This one might well be a shorter post than usual, since I don't believe social media in and of itself is a huge driver of sales or audience-building and feel like writing more books is probably a better bet than spending too much time on promotional posts via such networks.
(The possible exception to this is paid promo on Facebook, but I consider that a category of advertising, rather than social media - since the whole idea of social media is being social, ie: interacting.)
I do maintain something of a presence on Twitter and Goodreads, but I try to share stuff or talk books/track my reading process on those two sites. However, on Twitter I do also love to share the art for my book covers and will over indulge in that :D I also post a few links to this blog, but mostly check out what my fellow writers are up to.
There are various book promotion services geared toward twitter and such - two I've trialed over the years are AskDavid and BooksGoSocial and will report on them soon. It can be quite difficult to effectively track such promotional material for sales results.
If you're unsure of whether or where to start with social media, I'd recommend only using a social media platform or two and focus on them rather than spending time trying to cover fifteen different bases. Stick to a few you enjoy, be approachable and don't get sucked into the horse-radish that passes for 'debate' on such sites and you'll probably find social media fun, though perhaps not essential for marketing.
This time I wanted to talk a bit about the marketing approach known as ‘perma-free’ (which is where a writer makes an ebook permanently free across the major retailers).
The theory is simple enough – offer a title for free so a potential reader has a zero-risk method for sampling one of your titles, and if they like your book they’ll buy more. The first title is your loss leader and you make up the ‘lost’ income when fans buy your other books.
Of course, some obvious concerns come to mind:
Okay, so this won’t be a long post by any stretch but there’s a lot of discussion out there as to whether you should put your books in Kindle Unlimited, so I wanted to add my perspective. Here’s a snippet from a blog post from Free Kindle Books and Tips explaining how KU works for readers:
Basically, Kindle Unlimited is a program where for just $9.99 per month, you can read as much as you want from over 700,000 Kindle books as well as listen to thousands of Audible audiobooks – as many or as few titles as you want for the $9.99 per month fee. You also get a free three month membership to Audible.
As a writer, it’s important to note that the greatest aspect of KU is that it represents a zero-risk option for a reader who is looking to try out a new book/series/author.
In terms of payments, writers are paid per page read.
So whether a reader finishes only 10 pages or if they finish your whole book (maybe it’s 150 or 300 pages, maybe it’s closer to 500) you earn say 0.0043 cents per page read. That figure changes month to month but has been similar for some years now.
At first, it sounds tiny, but it quickly adds up over a series:
Across these posts, some of my thoughts are going to apply more to self than traditional publishing. Here’s a time where I’m mostly addressing my comments toward marketing self-published work, though the two techniques are not exclusively for one publishing approach.
Technique One – Choose (and Stay in)* a Popular Genre
Some fanatical self-published writers offering advice might steer you wrong when they blindly say self-publishing the best and only choice!
This is a rather ridiculous thing to claim.
The best choice is the one which suits you as a person and a writer, and to an extent, the one which suits your genre or even an individual book. For an author trying to break into the genres of literary fiction and children’s fiction, I’d argue traditional publishing is going to be the more satisfying path when it comes to building an audience. To some extent, poetry is the same.
However, if you choose to write in more commercial genres such as Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy and their sub genres etc then you’ll find you have less barriers to audience building and an better shot at growing a supplementary income from your writing – and that’s my advice if you’re looking to do that, work mostly in one of those categories.
How important are reviews, exactly?
Some folks will say very. Some will say not at all. And many books will sell without them, and you'll probably find advice all over the internet and in marketing books that says get reviews! (here's some interesting info about common Amazon myths featuring reviews).
And while reviews are in no way the be all and end all, in the end I agree to an extent that they're important for two reasons:
1. Some readers do like to see that a book has a few reviews and some will read those reviews. Not all readers, but some. Having some reviews on your book will cover that group.
2. Many promotional sites (more on these in a later post) require that the book you list with them has a certain amount of reviews before they list it.
All of the tips on these posts assume you've got a good book. That's straightforward and seems awfully basic, huh? But 'good' is awfully subjective. Is popular punching-bag Fifty Shades of Grey a good book?
Well, in terms of marketing, a 'good book' can mean quite a few things. But here, I'm gonna suggest that for now, 'good' means your book is professional. So the very best book you can write, the best characters, best storytelling, best writing, best editing, best proofing and best cover, best blurb, best opening...
Noticing a theme? :D
Over the next few months I'm going to start sharing a bit about my adventures in book promotion - doubtless of more interest to fellow writers than readers perhaps, but information that I hope is helpful at the least :)
Now, my purpose with these posts won't be to claim that I'm an expert or that these approaches will always work for each and every genre or book, but more to share methods and opinions on the stuff I've tried over the last two years.
Introduction (taken from an article written for Writers' Bloc)
Few aspects of the writing world are quite as mercurial and challenging as marketing.
What works now may not work next year – or even next month. And with digital publishing, shifts in audience tolerance and interest happen more quickly than ever. However, it must be done – people need to hear about your books if you want to be read.
In these posts, I'll be outlining and commenting on some of the marketing approaches and techniques that indie, small press and big publishers are currently using. Hopefully this will help build your readership and generate some income, too. I’m not an expert and I’ve only been employing these techniques for a maximum of two years, but many have worked for me and my genres.
For a long time now, advertisers have been talking about ‘clutter’ and how to break through it. People are exposed to so many commercial impressions in a single day that it all becomes clutter. It’s all noise, it’s all spam – and obviously there’s no use spending time, money and effort sending promotional material for a thriller to a person who doesn’t read thrillers – or worse, to a person who doesn’t read at all.
And so, several questions follow:
Stay tuned for posts exploring those questions - check out some of the topics on the Marketing Tips page - the first of which should be up over the weekend.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
Imperial Towers (Never Book 5) - draft 1
Moss Dragon - draft 1
Reed Lavender (working title) - draft 1
Unnamed Spec Fic - draft 1
Whisper of Leaves (sequel) - Outline