Today you, my readers, get a fun story not written by me! I’d like to introduce Rave Reviews Book Club member Helen Treharne to tell us a little about her publishing journey!
I am cringing as I write that title. Why? Because it screams “look at me” and like many writers I’m an introvert. So, before I begin, I thought I’d build a bit of context for you. I released my first book, ‘Relative Strangers: A Modern Vampire Story’ at the end of the summer 2014. Sales have been slow and steady. My reviews have been good. Overall, it’s what I expected. When I fell out of love with Smashwords (there’s another blog post in there!), I decided to go exclusively with Amazon and make use of their promotional extras. I really wanted to boost sales prior the publication of the sequel, ‘Death in the Family‘. Reminded of advice shared by Nicholas Rossis on his blog, I rethought my marketing plan. I decided to launch a cover reveal for Death in the Family on a Saturday, in conjunction with a free day for the kindle version of Relative Strangers. During that day I had just under 500 downloads of Relative Strangers. I was shocked. Okay, they were free copies but they are people who otherwise wouldn’t have heard of me or my books. Even if a small percentage of those pick up the sequel, it’s a solid marketing base.
So, how did I do it? Well, fair people I shall tell you! It really isn’t rocket science and it didn’t take an awful lot of work. It also cost me absolutely nothing. I didn’t have to pay to place and advert or a tour hosting company (although both have their place in marketing your books).
1. Create a media pack for yourself. This is simple. You just need a word document which includes your book blurb, author bio, links to your online platforms, “buy links” and ideally a few short excerpts.
I think a couple of excerpts is important and try to nail each of your target audiences with each. If book bloggers post predominantly romance, then make sure your except highlights this element in your work. If the book blogger likes thrillers, make you sure include an excerpt with action. If the book focuses on a particular character, pick an excerpt that gives a sense of who they are and what their story is about. Include in the pack your book cover and an author pic – although you’ll also have to attach these as jpegs to any emails you send. In this case I created a pack which included details on the cover reveal as well as the kindle free day.
2. Identify blogs that you want to target and ask them if they would be happy to host your cover reveal/ kindle day/other event or just a promo post.
If you spend a lot of time on social media there may be people you know you want to target (I keep a list of those who have hosted me in the past, commented on my blog or who have reviewed), but you may need to look further afield.
Ensure you read the policies on the blog about contacting them. I’m essentially lazy and I cherry picked 25 blogs who were open to submission by email and who I knew hosted my genre. One did sneak through (oops… got told off for that!) but that was an honest mistake – if it happens, don’t feel bad – get on with talking to the other bloggers. I also put a tweet out and a Facebook post on my author page to ask bloggers to contact me if interested.
Of the 25 bloggers I emailed, I ended up with 12 bloggers covering my reveal and free kindle day. I thought that was an amazing result for an half an hour’s work. All I had to do was a quick rummage around the internet, write an email and attach my media pack.
3. I normally do not advocate reams after reams of “buy my book, buy my book” posts. They are usually overlooked so I keep mine to a few day and target particular hashtags. For my free kindle day, however, I really had to up the ante though. I scheduled a tweet so one went out every hour. It’s important to remember that with time differences, the free day may end later than you are awake, or start before it. I’d advice scheduling tweets from midnight to midnight to catch everyone. I use Hootsuite to content mine as you can also manage Facebook and WordPress through it as well.
4. Consider the hashtags you use carefully. Using the same ones in each post will annoy people who follow it – you will clog their timeline and that is no way to win friends. I varied mine and tried to use no more than two per tweet. Ones which seemed to work for me were #books, #kindledeals, #amreading, #urbanfantasy, #horror, #supernatural, #newadult, #NA. Try to have a mix of generic ones and a few specific to your genre.
5. Recruit the support of others! If you haven’t already joined a writing community, do it now!!! Yes that deserves three exclamation marks. There are a few online groups. The Independent Author Network uses #IAN1 and the Independent Author Retweet Group uses #IARTG. Don’t just use these hashtags willy-nilly though, you must check out their terms first and join. My favourite, of all of them, is Rave Reviews Book Club. The club is a community of authors and readers who come together to share great books, advice and cross promote. Thanks to fellow members furiously retweeting I achieved huge reach on my free kindle day, as well as for my cover reveal.
6. Like all things, timing is critical. My free kindle day on a Saturday went very well. 500 downloads left me flabbergasted. I thought it was a mistake and kept checking my KDP reports. But no, they were there.
I ran another the following Monday with less success – only about 100 downloads. Pick a time when your audience is likely to be online. When possible, try to link your promo day to another event, such as a cover reveal or something like Christmas or Halloween, and use its’ hashtags.
7. It’s not all about Twitter. I hate saying that as Twitter is by far my favourite social media platform. I promoted my free kindle day on my Facebook Author page and on relevant Facebook groups. I also posted it on my blog and on Google+. Having an image or link to share in your posts on these platforms is essential. Good quality artwork or colourful images will increase engagement.
8. Don’t make the promotional day all about the free book (it doesn’t have to be free by the way to do all this!). If you want others to follow you and really back you as an author you have to be a person. Don’t abdicate your other responsibilities – make you continue to post interesting and personal (within reason) content. Respond to others tweets. Respond to their comments on your blog and Facebook pages. Be yourself that day – just be bigger, be better.
I feel like I should come up with another two tips, ten feels like a better number, but that really was it. If you feel like learning more about me or my books, then hop on over to www.helentreharne.wordpress.com and say hi.
Helen Treharne is the creator of the developing “Sophie Morgan Vampire Series” as well as short stories and other prose. Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing she spends her time daytime hours working in communications and volunteers for a feline welfare charity. She also runs a very successful book blog, reviewing and promoting the work of other indie authors. She also can’t stop purchasing stationery. She can be found at her blog, Facebook page and on Twitter.