What types of promoting do you do?
I think I’ve tried just about everything! Making videos, getting on Twitter and Facebook, maintaining a blog (make that blogs), advertising, giving away ebooks, and more things I’ve probably forgotten about.
I’d say the most effective thing for me has been giving away free ebooks. This works especially well when you’ve got multiple novels in a series. You can give away the first one to hook folks and then price the rest at more reasonable rates. If you don’t have a series full of novels, or you’re not willing to lower the price of an entire novel to zero, consider giving away some short stories.
I did this with Ice Cracker II, a 6,000-word short story that features the heroes of my Emperor’s Edge novels. At the end, I included an excerpt from the novel, and lots of folks have told me they became fans of my work (and bought everything!) because they first stumbled across that short story.
If you do decide to give away a freebie, don’t just stick it up on your site. Use Smashwords to get it into iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and the other big stores (there’s a trick that currently works for getting freebies into Amazon, too—you list it for 99 cents and then have a buddy report that it’s available elsewhere for free, and they’ll often “price match”). The more places your work is out there, the more chance there is of people finding it.
Is most of your promoting online or offline?
I haven’t done anything offline. I’m a hardcore introvert (I even did a blog post recently on Book Promotion Tips for Hardcore Introverts), so it’s hard for me to imagine foisting a business card on someone or trying to “pitch” my book. The threat of having to read my work aloud would send me into hiding in a dark, safe corner. Under a bed perhaps.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote yourself offline. If you enjoy that sort of thing, it can only help. I do think you get more mileage for your time online though. A blog post you write today can continue to attract visitors to your site for years to come (visitors who might just try out your books).
How do you find people to read and review your book?
I wrote an article on this too (How to Get Book Reviews), so if you want a longer explanation, check that out, but I basically went to the various ebook forums (MobileRead, KindleBoards, and NookBoards) and posted that I was offering free review copies. I did a little blurb, included the cover art (gotta entice folks!), and I asked people to message me if they were interested. I had quite a few takers (hey, who doesn’t like free stuff?), and, while not everybody ended up posting, I did get my early reviews at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble this way.
I tried submitting ebooks to indie-friendly book-review blogs, too, and had a couple of successes that way (one was on a popular site, and it sold quite a few ebooks for me), but nothing came of most of the submissions. Book reviewers tend to have long queues (there are lots of authors looking for reviews!), so it can be months (or never) before your story is reviewed.
Do you read reviews of your book?
I read them all in the beginning, but I don’t always anymore unless people specifically send me tweets on Twitter about reviews they’ve posted. I appreciate it when folks leave reviews (especially if they’re positive!), but I figure they’re more for other readers than for the author. Also, I don’t have a particularly thick skin, so I don’t really want to know about the bad ones out there.
What is your favourite part of promoting your book?
I like giving away coupons and freebies, because people are always tickled to get them.
I also like working on my blog and seeing the traffic increase over time. It’s nice to see a payoff for your efforts!
What is your least favourite part of promoting your book?
The hard part, and other folks will probably agree, is maintaining your enthusiasm and continuing to plug away in the lulls in between books. It’s exciting to promote a new book. It’s less exciting to promote a book you released nine months ago. There are lots of authors fighting to be seen at Amazon though, so if you slack off for too long, your sales will dwindle.
This is one of the reasons I try to create things that will be “out there” where people will continue to stumble over them long after I’ve finished working on them. A blog is one example, but I’m also doing podiobooks of my Emperor’s Edge series, and that’s something people will (I hope!) continue to find in iTunes for years to come.
About Lindsay Buroker:
I’ve been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I’ve been finishing them since… well, that’s a more recent development.
I’m a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area (“area” is code for “I couldn’t afford a house within twenty miles of the city limits and my neighbors have alpacas”). I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people’s kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, take a yoga class, or plot with co-conspirators on how best to take over the world. (One of those items may be untrue, but I won’t tell you which.)