I’m lucky enough to have some wonderful writers as friends. I belong to a writing group, and so many of the members have so much talent. But we all write for different reasons. And we all differ on how much we want to invest in what.
A few of our members write because they WANT to, and producing a high quality finished product is their only goal. They write for themselves, for pleasure. They study books to improve their skills and listen to critiques, but they don’t want to go through the torture of submitting to an agent or even self-publishing. They join Scribes because they care about the craft of writing and work hard to make their stories better and better. And that’s enough.
A few of our members share their work with us, listen to every critique we give, and work hard to create something worth publishing. And then they choose to self-publish on Amazon to share their works with friends and family, and that’s enough. They don’t want to market. They shy away from promotions and feel awkward “bragging” about themselves.
Then there are members who put their work on Amazon and sit back to watch it sell. I used to tell my writing friends, “No one comes to knock on your door to ask if you have a manuscript to sell.” If people don’t know it’s there, they can’t find it. Now I tell them that you have to invest a decent amount of work to stand out from the millions of other writers hawking their books. And that’s where the rest of us in our group fall. We’ve put our books out there, finding agents or publishers or small publishers or self-publishing. But we know that’s only a step. And we also know that the road to marketing and promoting is slippery and devious.
What worked five years ago might not work now. When I first put my urban fantasy online, authors had a chance of getting their books on BookBub. BookBub advertises discounted books to millions of readers who sign up for specific genres. These days, though, getting an ad on BookBub is like winning the lottery. Without my publisher, I wouldn’t have had much of a chance. Plus, it’s expensive. For my niche–cozy mysteries–Bookbub now e-mails news of a discount to 2,780,000 readers. If I make my book free, I have to pay $707 for it being listed ONE day. If I only discount it, I pay more. It’s so hard to get on BookBub that other book advertisers have gone into business, but when I’ve used them, I’ve had mixed results. I had some success with Facebook ads for a while, but it’s no guarantee more people will find my book. A friend’s having success with Amazon ads, but I haven’t tried those.
Other than advertising, there are other options for authors to help readers find their work. I’ve done blog tours, sometimes with success, sometimes not so much. For some books, doing #1linewed on twitter has helped my rankings go up. I’ve had some luck using Debbie Macomber’s Book Launch Checklist: https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/?utm_source=guest-debbie-macomber&utm_medium=email . She recommends changing your twitter header once a month to get readers interested in a new book. She changes her Facebook header, too. I’ve been doing that, and I do think it helps.
And that brings me to canva.com. https://www.canva.com. I don’t have photoshop, but I really like canva. I can type “twitter header’ in the search line and it gives me templates to choose from–templates that are sized to correctly fit each header. I had to give myself permission to play with it for a while and mess things up before I actually tried to create a header I like. Now, when I’m ready to start promoting a book, I try to create five or six twitter headers, so I can change them up when people grow blind to the one that’s been there. Example: Here’s one twitter header I created for The Body in the Wetlands:
Some writers use their blogs or webpages to connect with readers, and many ask readers to sign up to receive an e-mail newsletter. I’m finally getting more followers on BookBub when I write reviews for the books I’ve read. Whatever an author chooses, it’s an investment in time to try to connect with his/her readers. I think it’s sort of fun. But I always have to remember ads and promotions won’t do any good if I don’t write books, so writing time has to be sacred.
So for all of you, Hit Those Keys and Happy Writing!