Friday, 15 June 2012

Keeping your work visible

Bad reviews don't kill books. Someone hating it won't kill it. Neither will poor grammar or typographical errors (though it will hurt it).

What kills a book, and therefore an authors career, is obscurity.

If no one sees us, we have zero chance of anything selling. Of course only a small percentage of those who see a book will buy it, and most people need to see something multiple times before it really registers (If you took the London underground to work this morning, then a bus, and did the reverse this evening then you probably saw in the region of 2000 adverts, and didn't even realise it. Just one escalator can have hundreds in view).

So, how do we stay current?

  • Partcipate on goodreads
  • Submit to lots of book blogs
  • Do a blog tour
  • Keep a website
  • Tweet
  • Facebook
  • Make contacts on LinkedIn
  • Pin stuff
  • Stick links in our email signatures
  • Hand out our business cards
  • Buy adverts
  • Hand sell
  • Word of mouth
  • Giveways
  • Forums posts
  • Comments on other blogs
  • Email newsletters

.... and, most importantly, new books coming out. New books get alot of attention.

This comes in a variety of ways:
  • A brand new kindleboards thread (as you get one per book)
  • A solid excuse for a goodreads/ facebook event
  • That initial burst of interest from previous readers
  • Appearing on the 'New and Noteworthy' lists if you pull the promo off
  • More links to you on Amazon etc.
  • A fuller back catalogue - which assures readers this is not just a hobby
  • More also boughts linking in to your stuff
  • Cross selling between your own titles
Prolific authors make more money. Readers aren't looking for one book, they're looking for an author they enjoy. So if you get the narrative voice down pat, they'll keep coming back for more. Of course I'm only talking about fiction selling more fiction (as I doubt my law texts are sold by Dead on Demand or vice versa) but the more places your name appears, the better chance you'll have of being found.

Contrary to traditional wisdom, you don't even need to confine yourself to one genre. Readers who like your crime stuff might well love your sci fi too, and this opens up a lot more readers to your work than very narrowly targeted marketing.

It also gives you more free days to play with. With a mere 14 titles you can have one book free every day if you want to - which gives you constant visibility all over the place. The effects of freebies last one month in terms of weight on the popularity (not sales) lists, so doing one book per month (which can be done with just one title, but works even better on rotation) keeps you visible.

If you've got multiple items in the same vein you can also bundle them.
e.g. books 1, 2 and 3 in a trilogy for £3.99 each or an omnibus of the lot for a tenner. Shorts work almost as well for bundling - 99c each, or 5 for $2.99 (which is cheaper for them, but nets you more due to the 70% rate) is a great deal all round.

Add in print copies of every work, and you've increased your visibility yet again - and with POD it isn't expensive to do as there's no stock, no remainders etc. So every sale is printed as it's needed. The only cost is wrap around art (or using a plain colour back via createspace's cover creator which lets you add text) plus the expanded distribution if you want it (and a custom ISBN if you don't want them to be the books imprint.). Even the ISBN cost is amortized over a number of titles, and you can probably get a discount from your cover artist for repeat work too.

Generally, the more works the better, but it pays to remember every title represents you, so the quality has to be maintained otherwise you damage your reputation. That means not skimping on editing, proofing etc. It's expensive, but long term more than worth it.

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