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18 strategies for successful self-publishing

Maximize your readership – and your profits – with these key steps.

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14. Explore virtual marketing options

For many authors, social media is the first and only marketing avenue they think about. But there are other creative options as well. Think about your strengths and what appeals to you. If you enjoy using one or more social media platform, sure, build those up and use them to connect with readers. If social media makes you break out in a cold sweat and you’d rather spend time writing, then start your own blog or be a guest on other blogs. Magazine articles are another way to gain exposure because your bio can be included at the end. Plus, you get to do what you love – write – and hopefully get paid for the piece. If you like interacting with potential readers, consider speaking, teaching classes, being a guest on radio, television or podcasts, or getting a booth at a farmers market or arts festival. The key is to find activities that excite you. If you force yourself to start using Twitter because you feel you have to, you won’t enjoy it – and it will show. Pick a few activities and do them well, which will be more effective, and less exhausting, than trying to do everything. 

15. Use ads effectively

Self-publishing has become more of a pay-to play-venture in recent years. If you want your book to get attention on Amazon and rise in rankings, paid advertising is essential. For your author Facebook page, it is not enough to just post about your book; paying to boost those posts or running ads will yield better results. Paid advertising on social media platforms, Amazon, and newsletters like BookBub, Fussy Librarian, and Bargain Booksy can be effective ways to reach new readers. These can seem like a huge undertaking with both time and money, but with the right guidance and information, you can learn to create and manage successful marketing campaigns that will drive readers to your books and won’t break the bank. Many resources are available to help you learn how to use paid advertising effectively; Bryan Cohen’s trainings for authors and Dave Chesson’s Kindlepreneur resources are places to start to get great information. 

16. Analyze ad campaigns

It’s not enough to just place ads and then wait and see what happens. It’s important to pay attention and watch how they are performing. Set aside time each week to dig deep and analyze which ads are doing well and which ones aren’t. Create a spreadsheet to track where you spend money and how the ads perform. Each of the publishing platforms (KDP, Kobo, IngramSpark…) provide daily sales numbers, allowing you to check if a particular campaign is having any impact on your sales.

17. Track your ROI

ROI is your return on investment. As with any business, track what you spend and how much profit you get in return. If your goal for an ad is to increase your newsletter sign-ups, calculate how much you spent for each new subscriber. If you paid $10 and received five subscribers, it cost you $2 per person. If you end up with 100, then your cost was 10 cents. If your goal is to sell books and make a profit, analyze how much you spent on an ad and how much money you made in book sales that week. If your goal is to sell books and make a profit, analyze how much money you made in book sales that week and subtract the amount you spent on ads. This will show you if you made a profit and provide the information to let you know if that ad is performing well. Being mindful of your ROI is the only way to ensure you spend time and money wisely. 


18. Play the long game

Self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick venture. Like any small business, it takes time and money to grow your business and turn a profit. If your goal is to make money from your book sales, then you can’t rely on the sales from just one book. Keep writing and publishing more. The authors who find success are the ones who continue to publish more books because the more books on the market, the better the chances one will become a hit. Once that happens, readers want to read other books by that author. Those who understand this is a long game continue to evaluate what they are doing, make adjustments, and keep going. If something doesn’t work, don’t fret over it. Fix it, if possible, and move on. 


Once again: Self-publishing is a business. And as with any business, you get out of it what you put into it. Take the time to learn about it before you set off on your own indie publishing adventure.



—Kerrie Flanagan is a freelance writer from Colorado and the author of 16 books; 15 of those are self-published. She moonlights in the world of romance with a co-author under the pen name C.K. Wiles ( as well as the fantasy realm under the pen name C.G. Harris ( She’s helped dozens of writers navigate the world of self-publishing.

Originally Published