By Lyn Horner
I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but it bears repeating. When you publish an e-book, expect to spend as much time on marketing as you spend writing the next book, especially if you’re new on the publishing scene. In order to get the most from promotional efforts, it’s wise to pick and choose where you’ll invest your precious time. Today I’ll share some suggestions gleaned from two successful e-book authors.
Most writers have heard of John Locke, the New York Times Best Selling Author who was the first self-published author in history to sell one million Kindle books. Last year he published How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, a helpful guide I highly recommend. It reveals how the author built a loyal following of readers who promote his books for him. Before Mr. Locke explained his marketing system, he listed several tactics that didn’t work for him:
- Attempts to get into brick and mortar book stores
- Seeking newspaper interviews
- A hired publicist
- Press releases
- Radio interview
- Media ads
The author concedes that some of these things might work for others, but he found them to be time and money wasters. I can’t go into the reasons here, but it might be worth your while to read Locke’s book for the details.
Now for the good stuff he does recommend!
First, write for a specific audience and know how to find that audience. In Locke’s opinion, most authors do things backwards. They write a book then try to find an audience and form a marketing plan. He sees that as “shooting in the dark.” In my case I admit he’s correct. I write cross-genre books intended mainly for western romance readers, but with paranormal elements that make them unique – and kind of hard to sell.
To solve this problem, Locke suggests running a survey (on your blog or website, linked to twitter) to find out what readers like about your book. Ask specific questions such as which is their favorite scene and why, how the scene made them feel, etc. Evaluate their answers to see what they have in common. This can help you determine where and how to promote your book.
Other recommendations from John Locke:
- Get your book in print (investigate CreateSpace and/or Lulu for this option)
- Set up a website and blog site
- Seek reviews (great ones help)
- Build a mailing list of at least 25 people who will buy your next book
- Connect with at least 100 “quality” followers on twitter; converse with these people, get to know them, let them get to know you. The goal is to make them loyal readers who will help promote your books.
Now I’ll pass on advice received from Liliana Hart, a very successful e-book author. She’s a member of Yellow Rose RWA, a Texas chapter I belong to, where she has kindly shared her experience with me and other members.
Here are a few of Liliana’s tips:
- Use twitter extensively to build followers. The best hours to be online are between 8 and 10 a.m. and in the evening between 8 and 10 p.m.
- Post on Kindleboards and get involved in discussions.
- Start a “Street Team” on your website. Recruit readers who love your book(s) to spread the word to their friends. Send them packets with freebies they can hand out such as bookmarks, romance trading cards, whatever you can afford. Offer incentives to top team members. You might offer a mug or T-shirt with a cute saying related to your book(s).
Another marketing tool for you to consider is Amazon’s KDP Select program. I’ve used it to make my books more visible on Amazon, and for several months it really boosted my sales. If you choose to take part in KDP Select, you must sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon during the time it’s enrolled in the program. Enrollment periods are for 90 days but can be renewed indefinitely.
However, I don’t recommend keeping your books on KDP Select for more than a few months because it limits your audience to Amazon readers. To optimize exposure and sales long term, your books need to be available through a variety of e-book retailers. These include Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and the Apple i-store.
I hope you find these marketing suggestions helpful. Do you have other favorite ways to market your books? I’d love for you to share them. Many heads are better than one!