why lose that much time and experience the frustration of learning how to do stuff you’ll never be professionally competent at?

I use for bigger projects, but sometimes I just need a quick fix – something somebody else could do in 10 minutes, but I can’t for the life of me figure out (or just don’t want to deal with). For those things, I use

What is

A website where people do stuff for only $5. (Actually $4, because the website takes $1).

Unlike Elance or most other freelance sites, you don’t need to post a big project, wait for bids and then select one. You can also email providers directly, ask them if they can do what you want, and work out a price.

Very simple tasks may be $5, but for a lot of the things I’m going to recommend below you should expect to pay more. Personally, I’ve spent $1729 on Fiverr over the last few years. It adds up. There’s no doubt that I’ve blown money on projects I didn’t need to, didn’t get what I wanted, but didn’t mind because “it was only five dollars.”


You can hire a full-time Virtual Assistant in the Philippines for as little as $300usd a month, but they are unlikely to have the wide range of experience and technical skills to really handle everything you need done.

There are so many things you can get done on Fiverr – a few months ago I had someone using an “Ernie” puppet sing happy birthday to my niece. But in this article I’m going to focus on the top ten things that will drastically boost sales, and super-charge your marketing campaign, and it will only cost you $100.

#1 Get a better book cover

Your book cover matters more than just about anything else. If you made it, and you love it, it probably isn’t very good. Authors are especially resistant to changing a book cover they’ve worked long and hard on. Put your ego aside, and get a cover that will sell the book – everything else you do will be so much easier.

Can you get a great book cover for $5? Yes and No. If you have something already, someone can probably make it a little better. If you want something very clean and simple, you can probably find someone. But do this first to make sure they get it right:

  • Pull one or two book covers of bestsellers in your genre and say “I want something like this.”
  • Find the awesome stock photos you want to use.
  • Find the fonts.

They will do what you say, but the more control you have, the better chance you’ll make the designer craft you something ugly. Keep the fonts simple. Don’t go for a big, complex idea with a lot of characters. Find a central image or landscape, perhaps two (a character and a background), have the designer put them together and add text.

You can find someone to photoshop them together and add style to make it beautiful, and someone else better with typography to get the letters and spacing right. Total cost $10 (plus the cost of the photos and fonts). This is just for an ebook cover though, a full print cover will cost at least $25, maybe more.


#2 Format your book

You can get ebook conversion on Fiverr cheap, or format your book for Smashwords (which can be a pain otherwise). You can even get your book formatted for Createspace, in either Word or InDesign. Even if you’ve started or almost finished, they can probably make it better.

#3 Edit your Sales Copy

That one paragraph blurb about your book will make or break the sale. Make it better. There are several providers on Fiverr that will edit your book summary or improve your sales copy. Let them. There are lots of editors, some with experience editing fiction summaries, some more general. $5 is a great deal.


#4 Fix your website

You can’t expect total web design for $5, but I’ve used several providers to give me feedback on my site design – what’s ugly or confusing, what I need to fix. I would hire one for the design/style, and one for editing the main copy on my main pages – the “about” page is especially important.

By the way – you won’t need much help if you find a simple, nice WordPress theme and don’t mess it up by trying to change everything. Almost all author websites are hideous, even those of authors offering web design services. Design, in general, is tragically under-appreciated and ill-used by indie authors.

Get feedback and listen to them.

I’ve also used Fiverr to:

  • Fix WordPress plugins I couldn’t get working
  • Speed up my site’s load time
  • Improve SEO
  • Get high quality back links for better search results and traffic
  • Design things I needed down quickly (for example, 3D mockups of your book, banners, logos, etc).

#5 Get book reviews

I know it makes me unpopular, but I’m not against paid book reviews. Many authors are willing to pay hundreds for a Kirkus review but balk at $5 for a regular one. However, here are my guidelines:

  • Don’t ask for a positive review or tell them what to say. Make it clear to the person you hire you want a normal, natural review – even if it’s critical.

Don’t buy hundreds of them, but promoting a book (even to other reviewers!) is much harder if you start with zero reviews. Get a couple of them up there right away; it will make it much easier to get more. After you have 50+, the truth will out, and those few reviews won’t matter anymore.


#6 Promote your Free Book campaign

This is a big one – being able to give your book away for free is the singular advantage indie authors have over traditionally published authors. If you’re not giving your book away for free, you’re doing it wrong.

KDP select offers an easy, 5-day giveaway plan. Personally, I enroll, do the campaign, quit and put my book up for sale elsewhere, then do it again in 3 months by making my book unavailable on other retailers.

So your book is free – great… but you have to tell people about it. Lots of people. Search Fiverr for “promote free Kindle book” and you’ll find a lot of options, these are the ones you want:

  • Post your book to all the major “free Kindle book” websites.
  • Post your book to all the Facebook groups for free books

You should also find people to tweet your book using these hashtags: #99c, #free #giveaway, #free #kindle

You can also post on Reddit’s free books/indie publishing subboards.

#7 Now what?

You’ve done your launch. You’ve sold some books. You’re starting to get some natural reviews… now what?

The first thing to do is check your sales funnel: if you aren’t selling, there’s a good chance your book cover isn’t good enough, or your book description is boring, or you don’t have enough reviews, or your author website is ugly or confusing. Hire someone to check and give you feedback. Maybe you weren’t willing to face the truth before, because you were excited to publish. But now, slow sales are forcing you to admit you made mistakes.

Fix them. Regroup. Redesign. (You may need to buy a new cover, get more editing, get more advice and feedback).

#8 Book Marketing

Everything looks impressive, amazing, professional – and the book is good enough that you’re getting mostly natural, positive reviews, right? (If not, marketing won’t help).

So now you just need to get in front of more people – the right people.

There are providers on Fiverr that will teach you how to do

You may also want to pick up a copy of Book Marketing is Dead on Amazon (for under $5) – but in case you skip it, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Blog on your website and on other websites with a bigger following, about topics of interest to your target readers.
  2. Review books in your genre, to attract readers who like that genre.
  3. Make friends with bloggers or website owners who have a lot of “pull” in your target community.
  4. Share a lot of valuable content through social media that will appeal to your target audience.


#9 Take a break

It’s easy to obsess and put the rest of our lives on hold. Take a break and do something fun. Treat your loved ones to a crazy gift or video (you can get all sorts of fun stuff in the “fun and bizarre” section). You could also stumble upon a fitting offer, like a guy who will dress up as a Samurai or record anything in a Scottish accent – they may be perfect for a video or a character reading your book summary or acting out a scene, or as a video book review.


#10 Give back

If you’re really happy with the service someone offered, give them a tip – they’re working for peanuts. Show your appreciation. Be grateful and kind. These things matter, and they will impact your books success.

Written by: Derek Murphy

Derek is a book cover designer finishing a PhD in Literature. These days he spends his time building tools and resources to help indie authors publish better on his blog, Read More


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