How Independent Authors Are Promoting Their Books

independent authors

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
Getting good feedback from beta readers
How to be a good beta reader
How to Promote a Young Adult Novel on Social Media
The Hybrid Publishing Model



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

  2. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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?

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

  5. Greetings

    Your self-publishing experience will help me a lot in self- publishing my book. After reading your journey have given me more clarity on how can I get my script edited more easily and efficiently.
    Now have idea of all the challenges and obstacles that i will encounter while editing and will take all the necessary precautions needed.
    I also got a clear understanding of what type of editing I need for my book and also the type of editor that suits my need the best.
    I now realize the true meaning of editing as it is the most important aspect of self-publishing.


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