Note: This post was originally written in 2012 but I updated it in 2021 with some additional tips!
I can tell you with confidence that having people read your book is the absolute best part of writing one. Since Stitch hasn’t been released yet, there’s only been around 20 people who have read it to provide feedback. But when I hear back from those people about what they thought (good or bad!), it makes my day every time.
As a first-time author, I have to say I wasn’t expecting this – I thought the writing itself would be the fun part, and the sharing would be nerve-wracking and painful. But much to my surprise, it’s not. Even when the feedback is critical, I’ve found that the fun of sharing my book with others well outweighs any negatives. And it’s made me eager to get the book out there and into readers’ hands.
So now the question is, how do I find more people to share it with?
Up until this point, my blog posts have been about things I’ve already accomplished and which I feel reasonably comfortable I did well. But marketing is uncharted territory for me. I’ve only just begun the process of trying to find readers, and having never marketed a book before, I’m not really sure what the most effective strategies are.
Lucky for me, lots of successful authors have been kind enough to document their experiences in blogs and ebooks, and so from those sources, I’ve compiled the following plan:
1. Create an author website with a page about your book and an active blog (done!)
2. Create Facebook pages for your book and for yourself as an author, get enough people to like them to claim the vanity usernames (done!)
3. Create Twitter & Instagram accounts and use them to interact with readers (…not quite there yet, but perhaps someday soon - update: done!)
4. Design intriguing cover art that looks good and is recognizable at thumbnail size (on its way! - update: done x3!)
5. Tell everyone you know that you wrote a book. Ask (beg) them to read it and refer it to other people who might like it (get ready friends & family! planning to do this as soon as my book is available… update: DEF done!)
6. Find reviewers. Start with the people you know who’ve read your book and have them post reviews on Amazon & Goodreads. Find blogs who review books in your genre and see if they’re interested in reviewing yours. Reach out to influential reviewers on Amazon, Goodreads, Instagram, etc. and offer them free copies of your book. Be creative in finding other groups of people who might be interested (people from your hometown, hobby groups related to the content of your book, etc.) and find a way to get your book in their hands. Host contests for free books or giveaways of advanced copies. Basically, do whatever is necessary to amass as many reviews as possible… (still figuring out how I’m going to do this – I’m sure there will be later blog posts on this topic)
Update: When I released Stuck in 2018, I discovered that a lot of book bloggers had moved to other platforms like Instagram in lieu of a true blog, so definitely do not discount the value of social media reviews!
Also, keep in mind that reviewers are more likely to want to host you if you can offer some original content to them in return - a guest post, interview, excerpt, and especially giveaways!
Over the course of several blog tours, I've learned that giveaways are a HUGELY successful way to get more eyes on your book - not necessarily reviews, but definitely a great way to encourage people to follow you on various platforms and share about your book to their friends/followers. Rafflecopter is a great tool for this but there are plenty of others! The prizes that draw the most participation are definitely CASH (even $5-10 Amazon Gift Cards get a LOT of participation) plus signed print books and other one-of-a-kind swag (Litographs.com is a great place to have some amazing things created!). But even ebook giveaways - which cost you literally nothing and can be done internationally - are effective!
Finally, Goodreads is an AMAZING resource for connecting with readers who might be happy to do reviews! There are hundreds of very active groups organized by genre/interest which are constantly looking for authors to offer up free copies of books for a "read and review" - and the more you can be active in these groups and truly become a part of the community, the further you will go! Also make an effort to get your books added to some Goodreads Listopia lists - it often only takes a handful of votes to get your books in the top 10!
7. Make your book easy to find. List it in as many relevant genres on Amazon and in the ISBN info as possible, use Smashwords to get the ebook version distributed at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers, make sure your website comes up when you search for the book in Google, etc. (will do this as soon as the book is ready for release - update: done!)
8. After launch, remember the 3 P’s: Patience, Persistence, and Patience again! Every author I’ve spoken to has said the same thing. “It takes time to build an audience, so don’t get discouraged and just keep trying to get your book in front of people. Don’t give up!” (patience… going to have to keep reminding myself about that one!)
So that’s basically my plan. Of course, this is just the beginning of a plan. Once the book is for sale, there will be all kinds of levers to tinker with – pricing, promotions, Amazon Lending Library, local media, bookstore appearances. So we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them, and in the meantime, I still have plenty of work ahead in getting the book ready for release and trying to garner reviews. Check back for my reports on the results!