As an independent author, I am continually trying to learn and grow in my abilities to write, format, produce and of course market my books. It sounds pretty straight forward in theory; write a marketing plan, stick to it. Gain reviews, sell books, and then bask in the glory on my success. My experiences with my first book, To Conspire have proven that this is an overly simplistic and naive vantage point that is far from what is required to find a niche in the ever expanding indie market place. I have determined that there are certain truths that stand up, even in the glut of a flooded market.
One common principle of marketable publication is producing a product that is worthy of the effort and of the readers’ time and energy. I feel that I accomplished that goal with my first book. Although it was a novella, it received positive reviews, even from the strangers who I managed to convince to read it. I would presume that if it was unbearable, these reviewers who do not know me personally or professionally would say so. This being said, I made the decision to seek an editor for my new book, Alive The Corporeal Pull. Alison Jack has put an amazing amount of time and energy into making my book better than my effort alone could produce This book is longer and has a more intricate plot that my novella. I want to ensure that my product is worthy of the market before it arrives there. I hear many references to word of mouth and readers recommending books to one another. I have to admit that most people I know locally are not interested or too busy to read any book. My home town no longer has a book store at all, and the public library has denied membership to anyone who lives outside of the city limits. My take on this is that among circles of people who are active readers, peer recommendation works, but convincing someone who does not typically read to pick up your book, much less recommend it is tricky at best.
Another element I see discussed at length is the use of social media. I do see a benefit in using twitter to network with other authors, and occasionally I find a book to read and review there. I have obtained a few sales, but more free downloads in this manner. I also use twitter to give my blog reach and to learn from others in the field. I have a Facebook page; this is probably the least useful social media tool I use. There are a few readers there, but most of the people who follow my page I already know. They are on my personal Facebook page and are no more interested in my writing there. The website Goodreads is a worthwhile avenue to pursue. I read, and review there. I do have an author page, and I talk about my book(s) only in the manner, and format agreed upon in each group.
Promotional Web Sites
There are countless free and paid websites that claim to promote your book. I have tried some of both. My take on this is, any site that claims that they will tweet your book is worthless. I wasted $50 proving this to myself once. The company tweeted my book two or three times. I gained zero sales. As a rule, the majority of followers to these twitter handles are robots which do not buy books (or anything else) because the real followers get tired of being sales pitched and drop them like a bad habit. There are some paid sites that are known to have success, such as bookbub. Most are just looking to make a few dollars at your expense. Think about it; if you are going to buy a book, you will go into a book store or an online book vendor; will you check an ad website first? Most likely not. I advocate using the free sites. Beyond that I say to steer clear.
It is my intention to enroll my new book in KDP select, at least for a period of time. My first book was published in Smashwords to begin with. I learned a lot from the company. They are very user friendly; they give great advice, and they make a modification of a book easy. They also give you the option of expanding your book into many markets and with this broadening of the market its search options increases. The one thing they don’t do is hype your book. There are no advertising options, email follow-up or special free promotion days (although you can set your price to free anytime or create a coupon). This time I plan to submit my book to Amazon first. Later, I may change that plan and offer my book with both vendors as I do now. Either way, it is an experiment.
Book Blogs and Reviews
I am learning to manage book blogs, and hopefully this publication will garner the reviews that I know it deserves. Most book bloggers have blogs (surprise!) however, they are also on social media such as FB, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The key is to keep your eyes open! Personally, I rarely am asked to review books. When I do, I typically receive a free copy (after all, I’m on a budget!)
This book will also be worthy of a press release. I will make a formal press release, but it is also my intention to call the local media. I live in a small town, so I feel my book may be viewed as newsworthy.
There are many other options in my marketing plan. As a self-published author, I have had to learn to be my own staff! I am my creative director, format profession (I was a computer tech. before I was a teacher or an author.), graphic designer (self-taught), blog administrator, marketing director and whatever else need work. At least, this is a better use of my time than video games or television!
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