When I started writing I did it because I enjoyed telling stories. Everyone told me that it was important to write for myself, but I think to a large extent anyone who writes assumes they have something worth saying and a story worth telling.
Once you've written your story, you're going to need to get it into the hands of readers, and that's one of the trickiest processes in becoming an author. There are a lot of people out there doing the same thing you are, and sometimes it feels like your shouting into the void to get people's attention. Once you have their attention you might earn a fan for life, but getting people to pick up that first copy can be a real nightmare.
So here are a couple of notes on my experiences, as well as mistakes I've made along the way.
First off, it takes a lot of legwork to get your book out there, and it's going to take giving away a lot of free copies along the way. Amazon offers a great service for this where you can give copies as gifts on your landing page, and you can either save up codes to give people directly or email a free copy to a potential reviewer. A lot of people won't post reviews because people are busy and life gets in the way, but a lot of times when people accept a free copy they will do their best to get you a review.
Amazon allows you to host a giveaway, and a recent addition to this process is that you can give E-Books away. You choose how many copies you want to give, how frequently you want winners to be chosen, and how long you want the giveaway to run.
- Running it for a long time isn't always beneficial. A week is usually enough.
- 1 in 25 will go too fast. 1 in 500 will go too slow. 1 in 250 is ideal.
- People can follow on twitter, watch videos, or follow on amazon
- On twitter a lot of people follow and unfollow immediately
- Amazon sends emails for you, so you have no control
- Videos are great, but people will skim them.
- I bounce between twitter and Amazon follow if I do these.
You can host Goodreads giveaways and people follow you on their site. These can generate a lot of interest and support, and a lot of regular readers look to Goodreads as a primary review website. You post your book a week before the giveaway starts, and then people select it if interested. Don't freak out when you don't generate a lot of interest until the last day. It happens.
It's worth keeping your own email list (MailChimp is a great place to build a free list and send emails) but one of the best ways to get your book into the hands of readers is through companies that send your book to their lists in exchange for a fee.
This list is in no way complete, and companies are constantly changing their terms, prices, and everything else in how they do business so the real trick is to find out how they are doing now and decide if they are worth following-up with.
Here is a broken down list, and keep in mind it's all just my opinion on how some of this stuff works.
Getting into these can be ideal and really generate some positive sales. BookBub is crazy expensive, but they have the results to back it up. The other's aren't as costly and can get you some good sales, though maybe not always enough to make up their cost.
- eReader News Today
These are great for exposure, but they aren't going to be as awesome as the ones listed above. Kindle Nation Daily is expensive, and can definitely be worth it and used to belong in the category above, but it isn't quite as impressive now. Many of these websites have free options available where you can send your book for consideration, and it's always worthwhile giving it a try.
- Fussy Librarian
- Book Scream
- Masquerade Sales
- EBook Hounds
- Read Cheaply
- Kindle Nation Daily
- Book Gorilla
- Just Kindle Books
- Fiverr BKnights
- Books Butterfly
- Choosy Bookworm
- Reading Deals
- Book Hippo
- Book Lover's Heaven
- Countless others, just search for them!
Contests are great, but there are so many of them that it's impossible to tell exactly where to begin with them. I'm only going to list a few here, but winning or placing in a contest can lend credibility to your work because it stood above the rest. Here are some of the ones I've had the best luck working with in the past. I'm not a fan of the ones that just post a list of winners on their website and aren't author friendly.
The Wishing Shelf
- Great guy who runs it. They give feedback and he is very easy to communicate with. A panel reads and judges each book and they are very passionate.
- Great company for a lot of things (Reviews, meeting new people). You can post for free reviews from them, though it usually takes a few months to hear back.
- Awesome company to work with, they review books for children and young adults primarily. You can earn a Seal of Approval and their contest is a great way to meet new people and interact with the writing community.
There are tons of others out there, you will simply need to search around and vet each independently. Look them over, see what they offer and how much it costs, and decide for yourself if it's worth following up.
Reviews are the hardest and most important thing for author's to get. Reaching out to bloggers is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle:
Use that list, find people, and email them. Send out mass emails to anyone and everyone. Many aren't taking books right now, so check back later; others will tell you no thanks but that doesn't mean stop trying. Send, send, send.
There are companies that promote books to readers for free in exchange for reviews. You pay the company, they find the reviewers, and the reviewers get a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. Note, for Amazon you cannot pay a reviewer for a review in their ToC, but you can give them free copies.
Here are some companies you can look into for getting free reviews:
- Reader's Favorite
- Underground Book Reviews
- Online Book Club
Choosy Bookworm has a program to put your book in front of readers. You send them a copy, they read it and post a review, but for the reader's they are just selecting a book to read. ReadCheaply has a similar program that is much cheaper.
These are options, but often the better option is to find people directly instead of paying a middleman to connect you to readers. In either case, never stop trying to get reviews for you work, and always try to build connections with other people.
On that note, another place you might look into for finding like-minded individuals is Rave Reviews Book Club. It's a group of authors and readers who are all about cross-promotion. You get out of it what you put in, and people there are always willing to help out in any way they can. I've found them to be a great group of people, though it does have an annual fee.
There are lots of other things you can do. For reviews, there are a lot of services out there you can pay for reviews, such as Self-Published Review, Kirkus, Blue Ink, and many more. Some are worth more than others, so you have to decide what you want to do. Also, things like Kindle Scout can be hugely beneficial in generating buzz about a book even if you aren't chosen.
This industry, at least for Indie authors, isn't a sprint. You aren't going to get discovered out of nowhere, because if people aren't reading your book they can't discover it. The stuff I've included here are just some options to lay the groundwork. Keep writing, do it because you love it, and just put a little bit of effort into the other parts of the process.