How to Market Your Self Published Book

I’ve recently taken on a new business opportunity that has to do with helping people reach their goals.  Writing can be such a solitary experience sometimes that I had almost forgotten how exhilarating it can be to work with others and help others with their challenges.  I’m so glad that I have been reminded how important it is and how good it makes us feel to encourage others!

So, I have decided to take the experience to my writing/authoring world.  Since the time I started writing my first book, two years ago, I have had many people ask me about book marketing for the self-published author.  Today, I’m going to share a few things that I have learned from my own experience in self publishing a fictional novel.   If you have any questions about the topic after reading this, please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

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First, it’s important the the book have a magnetic, genre appropriate, professional looking cover (because let’s face it, readers DO judge books by their cover) and professional editing.  (Your mother or best friend do not count!)  After that, the synopsis (or blurb) needs to fascinate the reader to the point where they HAVE to read the sample.  One way to do this is to look at other covers/blurbs in the same genre and see what’s successful and what’s not.  And, of course, the sample has to intrigue and entertain the reader so much that they’ll just have to keep reading (which means, hello book sale!).  With all the competition out there, excelling at these will set his book apart from the millions of other books readers have to choose from before making a purchase.  Also, it is important to research pricing and set the book at a competitive price.

Next, it’s important to be active on social media.  An author website  with a bio and links to his book is imperative.  If readers like your book, they are going to want to be able to connect with you and steer their friends toward you.  You don’t have to participate in every social media outlet, but you should be active on at least one or two…whatever you’re most comfortable with and whatever you’ll be most active on, whether its a blog, facebook, twitter, etc…

Having an Amazon author page is beneficial.  If readers see your book on Amazon, and want to know more about you, they can find out more on your Amazon page.  Your page can be set up through Amazon’s “Author Central,” here:  https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/landing?ie=UTF8&ref_=ntt_atc_dp_pel_1

One thing that has really worked well for me in getting reviews is asking book bloggers to review (or promote) my book.  If they can’t review it, they might do a spotlight, author interview, guest post, or simply share your book on their social media pages.  You should have a “promo packet” ready with the book cover, author photo (if you have one, it should be professional-looking), buy links, links to your website/social media pages, and have excerpts & teasers (photo teasers are more captivating than plain text) for them to share.

If they agree to a review, gift them a free eCopy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  Never ask them to buy it.  It’s important to read their review policies before submitting a request and to follow their policy to a “T.”  Also, the more personalized the request, the better.  For example, if the reviewer noted something in their “about me” section, make a comment about how you relate to it in some way.  Definitely, address each blogger individually, by name.  For example, instead of “Dear blogger,” say “Dear (or Hi) Jane.”  They pretty much pass on copy & pasted requests and mass email requests sent to multiple bloggers.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask nicely.  Never, ever be pushy, or make demands.  Be extra courteous.  Remember that they help us promote our books for FREE and do it in their spare time because they are passionate about reading.  They are never obligated to do anything for us, ever.

In your request, tell them who you are, why you are contacting them, the books genre, how long the book is (in pages or word count), and include a super-short (but totally intriguing) synopsis so they have an idea of what your book is about.  They only accept books they think they might enjoy.  Never send the book before they agree to review it.  If they see an attachment, they will most likely delete your email without even opening it.

To put things into perspective, when I published The Fine Line, I emailed 427 bloggers.  This means I spent time on 427 blogs, reviewing each review policy, and about-me section.  It was time consuming, but SO worth it!  Most of them never responded to my request.  133 of them agreed to review my book.  I sent an eCopy of my book to all 133 of them.  Of that, only 83 of the bloggers who said they would review my book actually reviewed it.  It’s important to accept that not everyone does what they say they will do, and move on.  Never express your dissatisfaction.  Some reviews were phenomenal, and some were absolutely terrible!  It’s important to never ever respond to, or comment on the terrible ones.  Even if it kills you to not give that blogger or reviewer your two cents.  It’s just not professional and it could hurt an author’s career.  🙂

I kept a spreadsheet of all the bloggers I emailed, to keep track, and I highly recommend doing that.  That way, you’ll know for next time which ones you’ll want to contact again.  The header looked like this:

Blog Website Date Request Sent Request Format Response Date Action Review Status Misc Info

And if you are crunched for time, there are many book bloggers that will organize a blog tour for a fee.

Here are a couple of good articles about approaching book bloggers for reviews:

 
 

Goodreads is another place to reach out to readers for reviews.  There are some groups on Goodreads specifically designated to reviewing.  Again, the idea is that the reader is gifted the book in exchange for an honest review.  Always be kind and courteous.  Never pushy, desperate, or demanding.  And again, understand that not everyone who says they will review the book, does it.  It sucks when they don’t do what they promise, but unfortunately it’s just part of “the game.”

 

If your book is already published and you are looking to get more exposure, running a sale or discount on your ebook could boost sales.  If you decide to do this, it’s important to plan the sale at least 30 days in advance, and you must effectively promote the sale.  I wrote a blog post with links to many different websites that help authors promote their ebook discounts, and many times book bloggers will help with promotion. (Aren’t they awesome!  Seriously, I love them!)  Here it is: https://aliciakobishop.com/2015/03/23/promote-your-ebook-sale-or-discount/

 

Lastly, keep writing and publish more books!  If a reader likes your book, they’ll be looking at your back-list to see what else you have out there.  (This is something I, personally, need to get better at!)

 

Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, has two really good (free) eBooks about how to market your book.  I highly recommend that you read them!  Here they are:

 
 

I hope this helps!  You are welcome to comment below or email me if you have any questions.  🙂

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Review: Lovely Vicious

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Synopsis: 

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to the Buttcrack-of-Nowhere Ohio to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing – Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

**This book contains language, some of which may be unsuitable for younger readers.

MY REVIEW

I’ve never written a book review before.  This is my first.  Hopefully I can make it sound intelligent.

Why now?  Why the need to express my feelings of this particular book through the written word—when I’ve never felt the need to do so before?  Well, let me tell you…

Lovely Vicious contains some of the wittiest, can’t-stop-reading, most lol-inducing writing that I’ve experienced in a very long time.

Reflecting on this story made me realize something (many things) about what actually makes a good book.  For me, it’s not whether the characters make the choices that I would make.  Let’s face it, I’m 36 and it can sometimes be hard for me to relate to the actions or feelings of a teenager.  But that did not stop me from loving this book.

It’s about the writing.  The absolute best part of Lovely Vicious was the dialogue.  If for no other reason at all, read this book for the clever one liners and witty banter.  The original humor in this story will have you laughing throughout.

It’s about getting lost in the pages and forgetting everything that’s going on in real life because I want to find out what the characters are going to do (or say) next.  I had a hard time putting Lovely Vicious down.  I had to force myself when it got too late and I had to get up super early the next morning.  When I wasn’t reveling in the creative dialogue and inner monologues of Isis Blake, I was basking in the angst of it all.  Why does Jake do what he does?  Why is he the way he is?  When will they stop trying to hurt each other?!  All are questions that forced me to keep reading.

It’s about living vividly through the eyes of a character whose motives I may or may not fully understand.  Whether or not I accept a character’s choices doesn’t matter because in life, a single event could affect each of us in a different way.  Who am I to judge?  I go into a story hoping to enjoy it.  And how can I fully enjoy a story if I am judging the characters choices, or the authenticity of a scene?  I like to just roll with it and let the author take me on a ride.  When the writing is good like it is in this book, the ride is outstanding.

It’s about accepting the book and its characters for what/who they are.  Everyone has had their heart broken in one way or another.  Do we all react in the same way that Isis did?  Of course not.  Most of us internalize the wounds, pushing the pain deep inside while pretending to be fine on the outside.  But not Isis.  She started a war.  Instead of being passive, or passive-aggressive when it came to love, she got aggressive-aggressive.  Closed off, yes, but in a completely different way than most.  In a vicious-mean kind of way with someone just as vicious.  And that’s what makes their story so interesting.

It’s about the feeling I get when I read.  This book made me happy (sometimes giddy).  And frustrated.  And scared and sometimes sad.  Isn’t that the best thing about reading?  FEELING things?  For me it is.  And this book made me feel lots of things.

Sara Wolf, you have nailed it.  Can’t wait to read book 2.

Five (out of five) Stars

7 Ways to Help an Indie Author

Most of my previous blog posts have been about my personal journey, or have promoted my book.  Today, I’d like to try something a little different.  Something a little more informative.

Since writing and self-publishing The Fine Line last year, I’ve learned a great deal about book marketing.  My friends, family, and acquaintances–people who are not familiar with the book reading/publishing/blogging community–have been incredibly supportive and have frequently asked what they can to do help promote me and my book.  I have come up with several ideas on how supporters can do just that.  Most are quite easy, most are FREE, and most would only take a few short minutes.

(If you can think of more, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment at the end of this post!)  

1. Buy the Book–On Release Day

Okay, this one isn’t free.  But it’s the most meaningful.  We all know how important it is to support your favorite authors by purchasing their book.  And with most self-published eBooks being at a reasonable price of $3.99 or less (sometimes even FREE), purchasing your copy can be more affordable than a movie ticket, a Frappuccino at your favorite coffee chain restaurant, or even a pack of gum.  And what’s more rewarding–a stick of gum that runs out of flavor in 10 minutes, or 5-10 hours of a great read?  Also, with the help of Amazon’s “one-click” resource, the purchase itself can be easier than–well–breathing.

Let’s take it one step further.  Sure, we know you’ll buy the book because doing so is the best way to support your favorite author, and you’re excited to read their next masterpiece.  By pre-ordering your copy (when available), or buying it on release day, you can help the author move up in the rankings of lists such as Amazon’s Best Sellers, hence making their book visible to other readers who may not have ever heard of said author.  High rankings bring buzz and attention.  Of course, if you missed release day, don’t let that stop you from one-clicking.  🙂

One MORE step further you say?  Awesome!  How about buying it as a gift for a friend?  And if you can get it signed first, even better.  Many authors will sign books that are mailed to them as long as you include a return (postage paid) envelope.  I know I will!

(Please check with the author or representative before sending a book to them.  And don’t forget the prepaid return envelope!  Without it, you may not get the book back).

2. Recommend the Book to Family, Friends, Acquaintances, the Mail Man, etc..

Social media is amazing (see #3).  You know what’s better?  Face to face communication.  Having lunch with friends?  Going to a wedding shower?  Bachelorette party?  Family reunion?  Try making a quick mention of this awesome book you just read.  It will not only “plug” the book you’re trying to promote, it’ll also be a great conversation starter.

Checking out at the grocery store, or post office?  Browsing the book section at your local Target?  Why not make this time a little more interesting?  Talk to someone.  Even a *gasp* stranger.  Participating in friendly small talk with strangers can make everyone involved feel good.  Try asking the cashier this: Do you read?  Or fellow book-browsing-customer this: Do you like (book’s genre)?  Then continue with something like: I just read this amazing book by (author’s name), and it’s only available online.  If they seem interested, write down the name of the book & author for them.

3. Spread the Word on Social Media

If you haven’t followed the author on their Blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever other social media networks you like to participate in, please do so!  If you haven’t signed up for their newsletter (if they have one), go for it!  “Like” their pages and recommend them to your friends.  It’s a great first step.

When the author posts information about releases, sales, contests, or anything else interesting, the best thing you can do is to share their post. Share it on Facebook or Google+, re-tweet it on Twitter, re-pin it on Pinterest.  Every little bit helps.

Want to make it more meaningful to your friends or followers?  When you share the content, include a small personal note about why you like the book, or author, or why they should click on the post.  A short message from you makes a huge difference!   

          (Note: Facebook is weird.  In order to make sure you see all of the author’s posts, click on the “like,” “follow,” AND “get notifications” buttons on their page.  Feel free to ask me if you have questions on how to do this.)

          (Note #2: Because of Facebook’s algorithms, page posts only get shown to 5-10% of page followers.  This means the likelihood of you NOT seeing a page post on FB is 95%.  So when you DO see it, “like” it, share it, and comment on it.  Interacting on the page in this way will make the post visible to more people.)

4. Spread the Word on Goodreads

Goodreads (GR) is a fabulous resource for authors and readers.  The reason I separated this from other social media networks is that there are so many awesome ways you can spread the word on GR.  A few are listed below.  If you can think of more, please feel free to comment at the end of the post!

Become a fan or friend of the author

Nominate or vote for the book on Listopia

Personally recommend the book to your GR friends (Click on the book you wish to recommend, then click on “recommend it” on the top right side of the page. Finally, choose the friends you wish to recommend the book to.)

Nominate the book for a “Group Read” in the related groups that you belong to

Talk about the book in your groups.  Just talking about it brings exposure to the book.  Recommending the book in your groups is great, too!

“Like” the 4 & 5 star GR reviews (Ignore the other ones.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.)

Haven’t read the book yet, but want to?  Look for someone on GR to do a buddy-read with you!

Post book status updates.  How far are you in the book, and what do you think so far? (And link the updates to your other social media networks)

5. Leave a Review

One of the best things you can do to support ANY author, indie or traditional, is to leave an honest review.  It can be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and/or anywhere else the book is sold.  The more places you post it, the better.  If you wish to include a description, or plot-points, feel free.  However, it’s totally fine for a review to be short, sweet, and to the point.  Simply including what you liked and/or what you wish would’ve been different in a few short sentences is wonderful.  I can’t say it enough…if you liked the book, please review it!

 6. Request or Reserve the Book at Your Local Library

If an indie author chooses to utilize “expanded distribution” with their print books, they make their books available to brick and mortar stores like Target and Barnes & Noble.  That being said, print on demand books are non-refundable in most cases which means the likelihood of a Barnes & Noble stocking an indie book is slim to none.

However, if you request an indie book at your local library, the chances are very likely that your library will order the book (if the author makes use of the expanded distribution option).  If the library is able to order it through their book vendor, they may just do so at your request.  Why not try it?  The library is a great place for readers to discover new authors (like the one you want to promote)!  And if you’re short on cash, or don’t have an e-reader, the library is a fabulous option.

Browsing your library’s website is great way to find out which books they have available before you make the trip.  If the library already has the book, place it on hold to make sure it will be ready for you when you get there.  If they don’t have the book yet, send an online request.  It’s easy and quick to do from the comfort of your own home.

7. Attend Author Events

Whether it’s a release party, a reading/signing, or multi-author event, you presence and support is what makes the sleepless nights, the time away from family, and the absolute terror of releasing your heart and soul to the world, all worth it for many authors.  Grab a friend, grab your book to be signed (if you have it) and go…have a great time.  It will mean everything to the author you want to support.

 

***Wow!  You made it to the end?  Thank you!  If you liked this post, I’d be ecstatic for you to share it! ***

Here’s What’s Happening

Guess what?  It’s been a while since I published The Fine Line and I do not have another book out yet!  Oh dear…that totally sucks because more books mean more exposure and anyone will tell you that one of the best things you can do to market your book…is to write more books.

So…why don’t I have another book out yet?

If you’ve read my past blog posts, you know that I had an incredibly fun time writing my first book last year.  I obtained a new-found passion in writing that I never knew I had and I really, truly enjoyed every moment of creating The Fine Line.  I loved it so much that I decided to try my hand at self-publishing.  And my oh my, what a roller-coaster ride it’s been!

I never expected to feel such amazing highs from comments like these:  A-freaking fantastic read, I have found another author to add to my stalker list..eeeeekkkkk :)” ~Endless Reading, or this: “For a debut novel, THIS IS REALLY AMAZING! ” ~Boekies’ Book Reviews, or this: “Whew! I finished the book and immediately went into this review because it left such a huge impact on me.” ~Itching for Books Blog, or this: “Here’s hoping that more books like this one will be written, cause if so, then the indie world just got that much better.” ~Book Reader Chronicles

Nor did I expect to feel so purely devastated from comments like these: “There is a long and tiring road ahead of you Mrs. Kobishop if you are to become a best-selling author who writes gripping, realistic and outstanding romance novels.” or this: I’m really sorry to say this but…if you don’t have any good ideas of your own then don’t write a book in the first place.” 

Talk about total opposite ends of the spectrum!  Sheesh!

What really surprised me, though, was how I became so thoroughly paralyzed by the opinions of others.  I thought I was tougher than that.  I mean, I’ve always cared about what others think…to a point…but I never let it stop me from doing what I want to do.  Never.

Here’s the truth:  I’ve had TONS of new book ideas since finishing The Fine Line.  And I’ve even started writing a few of these stories that have been prancing around in my mind.  But every time I start, a little voice inside my head says this: “What if it’s too cliche’? What if it’s not what readers are looking for?  What if it’s been done before?  What if that’s not where the book market is headed?  What if it totally sucks?”   So then I stop writing and move onto another idea, and repeat the cycle.

This is not a good routine for creativity OR productivity.  Not good at all.  How can I be creative when I have such a thick filter?  Well–I can’t.  The thing is, writing is in my blood now, and being productive is important if I want to advance my writing career!  I’m constantly daydreaming of new stories and it pains me not to get them out onto paper.

So, I’d like to publicly tell my inner critic to shut up.  There.  Done.  Consider my inner critic utterly squished.  Let’s just hope she doesn’t rise from the dead.

As far as my haters go…I’ll listen to my husband on that one.  He says, “Haters be hating.”  I’m not really sure what he means by that short little phrase, but I’ll take a guess and say it means I should just ignore them.  Because:

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After all, haters come with the territory, or so I’ve heard.  Maybe I’ll ignore Goodreads for a while, too.

The bottom line, and the reason for this post, is to say that writing is extremely important to me, and I’m ready to continue my journey as an author.

NOW FOR SOME BOOK NEWS!  

I have just started outlining a story that I have some incredibly good feelings about.  It’s one of the two stories that keep popping into my head–regardless of my inner critic.  You may love it, you may hate it, but I’m sure as heck writing it.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to complete it, which means I can’t give you a definite release date, or a guaranteed time frame, but I’m sure hoping it’ll be ready to be published by the end of the year (2014).  I will post frequent updates here, on Facebook, and/or on Twitter to keep you all in the loop!

 

 

Thank You…

I just want to say a quick “thank you” to everyone who has read my book!  My biggest fear going into self-publishing was that my writing would not be up to par because of my lack of experience. I had never actually written anything (other than work emails and letters) prior to starting The Fine Line, therefore it’s success was a complete shot-in-the-dark.

What I have been hearing from the reviews is that readers actually think my writing style is pretty good! Even the reviews that are not-so-fabulous say that the writing is good. I’m honestly a bit shocked and incredibly delighted by that! My biggest concern…the writing…has actually been validated and for that I am so very grateful.

Thank you to all the readers, bloggers, and reviewers who have read, reviewed, or helped in spreading the word about my unknown novel! You have all played a huge part in the success of my book. Your praise and constructive criticism have been taken deeply to heart and I plan on using the feedback to make my next work even better! A million times…thank you.  🙂 

ThankYouPen