Lauren FaulkenberryVisit Lauren Faulkenberry‘s website.
I wish I could hire a publicist. For real. Being an indie publisher means you have to do endless self-promotion, and frankly I’d rather be writing. But in the year since my first novel was published, I’ve learned a few simple things I can do on a regular basis to keep my books visible. Here are a few of the easiest tricks I’ve learned, which you can do right from your desktop.
Make Your Own Graphics
Most indie writers have a small budget. If you can hire a graphic designer, do it (especially for your book cover). Even if you have little or no background in graphic design, you can use a site like canva.com to make promotional graphics for your new releases, giveaways, and other social media posts. Obviously, posts that have a striking image attached automatically get more engagement, so get creative! Take note of graphics that catch your eye, and pay attention to those that are difficult to read as well. (As a designer, I can tell you that first and foremost, your design needs to be legible. If it isn’t, you’re missing the whole point: clear communication). Work toward designing a handful of images to promote your book. A site like Canva stores your designs so you can easily go back and change text that might vary over time (dates of giveaways, price promos, etc.) and recycle those designs for future promotions. For people who find design intimidating, this is a good place to start. I use Canva for all of my social media promos, my banner ads, my newsletter graphics, and even to design printed material like postcards and bookmarks.
What to Promote — And How Often
While we indie authors are often saddled with doing our own promotion, it’s important to remember not to inundate your readers and followers with too many “Buy my book!” posts. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that 75% of your social media posts are about something that isn’t YOUR BOOK. You can post about your interests, other book-related topics, other authors, other book deals, but limit your book promotion to 25% or less. As a reader, I am quick to unfollow authors who do nothing but promote their books. Why? Because it’s boring. Most fans follow you expecting to find engaging or entertaining material, so give it to them! Look at the people you follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: why do you like them? Why do you enjoy their posts? Post a variety of material and you cast a wide net to attract people who share your varied interests. You’re more likely to gather more readers if you reveal more facets of yourself and post relevant content.
I shoot for one giveaway every 1-2 months. With three books out, it’s easy to rotate through them and have some sort of promotion happening each month. Goodreads is one of my favorite avenues for giveaways. You have to send winners a physical copy of your book, but in the end, even with shipping, that’s a lot of promotion for a small investment. On Goodreads, people who enter your giveaway can automatically add it to their “Want to Read” list. The more people who add your book to their list, the more visibility your book gets in the Goodreads community. I typically offer one copy at a time, autograph it, personalize it, and send a nice note to the winner.
I also do Amazon giveaways, which allow you to give ebooks as prizes. When you set up an Amazon giveaway, you can choose the “lucky number” option and make it a high number (like 600) to maximize the number of entries you’ll receive. If you set “follow me on Amazon” as the way to enter, then you also maximize the number of new followers you get.
If you prefer to set all of the parameters yourself, rafflecopter.com makes it super easy. Readers can enter by retweeting info about your giveaway, following you on social media platforms, signing up for your author newsletter, and increase their chances of winning by doing multiple tasks. You can email the winners yourself, which makes it very easy to send eBooks and invite the winners to keep in touch to learn about your new releases and other deals. Rafflecopter also lets you post your entry form on Facebook or your author website, so you can potentially drive more traffic to your personal site. That’s win-win.
Other Online Promotions
Some authors swear by Facebook ads, but I haven’t had much luck with them. I did, however, get a lot more impressions with a Goodreads ad. For as little as $10 you can run an ad and set the price per click (mine was .50). So for $10 my ad ran for over 6 months and over 90,000 people saw it. During that time, I did notice more people entered my giveaways and added me to the “Want to Read” shelf.
There are a lot of sites out there who will feature you in their newsletter or blog for $5-10 (and sometimes there’s even a free option). When I did my last 99-cent promo, I paid about $30 to have that book featured in 10 different newsletters. Hopefully this translates into sales for you, but it also gets you out there on readers’ radar.
Don’t forget book bloggers! You may have to plan ahead to have your book featured at a time you’re running a promo, because bloggers often have a 3-6 week wait time for your feature. The earlier you contact them, the better. I keep a spreadsheet of all the bloggers I’ve contacted, and when one features my book or does and positive review or interview, I contact them when my next book is coming out. Bloggers are a terrific way to build your audience—and it gives you a great opportunity to interact with your readers. Don’t forget to offer to put a giveaway on the blogger’s site with your review—it’s a great chance to build more excitement about your book.
Obviously, this is just a tiny slice of book promotion. I’ll be sharing more tips along the way, but if you’re just starting out, these basic strategies will get your book some of the visibility it needs. Remember that promotion is a marathon. You need to find ways to keep reaching readers and do it in a way that engages your audience.