When I first put books online, I was just so happy that I could finally SHARE my writing that I didn’t think too far past that. Dumb mistake. There are thousands, maybe millions, maybe kazillions (all right, I’m getting carried away) of other writers online. How could a reader possibly find MY books out of all of the others? I did everything that my agent told me to do–start a blog, join twitter, make a webpage and a facebook author page. Great, but how do readers find THOSE?
I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. There are people with thousands of blog followers, even more facebook followers, and tons of twitter friends. Recently, I was invited to join a state-wide author facebook page. I learned right away that I was outclassed. These authors were SERIOUS about marketing. Most belonged to RWA. They attended author signings anywhere they could drive to. They carried bookmarks, postcards, and swag for giveaways and contests. They invited me to participate in a facebook “party,” which I did. And I learned a lot. These women knew how to promote their books–and I was grateful to them for including me.
I belong to a writers’ group, but we concentrate more on writing. We aren’t so wonderful at marketing. For that, I recommend joining a romance writers’ group. If they’re like the ones in Indiana, you’ll learn a LOT–and the writers are friendly and generous. What helps one, helps everyone. They share. That’s something I’ve learned about writers. They WANT to share what works for them.
One of the things that helps a writer is reviews. Most readers dismiss reviews if a writer only has five or six of them. They figure the writer coerced friends and family into writing them, and they don’t trust the five stars. I’ve read that if a writer has all five-star reviews, it makes readers suspicious. No book, supposedly, is perfect. A four star review here and there makes a writer more credible. Then there are the “trolls” who leave a one-star rating and a scathing comment because you’ve simply irritated them. I was so happy with a five-star review I got, I put it on twitter, and I immediately got a one-star review with no comments, just a rating, just to deflate my bubble. Sad. But true. Sort of pathetic, if you think about it.
To advertise on most promotional sites, you have to have a certain amount of reviews. It varies from site to site. I have no idea what it takes to get on BookBub these days (it’s hard), but some sites demand 10 reviews, some 15, etc. That sounds like a small number in the big scheme of things, but believe me when I tell you that if you’re a new writer and you’re not good at promoting yourself, it’s not so easy to achieve. I think I’m pretty generous to my writers’ club, but can I get most of the members to review my books? No. Can I get friends to read and review them? No. Family? Forget it. If you write a book and you need to depend on friends and family, my opinion is that you’re screwed. And that’s all right! Don’t take it personally. First off, people like what they like. I haven’t met an abundance of people who are into urban fantasy. And even if they read my stuff, they don’t feel comfortable rating it or writing about it. So what I’m trying to tell you is, when you finish your book and you put it online, have a marketing plan in mind–even if it’s a modest one. I’ve listed some bloggers who specialize in marketing before. I think Lindsay Buroker’s one of the best: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/ Her thoughts on reviews: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/book-marketing/analyzing-a-mid-list-series/ So is Rachel Thompson on twitter: http://badredheadmedia.com/category/blogging/ Read them and listen to their advice, or cross your fingers and hope you get lucky. And if it doesn’t matter to you, you want to write what you write and you’re happy with that, so be it. We all write for different reasons. So whatever you’re doing, enjoy it!
(I want to plug the Fussy Librarian. He won’t review a book unless it has 10 good reviews, but bless the man, he saved one of my books until I got my 10th review, and Blood Battles will be on his pages tomorrow: http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/).
I also want to add that everything I have online–books, bundles, and novellas–will be 99 cents from Monday to Sunday, and then on the 27th, all of my prices will go up. (I want to experiment a little. Keep your fingers crossed for me.) http://www.amazon.com/Judith-Post/e/B007P48F5G/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1413756902&sr=1-1
And P.P.S My friend Sia Marion posted a short story on her blog that’s perfect for Halloween spooky fun: