Timelines, Pages, Groups, Messenger...when it comes to getting exposure, Facebook is your best friend. Now, before we start, always follow Facebook policies and make sure that you obey any, and all, group rules and policies...and NO SPAM!!! If you don't respect the regulations of Facebook, and the owners of Facebook Groups, you will prevent your own success. Below, I have listed the key strategies for getting Facebook exposure as author.
Build Your OWn MArketing Platforms
You should have an Author Page before you ever release your next book. You should have relevant information on it. There needs to be a biography, available works, where to find them, and any upcoming works.
You should keep your page updated with information, articles, and news about things that are specific to your brand and your genre. If you write space operas, talk about other books in the genre. Share links about upcoming space movies or tv shows. Anything that is relevant helps to build a rapport with your followers. You should always offer more content that is beneficial to your followers, than content that is self-promoting.
You can also create your own Group. It is fine to have a fan group for your work, but if you really want to build respect with your community, then you should also have some kind of group that is for the benefit of your members.
Indie Shelves has it's own Facebook Group, Indie Shelves: Write, Publish, Market, Sell. Our group offers a community of writers that ask questions, give advice, and share their writing experiences. I share any relevant information, about Indie Shelves Publishing, such as new writing opportunities, how to join our free author listing, and our blogs. Our group is open to all writers...no affiliation with Indie Shelves is required.
There are other groups for writers, and I am a member of most of them. I can't express how invaluable most of them are. You will find more than advice. Some offer their own writing opportunities. The buttons below link to some that you should join.
Join and Participate
Do not join a group and immediately start spamming your works. We have already grown weary of the group spammers and most groups have policies against it. If you want to be taken seriously, give before you receive, and give more than you receive. You should prove your value to the group. You will get far more help from the members if they know that you are an active member in the group.
Be respectful, always! Do not engage in arguments with other writers. The last thing you want to do is tarnish your image as an author.
Create a network & Build Relationships
It isn't all about the exposure. Sometimes, the people you meet will do more for your success than the amount of people you reach. I have had more than a few people reach out to me, because of my participation in a Facebook Group. There are countless people that I have reached out to because of the same groups. You never know who is going to open a door for your career. Find those people who share your ideas, values, and common interests. Don't be afraid to put your neck out. When Indie Shelves launched its Author Promo Page, I messaged an admin from every group I was a member of. I explained what I was doing, and wanted to know if they would mind if I posted about it in their groups. A couple said no, but most said they didn't mind...a few never messaged back. Like any endeavor, you will find rejection. Don't be afraid to connect with other writers, editors, agents, cover designers, or anybody that is relevant.
Connect your Facebook To Your Other Social Media
This one is all about being efficient. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, etc...the more your social media is connected, the easier it is to cross post and share. Every social media platform brings new opportunities. Make sure you utilize them.
Never Miss A Chance To Help Out Another Writer
The more you good you put out into the world, the more people are willing to trust you. Trust is everything. Your peers should trust you, and your readers should trust you. Philanthropy is the easiest way to gain trust. I believe is cooperation among writers, not competition. I even wrote an article about...found here. I believe in it so much, that I will be featuring a different author at the end of all my blog articles. This article will feature the first. Check out today's featured author, Elizabeth Jade.
It takes longer to make a complete book then it takes to read one. Shocker...I know. I don't mean to imply your are not intelligent, and didn't know that. I'm just saying it so I can let you know what it means...
It means you have no reason to treat other writers like the enemy. Let us take a lesson from the ants. An ant colony has many mouths to feed. Not only do they need enough food, there is also the matter of getting the food to all the ants. It isn't easy getting that many meals to that many mouths. Most of you have experienced this at holiday meals and family reunions. The only way it is possible is for each ant share the responsibility. If every ant dashed off and made a mad grab for their own food there would be chaos. In that chaos, more than a few ants would go without food. They would be bumping, tripping, and knocking all over one another. By worrying about themselves, they would end up working harder and getting less.
I can only share so many posts, join so many groups, tweet so many tweets, and afford so much advertising...by myself. If I go out of my way to make sure that I shun every other author, I'll be stuck working harder, for less gain.
The Global Book Market is projected to be around $117 billion in 2017. There is plenty of money to be made. If you can't sell any books, it isn't because of another author. I see author websites that don't mention any other authors, and it is such a wasted opportunity. Spread the word for other authors. Make arrangements. If they mention you, you mention them. Use their success. If my favorite author lends credibility to another author, I am pretty likely to try them out. With discoverability being so reliant on SEO, it only makes sense to have as many links going into, and out of, your website as you can get. An easy way to do this is by working with other authors.
Praise your fellow writers. You can be critical, when you are using it to improve, but be wary of tearing down other authors. It will bring negative reactions to you. Contribute to the success of other writers, and they will contribute to yours. When has the Golden Rule ever failed anybody?
Become more active. When an author posts in a group, or asks a question, be responsive. You wouldn't believe how well it can help to build your network. Offer advise, and hare your wisdom.
Don't be afraid to be transparent. If you found out how to make six figures a year, help the rest of us do it. Today, offering honesty and charity will get you further than cash. Our society is becoming more philanthropic...and expecting it more. A thousand good deeds will build you an empire faster than a secret formula(unless your secret formula includes a thousand good deeds).
It is time to work together. Let's grow, together, and stop growing apart.
In the previous article, found here, we talked about how large the book market is. In this article, we will talk about how you can overcome what has become a vastly diluted market...as well as the negative perception of quality that self-published authors have garnered.
Let's start with our diluted market. The enormous size of the book market didn't cause dilution of the market. The dilution of the market caused IT to balloon. I'm sure some will argue, and what I am about to say isn't backed by any hard numbers, but I'm going to say it - for every decent book that is released today, there will be another thousand that have no business being released. I'm not saying that there are not good stories mixed in there...I'm just saying they haven't been polished enough. They lack quality editing, a well designed cover, or any number of other things that a book needs to be successful. It has become too easy to self-publish. Where before there were gatekeepers in publishing who kept the riff raff away, now the only quality control is self-awareness.
There is one symptom of a diluted market that we can't do anything about. We can't change the fact that there are so many titles. This means that you will always have a more difficult time getting market exposure. As a consumer, we are only going to spend so much time sifting through page after page of books, looking for our next read. That is why a book's ability to be easily disovered - and exposure - are tantamount to it's sales.
There is a second symptom...I call it the Negative Perception of Quality. This is the belief of the reader that a book is not going to be worth reading. Of course, the diluted market is partly responsible. Too many readers have been burned by the market being flooded by so many low quality books, and the veteran reader has become weary and defensive. The market cannot be blamed for all of it. We the authors are at fault, too. It is our duty, as writers, to only publish our best work. When we rush a book to be published, we aren't just hurting our own sales and reputations - we are reinforcing this negative perception of quality.
We, as consumers, have been trained how to judge value. First...what do we see? At the grocery store, a dented can of corn will be left untouched on the shelf. Although it contains the exact same corn as the perfect, untarnished can of corn next to it, it is deemed less desirable due to it's imperfect appearance. This shows us that appearance is of a fair amount of importance because some readers do in fact "judge a book by it's cover."
Next...what does it cost? We equate price to quality. If I drive down the road and see a sign advertising a $4 steak dinner, my immediate thought is that that particular steak must not be very good, because steak typically costs more.
Before a reader buys your book, you must overcome both of these. Before they ever read the blurb, they see the cover, and they see the price. Of the two, your book's aesthetics holds the most weight and is therefore the first test you MUST pass to get a reader interested. After that, the book's description, rating, and reviews may still sell a book, regardless of price.
What is a book worth? Well, I believe all books are worth more than .99 cents. Ok, assuming we could get rid of all the obvious, shouldn't-have-been-published-in-the-first-place books, all books - in any form - are worth more than a buck. I know we want exposure. I know we love to see our downloads go up. I know it's easier to get somebody to try a new author for free, or for the low low price of .99 cents, but I simply don't believe that's the correct marketing approach. We are training readers to undervalue our hard work. We are associating our books with books that aren't worth more than .99 cents, or anything at all.
We need to assign a value to our readers...one other than a dollar sign. The price tag on your book will actually decide the value to the reader. You want a reader who will buy your book, read it, rate it, review it, and tell their friends about it. You want to leave an impression! Your book - your hard work - is worth much more than just a download, after all. Interestingly, statistics have shown that the more a consumer spends on something, the more likely they are to use it, and with more frequency. I personally have many e-books on my phone. I always read the ones I paid for first. Wouldn't you? The fact that I paid $4.99 for a book means I assign a greater value to it. Certainly more than a free book. It also makes me more likely to take the time rate and review it. There are droves of digital book hoarders that download every free or cheap book they can find, and they will unfortunately never read the majority of them. That means no reviews...no ratings, no word-of-mouth. So, how valuable is that kind of reader?
What do we do, to combat these issues?
Always, always, ALWAYS publish a near perfect book. We will never write a perfect story, but we can eliminate 99% of the typos, misspelling, grammatical and punctuation errors, and plot holes. We can also make sure that our covers are clean, enticing, and professional-looking.
Only give away or sell a book for 99 cents as part of a marketing funnel, or as a marketing strategy...and when you do, make it temporary - and make sure that there is a shown discount from the normal price. Again, it comes back to perceived quality. Seeing that the book is normally at a higher price lets the reader see the "value" of the actual book, and it makes them feel like they are getting a deal. CONSUMERS LOVE DEALS! I stand firm in my belief that $2.99 should be the starting price for all full-length books. You may not sell many, but using Amazon as the benchmark, your increased royalty means you sell six times less books, for the same amount of income. The take away is the fact that a $2.99 reader is going to do more for your reputation and exposure than a 99 cent reader.
The places that sell our books are in business to make money. They expend more resources promoting books that make them more money. Your $2.99 book will pop-up more on Amazon, due to it's algorithms, than a free/99 cent book, because it makes them more money. It's all about that bottom line for the big guys, and this can absolutely work to your benefit!
The final, and most tedious thing - market, market, market. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, (and all other manner of social media platforms), friends, family, etc -- everything and everybody should be used to get exposure for your book. Get people talking! Get them interested in your story. I know this process can seem overwhelming - but the most important thing to remember is that there is no "right" combination of steps to publish a book. You just need a properly presented story and some good ol' self-promotion. The rest will fall into place! Best of luck! :)
The day you launch your book, there are going to be thousands of books launched with it. That isn't considering the books that are on the market, already(millions). I approach the massive book market, like I approach fishing. Your book is the bait/lure. The fish is the reader, and the water is the market.
Pre-ebook, the market was more of a group of ponds. Each pond was one of the few brick-and-mortar stores that sold books. Each pond had the same species of fish, and there were only a few kinds of bait. Most fish preferred the same bait that they saw over and over again.
Now, in the ebook/digital publishing era, there are thousands of little ponds(niche book sales sites/author sites), a few lakes(Sony, Scribd), a few seas(Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble) and a great big ocean(Amazon). There are pros & cons for fishing in each. I'll start with the "ponds".
(Ponds) Niche Sales Sites/Author Sites- less readers means less authors looking for readers. It will be easier to stand out with your nice, shiny, chartreuse worm-of-a-book, but there are less fish in ponds. This means that though there is less competition, there are less sales. You can grab a big chunk of the pie, but it is a smaller pie.
(Lakes) Smaller Volume Distributors- these sellers are more well known, but don't have as much of the market share. They move tons more books than the "ponds", but unless your book gathers traction, in their markets, you won't move enough units to retire on. There is a reason for this. They carry so many more titles than the niche sellers. That means a more diverse offering, which means more diverse readers. When you start selling at this level, marketing starts to become, exponentially, more important. Your book can't grab enough readers, just because it's brightly colored and shiny, because there are many bright and shiny books. You will grab less of this market share, but can move more units, than with niche sellers. You won't stand out, as easily, but you don't have to.
(Seas) Large Volume Distributors- the "seas" are where you can start making some money. When done right, you can take advantage of these distributors' larger communities. They have large schools of fish(readers) that coexist in a very large market. If you can find the school that likes the bait you have to offer, they can really drive up your exposure and, in turn, your sales. Though smaller, it is very possible to get more benefit from these distributors, than from Amazon.
(Ocean) Amazon- Amazon is the biggest. It has the most fish, but it also has tides. It has deep water and shallow water. It has ecosystems within ecosystems. If you can't swim, Amazon's riptide will pull your book out, where it can't touch the bottom, and it drag you down before you can even sell enough copies to pay for your ISBN. Your book will be buried. It will not shine...it will not float. It will sink beneath the weight of the 47 bazillion books that were published before it. The only hope for be a successful Amazon seller is diligence, patience, and a plan. It takes work, it takes time, and it takes strategy. You should be promoting on multiple platforms, and you should have a network of people actively getting the word out...ideally, before the actual release. Amazon success is all about momentum. Your success will take off like a train. Slow at first, then a little faster, and if done right, with a bit of luck, it will be full steam ahead.
Amazon should be your main priority for selling your books. That being said, if you aren't seeing results, don't be afraid to fish in the smaller waters. There are many authors who found success, after leaving Amazon.
One thing, that is constant, across all platforms, is the rapid rate that the market is expanding. This means that all the hardships, that come from the shear amount of books out there, get more difficult. There is one key way to combat the daily flood of new titles...
...make sure you have new books flooding in, too. The larger your catalog, the more successful you will be. Every additional book is another link in your sales chain. When a reader finds one of your books, make sure it leads them to the next(or to all of them). More books means more exposure, more chances to have a reader discover you, and it means more money. It is easier to sell 100 copies a month of 10 different books, than to sell 1000 copies of one book, especially if you haven't claimed a share of your market yet.
Be a prolific writer. Write...and get it out there. Novels, novellas, short stories, it doesn't matter. As fast you can write a good story, is exactly how fast you should keep writing.
Check back for my next article about being successful in a diluted market.
I have found, in the six years I have seriously attempted to publish a book, that writing is the easy part. Publishing has never been easier, sure, but there is a massive difference in writing a story, self-editing, slapping on a cover, and slamming it in every digital distributor you can find, and producing a quality book, with an enticing cover, a blurb that draws readers in, and very few grammatical errors. The first will still make you feel all warm and content, but the latter is what it takes to be successful.
There are a few negative draw-backs that have come with the ease at which we can publish. These are...
-an enormous market
-rapid market growth
-negative perception of quality
Enormous Market-there are millions of books. Your very first obstacle is getting readers to find your work. This is an immense challenge, and I will talk about the ways to get readers to find your books in the next article, here.
Rapid Market Growth-traditionally, offering a new release got you boosted exposure, for a time. It would be days, or weeks, before the next batch of new releases came out. You could throw your title on a few "Fresh Reads" lists and ride the wave for a bit. Not anymore. The second you publish, there are a hundred new titles posted right behind you. What's new?...what isn't? This will be addressed in the next article, too. Here is the link.
Market Dilution-writing a great book no longer has the weight it used to. For every book on an Amazon best selling list, there are a hundred that are better. They didn't get marketed well, or were published with no clear exposure strategy. Sometimes, it's just a matter of bad luck(luck is always a variable). Whatever your genre, regardless of the subject, you need to have a clear understanding of your market and who you are up against. I'll dive into market dilution, and how to overcome it, in a later article.
Negative Perception of Quality-this one is a direct effect of the previous three topics. The massiveness of the market and its volatile expansion, paired with being over-saturated with low-quality, cheaply priced books, means your work is going to be cut out for you. This is a problem that I feel strongly about. There are more than a few experts who have their opinions about pricing. I believe that perception of quality is the very first concern when it comes to selling a book. I'll express my concerns and strategies in a later article.
Check back for more articles about these, and many more important topics.