This brings me to an obvious statement: If you want to reach readers, they have to know you exist.
“You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of,”—Norrington
“But you have heard of me,”—I really don’t have to cite who this is.
No such thing as bad press? Well, not all of us have that kind of thick skin. But it does show us that—though it might hurt to become a household name (ask Britney and Lindsey)—it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of it (or to do it right).
I decided to ask Cindy Bennett on how she did it:
“It wasn’t easy, and took a lot of persistence, but eventually I didn’t feel like a new or unknown author to many readers out there. I think they began to see me as someone they’d heard of, though they weren’t sure where. That way, when they saw one of my books, they would read it rather than bypassing it as something unknown.”
Would you do anything differently?
“I would have began marketing earlier. I didn’t begin marketing until I was already published, and I really think you need to begin long before that. You need to start building a relationship with bloggers and readers sooner so that you can get more people to read your book from the beginning.”
So, there you have it. Start now. But how?
SOCIAL VICES, AKA: NETWORKING
You know the social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, goodreads, your blogs. Now (as someone scathingly told me once), “Use them as they were meant to be used, dummy” (direct quote). Don’t just talk about your books—be human. On twitter, be sure to retweet, favorite, and reply to other’s comments. Pin up your favorite things on Pinterest and even some things that might have to do with your book as well. If anyone follows your blog (or you just find a blog that’s interesting), follow it AND make comments. On facebook, take a genuine interest in other people’s lives—one; it makes you a good friend, and two; people will be interested in return.
FACEBOOK: GET AN AUTHOR PAGE
The reason you do this isn’t for self-gratification. No. It’s a way to get the word out to the people who are already your fans!
“Since I release the books as soon as they are ready, I don’t do pre-promotions, except for teaser scenes on Facebook for my Heather Tullis books and on my blog for everything else. This does seem to get a lot of people’s attention on Facebook (where I have 260 loyal fans who clicked through to my fan page from the books. I have done zero promotions to build the group and several are quite active, which is totally exciting,” Heather Justesen.
While Heather said that she did zero promotion to build her group, there are still things you can do to build yours. We’ll talk more about that when we discuss making your promos count.
Okay, so I admit that I’m a loser on goodreads (they won’t even let me be a librarian), but there are those who are doing pretty well for themselves on it, so I decided to ask them how they use it:
“Goodreads giveaways for paperback versions seem to be beneficial. You can run giveaways for the six months following the release of your paperback version (not the ebook version). I paid for an ad on Goodreads, and that seemed pretty useless. I’m on over 4,000 people’s lists, have 260 reviews and something like 800 ratings – and that’s almost entirely due to the Goodreads giveaways. I think that helped in the short term, [though she said not in the long term]” Sariah Wilson.
“I do giveaways in conjunction with the blog tour. I’ve also done Goodreads giveaways, which always increase my “to read” numbers,” Rachael Anderson.
“I’ve done FB ads, Goodreads ads, mailers, newsletters, KindleBoards ads, KDP, book signings–you name it, I’ve done it probably. I’ve found the most effective: Goodreads ad for exposure . . .,” Rebecca Talley.
“At this point I’ve developed enough relationships with YA readers and bloggers that they know to watch for my books. Goodreads is an excellent way to find readers for your specific genre by joining their groups,” Cindy Bennett.
Other ways to build your online presence:
YOU’RE A WRITER, WRITE ON YOUR BLOG!
Oh yeah, and target readers, not writers (unless writers are your target audience or hey, you just wanna lend a helping hand).
Don’t judge me—haha, I’m still struggling to learn this BUT on our blogs, we tend to write what we know—and for me, that’s about writing. Now what if we write about what our target audience is interested in? Well, they’re interested in our books, possibly what inspired us to write them. Yes, for sure, that’s a great start. But let’s dig deeper. Once again, get to know your readers.
First of all, look at your blog stats. Which blog topics get looked at the most? On mine:
#1 Prank Wars contest (write in your best pranks)
#2 Happens to be a blog I can’t even remember writing that was about bequeathing
#3 “Prank Wars” – the free Spanish Translation.
#4 Fashion faux pas
#5 My Indie Guide.
Now, look at yours: what are the top blog topics? Your top searches? Next, find out what links visitors are clicking on in your blog—mine is to my website and Amazon is second. That is great news! So make sure that you have links to help visitors find out more about you and your books. And yeah, write a few hot topics that get you on the search engines.
And then, you might also take a peek at your blog followers (go ahead and follow their blogs while you’re at it). What are they writing about? What are they interested in?
If that doesn’t generate ideas for blog topics, think about the style of your books—are they comedy? Write comedy. What makes your books stand out? Get your blog to stand out in a similar way.
Is no one commenting on your blog? Comment on other people’s blogs and soon you’ll see a turnaround. This is mainly a lecture to myself.
NEWSLETTERS: TARGET IN ON YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE:
I made a booboo, and I want you to learn from me. I have not made it a point to collect email addresses of fans who are interested in my work. That means that all those visitors on my blog and website—though they found what they were looking for at the time—are lost! If a new book comes out, I can only blast my friends on facebook about it—and they aren’t all my fans–so that can get annoying for them. As soon as you can (and this is my homework, too), make a place on your website that specifically asks visitors to sign up for news, free giveaways, contests, and goodies.
Fans are hard to come by—don’t let them go! This is possibly the best way to make your blog and website count for something. Make it worth their while to like your author page on facebook. Ask them to follow you on Twitter. This is a great way to reach your audience instantaneously when you get a new book out or a promo where you want participation. Once you have their email addresses, you can now send your subscribers all sorts of great information—but don’t drown them with it because then they’ll block you or unsubscribe. So make sure that when you write them, that it’s something that they’ll be very excited to hear.