Market primed, you can finally hit ‘publish.’ The KDP service allows you to utilize various promotional offers, such as discounted pricing or offering your book free for a limited time. With X: A Collection of Horror, I opted for the latter.
Why would you choose to give the results of your hard work away for free?
To raise your profile, that’s why. You might also garner some favourable reviews from the buying (or free downloading) public, which will help boost sales in the long term. Some of them may like your stuff enough to swing by your blog, or even buy something else you put out.
Promotion, promotion, promotion!
I quickly learned that even if your book is free, you still have to promote it. Otherwise, nobody knows its available and it sinks like a stone amongst all the other free books. The obvious thing to do is bombard your Twitter and Facebook accounts with links and updates. This is a perfectly reasonable, but limited strategy, because unless you show a little initiative it’s quite difficult to reach beyond your existing circle of friends. A great way to make new friends (read: potential buyers) is to be active on Goodreads. This is the social networking site of the dedicated reader. And writer. So get involved – leave reviews, rate books, comment on threads. Engage potential readers. Of course, there are many other social networking avenues like LinkedIn and Instagram. Exploit these as much as you can but in my experience, they have limited marketing potential. The two biggest are Facebook and Twitter, so lets look at them in a bit more detail…
A lot of people are very selective about who they allow on to their ‘friends’ list, often preferring to keep it to people they know in real life. That’s fine. Unless you are a writer, then you have to unlock the huge marketing potential of Facebook and use it to your advantage. At the last count I had 1,168 ‘friends,’ only around 15-20% of whom I would consider actual friends. The rest are other writers or publishers with whom I have loose relationships, friends of friends, and random people with whom I share similar interests. Plus, if a reader ever emails me directly to say they liked one of my books, I invite them to add me on Facebook. These are the people that make up my target audience, and probably the ones most interested in my writing endeavors.
Don’t rely solely on status updates. Be aggressive. And no, that doesn’t mean threatening to pull people’s heads off if they don’t be your Facebook friend. It means being proactive. Facebook is like a worldwide meeting place. A bar without the booze (unless you bring your own). It has literally millions of groups, places where like-minded people flock together to exchange views and opinions. Find the ones that apply to your chosen genre and live in them. They are not difficult to find, just run a few searches. If your book is about Teddy Bears with Uzi’s, there’s probably a group devoted to that. This is your audience. Talk to them. They won’t bite. After that, target the groups about Teddy Bears, then the ones about Uzi’s, then the ones about guns in general. You get the idea. A word of warning; don’t simply repost the same book link over and over again, or you might find yourself losing friends rather quickly. At least try be a bit creative about it.
Building up a Twitter network is a long, laborious process that requires some level of dedication. Appropriate use of hashtags can help target specific groups of users, and some writers swear it has good marketing value. Others, like me, are yet to be convinced. It all seems rather disposable and lightweight to me. Whatever I think, with a reported 243 million worldwide users, its potential reach is immense. Utilizing it is another matter. Tweeting is very in vogue at the moment, especially amongst the celebrity fraternity. If you ‘follow’ anyone with large amounts of followers, especially other writers, it won’t hurt to send them a tweet asking for a retweet. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. I tried this approach when promoting X: A Collection of Horror, and was lucky enough to be retweeted by several notables with several hundreds of thousands of followers. My Twitter activity did garner me a few new followers but from what I could tell, this had absolutely no impact on sales whatsoever.
If you take writing seriously, you should have a blog. If you don’t have one, get one. There are a lot who offer basic packages for free. I use WordPress. Presuming you already do, make good use of it. Post regular updates, and always try to include something of value instead of just random thoughts or book promos. If you are stuck for something to blog about, just write a simple book or film review. The best way to build on your blog following is to visit and comment on other blogs. You may also find that people you ‘meet’ in the blogosphere will very often add you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter.
There are numerous sites that list free books, and even send out newsletters to their subscribers, which often number in the thousands. Some charge the writer a fee, others are free services that are presumably sustainable through advertising. A Google search will throw up dozens. Have a look around, and find out which ones work best for you. Here are two that I used:
My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:
Part 2 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, covering advice on editing, cover art and priming the market, can be found here:
Part 1, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing, can be found here: