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I am an obsessive student of book marketing and I always believe there are things we can tweak in our own marketing strategies. Whether you are traditionally or independently published, we all need to know about marketing in a crowded online book market. In this guest post Kristen James asks a question that many authors want the answer to: how do you grow your readership?
A world full of readers is at our fingertips these days with digital publishing and global availability. With all the available information about writing and book promotion, many authors are successfully selling. You may be in a similar place, wondering what comes next.
How do you keep it going? How do you grow your readership?
Picture your readership as a garden.
To grow a garden, you prepare the soil with compost and fertilizer, till the ground, plant seeds or plants and water regularly. Once things began to grow, you need to weed and prune. I think you get the picture—there’s lots to do!
Now I don’t want to scare anyone into thinking that cultivating a readership is a lot of work. On the contrary, I want to excite you because there is so much you can do to connect with your readers and engage them.
(1) Quick and Easy. Giveaway Free Books.
I’ve found the easiest and quickest way to reach new readers is through offering free books. You can offer a free book as a download on your website, through Smashwords, or for 1-5 days through Kindle Select if you don’t mind being exclusive to Kindle. Even before Kindle Select, I noticed that my sales grew for all my titles when I offered a book for free.
Another quick step in building your readership is to include your links and book list in the front and back of all your books. Readers might skip the front matter, but if they enjoy your book, they’ll check out your bio, website(s), and other books at the end. Include direct links to your Amazon book pages for easy purchasing.
(2) Keep Writing
It’s fun to get involved online, and it’s easy to get carried away to the point of not writing. Your readers want more books, and it will make you a better writer.
(3) Deliver the Goods (Over and Over Again)
Yesterday I ordered my favorite crispy chicken salad at my favorite drive in, but it wasn’t my favorite salad. Instead of crispy chicken, I got some kind of mushy, processed meat. The crunchy noodles were gone. And it was much smaller than normal.
Ever have that happen to you?
Or maybe you downloaded the newest title from one of your favorite authors and found it to be lacking. You can mess up on quality with a weak storyline, weak characters, poor editing, proofing and formatting. If one of your books isn’t up to par, you’ll run off new readers and lose your loyal ones. I know because I once rushed a book to market by editing after proofreading, and not having it proofread again. It’s possible to fix things like this, and continue to learn and grow, but I’d love to save you the trouble! You want every book to be its very best when it goes out into the world.
(4) Engage Your Core Group
There are so many ways to engage the reading community online through a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and many other social websites. I enjoy talking to readers, book bloggers and other writers on Facebook and through my blog. Look for opportunities to join a blog hop, donate books or ebooks to another blog’s giveaway, guest blog, and celebrate others’ successes with them.
I’ve posted two covers on Facebook and asked people to like their favorite. Other authors post questions and ask for help in naming a new character, town or business in their book, or for thoughts on raising a 10 year old daughter.
(5) Speaking of Blogging…
Fiction writers sometime wonder, what on earth do I blog about? Posting novel previews is a powerful marketing tool, but it’s difficult to keep up an interesting blog just writing about your books. My blog is a mix of posts about my writing, my passions and adventures, and encouraging posts that share personal lessons. Think about what you have to offer besides a good read. If you have a completely different topic, consider a separate blog to read new and different readers. (I keep a separate blog about book promoting since the audience is different.)
(6) Stay Connected
While you don’t want to spend all your time trying to engage people online, it’s also important to keep a presence. It’s better to check in every few days than to do a big dump once a week, or worse yet, just when you launch a new book. I usually spend at least a few minutes in the morning and evening on Facebook, and I write a blog post for one of my blogs a few times a month.
(7) Mine Your Reviews
Your readership will naturally grow as you learn and grow as a writer. Beyond a writing group, critique partner, hired professionals and beta readers, reviews can be another useful source of feedback to improve our writing and future books. Reviews have shown me which of my romances have the most compelling couple, which evoked the most emotion, and highlighted my strengths and weaknesses.
You can learn a wealth of information by reading your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I do advise against commenting, even if it’s to thank someone. Instead, check out your reviews from a learning standpoint. You can put on your marketing cap, too, and look at the things that readers love. What do readers compliment the most, and do any issues pop up in several reviews, or across several books?
Look for trends and not single comments. You can’t change your writing over every review, but if something positive or negative shows up often, it’s useful information. Reviews are a direct link to readers that show us how our end product comes across.
We’re very lucky in this day and age to be able to update published works, especially if we’ve self published. If an issue comes up in many reviews, we have the opportunity to revise it. Again, don’t rush a book to market, thinking you can fix things later, but there might be a good reason to revise a chapter, the ending, a character or some plot point that just didn’t work the way you thought it would.
Growing your readership is easier than ever with today’s publishing climate of print on demand and ebooks. Books no longer get a six month window before disappearing. They continue working for you, reaching new readers, growing your sales and your readership. Just keep believing in yourself and writing!
Kristen James is the author of How To Sell More Kindle eBooks as well as other non-fiction, seven novels and several Kindle short stories. View her full book list on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/kristenjames. She lives on the river in Oregon and enjoys outdoor activities, especially with her family. Her motto? Life should be an adventure!
Connect with Kristen at:
Twitter at @writerkristenj https://twitter.com/#!/writerkristenj