With growing book sales and millions of readers — the global ebook market was valued at $18.13 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $20.74 billion by 2028 — international markets can be attractive targets for authors and publishers looking to expand their potential readership. So how can you sell more books internationally? If you have international rights to a book, there are strategic promotional tactics you can use to gain exposure within each region where the book is available.
Some of your existing promotions may already reach international audiences by default. For example, if you have a thriving platform via your author website or social media, this content is already available to readers worldwide. But we wanted to share a few ideas for how to specifically target English-speaking audiences in foreign regions.
1. Make the book available on popular retailers in each region
Before diving into how to promote a book internationally, let’s cover availability. When you’re defining a global target audience, learn which ebook retailers are most popular in each region you want to reach. For example, Kobo is the market leader for ebook sales in Canada. Also, a large subset of BookBub’s Canadian subscribers use Kobo, so if you’re submitting a book for a Featured Deal in Canada, we would recommend including Kobo in your promotion. Different regions have different top retailers, so making a book available on as many retailers as possible is even more important when your goal is international reach.
There are several book distribution services that make it easy to distribute books widely across regions. For example, Draft2Digital offers regional distribution and has an international pricing screen called “Manage Territorial Prices” where you can set the exact price in any of their supported currencies.
2. Run region-specific ebook price promotions
Discounting a book in foreign markets is a great way to drive ebook downloads and revenue in those regions. By promoting that price drop via discovery tools like BookBub, you’ll reach a wide audience of power readers, 85% of whom are eager to try out books from new authors they discover through a price promotion.
When you submit a book for a BookBub Featured Deal, you can easily elect to run the promotion in all of our editions, which include the UK, Canada, and Australia in addition to the US. You can also choose to run a promotion exclusively to our international editions:
According to author Julia Kent, “Running a BookBub Featured Deal is one of the best ways to reach a high volume of relevant readers at a relatively low cost. Getting an international-only Featured Deal means promoting your book to the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand via one of the most powerful tools in publishing. It’s a slam dunk. Watch your sales trends to see where your book experiences a spike — and set that data aside for analysis later.”
3. Garner book reviews in each country
Reviews are an essential marketing element for any book, and consumers look to reviews to validate their purchasing decisions. But retailers often have different product pages for each region that don’t share reviews. Amazon, for example, has separate reviews for each region based on the reviewers’ locations and where they purchased the book. So you may want to focus on bolstering the number of reviews a book has in each region.
One reliable way to generate reviews is to run a BookBub Featured Deal — 70% of BookBub partners saw increased measures of exposure after their promotion. So by promoting deals in the UK, Canada, and Australia, you’ll likely get more reviews in those regions, which will increase a book’s credibility for future marketing efforts.
Another strategy many authors use is to ask readers for reviews in the book itself. According to a BookBub survey, 84% of authors who asked for a review in their book’s back matter successfully saw an increase in reviews. So make sure the international editions of a book include a heartfelt call-to-action reminding readers to review. Here are a few great examples of authors asking readers for reviews in their books’ back matter:
You can read more ideas for generating more reader reviews here!
4. Run region-specific BookBub Ads campaigns
With BookBub Ads, you can promote any book to BookBub’s millions of power readers at any time. These ads appear in dedicated spaces at the bottom of BookBub’s daily emails and on BookBub’s website. The auction-based platform’s targeting options let you refine your audience by region (in addition to other targeting options), so you can allocate your marketing budget specifically to reach readers who live in certain countries.
To target specific regions using BookBub Ads, first associate a book with the ad in the “Choose a Book” section of the BookBub Ads creation form. The form will then automatically pull in retailer click-through links for the book in each region. Toggle off any regions you don’t want to target with this campaign.
If the retailer/region you want to target does not appear on this list, toggle on a Custom link, enter the click-through URL, and specify which region and retailers you want to target.
5. Run country-specific social media ads
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram also let you target your ads based on location. So if you’re looking to amplify awareness of a book in specific regions, you can allocate more of your budget toward ads targeted to those regions.
Remember not to simply target all users within these regions! Target people within those regions who have expressed interest in similar books or genres, or specifically follow comparable authors.
6. Optimize the cover design for different countries
Not all audiences react to design the same way, and countries have different markets with different cultural tastes. So retailer sites often let you upload a new cover design for each country where you own the rights.
On book covers, certain layouts and imagery will better appeal to readers in one region versus another. According to Nathan Burton, a British cover designer: “In Europe you often see book covers with simple images and plain type, and that sells books for them. The UK book market is more competitive, all the covers in shops shouting: ‘Buy me!’ We have to put on a bit of extra spin.”
Browse through successful books comparable to the one you’re promoting and in the same subgenre across regions to see if the designs differ. If so, take note of the trending tropes in each region. If you hire an experienced cover designer, they will know or be able to research what kinds of covers work well in a specific genre in each region.
7. Run region-specific giveaways
When running giveaways for copies of their books or advance reader copies (ARCs), some authors opt to make their giveaways region-specific. Sometimes this is due to the author’s location, as shipping internationally is costly, but sometimes it’s due to either the book’s availability or the author or publisher’s marketing goals!
In order to promote her book to teachers and librarians in the UK, Vicky Woodgate ran a UK-specific giveaway for signed copies of her picture book The Magic of Sleep.
Michael Connelly retweeted a giveaway his publisher ran specifically for readers in Australia and New Zealand.
And sometimes, rather than making a giveaway region-specific, authors will run international giveaways. This inclusivity helps the giveaway get more worldwide exposure. You can specify the eligibility in your giveaway copy or caption, as Katie Zhao did here:
8. Partner with book blogs with an international readership
Coordinating with relevant reader blogs can help launch new releases or reinvigorate backlist titles. Bestselling author H.M. Ward, for example, launched several new books and celebrated a number of major sales milestones through blog promotions. Blogs based in other countries give authors access to their subscribers, many of whom may also live in those countries. So compile a list of book bloggers based in the regions you’re targeting who regularly review books, interview authors, or feature guest posts from authors in the same genre.
This will require some research, since every genre and subgenre has its own unique set of relevant sites. To jump-start your research, here are some curated lists of regional blogs for a few countries with large English-speaking populations:
Canada: Canadian Book Bloggers
Australia: Australian Book Bloggers
New Zealand: New Zealander Book Bloggers
What advice would you give on how to market your book to an international audience? Let us know in the comments!
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This post was originally published on September 12, 2017 and has been updated with new examples and the latest best practices.