9 Realistic Methods for Solidly Promoting Your Self-Published Book & Getting Your First 5-10 Reviews

If you’re a business creator needing ideas for promoting your self-published book, check this out:

A whopping 86% of entrepreneurs who’ve published a book say it helped grow their business.

promoting your self-published book

I’m in that 86%. ✋

Every single one of the six books I’ve self-published since 2016 has grown my brand.

My books have helped me build an online brand from scratch to over $5 million gross.

My books have built trust with my audience and established me as an industry expert…

…and my books automatically bring me new clients — converting excited readers into highly qualified leads.

I believe in the power of books because I’ve seen them work to build my brand and revenue in multiple, powerful ways. ⚡

So, after $20,000 in direct book royalties (and much more than that in sales from clients!), I’ve learned that when done well (and within a strategy) self-published books are an outstanding evergreen sales vehicle.

As an entrepreneur, writing and promoting a book is an insanely impactful investment. So much so that an entire phase of my business building course and system teaches my students exactly how to publish and promote their self-published books.

Because if your book is good — if you’re being authentic and you’re genuinely helping people — after reading 200 pages learning from you, readers should be clamoring to work with you.

So how do you make sure your book gets real traction and gives you massive ROI on your money and time? ⌛

After lots of tweaking and first-hand experience, I’ve developed a repeatable process to promoting your self-published book successfully, time and time again. In this blog, I’ll dish on exactly what methods are the most impactful and the most practical – what worked for me and why.

Let’s go!

promoting your self-published book

The Most Impactful Steps to Promoting Your Self-Published Book

Asking yourself “How do I promote my self-published book?” 📕

Whether writing it yourself or using a ghostwriter, here are the biggest business lessons I’ve learned that skyrocket book success (and ideas every entrepreneur should add to their self-publishing marketing plan).

1. You Should Have a Business Going BEFORE You Write a Book

I’m going to open this list with a controversial opinion (don’t let it kill your book dreams).

I whole-heartedly believe this:

Before you write your book, you should be a practitioner first.

Meaning, do the thing you’re talking about. You need the street cred.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be a big business that rakes in cash or gets you a 13,000% ROI – it can start much simpler than that.

Before you write a book about a subject, you just need to have:

  1. Learned about the topic
  2. Practiced the topic in the real world (for a few years)

Don’t do it the other way around.

It’ll run your business into the ground – books don’t pay the entrepreneurial bills (self-published books in this case) unless you’re pumping them out every month. And that’s not realistic or practical. You’ve got a brand to run.

For example, I started my content writing agency in 2011. ✍️

I didn’t publish my first book until 2016. I had five years of experience to speak on, tons of content to repurpose, and established services and offerings to sell to book readers who were ready to work with me as soon as they finished.

Because I work in this order, my books come together so seamlessly it feels like magic. ✨ Trust me, it’s going to be so much easier to write a successful book on a topic after you’ve done it for a while.

book audience

2. You Should Have a Brand BEFORE You Write a Book

A close friend recently asked me, “Julia, I think I can write it, but how do I market my own book?”

I stopped her right there. 🛑

You should start a brand before you write a book.

Two huge reasons:

  1. You need a solid brand that will be followed and adored once your book is released. For this, a website and a blog are crucial. They’re going to be your evergreen tools to promote the heck out of that book long-term — it’s how I made $20k in royalties. People find my site, discover me, and then read my content marketing books (and others).
  2. You need to be able to send a website and blog to your clients. This is huge. It’s going to be the way you build enormous trust early in the high-ticket client gigs. You can’t skip it.

And brand trust is more important to sales and success now than ever before. For 53% of consumers, it’s the second most important purchasing factor after price.

edelman trust barometer

Having a brand first is a huge foundational piece to establishing trust with your book readers. 🏗️ They’re going to want to find you online.

PRO TIP: If you’ve been researching book promotion ideas and stumbled upon guides covering how to promote a book on social media platforms, I’d advise you skip them. Not completely, but your focus needs to be on your website first – so that everything you promote on social media leads back to real estate you own. And the lifespan of content is terrible on most socials.

So, now that we’ve covered how important it is to establish your business and brand first when promoting your self-published book, it’s time to get into the actual book promotion strategy…

3. Your Book Better Be Good

This is one of the most overlooked book promotion examples on this list. And it can kill your promotion efforts. 💀

Your book needs to be good.

No ifs, ands, or shortcuts on this one.

If it doesn’t go in-depth, doesn’t flow well, is typo-ridden, ugly as heck, or you whipped up a less-than-stellar cover using MS Paint… nobody’s going to read or review your book. And if they do, they’ll trash it (and you) for wasting their time.

Sorry, but I’m serving you facts. 🤷

So, make sure your book is excellent… for your readers AND for you. Tie it to a big goal you have of getting known (around a topic you would deeply love to get known for). This part is key in how to grow your business revenue with a book.

serious business owner

4. Start Promoting Your Book TWO MONTHS Before You Publish

A fantastic way to promote your self-published book is to do it before it “hits the shelves.” You want to get people interested in the content before it’s even released.

How do you promote your book before it’s published? By sending out digital copies early and asking people to read it. 🤓

Sure, it takes time. Yeah, it can feel awkward. Building your self-worth will help, but if I’ve learned anything from self-publishing my own books, it’s to not skip this part.

The biggest problem with this step for entrepreneurs is stepping into a high-achiever’s mindset. Honestly, this was true for me, too! I had to consciously work at getting over my own concerns of how to approach people and ask them to read my book.

I had to put a system in place that included this MUST-HAVE building block of book promotion. (This is by far the best way to avoid that dry spell that occurs for the majority of self-published authors). Not only do you want beta readers, but you need their reviews. ⭐

So, get started today and ask people early to commit to a book review so you don’t feel strangled by pressure come launch day.

Here are my favorite ways to find beta readers:

  1. Post in relevant Facebook groups: Make a post inviting people to read your book (for free) before it comes out in exchange for their review. The keyword here is an “honest” review. You don’t want this to feel slimy – so be authentic and trust that if your book is good and helps people, the reviews will be good, too.
  2. Ask your social media connections: Tap into the power of your digital social circle and reach out directly to connections via message.

Most importantly, you need to start asking.

ask

Because asking people 1:1 is a numbers game.

  1. Not everyone is going to respond.
  2. Even fewer people will actually read the book. 📖
  3. And just a handful of those people will end up leaving reviews.

This is normal, so accept this and plan for it. You’ll need to set aside some time for your outreach (or, have an assistant do it).

If you’re wondering how to promote a book for free – and you’re willing to send out free copies – finding beta readers is a great tactic to quickly promote your self-published book (and get reviews fast).

So, make sure to build early book promotion into your business strategy, and come launch day you’ll be promoting your self-published book like the pros.

Ready to get crystal clear on your strategy and get your book out the door for maximum impact on your brand? I grew from 30k/months to 90k/months after I implemented a clear business strategy, and now I’m offering ALL my keys to success + growth through entrepreneurial coaching (including exactly how to write and promote your self-published book). It’s all inside The Content Transformation System, enrolling now.

5. Get a Heavy Hitter to Write Your Foreword

How do you make a book go viral?

Get a powerful person to write your foreword. (This is also a secret ingredient in how to get your book noticed on Amazon.) 🚀

Asking a big name to contribute your foreword is a fantastic tactic If you’re learning how to promote a self-published book on Amazon. For one, if the person has an author account on Amazon – your book will be linked through their page and get more exposure.

self published book byline

But more importantly, getting a heavy hitter to pen your foreword also helps establish you as an expert – if an industry leader is willing to put their name on your foreword, then your potential readers will be way more likely to trust (and then fall for) you. 💕

It’s super impactful…but takes some work on your end.

Here are the best ways to get people to say yes to contributing to your foreword:

  1. Start with your good friends: Top content marketer Joe Pulizzi has been a friend of mine for years. When I asked him to help out with the foreword for my book, Create Content Without Burnout, he said yes in a second.
  2. Make sure it aligns with their passions: Your book topic must be related to what the person writing your foreword loves and knows about. They’ll be much more likely to agree if you’re presenting new ideas about an industry they get excited about.
  3. Keep those emails short and sweet: Friends or not, keep your foreword requests emails short and sweet. You’ll be reaching out to heavy hitters within your niche (who probably get a ton of emails on the daily), so avoid leaving a bad taste in their mouth by not being direct. Establish yourself as a respectful peer and be genuine.

Here’s an example email and foreword outreach template for you:

cold pitch template for promoting self published book forward

Hey Sujan,

I’ve been a huge fan since your impressive exit from Single Grain in 2013. What a powerhouse marketing agency you built! I’m constantly inspired by your success, and I love to write about you to my audience.

I’m Julia and I’ve been in the content marketing industry for 10+ years, scaling my own agency from a $75 investment to a $1M+ exit. I’ve made my sole focus helping other passion-fueled entrepreneurs get their strategy, skills, and systems down for massive revenue.

Would you consider contributing the foreword to my newest book?

It’s right up your alley – it’s all about content marketing, building brand awareness, and growing online businesses. You’re an expert at this, and a foreword from you would be hugely impactful to both myself and the readers.

Here’s your copy of the book.

Does this sound like something you’d have time for in the coming months? If not, no hard feelings whatsoever.

I’m totally open to jumping on a call to discuss further or answer any questions. 😊

Thank you,

Julia McCoy

-Content Hacker

Go ahead and use this foreword outreach template to your heart’s content! I underlined the areas where you should add your own hyperlinks, too. 😊

Fun fact: I cold pitched Sujan Patel to do my first book’s foreword without being friends. Because he loves content marketing, it was a no-brainer. It’s totally fine to ask people you don’t know for a foreword as long as your book aligns with their passions.

6. A Stunning Cover Is a Must

In 2019, I turned down a HarperCollins agent offer in favor of self-publishing.

So you know I’ve extensively weighed the benefits of both traditional vs self-publishing routes. With traditionally-published authors earning only 15% vs. 70% of royalties, I know self-publishing is the way to go for entrepreneurs seeking sustainability in their efforts.

But just because you’re self-publishing doesn’t mean you can get away with having your book look bad.

You need to have great assets designed for your book.

And a stunning book cover is a MUST if you want to stand out. 📚

Don’t skip this tactic! Cheap marketing will cost you in the long run here. Because when you’re doing outreach promoting your self-published book, your cover will be 99.99% of the success you see.

I’m in my head designing my cover the day I think of my next book idea. And then I have my designer bring it to life.

julias book covers

Then, that cover does 99% of the work for us when I hit the Facebook groups to post and find my beta readers.

So, make sure to have a superb book cover designed.

7. Address a Pain and Present a Solution [Right Away]

Your book copy needs to address a pain point for your audience – your exact business persona – and then, present a solution to them.

The copy you use to promote your book must touch on a big pain point for your readers and then give them the fix immediately.

Here are a few examples of this in action from my book titles:

  1. Create Content Without Burnout: How Entrepreneurs Can Add Consistent Value to the World Without Overload, Frustration or Burnout
  2. So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing
  3. Skip the Degree, Save the Tuition: Your A-Z Pathway to Teach Yourself a Money-Making Online Skill Set

The pain points and solutions addressed all came directly from repeated words I saw during market research of my target audience. 🎯

Start there if you’re looking for powerful book copy born from pain points. This is how you’ll find super qualified leads through your book.

It’s mind-blowing how many people skip this vital step and throw their book copy to the wind. It took me just 30 seconds to find the below example:

bad book cover example

…..!?

With a title like this, it’s not surprising at all that a book published way back in May of 2020 has ZERO reviews as of this writing. The idea is great – but the bad copy in the title killed it.

writing mistakes

8. Take an Evergreen Approach

You want your book to act as an evergreen sales vehicle for your brand.

Is it cool to be a published book author? Heck, yes! 💥

But the real long-term goal of your book is to create a trust-building vehicle with your fingerprint to replace YOU in the sales process. More leads. More income. More free time for you.

If you want to create a sustainable flow of clients and income through your book sales, your book promotion strategies should always include an evergreen mindset – your book is going to get you compounding returns way past launch day.

I see this when, years after I publish a book, I hear, “So You Think You Can Write saved my life, Julia! It gave me the skills I didn’t have when I got a contract writing job!” That book is going further now than it did years and years ago on its launch day.

This is what the evergreen approach is all about – you’re launching a vehicle that has tires (legs) to stand on well into the future. 🚗

Don’t underestimate evergreen sales vehicles (there are three I teach – books, guest blogging, and webinars). They can sell a ton of your products and services and promote your existing content.

self-published book as evergreen sales vehicle

9. Use a Proven Method for Self-Publishing

Your business can’t grow sustainably if you’re constantly caught up in the weeds. Always working. Ignoring the bigger picture. Trying to figure out everything yourself. 🤯

Instead of wasting all that precious time and money, consider investing in a proven content marketing strategy that works + you can apply directly to your own business.

In Phase 4 of my coaching program, the Get Known phase, we guide you through the entire book process step by step. My students get access to the exact pathway I’ve used (and refined for maximum impact) after promoting six self-published books.

Here’s an idea of what this looks like:

cts phase 4 promoting your self-published book

Don’t wing this whole book thing on your own – it’s way too important.

Your job as an entrepreneur is to manage your business – not to spend your time figuring out every detail needed to properly promote your book.

I’ve done the nitty-gritty, have gone through real-world trial and error, and am offering you a golden ticket — the how — to a successful book launch that grows your brand like wildfire. 🔥

How to Promote a Book for Massive Authority, Clients, and Income

When promoted the right way, a self-published book is a phenomenal investment. And in my opinion, it’s the most fun of the three evergreen sales vehicles I teach to get known exponentially.

But you have to do it right. You’ve got to focus on realistic book promoting tactics that won’t drain your time (social media, *cough*) and will bring you sustainable success in the long-term, not just an influx of book sales that only last a few weeks.

To truly do this, you have to get clear on your business strategy and include your book promotion within it.

I can show you the proven system I’ve used to promote self-published books that attract tons of industry authority, hungry leads that convert like crazy, and explosive revenue.

A self-published book you’re proud to promote. Leads on autopilot. A business that runs itself…

…It can all happen for you – when you ditch the unsustainable in favor of pulling back and getting clarity on your entire strategy. Apply for a spot in The Content Transformation System today and let’s get that dusty book idea off your “to-do” shelf and into your “accomplished” pile.

cts apply now

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.