This blog post is the first in a series about Author Self-Promotion. This post will focus on building your author platform.
There is nothing about being an indie author that makes me shudder more than the thought of promoting my books myself. I am an introvert by nature, so not the kind of person who naturally blows their own trumpet. I know lots of fellow indie authors who feel the same way, but we all grit our teeth and head out into the wasteland that is the internet to try and sell our wares.
Self-promotion means putting myself ‘out there,' and that in itself makes my skin crawl. I would love to be able to afford a PR team who could take all of the promo away from me and let me do what I feel comfortable with – the writing. But, unless I win the lottery that dream is a distant one. Over the past four years publishing, I’ve learned that to stay visible as an author I’ve had to push through my personal discomfort zone promote my work myself or vanish into obscurity.
The publishing industry is highly competitive and whether you sink or swim doesn’t only depend on the quality of your writing. Success and failure depend on discoverability -- Readers need to know who you are, what you do, and find out when you have a special deal for one of your books.
Indie authors know from the get-go that no one is going to market for them unless they pay, but no matter what, we all have to learn to market our work in some way. When self-publishing, we all have to make business decisions based on our personal budgets -- covering editing cost, proofreading, paperback proofs, etc.
Self-publishing CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t HAVE to be.
I have written, and self-published 11 books over the past four years -- most of them have 4/5 star reviews. I did everything to do with the creation of my books myself because I just don’t have the available finance to employ anyone else. It took time, and I did have to learn new skills like: How to format an ebook. How to create an Epub. Creating advertising graphics and book covers. Each new skill I’ve learned has saved me money I can put towards the thing that can make or break a book release – Marketing.
Discoverability is at the core of internet marketing.
With the daily bombardment of imagery online, catching the reader’s eye is key. I am going to share five FREE tips that will assist you at the start of your journey into self-publishing. I have used all of these tips, and they worked for me. But as with everything, it depends on how much time and effort you put into it. Actioning these tips cost me nothing but time, however, if you want quicker results and have the budget, by all means, employ a designer and a PR agency to do the work for you.
How to set up your author platform:
1. A Website. Your author website doesn’t have to be professionally designed or come with bells and whistles. It could be a Wordpress site, Wix.com, Blogger or one of many other free websites. I chose a free Wix.com template because it was easy to use and as you can see, looks great. If you know how to upload, copy, paste and save, then you will be able to find your way to customizing your own Wix website. My site has a built in blog, and I use the ShoutOut app to send out newsletters to readers. All for free.
2. Social Media – Set up a Facebook profile and a Twitter profile. Now, I must admit that in the way self-promotion makes me shudder, so does Social Media. I don’t enjoy using social media, I am not one for sharing personal information, and I have no interest in the in’s and out’s of most people's everyday lives. But as FREE marketing tools go Twitter and Facebook add to your chances of discoverability. Facebook groups are one of the places you will be able to promote your work directly to readers. When it comes to Twitter, do your research, learn which hashtags are appropriate for books in your genre. Don’t fill your Twitter feed with book ads for your latest release. Try to keep the selling/miscellania ratio balanced. Your followers will quickly unfollow if you just share book ads all of the time.
3. Goodreads Author profile - Amazon owns Goodreads, and it’s the main place where book reviews are posted. Getting a lot of reviews on Goodreads can be great for selling your books, but I would advise using the site sparingly. It’s easy to set up your author profile and add your social media links. Your book will be added automatically when it is published on Amazon, and if not, you can add it manually. You choose how much you interact with reviewers, but remember Goodreads is a REVIEWER SPACE and if you get a bad review, NEVER start a fight with a reviewer, no matter what. You may think i'm being overly dramatic, but careers have been ended when authors have gotten into spats with reviewers on the site, and ‘the masses’ have revolt and given a book thousands of one star reviews. Fighting with a reviewer to prove your point is just not worth it. So by all means set up a profile so you have a presence, but use with care.
4. Amazon Author Central – I am assuming that as an indie author you will be uploading your books to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to sell on Amazon. One thing that most new indie authors don't know is that they have to open an account on another site Author Central to see their sales data, bio and reviews in one place. The author biography space on the Amazon web page is linked to Author Central and stays blank unless you open up an Author Central account an add your biography. It is easy to open an Amazon Author Central account to add your author bio and claim your books and access the detailed sales data.
FYI- Set up Author Central accounts for ALL territories - USA, UK, France, Germany, even if you don’t sell on them all yet.
5. Review Blogs – In my opinion, Bloggers do a pretty damn amazing job. They are the gatekeepers between authors and readers. They will pimp books for free, so it is in your best interest as an author to become familiar with the most well-known blogs in your genre and to find out how you can get your book reviewed by the sites. Review blogs get inundated by requests from authors, and so remember to be polite. Don’t make demands or kick off if a review isn’t up on the requested day. Most bloggers run their sites without a wage and review books for free. Bloggers don’t HAVE to review anyone’s books - they do it because they love books, so stay on their good side. Offer extra content, for instance - write a guest post about a subject close to your heart- or about the process of writing/publishing, offer to be interviewed, offer a free or a gift card for a giveaway.
Once these Free tips are carried out and your author platform is live you will have a series of links to add to the back matter of your books, share on social media, and use to keep your readers up to date with your writing.
This post only the start of the author self-promotion journey, next time I will focus on advertising.
My first audiobook release is now live. Listen to a sample of Amazon gay romance bestseller " As You Wish" narrated by Gary Furlong.
Isobel Starling 2017