In the latest news from the independent author front , Kathryn Gauci reports back on her recent Bookbub promotion:
“Bookbub was OK but didn't set the world on fire. I think some of that had to do with it being for the UK, AUS, NZ, Canada and India and NOT the US. The US is generally the biggest market. It also adds more to the deal in the first place. The real difference has come with it lifting my profile and follow on orders plus the page reads have more than doubled per day. So hopefully the momentum keeps up. I also put it up on a few other sites for a couple of days at the same time — Fussy Librarian etc, which I think helped. My friend, Barbara had one the week before and spent more on extra promo. Same Bookbub deal as me. She just recovered her cost but the follow-on has improved. Another friend had the US market as well and doubled her money.
It was worth it though. And the extra reviews and ratings are starting to come through also.”
Reviews are a key signal used in the ranking of online books. The more reviews, the higher the book ranks and the more books are sold. Of course, given this logic, reviews have been widely gamed by authors and publishers, to the point when they are sometimes not reliable guides as to a book’s quality and popularity. Authors round up their friends to review their books, or pay other services to generate reviews, or review other authors’ books in the hope of reciprocal reviews. Amazon has been fighting back against this degradation of the reviewing signal — the outlines of said epic struggle are described here, along with the latest strategies for independent authors.
Authors will happily spend months or even years writing their book, carrying out immense amounts of research, rewriting, proofreading and structuring. But when it comes to thinking about one or two hundred words on the back of their book, their collective minds go blank. A feeling of panic descends. The author knows instinctively that there is something different about a blurb. How can they possibly encapsulate their work in such a tiny container? The typical response is to write a synopsis, giving away practically every plot point in the book. The best blurbs are an artful compromise between disclosure and withholding, suggestion and explanation. The blurb is a key marketing tool, both in actual bookstores and online, and it merits quite a bit of time and thought. Here are three perspectives on writing a great blurb, packed with plenty of useful advice and practical suggestions.
Janet Doyle’s fascinating book was launched at The Book Wolf, a charming bookshop in Maldon which also hosts discussion groups and music events. Guests enjoyed readings from the book, performed by John Curtis, Mike Smythe, and Janet herself. Musician John Curtis performed two pieces of music written especially to evoke the mystical town of Ldjakhion in which the novel is set. The audience asked many questions of Janet, and were particularly interested in aspects of the background research and the choice of names for the various characters. Signed copies of the book were sold on the night. We will post a sales link to the book shortly.
Presenting an informative and inspiring post from independent author Mala Naidoo:
Starting out as a writer was a romantic inclination, a desire to bring my writing dream to reality.
Little did I realise how important it is to create awareness that you exist, first as a person and then specifically as a writer. Later genre and style become recognisable to readers who are also feeling their way through the stories crafted by a new author.
Striking a balance between writing and marketing your books is paramount, if you want your books in the hands of readers through online or in store purchases.
Starting off with friends, colleagues and family is necessary. Your supportive core, in your writing career, will always be vital for feedback on all your books.
Some of the ways to create awareness and promote your books
is by extending your readership.
How do we do this, let us count the ways.
- Promote your books in your local community, book stores, libraries and book clubs. Offer and accept speaking engagements at book club meetings, school talks and at your local library.
- Talk about your book covers and what they mean, the visual impact - colours, placement of images etc. This has value in eliciting interest.
Cover Design: WorkingType (www.workingtype.com.au)
- Hosting a book launch when your first book is out, attracts curiosity, interest and gets attention. An afternoon tea with light refreshments is a winner to draw a wider crowd. Friends and colleagues are excited for you and offer to assist on the day. As introverts, as most writers are, (we lock ourselves in solitude for days on end) it’s not easy to solicit assistance and market your books - but it’s an essential requirement. The after effects of a book launch are book leads - requests for more books and where they might be available.
- Befriend, online or in person local independent bookstores in your town or city, and through friends in other cities to get your book online and in stores, then encourage readers to purchase your books through these channels. This helps to get your print book into stores, maybe not on the same shelf as Stephen King or Lianne Moriarty, but it gets a space, a tangible space.
- Create a website to reach your readers through blog posts, and newsletters, invite readers in to take up your free offers, create fun giveaways for your subscribers. A simple fact file on a character your readers love is all you need to spur on their interest to read more of your books. It’s an ongoing, strategic process.
- Join online author associations to promote your books or at the very least to create awareness that you exist as a writer.
- Facebook ads are a great way to create awareness and invite the purchase of your book or sign ups to your newsletter. A permanent Facebook Ad for sign ups is necessary when you begin promoting your books, website, and blog.
- When you have a new book out, launch it through Facebook and AMS ads, send out friendly newsletter or messenger communication to your contacts telling them about your new book.
- Don’t overkill the advertising, do it tastefully to keep readers coming back for more.
- Online interactions with influencers of the craft, attending book fairs, writers’ festivals, listening to podcasts and attending webinars are great ways to connect with like-minded creatives, to extend the promotion of your books. Be selective in your choices because it’s easy to drown in a sea of algorithmic advice!
- Create awareness of all your books on Facebook (pin to top), Twitter,(pinned tweet) Instagram (create a cover story, add updated information related to your writing journey). Pinterest (pins that showcase your books with links) Google+, your website and blogposts.
At first I was awkward talking about my books. Fear held me back. Now I have a little story to tell: One day a lovely hairdresser probed into my silent, private world, I managed to slip in, amidst the heat and whirring of hairdryers, a quick biographical sketch, whispering that I was a writer too. Curiosity grew in the hairdressing salon from that whispered revelation as ladies, and the odd gentleman wanted to know more about my books. Having your latest book at the ready is a loaded gun for promotion, as is having an author business card, especially at the places like the hairdresser!
Writing is a process, just as marketing and creating awareness of your latest publication is. Both need equal attention. It’s a balance I continue to work on.
Happy reading, happy writing, happy creating!
Abdi Aden, author of Shining and Yes I Can is very canny at promoting his books. Here are a few suggestions from him based on his experiences:
My PR is very basic and low budget.
- Word of mouth anywhere you can, such as my kids' basketball. Take-away shops, public places.
- Schools I visit and speak at.
- Making t-shirts.
- Websites, also other book-sellers websites.
- Calling places saying "I have a book." Like example some writers festivals, Dymocks Camberwell also run a book night every November for self-publishers.
- Social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Also learn when new social media come up like snapchat.
- Find small festivals, such as Clunes -- self publishers do well there. People attend from all over the world,
We asked author Roger Mendelson, author of Eliyahu's Mistress, to jot down a few thoughts re. promoting his book in the age of social media:
"The days of publishers promoting novels are over, unless you are a high profile author. If you want to promote your book, you have to do it yourself. I am on this journey and despite my novel, Eliyahu’s Mistress winning the IPPY 2018 Bronze Award for best Australian/NZ fiction, am finding it difficult to gain momentum. There is no magic bullet. If you believe in your novel, you require more persistence with promoting it than writing it.I say this as someone with considerable business experience, so I can only imagine the frustration most authors must feel.
Traditional media is fast dying, so if you have a very low budget, social media is really the only option. For this to be effective, you need to define who your readership is likely to be and target this group. It needs to be very specific. Eg middle-aged country people, single older women, retired couples, young single men. I am not an effective Facebook user but I can see that with a very low budget, this really has to be the major medium to use."
Most independent authors dread writing blurbs, and devote as little time to it as possible. Yet they are a critical tool for attracting potential readers. Seasoned author and promotional expert Joanna Penn enumerates several solid points to consider when engaged in the dreaded work of blurb construction. While many of the points (introduce key characters, describe the setting, a hint of mystery, etc.) might seem obvious, many authors opt instead for a leaden synopsis that gives away every important plot point.
Kathryn Gauci writes nuanced and emotionally affecting historical tales, often set in Greece or Turkey. When giving talks or promoting her books in other venues, she hands out bookmarks to potential purchasers. Inexpensive to print, the bookmarks are a useful reminder of her work, and might be viewed later by other readers.
Author M.G. Ryan uses the large banner above for promotional events. She says "it looks great and draws a lot of attention. When I have the second banner made up, they will look awesome next to each other." Her latest book "To Dawn" (sequel to "From Dusk") will be released with the assistance of In-House Publishing.
Rosemary Holmes, author of Adaptation, an engaging multi-generational epic about life on the land in western Victoria, reports on a successful launch for her book:
It was a great day on Wednesday, the sun shone and morning tea was outside in the courtyard and Michael Ronaldson (former Federal minister) spoke beautifully. After the launch there was a morning tea of scones, tea/coffee, served outside on the lawn. The next book launch is to be the 29th November here in Ballarat, at the Midlands Golf Club and the literary person from the Ballarat Courier is to make a speech. There are about 30 people coming to this event. Collins Bookstore here in Ballarat will be taking responsibility for selling the books and they are to promote it in their windows and around the store. Hopefully the local paper will write something about it.
I will be glad when the launches are over but it is all very exciting. My publisher has also suggested thatI submit the novel to the Foundation for Australian Literacy awards at James Cook University.
Ricc Carr talks about her career and teaching methods. Cover by WorkingType Studio.Read More
A banner for a beautiful little hotel in the goldfields region. Modern retractable banners are inexpensive, cheap to print and great for promotional impact.
As the biggest seller of advertising space in the world, Google knows a thing or two about marketing. They have distilled some of that knowledge into a series of lessons. Topics include "Create a Landing Page that Lands Customers", "Segment Your Customers to Reach the Right Ones" and "Keep Customers Interested with Email Automation".
Despite the presence of 'book' in the name of social media's behemoth, Facebook is usually not associated with book selling or promotion. But with 1.6 billion regular users (about which it knows a great deal), Facebook offers a massive opportunity to engage in savvy marketing. Digital Book World recently published an article by Mark Dawson, who describes himself as "pretty much the definition of a midlist author". He cites specific strategies, gives his own sales figures and engages with commenters. Well worth a read.