We indie authors face tough challenges. No one knows who we are or anything about our books. We try all kinds of different things for book promotion. But does promotion really work? I’ve read some fascinating posts about the topic of book promotion, both the pros and the cons. I’ve had varied success with different types of promotion and I’m not sure why. But some things do seem clear…
Indie Authors – What Is Your Mentality?
Kristine Kathryn Rusch, an award-winning fiction author, wrote a fascinating post about what she sees as two types of authors: those who hurry up and then wait (indie authors); and those who wait and hurry up (traditionally published authors). It’s a long post but it’s worth the read. What I found interesting is that it seems she has nailed it, at least in terms of the indie authors I know. Many have books they wrote long ago, or it’s been a dream to write a book, so they do, not really knowing how good or bad the book is, or the cover, and so on. And they publish and just expect that their book will be discovered and the money will roll in. Ah, but the money doesn’t just roll in (at least not for most of us). But she has another interesting point as well…
Indie Authors – Word Of Mouth
I buy five or more books per week, usually when I see a review, get a notice from a bookseller that a new one of my favorites is out, or follow a recommendation from a friend about a really good book she’s read. I buy because of word-of-mouth, just like every other reader on the planet.
It’s true that word of mouth is the key to selling books. But isn’t promoting your books through social media, ad space, your website and your blog creating word of mouth? That’s what we constantly hear, right? But does all that promotion really work?
Indie Authors – What Works?
Taleist recently did a survey of over 1,000 indie authors. Granted, this is a small set of authors, and surveys can be slanted, but there are some interesting things that came out of the survey:
- indie authors with high-quality books did slightly better on sales (those who used others for story editing, copy editing, proofreading, and book covers)
- indie authors who spent more time on writing than on marketing made more money
- indie authors with more reviews, and more positive reviews, sold more books
As you can see, it’s still hard to say what exactly worked for those that made more money. I’ve found that a promotion that works for one author doesn’t for another. This stresses the importance of targeting your own audience, knowing what they like and want, and marketing your book to that audience.
Indie Authors – What Doesn’t Work?
The Taleist survey did have a couple of interesting points about what indie authors said didn’t work:
- indie authors surveyed said paid reviews didn’t work (those who did had the lowest average number of reviews and lowest revenue)
- two-thirds of the indie authors said paying for ads was not successful
What does that mean? I myself have had limited success with ads. Some (mostly those around free books) have helped, but overall I’m not sure how effective they’ve been. I haven’t paid for any reviews so I can’t speak to that. As far as reviews go…
Indie Authors – Get Reviews!
I’m amazed at the number of authors who send me links to their books and I go check out the book and see that there are no, or very few, reviews. It’s not hard to get reviews for your books, it just takes some time. There are so many book reviewers on blogs, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and more. They specialize in a variety of genres and are typically glad for the opportunity to read your book. But they’re not going to find you – you have to find them! Here’s some food for thought from the Taleist survey: indie authors who submitted to popular Amazon reviewers generate up to 30% more revenue than those who don’t have reviews. I’d stretch this and say that even reviews by others, not just top reviewers, will bump up that revenue as well.
Indie Authors – One Thing Is Certain
Regardless of if you choose to promote your books or not, in order to achieve that dream of making money with your writing, you have to keep writing. JA Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith and many other authors will tell you that the more books you have available for purchase, the more money you will make. Hm, that makes sense :).
I recently helped an indie author with his first book, and he, like many others I’ve heard, was astounded at the amount of time it can take to promote your books. It’s true, and it’s a delicate balancing act to promote and write. But it can be done. Good luck with your promotion and your writing!
I’d love to know what promotion you’ve done and what’s worked (or not). And please share this post if you’ve found it helpful. Thanks!
And for a few tips on book promotion, read Indie Authors – Promoting Your Books.