I saw this question in a FB group of which I’m a part, and thought I’d go more into depth today, here, with my answer.
“Do I need an agent to market my self-published book?”
The short answer is no, you don’t need an agent to market your book. You’ve already published that book; the time for an agent was BEFORE you self-published. What you need is a publicist, someone who will get exposure for that book, and therefore sales.
But first, there are things you, the author need to do. Low or slow or even non-existent sales can be due to many things.
A good cover.
A well-edited manuscript.
Promotion and marketing.
If you have a bad cover, and Internet examples abound, no one is going to look twice at your book. Period. Not too cluttered, good margins, compatible colors, one or two fonts, easily readable fonts.
If your book is full of mistakes, no one will read it. They might buy it, and be severely disappointed, and never read your work again. Oh, and they’ll tell everyone how horrible it is. You can bet on that.
If your book is not a conventional size, readers may avoid it. Books are typically 8.5 square or 5X8 or 6X9, or something closely matching those sizes. The right margin should be justified, and there should be equitable margins all around. Line spacing should hold at 1.15 and there shouldn’t be spaces between paragraphs.
Pricing can be tricky, but know this: on a royalty-based contract from a publisher, you will earn around $1 on each copy sold. If you self-publish, you can make a few more dollars, but you aren’t going to earn $10 or $15—because no one will buy a paperback novel for $20. Especially if that “novel” is fewer than 70K words.
Promotion. If you self-publish, you probably don’t have much in the way of distribution, so the default is Amazon. Your book will not get enough exposure on Smashwords, or Lulu, or any other third-party, obscure site for books. Make use of the author page on Amazon and all forms of social media, whichever ones work best for you.
Do some research. Give away some books. Pound the pavement.
And yes, you can hire a publicist, if you can afford it. They are expensive, the good ones. Anyone can refer to himself as a publicist, but be sure to do your homework and hire someone who gets results.
But at this point, you don’t need an agent unless you want to pull your book and start over. Some authors do that—and others perhaps should.
But it’s your call. Being an indie author certainly has its benefits.