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.


Amy Kidd said...

Excellent advice, John! Thank you very much.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Amy,

You're welcome. :) I hope it helps.

Lindsay said...

Quite excellent -- one of the best blogs I have read on this subject.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Lindsay,

Thank you very much. :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You've got some sites on here, John, that are new to me. I love that you're making lists like this; it helps us all out.

I think I'll start to keep one, myself, especially as there seem to be new ones popping up every day.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Susan,

Thank you. :) I definitely recommend keeping a list of all the tasks. It's really overwhelming from start to finish. Traditional publishers have armies to take care of all of it. I only have emo bunnies and they're not much help. ;)

Ron Amarogue said...

Well thoughtout and informative post ... pleasure to read. With your higher priced "Complete Wildon Trilogy" - have you ever had thoughts of a press release or submitting to free book review blogs for more exposure. Thats in addition to goodreads and bookbarista. I linked to post thru kindleboards.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Ron,

I have considered a press release. It would be especially useful in the small town where I live. It's one of those things I just haven't gotten to.

The review blogs are an excellent resource and one of the ways Amanda Hocking credits for her success. It's also another thing I need to get better at.

I've been considering sacrificing sleep next. *grin*

Tony James Slater said...

Hi John!
I'm on Indie Writers Unite too, which is how I got here. Great post, (been meaning to make a list like this myself actually) and a great 'voice' you have too, if I may say so! I'm now off to reorder my promotional strategies to match yours :0)
I also recently joined a UK based Kindle forum which is showing a lot of promise (at least as far as interesting interaction goes - no idea about sales) - http://www.kuforum.co.uk/
Just thought I'd mention it as a lot of folk seem to struggle with the UK side of things.
Well, best of luck to ya!

PJ Jones said...

TY, John. I need to get on LibraryThing and a few others. This is an excellent check-list.

Monica La Porta said...

I already commented on KB, but I thought to come here and thank you again :)I don't know where to start marketing, and I am not good at promoting. I know it's a bad combination, but you gave me an idea of what I should do.

Jenny said...

Very useful info. Thanks, John. Another place to post excerpts or whole novels is Scribd.com. This site has an enormous reader following and you can link what you're reading to Twitter and Facebook to let others know about it.

John H. Carroll said...

Hello all. I'm really glad it's helping. :)

@Jenny, I'm actually on Scribd. It's been a while since I've updated.


KR Jacobsen said...


Some great ideas there and you're a lot more thorough than I. I've been debating getting involved with GoodReads and Shelfari (among others), but my time is fairly limited and I'm not sure it's worth it just yet. However, this (and other posts/comments) has me rethinking that decision.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi KR,

The limited time really is an issue. Honestly, it would be possible to write a book and then spend the rest of your life marketing it, lol

I think Goodreads is vital if for no other reason to list your books. I've received some good critical reviews there.

Shelfari is good because it adds the information to your Amazon page, which is a very good thing.

The key is finding the balance of how to spend your time, and it's not easy to do.

Jolea M. Harrison said...

Very useful info. Thanks for sharing. IWU is great, isn't it?

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Jolea,

It really is. :) I really like the people and the conversations there.

Toni Dwiggins said...

Very helpful--thanks!

I hadn't heard of Indie Writers Unite. Must check that out.

reese ring said...

Thanks, John. Great comprehensive list to help us keep track.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Toni, it's a facebook group with a lot of writers who are very helpful.

Hi Reese, You're welcome. :)

nadina said...

This is a great list. Thank you. I will give it a try and best of luck to you too. You have saved me a lot of time and frustration in giving us this list.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Nadina,

There are many more things you can do, but this is definitely a good start.

I wish you all the best. :)

Anonymous said...

This is awesome... I have to go make tea and read it thoroughly..

Many, many thanks..

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosalind. :)

I hope some of these help.

Oh, and I'm a coffee drinker myself. Can't seem to acquire a taste for tea.


Walter Eckland said...

Nice list John. A number of place I had not heard of!

Walter Eckland

Anonymous said...

Hi Walter, I'm glad it was useful. :)

Lani Wendt Young said...

thank you for sharing your insight. Great tips and useful links.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Lani,

You're very welcome. :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks, John. This is a great list. I'm going to make note of the things I'm not on yet and sounds good.

I find Goodreads a good site, too. You really don't have to spend a lot of time there once you have it set up. I drop by about once or twice a week to see if there's something new, update my file, make a comment here and there and leave.

Like you, I'd rather be writing.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Diane, You're very welcome. :)

Goodreads is an excellent site. It's a very strong community of readers. :)

Unknown said...

That is some awesome advice!! Someone told me to read other blogs, and comment leaving a link to where my book can be bought, or my webpage. I have, yet, to leave a link, though.

John H. Carroll said...

Hi Jenna, your profile leads to your google+ page, and many bloggers will consider it rude if you spam their page with links of your books. Commenting is always welcome though and will garner you a great deal of goodwill. :)

N. D. Iverson said...

This was very helpful, thank you for posting this!