You can spend a fortune on promotion and get nowhere.
There are expensive courses available to teach you how to be a 'bestseller' but you'll be lucky to make more money than you've spent even if you are a 'bestseller'.
Strange as it may seem you don't even need to write a good book! There have been many best-selling books which are full of mistakes, have a poor plot and will never be acclaimed as literary gems.
The most important factor in author success is one you can't buy—Luck. Despite that there's an old saying which applies—The more I practice, the luckier I get.
Here's what I consider you can do to get lucky as an author:
- Get a remarkable cover which attracts the attention of readers browsing for books. Few can do this themselves so it is worth spending money on this. A good cover will give a book browser the interest to check out the book.
- Spend a huge amount of time and effort getting a book description which makes the reader think "Wow! This is a book I have to read." Your description should use emotive language and use your keywords. Try running the sentences through a headline analyser.
- Use the right keywords/tags. If you have problems here, steal them from the top selling books in your genre. To do that create a blank book in calibre and in the meta tag ID section paste in the ASIN number of a top ranking book in your genre. Then download the meta data. You'll get the tags and the book description.
- Make sure your book starts with a powerful hook to keep the book browser reading. Your book's first three pages should be gripping.
- Create promotion pages for your book which get high rankings on Google. If you are not discovered on the first three pages of search results when you enter a keyword and your book's title, you never will be discovered. Use an incognito browser window when doing this. (See http://authorbookpromotion.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/authorhow-easy-is-it-to-find-your-books.html)
- Video, pictures, headlines and subheadings are effective in promotions in that order. Run headlines and sub headings through checkers for emotive language such as http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm and https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer. This works for Tweets and Facebook posts too.
- Make sure promotion pages have a clear 'call to action'.
- Get the price right. If you've already published your book at Amazon, try Amazon's book pricing beta service. To get to that select your book from the Amazon KDP bookshelf. Find the book you want to modify and in the "Book Actions" column, click "Edit book pricing." Next scroll to the ' header and under KDP Pricing Support (Beta), click "View Service."
- Recognise that a promotion at best will produce a spike in your sales but you need to sustain that spike for at least a month for it to produce a rise in your sales rank at Amazon. You'll need to stagger effective promotions.
- Know that not all promotions are effective and some are downright scams. There is no point in tweeting to fake accounts or putting book links on sites with no visitors. See this post. Learn how to recognise the fakes and how to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes to spot those sites which work.
- Facebook adverts work but NOT 'Buy my book' adverts. Instead make an attractive offer which people can get if they add their email address to your mailing list. Email lists are effective at selling books.
- Twitter posts work but not until you have 10,000 real, active followers. Few will see your posts. People will unfollow if your posts are solely 'Buy my book' posts. These should never make up more than 10 - 15% of your feed. DON'T auto follow-back because you'll end up with fake followers; vet your followers. Never send out 'Thanks for following me' direct messages. Aim to get 100 new followers per day. Remember people are only on Twitter for short periods of time so the vast majority of your tweets will be unseen. Make sure you have a pinned post there.
- Twitter and Facebook are NOT the only social media platforms. Get a presence on Tumblr, LinkedIn (if you write nonfiction), Google+, YouTube also. There are also vital forums such as Kboards.
- Although I dislike Goodreads, it's an essential platform for an author to be on if you want recognition as an author. Be careful what you say—lots of Trolls there.
- If you are not using affiliate accounts you are wasting an opportunity to earn at least 4% extra at Amazon and much more elsewhere. You can use this as a sales tool too.
Darn that all sounds complicated. Maybe there should be a magic promotion button. I'm working on it but it's not quite finished yet. Take a look here.