Since publishing my memoir, Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story as an eBook and paperback in October 2011, I’ve been exploring every avenue possible to drive exposure for my book. I’ve still got a long way to go, but my efforts are definitely paying off and I wanted to share what I’ve learned.
1. Put Out Quality Product. Don’t rush it on the front end. Make sure your book is the best it can be.
a. Seek out the necessary instruction to write a great book
b. Work with a developmental editor to identify weaknesses and take your manuscript to the next level
c. Hire a DETAILED proofreader to make sure your book is as error-free as possible
d. People DO judge books by their cover, so make sure your cover is professionally designed, compelling and catchy – even as a thumbnail since that’s the size most people will see
e. Make sure your eBook (and paperback if you go the paperback route) is professionally formatted
Es Establish an Online Presence and Stay Active. This is so critical in today’s online world. Here’s a laundry list of things to consider:
a. Launch an author Web site and blogging platform (I highly recommend WordPress, it’s very cost-effective and very social media friendly.) I also recommend that you have a Web site under your author name (you can also purchase vanity URLs with your book name). Example: My web site is www.ingridricks.com. I also have a book URL: www.hippieboybook.com that drives traffic directly to my book page.
b. Get involved with as many social media platforms as you can manage: Facebook, Twitter, Google+.
c. Get involved with open submission writing platforms such as Scribd.com and Open.Salon.com. Along with connecting other writers and readers, both platforms offer a great way to build exposure for your writing
d. Goodreads: Once your book is out, you should get involved with Goodreads, a social media platform dedicated to reading and rating books. Warning: the reviewers in Goodreads can be harsh, and I’ve heard stories about people who will purposely give poor ratings to indie books. However, the viral nature of Goodreads is powerful and can really drive some great cross-exposure for your book.
Seek Out Reviews. Reviews are CRITICAL to your book’s success. As soon as your book is launched, seek out reviews from as many friends and readers in your social networks as you can. But along with reader reviews, reviews from credible reviewers ARE really important to your book’s success. Some of the big reviewers still won’t touch indie books, but the tide is changing and you need to seek them out. My new goal? Pitch at least two book blog sites EVERY day. Here are a few review sites to get you started:
b. The Kindle Book Review
d. Manic Readers
e. LibraryThings (see ebook giveaway in #4)
f. Note: If you have a paperback, send a copy (as early as possible) to Booklist (the official review publication of the American Library Association) and Midwest Review. Both of these publications are VERY reputable and are willing to review indie books.
4. Paperback/eBook Giveaways. Lots of blogs host book giveaways that can help drive exposure. But there are two key sites where you can give away books with the specific purpose of requesting a review.
a. Goodreads: If you have a paperback book, launch a book giveaway in Goodreads (note: This is only good if you book has been out for less than six months).
b. LibraryThings: I just discovered LibraryThings Member giveaways and I’m very excited about it. You can give away as many eBooks as you desire and request that people who win the eBooks post a review for you. What I love about this? It costs me NOTHING to give away an eBook and the upside is huge.
5. Get involved with Pixel of Ink and EReader News Today: Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today are online web sites/eNewsletters that focus on QUALITY bargain and free eBooks. Both sites have more than 200,000 followers (growing daily). If you are lucky enough to have your eBook featured in either publication, the upside is huge (I know…I’ve been lucky enough). The key to getting featured in these publications is to have a quality book that people want to read, and have great ratings/reviews on Amazon– the more the better.
6. Sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select Program: In December, Amazon launched its KDP Select program, a new library-lending program that enables people with Amazon prime memberships to loan one eBook each month. To entice authors to participate in the program, Amazon puts up a minimum of $500,000 each month – to be divvied out based on the number of loans a book has. As a further enticement, authors who participate in the KDP Select Program can give away their eBook for free on the Amazon platform for up to five days during each 90-day lock -n period. The downside? The KDP Select Program requires exclusivity for each 90-day period, which means you can’t sell your eBook anywhere else during that three-month period. I jumped at the opportunity to give away my eBook and drive exposure and thanks to spotlights in both Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today, my promotions were a HUGE success.
a. Nearly 25,000 eBooks of Hippie Boy were downloaded during my free days
b. This resulted in more than 3,000 paid eBook sales, nearly 700 eBook loans, an increase in paperback sales, and more buzz and exposure for Hippie Boy – and I expect the exposure to continue in the coming months.
7. Seek Out Media Exposure. This can be as simple as writing guest posts for blogs, or seeking out radio, TV and print interviews. The key? Find an angle for your story. Example: I did a story interview with KUOW Presents, our local NPR affiliate, about the Hippie Boy story and the moment I found my voice and claimed my power. I’m also now using Hippie Boy as a reading guide to help at-risk teens claim their power by finding their voice and sharing their stories.
8. Explore Pay-Per-Click Advertising. I’ve explored several online advertising options to help drive exposure for Hippie Boy. Most of them fell short (WAY SHORT), but the pay-per-click ad I purchased in Goodreads was very worthwhile. The reason? I was only charged when people actually clicked on my ad. And even on days when I had only a few clicks, I noticed that people were adding Hippie Boy to their TO READ list, which is key. I’ve not explored Facebook or Google click ads, but I may in the future. I’ll definitely run another Goodreads Click ad.
9. Maximize Your Amazon and BN.com Pages: Amazon’s Author Central platform offers a way for authors to add editorial reviews, book extra info and other key elements to your Amazon book page that helps boost sales. Take advantage of this and make sure your Amazon page presentation is the best it can be. Also pay attention to the tags at the bottom of your Amazon page. Add the tags/words you envision people would use to get to your book and then ask friends to click on those tags. The more tag “likes” you have, the more likely your book will pop up on an Amazon book search. You can also add editorial reviews and author bio info on your BN.com page, so make sure that page is the best it can be as well.
10. Help Each Other: There are numerous indie author Facebook groups and web sites emerging where indie authors band together to help promote one another’s books and drive awareness. Get involved and do your part to help other authors. Marketing a book is A LOT of work and the more we help each other, the more we all succeed in this new world of publishing.