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Promoting Your Book Internationally

Is Indie book promotion worldwide worth the effort? I took that challenge and tested a novel series and children’s book in other countries. Since the Annalisse series has a travel thread blended with crime throughout all books, I jumped in and tested the market for crossover appeal.

My Experience:

Many factors determine whether international readers will find American authors’ work to their satisfaction. A huge component to consider is the difference between cultures. Storylines that appeal to those who reside in the US may not attract someone in the UK, Singapore, or perhaps India. I mention these countries specifically because my third book, Scattered Legacy, went into the hands of readers from Europe and Asia through book tours and blogger channels. In fact, I promoted my entire series internationally during several book blog tours in late 2021 and early 2022. Mailing all three installments overseas was expensive, but well worth the learning experience.

Book Cover Art – We all know the first thing a book buyer sees is the cover. Readers do buy books based on their covers, so professional artwork is a necessity. From my research into romance subgenres, as an example, readers in the US are drawn to a hunky, shirtless guy with low-slung jeans on a book cover. We see the stereotyped guy on romance novels because this kind of marketing sells to US readers. However, what persuades a romance enthusiast in North America to make a purchase may turn off readers in other places. A simple thing, like fully dressing a cover character, could garner more international sales for a romance author. If your novel sales come from a US demographic only, the cover might need reworking for a longer reach. Artwork too risqué for a general audience? Try a more subtle, sweet visual to entice prospective readers, but be honest with the cover. If a book is loaded with profanity and intimate scenes, sweet romance covers might bring on a slew of negative reviews. Tricky covers are a place to steer away from.

Although hard to imagine, some buyers in a hurry won’t read book descriptions when a stellar cover catches their eye and the book has good reviews. It’s vital to have the book’s cover be consistent with the story. No one likes to be duped into a purchase with a gorgeous cover only to find out the artwork has nothing to do with the story.

One of the best ways to gain insight into the mind of an international reader is to check out other books written in different countries, or look at novels from bestselling international authors who reside in the US. Search their reviews outside of .com websites to get a feel for reviewer likes and dislikes. Compare covers of highly rated books with your cover. Does your book fit acceptable worldwide themes, or does it send the wrong message?

The Maddening Crowd — If your characters have views that might be considered controversial, understand that any opinion may be offensive to someone, no matter how well the edges are softened. I found this out when I wrote my first children’s book based on a true story. Writing about real issues or everyday life has its own set of pitfalls unless you can charm your reader into empathizing with the character. For those outside of the US, chances are, their world views will be unique from Americans.

Be sure your book is categorized correctly for the subject matter and that your description and keywords aren’t misleading. This allows your work to show up with similar books on the buy page. A PR firm can help you establish the right descriptive words for your books. I use a great publicity company; they are worth every penny paid. Email me at: and I’ll be happy to pass along their contact information.

Readers have little tolerance for Indie authors who haven’t researched their topics well, or use deception on a cover’s front and back matter to boost sales. This is particularly true with international audiences. Producing genre fiction doesn’t give the author a pass to make up facts, either, unless a book is 100% fantasy. Enlist a trusted ARC team or manuscript beta readers and ask them if your story is sensitive to others. If the topics present an American attitude, or pushes buttons on hot issues, test readers in the home audience. Books with an attitude might need a few tweaks.

Subject Matter — Each country has its own societal behaviors. Imagine a single mom at the poverty level, or a student living at home, sitting down to enjoy your story. On the other side of the spectrum, the reader might be wealthy and reside on a Monaco yacht, sailing the Mediterranean. Does your novel translate well to entertain most cultures? Send out a few eBooks or paperbacks to readers in Europe or Asia. I guarantee, you’ll find your answers quickly.

How you’ve set up a novel or series for optimal readership is key. My first two mysteries attracted women readers due to the subject matter and injecting romantic suspense into those installments. A female protagonist/amateur sleuth also helped to drive women to them. Because I altered the mystery toward the male character’s car company, and the Mafia, more men are picking up the third book than the first two. My protagonist hasn’t changed, but the story made a shift toward men’s themes. At the time I wrote that manuscript, I hadn’t considered the readership flip since it’s still part of a series with a female sleuth.

The Book Review Takeaway — My small trial to promote a book series and children’s book internationally has populated 4 to 5-star reviews and a few timid 3-star comments from out-of-country reviewers, primarily. I’ve monitored reviews closely in the past few months, and hands down, the books resonate more positively in the US market. Have you traveled to other countries and visited with the people there? If so, your books may fare well on the worldwide market. Promoting your work to a broader sector of the public is an individual choice. There are plenty of readers in other countries waiting to become a super-fan of the next big blockbuster novel. Is it yours? Remember, any new book exposure is good exposure.