June 7th, 2021

Monopolize Your Indie Author Real Estate

by Penny C. Sansevieri

My favorite token was the Scottie dog; maybe yours was the race car. Whether you played the game on long ago rainy summer days with your siblings, or your last round was just last week with members of your pod, if I say the word Monopoly, I’ll bet a vivid image comes to mind.

For the purposes of this post, hold on to that image because today we’re going to talk about what indie authors can learn from an 86-year-old board game that has been played by over 1 billion people worldwide. Two words: real estate and exposure.

These two words are also important in book marketing. The more places you show up, the more likely your potential buyers will find you. And that’s why it’s important to own and manage your author real estate, so let’s look at your options. If it gets you motivated, picture each of these as a little deed, and claim them!

Author Website

This is your Boardwalk. I’m always surprised at how many indie authors still don’t have websites – or they do have them, but they’re flat out just poorly done. Remember that everything is your resume. So make sure that your website is doing the job you need it to do. And what’s that? Well, it sort of depends on your overall goals. If you want to sell books, then your site should reflect that. If you have a business tied to your book and your book is your business card, then your site goals will be very different. Whatever your book marketing goals, you should have a clean, easy to navigate website.

Amazon

If an author website is your Boardwalk, then Amazon is definitely Park Place. And you DO want potential buyers to park on your Amazon product page.

Despite how important Amazon is, so many indie authors forget to maximize it as part of their book marketing approach. I’m not talking about the back-end optimization and metadata (though that’s crucial). I’m talking about creating a pitch perfect book description and adding enhancements to the product page such as a note from the author, additional reviews that didn’t make it into the actual review section, and maybe even an excerpt.

Despite the popularity of social media and the importance of your website, your Amazon page may be the key ingredient to selling more books. Use it wisely! If you don’t have a website, a top-notch Amazon presence is an absolute must for bare minimum book marketing. Anything less makes you look like you don’t take yourself seriously.

Goodreads

To continue the analogies, if I had to pick a property for Goodreads, I’d choose Marvin Gardens. It’s a solid investment in a highly affordable neighborhood and perfectly located to clean up on those about to round to corner toward Go.

When I’m recommending strategies to authors, Goodreads is always a given. I even include it as part of my book promotion services because I feel so strongly that it needs to be used. Why? Because it’s the biggest social media site specifically for authors and readers.

Yes, it gets a bad rap from a lot of indie authors because the reviewers are honest – they can even be cut-throat – but take the challenge head on and get involved on the site. Not only will this earn you some additional exposure, but it will also give potential readers an inside look into your personality, which should be one of your best sales tactics!

Goodreads is a solid plan C behind a website and Amazon, in regard to where your time and attention are spent, because Goodreads is the dictionary definition of a target market if you’re an author, especially if you write fiction or your primary audience is women.

Social Media

To me, social media functions as the railroads – you don’t need all of them to see movement and engagement, but you do need to use them, to be active, for that to happen.

If you aren’t sure where your fans are socially, do a little research to find them. First, do a Google search on your genre. Search for authors who aren’t household names but who still get good search results. Once you have five to ten authors, dig around on their websites to discover where they are on social media. Remember that success leaves clues, and if you aren’t sure where on social media sites to be active, a good way to start is by getting to know what other/similar authors are doing.

Facebook

Facebook is still king because it’s the most used. You may hate it, but it’s not all about you, it’s about your buyer market. If they’re riding the Facebook line, you should be too. The trick with Facebook is that you must pay attention. Twitter runs on quick blips of info and content; you can easily hop on and off all day. Instagram is very visual, and not a place for conversations. On Facebook, though, longer, super personal posts often do very well. People are more likely to comment and share on Facebook. Being superficial is a big no-no. So while Facebook is usually the top of the list, just know that it also requires a lot of attention if you want to get the big rewards.

Twitter

For many authors, Twitter is a solid bet in terms of visibility. Mostly because it’s become such a powerful search engine. If you can’t tweet every day, just a few times a week is fine. But sharing others’ content, networking with similar authors, and pushing out helpful, fun, or inspiring tweets is a great way to build exposure, and it’s super quick and easy on this platform.

Instagram

Much like Twitter, Instagram is a bit of a given these days. I really recommend having a presence there if your topic is fun, sexy, sweet, or just plain old warm and fuzzy. Even business authors with tips do really well there! Instagram loves everything funny, heartwarming, inspirational, educational, or pleasurable. It’s not super political or news heavy, which makes it a great escape, and I believe that’s played a huge role in its growth. Just remember that the platform is image driven, and choose images that are sharp, clear, colorful, and relevant to whatever it is you’re sharing.

Video, Facebook Live, and YouTube

It’s hard to log onto social media and not see video feeds. This is because video is a massive attention-getter. Whether it’s a book trailer, a Facebook Live event, or an Instagram Live, video should be part of your indie author real estate.

But remember, as with anything, it’s quality over quantity. Don’t just throw crappy videos up there that make you look like an amateur. Sure, you don’t have to be a movie production pro, but remember, you’re building your brand, so, as with everything you do, put some time and effort into it.

Go!

You don’t need a monocle or a top hat to be an indie author tycoon (though if you actually do have both, that would make a terrific selfie on November 19 – National Monopoly Day). You just need to claim your indie author real estate by establishing a solid and exciting presence on whatever platforms you’ve chosen.

Do what you can, and do it well, and leave the rest. You’re better off being active and engaged in a few key ways than you are being involved in a very minor way using all the strategies available to you. Instead of collecting every property on the board, choose the ones that work for you and build: get yourself some houses – or even hotels!

And if you can, have fun. Now blow on those dice, hope for doubles, and go claim what’s yours.

Good luck!

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Penny

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller is due out in Spring 2021.

AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.

14 responses to “Monopolize Your Indie Author Real Estate”

  1. KathleenBaldwin says:

    Thank you, Penny!
    I love your advice and books. Topnotch - as always!

    I've started using more videos lately on Facebook, Instagram, my website and elsewhere because they seem to get more play. BUT I'm a little in the dark as to content for those videos.

    Do you have more advice or direction for fiction authors in that arena?

    • Kathleen thanks for the comment, glad you enjoyed the post! In terms of videos, I've seen fiction authors do all kinds of things - from unboxing videos to "here's a glimpse of where I work on my books" to snippets from the book trailer, etc. You could also just talk to fans, thank them for their support - a little goes a long way!

  2. amreade says:

    Great post. I follow Penny and read her newsletter emails as often as I can. I need to do more with Goodreads. Is there a resource you can recommend to learn more about how authors can and should use GR for marketing?

  3. Good suggestions all, though it will be a while before I can implement some of them.

    I'd add one thing: be sure you are out on all formats.

    I have yet to provide large print and hardcover, but have both ebook and print available. I am not going wide, by choice, yet, but it is something to be considered.

    And I am learning what I need to produce the 'as read by author' audiobook when I can manage it.

    My excuse: I have ME/CFS and literally no energy (think long-covid survivors, another group with a post-viral syndrome), and I'm doing the best that I can.

    But others who have far more energy may need to add audio as soon as they can.

  4. Jenny Hansen says:

    I love these questions, and I have a few more. For example, I'm watching TikTok explode and hearing great things about using it for authors, but I'd love some more direction on that. Kathleen's question about winning video content is pretty universal amongst authors.

  5. dholcomb1 says:

    Wonderful advice. Thank you!

    Denise

  6. Del says:

    As a lover of Monopoly, I love it.. and such great advice all around the board...

  7. […] media, as many experts suggest, is key to getting more readers. Not sure where to start? This recent WITS post, by Penny Sansevieiri, covers where readers and agents should easily find your author platform […]

  8. Nicely written, inspiring, concise article. Thank you! I figure if coming from you, it's probably gospel. Luckily, I can check off all the boxes (some more flaccid than others), except for Twitter—and maybe I'll buck up for that.

    I'm mainly commenting to say thanks for trimming the fat. Great to get clear confirmation about priorities in an exploding web of directions. Your advice is 'back to basics,' and I fully agree with your recommendations. Plus it reminded me how much fun playing Monopoly is.

    I'll also throw out, for newer authors reading here, that if you just keep pluggin' along, most of the inroads you make have lasting value — websites, Author Central pages, presence on social, going wider, learning new technologies, general s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. It feels brazen at first, and you never feel like you've mastered any of it, but it MUST be done. And…maybe I'm wrong, but mistakes seem quite easily forgotten-forgiven-erased in this game. Say you spot something superfluous on your website (that you once thought was critical), yank it down. Say you don't understand Instagram (I really don't, I just stuck a photo up), you mess around until you do (<= note to self). But when you gradually get a handle on these things, they ride around with you and your books FOREVER. You only have to tweak 'em from time to time. Creating a website or building up your FB presence (I need to) is not something you'll regret!

    Thanks again, Penny, I just signed onto your newsletter.

  9. Love this! Penny is always spot on. We've also found that listing your book in Google books is a great way to get listed in other places. Google books added ours to Barnes & Noble, Booksamillion, and Indie.org.

  10. Ellen says:

    So many possibilities! Great ideas.

    If you were to pick maybe four options to not feel spread too thin, which would you suggest?

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