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The 2017 Self-Publishing Survey conducted by BookBaby focused on revealing the most successful book marketing and promotional strategies for self-published independent authors.

The 56-question BookBaby Self-Publishing Survey targeted two subgroups: authors who have published at least one book (either self-published, traditionally published, or both), and aspiring independent authors who have not yet published a book. The online survey was conducted between October 24, 2016 – November 28, 2016, and was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors.

independent authors

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This report focuses primarily on revealing what marketing and promotional activities will enable self-publishers to increase exposure and sales of their titles. It examines the most popular marketing practices of the average author and the promotional activities employed by the most successful authors.

Today’s independent authors have a bounty of promotional and marketing tactics from which to choose, and it’s clear that very few are limiting themselves to just one or two options. Instead, to get the word out about their work, traditionally- and self-published authors alike are involved in everything from pre-sales and giveaways to launch parties and bookstore appearances.

Findings from our survey show that, on average, published authors engage in about 3.5 marketing tactics to promote their books. The research also shows that the most successful authors (those who have earned over $5,000 in sales in the past 12 months), are more active marketers than lower earners, engaging in 5.3 marketing activities per author compared to 2.2 activities respectively.

According to BookBaby President Steven Spatz, the variety of tactics authors employ may have something to do with the fact that self-published authors have more hope than ever that their efforts can blossom into a full-time career. “More self-publishers are taking their careers seriously these days,” he says. “Just as there are many different paths to fame and fortune in self-publishing, there are also many different paths to finding yourself in a traditional book deal.”

That said, a few specific tactics are especially popular with today’s authors. Soliciting book reviews stood out as the most common promotional effort among published authors. Published authors also expressed a strong predilection for social media as a marketing platform.

Requests for book reviews

Given the importance of discoverability for authors who sell the majority of their print or eBooks through e-commerce platforms such as and its Amazon Kindle Store, it is not surprising that 51% of published authors responded that they have actively solicited reviews for their books. A good deal of those resulting reviews appear to be having the intended effect: 53% of those same published authors found their efforts to solicit reviews either “moderately effective” or “very effective.”

When soliciting book reviews, authors split their time fairly evenly among approaching book bloggers, Amazon reviewers, and beta readers. A good bit of weight is afforded to the opinions of book bloggers, who have been contacted by 42% of published authors in search of reviews. Yet there’s one group that receives book review requests with even more frequency than bloggers: friends and family. Over 61% of published authors have asked friends or family members to review their books.

To a large degree, authors who have been both traditionally- published and self-published have few qualms about earning negative book reviews, as long as the reviews continue to come in. When 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.

Learn more – download your free copy of Revealed: The Methods Of Successful Independent Authors. Self-publishing’s largest survey uncovers how top-earning authors market and promote their books.


BookBaby 2017 Survey Results


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Book Reviews: The Ultimate Word Of Mouth Promotion
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How to Promote a Young Adult Novel on Social Media
The Hybrid Publishing Model



About BookBaby

BookBaby has written 281 posts in this blog.

BookBaby makes self-publishing easy: From book printing, eBooks, distribution, cover design, and now editing. Since 2011, we’ve helped thousands realize their publishing goals, backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. BookBaby creates and distributes your printed books and eBooks to the largest distribution network, including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other popular retailers worldwide.

15 thoughts on “How Independent Authors Are Promoting Their Books

  1. Palitha Senanayake says:

    Is there any way we could solicit reviews from recognized ‘reviewers’?
    To whom do we submit our publications to obtain reviews?

  2. Ernie Zelinski says:

    Are you serious?

    First, you published this on July 26, 2017 and there are still no comments as of August 16, 2017. Does that show you how lame this blog post is?

    Second, You say, “Published authors also expressed a strong predilection for social media as a marketing platform.”

    Get real! Social media is one of the worst marketing platforms for self-published authors.

    1. Bill says:

      Agreed. And I’ve done marketing a time or two as a publisher for 20+ years.

    2. William says:

      What do you suggest instead?

  3. Hi Ernie,

    I couldn’t agree more! At last, someone who is prepared to say it like it is!!

    It really does come down to a good story and a lot of luck.

    1. Wendy says:

      Plenty of garbage/fluff out there in the top-selling spots because their publishers (the true author is probably some nameless word-mill grinder) know how to game the system. Or get their books up to bestseller status by using the purchase of the book as a “coupon” for other products they sell.

    2. Bruce Morey says:

      Craig, you’re right on the money, you have to write your book for you and hope others will like it too, and there is a bit of luck involved for sure.

  4. I would like to take this opportunity to promote my YA fantasy adventure novel, ‘Search for the Sunlight’ by Craig A. Thomson.

    The book is available now on amazon both as an e-book and paperback. Watch out for the Treewoods!

    Give us a review man?

  5. The correlation makes sense. As long as you’re using the right marketing tactics, the more you invest, the more return there will be.

  6. Wendy says:

    So higher-earning authors do more than lower-earning authors across the board. Doesn’t really help me determine where to focus my efforts.

  7. Hmmm. I guess it takes quite a lot to define success in terms of money. What if you just want to be heard for nothing and cause that change?

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