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.  🙂

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.  🙂 

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Prologue and Giveaway!

(THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED AS OF 12AM FEB 10TH)

Today, I feel like doing a giveaway.  I have gotten such positive feedback from readers and I feel truly blessed that so many people have given The Fine Line a chance!  To say thanks, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of the book.  If you haven’t read it yet, check out the sample below!

WordPress is funny which means the rafflecopter widget does not show up in wordpress.

Click here–> a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter the giveaway.

The Fine Line

What’s it about?  The Fine line is a coming of age story about a girl with a jaded past, who has written off relationships for good.  Boys are fun, but she’s happy being single and independent, and is determined to keep it that way.  When she meets and forms an unexpected bond with Logan Tanner, an illegal street racer with his own trust issues, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about life, and love, and asks the question: Can love have a future?  Or is history destined to repeat itself?

~Click here to see The Fine Line on Goodreads
~Purchase Links:  AmazonB&NiBookstoreKOBOSmashwords
~Author links: FacebookTwitterGoodreads

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Prologue

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves.  I learned a long time ago that preserving one’s heart means keeping it protected.  Sheltered.  My heart is hidden deep within the secure layers of my soul, where it rests easy with the knowledge that nothing can penetrate its everlasting impervious shell.

Twelve Years Ago

Yelling.  Always yelling.  The hardwood floor in my bedroom chilled my toes as I slid out of my bed to see what was going on.  I wouldn’t dare leave my room, though.  I knew better.  As I tip-toed to the bright crack in the door, something crashed to pieces, and I squeezed Mama Bear tight.

Is Mommy crying?

My hand found a place on the cool metal door knob as I peeked through the crack.  I brought Mama Bear up to my chin so she could see too.  Her soft, fuzzy fur tickled me.  Mommy sat on the floor with her back against the hallway wall, her head in her hands while Daddy stood tall above her.  Her shoulders lifted up and down as she wept.

No, Mommy, don’t cry!

“I want a divorce,” she whispered.

What was a divorce?  Whatever it was, Daddy didn’t seem too happy about it.  He crouched down so that his eyes were across from hers.  Fisting her t-shirt, he yanked her close to him.  With the other hand, he pointed his finger at her, jabbing her as he spoke.  His voice stayed quiet, and I couldn’t hear what he said, but I knew it was something scary.

The door knob made a noise as I accidentally let go of it, and both of their heads turned to look at me.  My eyes widened, and I gasped.  I ran back to bed as fast as I could, quickly covering myself in my blankie.  Oh no, I dropped Mama Bear!  My door creaked as it opened, and light came through the seams of my blankie.

“Olivia?” Daddy said softly.

I didn’t answer.  Mommy was always telling me to make smart choices.  I chose to stay perfectly still and not to breathe too loudly, but it wasn’t easy because my heart was pounding hard.  It was a smart choice, though, because after a few seconds, the door creaked closed. I was safe.  Mommy would be very proud of me.

I peered at the floor, searching for Mama Bear, but she was nowhere to be seen.  Daddy must’ve taken her.  Who’s gonna sleep with me?  I pulled my knees to my chest and held onto them tightly.  Mommy says I’m brave.  Brave girls don’t need silly toys.  Brave girls sleep by themselves.

Eight Years Ago

It’s been a year since Dad told me I wouldn’t be able to spend time at his house anymore.  He said he was leaving to get a new start.  At first, his emails came daily and postcards came weekly, but I haven’t gotten either for at least a month.  Mom says he’s moved on, with his new wife and baby, and that it’s the best thing for all of us.

I was glad to have Kevin.  He loved me and Mom.  Happiness didn’t even begin to describe how I felt when Mom told me he was moving in with us.  If he lived with us, it would mean I would get to see magic tricks and laugh at his stories every day.

Mom told me about the accident last week.  Kevin had gotten hit by a drunk driver.  I knew something was wrong when she dropped the phone on the floor and began sobbing.  I had seen her cry before—but never like that.

I stayed with Nana for five days after that call, and when I returned home, Mom took me into my room, sat me down on my bed, and broke the news.  The funeral service had been the prior day.  Mom thought it would be best if I didn’t attend because it would be too difficult for me.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I couldn’t get the thought of Kevin, being buried deep in the ground, out of my mind.

The next morning, I thought a lot about the way things work, and I figured out that nothing’s forever.  Nothing.  I had to be strong.  Brave.  I hated being sad.  I hated crying.  I vowed to find a way to make sure I never felt this horrendous feeling ever again.

Three Years Ago 

I looked around our heated garage as Adam poured the amber liquid into our little glasses.   All the tool chests and auto supplies had been packed up and hauled out.  He filled his glass to the brim while mine was only filled a quarter of the way.  He said I couldn’t have a full glass because I was only fourteen.

Hanging out with Adam came naturally.  It was easy.  He was much younger than Mom, but I was under the misguided impression that they were in love, regardless of his age.

Normally, the whiskey we shared was in celebration of an accomplishment.  A new paint job, installing the new engine, fixing the interior.  I had spent most of my evenings and weekends for the last three years watching Adam restore his 1968 Pontiac GTO.  He bragged to people about how much I helped him, but really, I just watched him work and handed him tools as we talked.

Today, we toasted goodbye.  It would be the last time I’d ever see him.  My throat burned as the liquor flowed down it, but I welcomed the feeling.  It reminded me of good times.

“I’m gonna miss you, Sweetie,” he said with tears in his eyes.  “I asked her to marry me, you know.  She said no.”

Anger quickly flooded my system, washing away the heartbreak.  How could she say no?  It had taken me over two years to let my guard down around him.  Two years to break the vow that I had kept for so long and let myself feel again.  She was making him go away.  This was her fault.

I watched as Adam rolled his refurbished car down the driveway and out of my life.  Without thought, my body stormed into the house in search of my mother.  I found her staring blankly out the living room window.

“How could you say no?” I screamed.

“Livie, what are you talking about?”

“He told me, Mom!  He told me he asked you to marry him!”

Her shoulders sunk as she let out a breath.  Her expression turned angry.  “Did he tell you he was seeing another woman?  Did he tell you that he asked me to marry him only after I found out?”

My heart stopped.  My mind barely comprehended what my mother had just told me.  It couldn’t be true.  Adam loved us.  With regret in her eyes, she rushed toward me with open arms.

“No.”  I held out my hand.  “NO!”  Tears spilled out of my eyes as I ran to my bedroom, locked my door, and flopped belly down onto my bed, sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.

Why does everyone I love have to leave? 

Never again.  I’m done.  This is the last time I will ever have this feeling.

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My Self Publishing Journey…So Far

If you have read my previous posts, you already know that in early 2013, I spent some time thinking about what my real passions were.  I thought about whether I wanted to remain “comfortable” in my career, or if I wanted to take some risks and try something completely different.  I chose the latter.

At first, when I decided to write a book, I didn’t know if I would ever show it to anyone other than my husband.  In fact, I didn’t even tell anyone else I was writing a book until I was 2.5 months into it.  I found out in the very beginning that writing is an extremely personal experience where you must bare your deepest inner thoughts and emotions…Something I have always avoided at all costs.  Telling people was hard but I did it because I had become so passionate about it that I couldn’t not tell people about it.  I had come to a point where I needed to finish what I had started.   Initial reactions to my “writing confession” started with looks of confusion (I had never expressed any interest in writing before), to support and encouragement.   All I can say about that is I love my family & friends.  🙂

Fast forward a few months.  The book was edited, formatted, and finished.  Ready to be shown to anyone who wanted to read it.  Ready for people other than my husband and a few close friends.  It was ready for “strangers.”  My instinct begged me to keep it to myself…to not put my heart & soul out there for people to judge.  But I did it anyway.  Because being comfortable for the rest of my life would be fine–even great–but there is nothing more exhilarating than doing what you are passionate about.  And there is no reward without risk.

The book is out now, and I have had some phenomenal reviews!  The feeling of relief mixed with excitement when someone has expressed that they enjoyed my book is invigorating.  I have been pretty lucky in that each review has been a reflection of my writing strengths, and has provided me with insight to areas where I can improve for the next project.  I am so incredibly thankful to each and every person…every stranger…who has given my book a chance.  So far I have found the book world to be an encouraging and helpful group of people who are passionate about finding and reading new books by new authors.

I am slowly figuring out the “book marketing world,” though I’ll be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn.  But I’ll get there.  For now, I have decided to finally put the social media on slow-mo to start my next book.  No more distractions!  (That means you Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads!)  My plan is to get into the habit of staring at a blank word document without having my mind wander.  I won’t quit the social media completely cold turkey…I’ll dedicate some time here and there for emails and promotions and such…but the rest of my free time will be spent writing.  (Or staring at a blank word document).  And now that I’ve told you all my plan, I have to stick to it!

Cover Reveal!!!

I am so incredibly excited to finally show you the cover of my debut novel, “The Fine Line.”  Mayhem Cover Creations did such an amazing job designing it!  I cried happy tears the first time I saw it…

I will have my manuscript back from my editor by the end of the month.  The expected release date is December 10th, which should give me enough time to approve the edits, do any necessary rewrites, and fine-tune it.  I plan on self-publishing through smashwords, which now has a pre-order feature.  I will keep you posted on when it will be available for pre-order.

The Fine Line

Blurb:

Liv Evans has one rule: No attachments.  She’s lost enough in her life and has vowed to do whatever it takes to make sure she never again feels the emptiness of losing someone she loves.  Boys are a fun distraction, but a serious relationship is something she’d rather live without.  Her determination for a future free of pain and heartbreak is put to the test when she meets–and quickly forms an unexpected bond–with Logan Tanner.

Logan has always been a free spirit, but ever since a life-changing event took place, which left him doubting the integrity of those who are closest to him, he’s taken that term to a whole new dangerous level.  Learning the hard way that life is too short for worries or work–and that women can’t be trusted–Logan has exchanged steady work for street racing.  When Olivia Evans walks into his world, everything he thought he knew about life and women is challenged.

In The Fine Line, Liv and Logan will discover if it’s possible for true love to have a future, or if history is destined to repeat itself.

Progress

When I started writing in April, I had no idea how long it would take me to write a novel.  I had no idea of the research and thought involved, no idea how much it would consume my thoughts, and no idea how nervous I would be to share it with people.

As a new writer, one who has never really written anything worth publishing, the time spent in researching how to actually write a novel (that people will want to read) took up just as much time as actually writing it!  Actually, more…

I find writing to be interesting, fun, and intriguing, and I am learning more and more about it every day.  Regardless of how successful this book is, I plan on continuing to write after this book is finished because I have truly found passion in it.  In fact, I already have a basic plot in mind for my next book!

With my kids spending this coming weekend with the Grandparents, my plan is to hopefully finish my debut novel by the end of the weekend.  I have given what I have written so far to a few key beta readers, and once I get their feedback, I will edit accordingly before sending it out for the final edit.

I am SO happy to say that my old high school friend, who is now a high school English teacher, has agreed to do the final edit!  Thank you so much Angela!

As far as publishing goes, I am still researching the best route for that, but I do know it will either be through Smashwords or Amazon.  Smashwords even has a new pre-order feature which is pretty awesome.

I feel so lucky to have such supportive family and friends and I can’t wait to share the book with you all!

Don’t forget to follow my blog by clicking on the “follow” button on the left, like my author page on facebook, follow me on twitter, and share me with your family and friends and any avid book readers you may know!

And check out my novel playlist on spotify!

Eleven Little Words

A few months ago, I read one of the best books I’ve ever read. I laughed, it was sexy, I cried, and I got furious (I may have even smacked my husband in the arm at 2am screaming “WHY?!”). It had everything. I liked it so much that I sent the author an email telling her how much I loved it, and included a short blurb with a few ideas I had for a story. Mind you, it’s very uncharacteristic of me to do something like that. I clearly knew there was no way this famous best-selling author would respond but it didn’t hurt to try and low and behold, she did reply with eleven little words.

“That’s a GREAT story! You should definitely write it down!” ~ Awesome, Famous Author

That was it. Who knows if she meant it or not, she could’ve just rolled her eyes and said it to be nice, but those eleven words triggered a motivation in me that I had kept buried under excuses for way too long, and the excuses started to morph into reasons why I should do it. Other people write books…Why can’t I?

So, for the last few weeks, I have spent every free moment (which is not much considering my job, kids, and household to take care of) at my home computer, plugging away at my story. My husband thinks it’s awesome so far, but he’s a little biased…Cuz he loves me and all. He has been an incredible support, helping with the kids and around the house, while I write. I’m couldn’t do it without him.

I didn’t want to tell anyone at first, in case my book sucks, but Don (my husband) made a great point. He said, “Don’t say that. It will only suck if you let it. And you won’t let it.” And he’s right. For those of you who do not know me very well, I’m a little OCD. I obsess over things. I will not release anything until I am 100% happy with it. It may mean you will not see my book for a very long time, but it WILL happen.

I’m blogging for 2 reasons:
1. It’s something to write when I have writers block. Gotta keep the juices flowing, you know.
2. If other people know about this, I can’t give up on it.

BTW, my book is a fictional romance (New Adult Contemporary). I’m a sucker for romances. Blurb coming soon.