Monday, 10 October 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point

Advice for Indie Authors: An online audience is a great starting point, Bookcrossing.com
If there is a huge excitement on the day your book actually gets published, you will unfortunately experience an anti-climax in the aftermath once the dust has settled. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying - I am not trying to put a downer on things! But seeing your book on Amazon is one thing, now getting people to buy it is something completely different.

Once you have exhausted your friends and family, if you are serious about getting your book noticed, you are going to have to start branching out. Previously I have talked about how I had got the ball rolling with a series of interviews with local newspapers. But now I need to find an audience of potential buyers for my book and that is not easy. I did not realise how time consuming this part of my book publishing adventure would be. I knew I would have to put time and effort in, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how much time and effort!

It has literally taken over my life! If you are thinking about self-publishing but you are a bit work-shy, then I would give up now! Seriously, give up and find a different hobby, perhaps something like bingo, or even bowls - that is quite slow-paced. Because a day has not passed in the last couple of weeks without me doing something to try and promote my book.

The first thing I did was trawl the internet (no, not for that you filthy beggar!). I have continued to build on the in-roads I had been making with social media. Try to find out what the relevant hashtags are that will attract readers to your book. I have been using a series of hashtags including:
  • #books
  • #ebooks
  • #fiction
  • #paperback
  • #kindle
  • #indieauthor
  • #selfpublishing
  • #readthis
The thing is, I am only scratching the surface with this list, and for every Tweet I post, there are a thousand others like this. I whole-heartedly recommend you use Hootsuite, as this is really is a fantastic tool to schedule your social media posts, and saves you having to put time to one side every time you want to post something on Twitter or Facebook.

But the one hashtag I have had the most success with has been #competition. About two weeks prior to The Drought being published I set up a competition using social media, offering a free signed copy of my novel and a £25 Amazon voucher. As well as using the #competition hashtag, I also posted my Tweets with tags such as #win and #giveaway. All people had to do was follow me on Twitter and Like my Facebook page. In less than a week I had over 400 followers on Twitter and over 300 Likes on Facebook. It is amazing what people will do for free stuff! I now have strangers Re-Tweeting my posts and leaving comments on Facebook. I now have an audience.

I continued to build upon this audience using online forums. I posted information about the competition and picked up followers there, but now I was picking up genuine book lovers and avid readers. But you have to be careful with with forums and not go too overboard with the self-promotion. You have to remember that the people on these forums are like little communities. They come to these online meeting points to discuss their favourite books with like-minded people, and you will slowly irritate them and lose their interest if you simply post topics about how great your book is. You need to fully immerse yourself within these online communities; get involved with their discussions and engage in debate with these people. Forums are a slow-burner but they are well worth the effort and the benefit will be worth it in the long-run. I have already managed to sell a couple of eBooks and get some reviews on Amazon from people in these communities.

And last. but by no means least - blogging. Content is king with it comes to people finding you on the net. I have already established a healthy amount of content on my own website, but a good blog will encourage people to engage with you. It also puts your book in the shop window, and by using Amazon Associates, you can also advertise your book on your blogs to boost sales.

A special mention for book sharing website BookCrossing.com. I am planning to send copies of my book out into the 'wild' for people to find. For example, I left one book on a London Tube for someone to find. Each book you leave is assigned a special ID number generated by BookCrossing.com. When someone finds that book, they can log-on to BookCrossing.com and post information about where they found the book, and a review, before passing the book on for someone else to find.

I plan on sending about 25 copies out into the wild between now and the end of the year, so make sure you check out the blog to find out where they turn up (see you're interested already!).

This blog was originally posted on printweek.com

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