Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steps for an Indie Author to market eBooks


As you may or may not know, I am an Indie Author, which is a cool way of saying that I write books, then edit them, make the covers, publish them to numerous eBook sites, and then try to get people to buy them through marketing and social networking.  If you know me personally, then you are aware that I almost never talk, so this whole social networking thing is really not my forte.  There are other Indie Authors out there that are much better than I am at this.

Note:  This is not all of the places or ways of marketing for an Indie Author.  I'm just listing what I do.

I'd really love to just spend all my time writing books and letting others do the everything else for me, but it doesn't work that way for Indie Authors.  I could try to become professionally published, but I'm a little too odd to be accepted and the pay just isn't good enough.

I'm making this post largely for myself so that I remember all of the steps I need to take each time I publish.  I'm starting to lose track.  But I'm also making it to help other Indies out there. :)  Part of my problem is that I don't always do all of this.  In addition to writing, I have a full time job and a family that I pay attention too.  Marketing isn't as much fun as writing.

My worst problem is that I can't stand being pushy, so I usually only mention my books every once in a while and then hope that people find me because they like them well enough to read them.  Speaking of pushy, I'm going to make the links to examples of my works where possible, partly so you can see an example of how to do it, and partly because I know you want to see my awesome stuff. :D

The first thing I do is publish to Smashwords, Amazon and B&N.

Another important step is to have images of my covers for all the sites that need it.  I have folders on my computer, but some sites like an online link.  I use photobucket:  http://s1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee436/kookoo88/  I also have my covers in three sizes.  My higher resolution covers are 1100x1500.  Then I have a 220x300 resolution that I use for forums, especially Mobileread which doesn't allow larger.  And a thumbnail size 80x109.  They don't have to be exactly that size, it's just what I use.  I also post my covers on Deviant Art: http://johnhcarroll.deviantart.com/gallery/

Steps I take when marketing

The Smashwords version is generally available immediately, so I promote that first.

1. Go to the Smashwords page and twit about it. (yes, I know, most people say tweet) http://twitter.com/#!/kookoo88
2. If you're an Indie Author, facebook fan pages are a useful tool.  I post the link to my fan page next. http://www.facebook.com/John.H.Carroll.Author
3. I'm not on reddit, stumble upon, or a bunch of others, but if you are, it's a good choice.
4. Put your books up on Goodreads. Create an author page if you haven't already. http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4479427.John_H_Carroll This is a very important place to have a presence.  It's advisable to join groups and engage in conversations. Do NOT self-promote in general conversations and forum threads.  Only promote where you're allowed and don't be spammy.  People don't like it you're only there to sell them something.
5. I post my book on Indie Book Lounge: http://www.indiebooklounge.com/
6. I post my book on Book Junkies Library. http://www.book-junkies-library.com/
7. I post my book with Calibre, but only if it doesn't have DRM (Digital Rights Management).  I never add that if it's an option. http://drmfree.calibre-ebook.com/by/author/john-h-carroll  The best way to get a hold of them is to post your book info, author name and link on their facebook wall: http://www.facebook.com/#!/calibre.ebook  Be sure to add genres and price as well. They like to know if it's a novel, novella or short story.
8. I post my book on Book Barista. http://www.bookbarista.com/
9.  Once you get your book published through Amazon, update its details on Shelfari. http://www.shelfari.com/johnhcarroll
10. It's a good idea to set up a page on Library Thing http://www.librarything.com/home/JohnHCarroll it's a little complicated and I don't have everything set up there, but . . .
11. Did I mention blogging about it?  Yeah.  I'm way behind on blogging about my books.  *sigh*  As far as that site goes . . . well . . . you're kinda here.
12. Explore different review sites and submit your book for review.  Be certain to follow their guidelines.
12-a. Important note.  Do your best to write a good book that's also technically well written.  If your book sucks, it will receive a bad review.

If you wish to pay for advertising, two reputable sites are Pixel of Ink and Ereader News Today, the latter of which leans more toward romance books. 
Promoting in forums
Two of the biggest are Kindleboards http://www.kindleboards.com/ and Mobileread http://www.mobileread.com/.  They each have an author self promotion forum to post in.  I use the 220x300 resolution cover link on them.  One of the keys here is not to post in any other forums than the ones specified. The moderators are very draconian about their rules  Another key is to engage in general conversation on other threads in their forums.  Do NOT self promote in them.

One thing with Mobilereads is to introduce yourself in the introduction forum before going elsewhere. Also, you don't get a signature for the first week and you have to have 10 posts if I recall correctly.

There are many, many other forums out there.  One trick is to find forums specifically geared toward your genre, such as romance, sci-fi or horror forums.  This is a lot of work and I'm going to be honest in that I don't do it near enough.  I have limited time and I usually end up writing instead.

Once your books go live on Amazon and B&N, you can bump the Kindleboard, Mobileread and any other forum posts where you've posted your book.  You can do it again when Smashwords distributes to Apple, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and any others.  Also, if you get a review, you can post that . . . although, I'd keep quite about any 1 star reviews. ;)

If I'm giving the eBook away for free, I can promote in more places.

1. getfreeebooks.com is the single best site to list your free eBooks. http://www.getfreeebooks.com/  I get hundreds of downloads every time they post my books
1-a. Once you have a book there, you can create a very nice author page: http://authors.getfreeebooks.com/2011/08/john-h-carroll/
2. Ereader News Today will generally post your free eBooks on their site, which brings in quite a few readers.  Their fans tend to be Kindle customers, so it's best to have the story go free on Amazon first.

Where I don't promote.

1. I'm in a few facebook groups, like Book Junkies, Indie Author Group and Indie Writers Unite.  I like these groups and they're a nice place to talk.  I could promote to them a little bit, but they see a lot of that anyway and I really prefer to go there just for the conversations. :)
2. Forums where it's not allowed.  You will make readers hostile towards you.
3. Don't get hyper about asking everybody about reviews.  Put a note that you'd like reviews at the end of the story and let it go.  If you have twenty solicited 5 star reviews, real readers aren't going to believe them and may start voting harshly to correct the discrepancy.

Final Notes

Readers buy books from authors they know before they'll buy from anyone else.  The key is for an Indie author to get readers to know them.  My main strategy for this is to give away short stories for free and to market as much as I can stand before going back to writing the next novel.

It is a truth that one of the most important thing any writer can do is to constantly improve their craft and put out a higher quality product each time.  This is the best marketing of all.