Tag Archives: strategy

Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

Indie Author Marketing: 5 Essentials For Profits

You’ve written a book or two. Sales are slim to none. You know that you need to market, but HOW? It all seems so complicated. Indie author marketing can be a huge challenge, but it needn’t be.

When I coach writers in book marketing, I ask: “what’s fun for you?” because book marketing begins with your mindset.

Here’s a secret. I spent much of my writing career despising marketing. Looking back, that was quite a trick, because I’m a copywriter. I could market anything, but hated marketing my writing, or my writing business. And by “hating” I mean in a visceral sense. The idea made me nauseous.

Finally, I decided that I was being silly: if I could market for others, I could do it for myself. Since I had to do it, I asked myself: what’s fun for you? Fun for me turned out to be blogging.

Your mileage will of course vary, but if you can work out what you like — and could perhaps love, you’re well on the way to becoming a true indie author…

… If you understand how book marketing works.

Assuming that a fairy godmother isn’t about to smack you silly with her magic wand anytime soon, and turn you into an instant bestselling author, you need to understand book marketing essentials. If you’re not aware of the WHY of tools like blogging/ social media and advertising, you can’t use them creatively.

(There’s no shame in that, by the way, some global publishers haven’t a clue either.)

Start with this foundation: indie authors wear two hats — author, and publisher.

Two hats: author and publisher — publishing must be profitable

You’re comfortable wearing your author hat. Toss that hat aside for a moment, and put on your publisher hat.

Hat on? OK. 🙂

A publisher’s goal is the same as that of any other business: turn a profit. No profit, no business. So, as a publisher, how do you turn a profit? You’ve got a book, or a bunch of books (a bunch is better)… your sole aim is to sell those suckers.

You can market and sell your books in any way you choose. However, remember FUN. If marketing your books isn’t a giggle, you won’t do it. So keep thinking about the fun angle. There are so many ways of marketing books that you’re sure to find something you like to do.

Let’s explore some essentials to help you to develop a “profits” indie publisher mindset.

1. Time and money: you need both for profitable publishing

Everyone wants instant success. That’s fine. I want that too. However, I’m realistic, and know that Murphy’s Law applies. Everything takes longer than you expect, and things will go wrong.

To counteract this, make a commitment to yourself: whatever it takes. You can’t be half-hearted about your publishing venture. Expect it to take time to make money.

Then expect that you’ll invest the money you make from your book sales back into your business: you’ll get better covers, will buy advertising, will improve your website — whatever it takes.

2. Hook buyers: buyers buy because of an EMOTION

Humans are emotional creatures, and readers read to experience emotions.

I recently wrote:

Each and every fictional genre has an emotional key — emotions readers want to feel while reading that kind of fiction.

If you can zero in on the emotions that readers want, AND can tap those emotions in your fiction, you’ll write stories that readers will love.

It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: it’s essential that you read widely in the genre in which you’re writing. You MUST understand what emotions readers want when they read your genre.

For example, in any type of romance fiction, the HEA (Happily Ever After) is pretty much non-negotiable — if your romance doesn’t end in a HEA, you’d better be able to generate those emotions in other ways, otherwise readers will avoid your stories, and you’ve wasted time writing them.

If you’re getting few sales, and readers aren’t connecting with your fiction (or nonfiction), consider emotion. Start looking for your own emotional reactions to what you read too — you’ll begin to understand why books become bestsellers.

Bestselling authors are regularly trashed by literary critics who whine about the poor writing. (Dan Brown springs to mind.) When you check out bestselling books, you’ll see what the critics don’t see: the bestsellers connect with readers on an emotional level.

3. Visibility and discoverability: get discovered

With millions of books available, it’s hard to get your books in front of readers. If you want readers to find your books you need to do marketing and advertising. Every little bit counts.

Consider that perhaps you’re overlooking the simplest forms of marketing, such as the possibilities of marketing in your own books, in the front matter and back matter:

Advertise (subtly) in your front matter

Be aware that Amazon shows the first 10% of your ebook via its Look Inside feature. Keep the essential material in your front matter short. Remember your copyright info, of course.

Use that 10% to subtly advertise your ebook. Anyone reading via Look Inside hasn’t bought your book, so spend a little time thinking what you could show up front, to encourage your reader to buy.

4. Make “free” work for you: get creative

Check any authors’ forum, and authors complain about all the free ebooks which are available, and demand that authors be paid… Well… There are so many things wrong with that mindset, that I don’t know where to start.

Remember that you’re in the business of publishing, and that while “free” is useful as part of your marketing mix, it cannot be your entire marketing strategy. No business can be successful if it competes solely on price.

If you’re using “free”, and only “free” as a self-publisher, you need to rethink how and when you offer readers free ebooks. We’ve talked about using “free” before. Free is a part of pricing your products. It’s not marketing. Think about your marketing mix, which is: product, price, promotion, and place.

In Pricing Kindle Ebooks: Free, Cheap, or Expensive? we said:

Consider YOUR situation. It will be different from other authors. Make a list of what you want. (And please write the list, don’t try to keep it in your head.) It’s essential to assess where you are, because unless you know, you’ll have doubts, and will change your pricing at whim.

Read that article, and then consider developing a simple marketing strategy; it starts with your product. Then get creative, and come up with some creative ideas for your marketing.

5. Make friends and influence people: word of mouth counts

Authors want to write their books. We don’t want to be bothered with things which take us away from our words. However, as indie authors, we don’t have a choice. We need to put on our publishing hat, and market our books.

The more people who know you, or know of you, the more attention your books attract. You need to get onto people’s radar, in any way you can.

Consider these ideas:

  • Partnering with other authors in anthologies, and book bundles;
  • Writing guest posts on large blogs — or smaller ones too;
  • Collaborating with other authors on promotions…

You’re a publisher: think long term for profits

As an indie author, you’re your own publisher. You’re running a business. Your business must be profitable. You can make it happen. Think longterm. What could you do today, to make your business profitable in a year?

For an indie author, marketing is essential. You can develop an amazing business. Create some goals, and make plans to achieve them, today. Start by asking yourself how you can make it fun.

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Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

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Genre: Writing
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month. More info →
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Updated: January 30, 2017

Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

Become a Bestselling Author: This Is Clever

You’re writing books, and you want to become a bestselling author. How do you do it? Most writers believe it’s just a matter of luck, but it can be a matter of a strategy too. I’ve heard of writers using what Hugh Howey calls the Liliana Nirvana Technique, but I don’t know whether I’d have the patience to apply it as-is.

Here’s what the strategy/ technique boils down to: you write several ebooks, and you publish them together – all on the same day. This gets you Amazon’s help to make more sales. Here’s how Hugh explains it:

Why does this work? I think it has to do with “impressions,” or the number of times people see a product before they decide to take a chance on it. (In this case, the product is your name.) It also has to do with recommendation algorithms and how new works are treated on various online bestseller lists.

Become a Bestselling Author With an Explosion of Titles

As Hugh says, this strategy – which Liliana calls her “5 down and 1 in the hole” technique apes what happens when traditionally published authors get control of their backlist, and shovel their titles onto Amazon:

They didn’t gain a massive following until after they regained rights to their backlists and self-published. When they did get those rights, they secured works that were already written and edited. They could do some minor tweaks, update cover art, and release those works in rapid order.

Fast releases seem to lead to fast sales and – providing that the books are good, of course – that can lead to bestsellerdom.

I love the idea of the strategy, because it uses Amazon’s database to gain traction. The more books you have for sale, the more Amazon can promote you, automatically.

Wonderful as the strategy is however, it depends on an author having an enormous amount of patience. Not to mention, the ability to write six books quickly. If it takes you six months to write a book, you’ll need to be patient for the next three years, and a lot can change in that time.

A Modification of the Strategy: Three Months to Release

If you’re anything like me, and your reaction to this strategy is, “not in this lifetime”, you can modify the strategy. No one suggests that you need six full-length novels. Why not five short stories (to act as teasers), and a novel, or novella, to act as your “1 in the hole”?

I’m considering creating a pen name to write a series of mysteries later this year, and I’m planning to use “5 down and 1 in the hole” using short stories and a novel. Short stories are quick. The novel will take longer. I should be able to get all six books ready to roll within three months. It’s a way of kicking off the pen name with a bang, so to speak.

Another Modification to Become a Bestselling Author

You can modify Liliana’s strategy in any way you choose. Release two novellas, and have a novel ready to release a month later. You can tinker with the strategy in any way which makes sense to you.

If you have the patience to write six full-length novels, to use the strategy as-is, more power to you. With great books, you’ll get the exposure, and you may indeed become a bestselling author.

Write Commercial Fiction

Writing fiction? Is it commercial? Get more info: write commercial fiction. Once written, your books will sell for years, and if they’re commercial, they’ll sell well.

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

photo credit: via photopin cc

Editing Your Book: Cleverest Tactic EVER

Editing Your Book: Cleverest Tactic EVER

Editing your book can take forever, or at least, it can seem like forever. What if you had not just one editor, but many? You’d get the pesky editing out of the way faster.

J. Travis Washburn writes his books in Google Docs, and shares his books with readers who help him to edit. (You’ll have to read the entire article to discover his process.) In his article, How to Hire the Best Book Editor for Free: Crowdsource Editing, he says:

I like to think of editing in a three-level structure:

Alpha Readers make comments on global issues like concepts, plots, themes, characters, and settings. They comment about the story.

Beta Readers comment on the mid-level stuff. But they’re basically the best of both worlds, commenting on both the big issues and small.

Gamma Readers are the ones who notice punctuation and spelling errors, the small stuff. A misplaced comma never slips by them.

The process sounds wonderful, except for Google Docs. I’m assuming that J. Travis Washburn writes in another app and then posts to Google Docs? I can’t imagine writing anything directly in Google Docs. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work for me.

Of course, there are alternatives to Google Docs. Quip for one; I use Quip with clients. You can import files from Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote to collaborate with others. So you could import a chapter at a time. So if you’re as freaked by Google Docs as I am, you could use Quip, or similar.

“Crowdsourcing” your editing is a clever tactic. With many eyes on your book before it’s published, you could be sure not only that your book works for readers, but also that nary a typo sneaked through.

Not sure how to get alpha readers ? Use your blog (another good reason for creating a blog). In Blogging Books and Your Writing: Do It YOUR Way, we discussed several different types of blogs you could create. Alternatively, try social media websites, like Twitter and Facebook, or my favorite, Google+.

 

Write Commercial Fiction

If you’re struggling with your writing, trading your hours for dollars, maybe it’s time you considered something different: write commercial fiction. Once written, your ebooks will sell for years…

Write Commercial Fiction

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.