As Indies, we usually do all the leg work, and that includes research, marketing, etc. Last time in Part 1, we talked about how to establish your brand and building your website. This week I wanted to dive into that first book release and the marketing behind it. Wherever you’re at in your writing journey, I hope you glean some helpful tidbits from my own experience. We learn best through trial & error, so if you are struggling to get the word out there, you’re in great company 🙂
Advice on First Release
There are a few basic things I wish I had done from the start, as well as some things I intend on doing for future series. Before you can think about releasing your novel, make sure it is the best product possible. Have an awesome cover, because yes, people do judge. I was lucky to find Najla Qamber back before she became one of the best Indie cover designers in the game. She is super booked these days, but you can still schedule for future. A few months isn’t so bad when you’re talking quality. If this is your first release, don’t rush in and throw it out into the world until you’re absolutely ready.
Don’t just have it reviewed, but have it beta tested and proof read. I recently used Red Adept Editing for my new contemporary romance release and was blown away by how much second and third pass edits/proofs saved me in typos and consistency errors. In the past my biggest mistake with Silver Hollow, my first big release, was not hiring a proofreader and pushing for further edits. I published too soon really, and some of my reviews for that title reflect that. I learned big time from that of course, which is also why I’m currently rewriting it and turning it into the series it should have been.
I’ve always been a bit rebellious. I didn’t like the idea of making all my books into series. Boy I wish I had been more business savvy and not so artsy lol. I wish I had written sequels back to back from the beginning, because I’d probably be a lot further along today if I had. While stand-alone novels are great, there are just so many frigging titles out there being published every day. Remember, all the big publishing houses have the money and clout to push dozens of best sellers in front of yours. Plus, you’re also competing against people who have been traditionally published for decades and therefore will always hold a place in that coveted top ten. But don’t let that discourage you. You may not hit it big with your first release, but if you continue writing books, eventually one of them will click with the right audience. Here are a few ways to help you stand above the crowd.
On Promotion: What’s Your Platform?
If you have had a difficult time finding your feet, don’t worry too much. This market is so saturated compared to what it was when I started in ’12. The key is determination and consistency. To begin, you have to decide how you’re going to sell. Are you going to be Amazon-only via Kindle Select? Or will you be a cross-platform wide distribution author?
For wide distribution, you almost need a personal newsletter to build your audience. Otherwise you will have a difficult time reaching people. I hated newsletters. I pretty much refused to use one until I realized I had been using the wrong methods to reach my audience. If you want to check out my personal newsletter, see this link: Jenn’s Newsletter. If you’re in this for the long haul and hope to still be writing and releasing in the future, you have to build your audience. You can do this several ways.
Using Ebook Newsletters
If you are using Kindle Select and are counting on promotional days, the best method is using book deal newsletters to coincide with your promos. Here are a few I’ve found success with: The Fussy Librarian, Awesome Gang Newsletter, E-reader News Today (ENT-they can be picky sometimes), and the really big one is Book Bub but you have to have a pretty big platform, plus a lot of reviews to get noticed.
A big way I promote is via my fellow book bloggers. When I started, book bloggers were eager for everything Indie. I found so much success with online book tours and felt like I was part of a community, so much I started reviewing books myself. But then people’s attitudes changed and the market was overwhelmed. A lot of people started publishing poor products, while the big industry peeps caught on to the wave we were riding. I was lucky to catch the end of that wave. But I didn’t plan right to keep momentum going. I didn’t have a newsletter to build my audience. Instead I had to rebuild it using the Wylder Tales Series, with the first in series free and book blogging. I started blogging about life and writing and books and that’s helped me rebuild to where I’m at today. Other authors I know don’t ever talk about themselves, just their books and do fabulously. But they focus on online tours and series, their newsletters and building things up one book at a time. Above all, focus on how you present yourself to your readers. They can make or break you as much as bloggers can.
The best way you can promote yourself is by promoting others. Meet other authors and work on building your network of bloggers, editors, designers, marketers, etc. That pays off the most. When I started out, I messaged ten or so Indie authors, asking for advice they’d be willing to share. Indie authors are some of the best simply because we all started from nothing. We’re all entrepreneurs and we love to help each other out when we can.
Attempting to write down how to begin is challenging, because there’s so much I wanted to pass along, so much to share. But it really isn’t all that complicated. It’s simple as this: write the best book you can, then do better with your next release. Make those connections, and don’t ever give up no matter what. Definitely don’t hesitate to reach out if you need advice along the way. You’ll fumble and make mistakes. But that’s part of the journey. Here at We Write Fantasy, we are all about helping each other and our fellow Indies out. So drop us a line and let’s talk books!
Before you go, see these helpful links/resources:
Smashwords Publishing Podcast Series (note-they’re very anti-amazon, kind of like two siblings who just can’t get along lol)
Susan Dennard’s Writing Resources (her writing and publishing aids are bent traditional since that’s how she published, but her advice is very helpful)
K.M. Weiland ~ Fantastic author & who basically taught me all I know about outlining.