Traditionally-published authors have distribution and a publisher's marketing services. The biggest fight for a self-published author is getting her book noticed - leveling the playing field.
"Discovery" is more than a catch-word. There are several tools that can help raise your book's visibility.
A study released by Nielsen Book Data in the UK called "The Link Between Metadata and Sales" states that online sales of books increased by 178% when they had complete metadata records. Given that most sales of self-published titles happen online as opposed to brick-and-mortar bookstores, this is a critical recognition that good metadata will lead to better sales. So what IS metadata, exactly? It's the information about your book - not just title, author, ISBN, but a full description, a cover image, reviews and blurbs, a table of contents. The more you can tell a potential reader what your book is about, the more likely the reader will be to purchase it. The more questions a potential reader has to ask, the less likely she will be to purchase it. Bowker’s Books in Print data feed goes out to companies like Barnes & Noble and to major search engines, but also to libraries – an enormous source of discovery. If you have purchased ISBNs for your titles, you can add or maintain your metadata at My Identifiers.
In a physical bookstore, a reader can take a book off the shelf and look through it to determine whether or not she's going to buy it. Online, this is more difficult. The "view inside" widget - used on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Book Search - allows the reader to read portions of the book online, while allowing the publisher (or the self-published author) to specify exactly how much of the book is view-able. Widgets can be used on websites, blogs, and Facebook pages. Once again, the more a potential reader knows about your book, the more likely she is to purchase it.
3. Book as an App
The digital landscape is constantly shifting. Do you sell your ebook just through Amazon, or are you aiming for more coverage? Turning your ebook into an app allows you to sell your title on even more platforms than just the Kindle Store. Discovery is, in part, about being found in as many places as possible.
4. QR Codes
Just as bar codes are a critical component of bookselling, QR codes add a dimension as well. With QR codes, you can provide links not only to websites that sell your book, but to enhanced features such as contests, quizzes, video, community pages. These features help readers know more about your book, drawing them in and encouraging them to buy. These tools – simple to use, not very expensive – can easily raise the profile of your book, enhance search results, and lead readers to your work.