Monday, July 21, 2014

How Do You Develop and Use a List of Your Readers? - HBS Author’s Corner STUDY


One of the pieces of information authors are finding invaluable is a list of their readers. If you want to announce a new release, a promotion or a giveaway, the instant access to a list of your readers is priceless. It could mean an instant jump in rankings and an increase in reviews both critical to the success of your book.

The reader list is being used to develop friendships and relationships far beyond the sale of your novels. Building a list is a lot like farming. You cultivate the field. You plant the seed. You watch it grow. Then you harvest the crop.

It is study time again and I am fortunate to have a group of outstanding, award-winning authors whose opinions I value highly. I challenged my HBS Author’s Spotlight crew and over 25 authors responded to the study. Here is what they had to offer.

Why develop a reader list?

There are many reasons to develop a list. Of course, an opportunity to increase sales or obtaining reviews is at the top of the list. Developing relationships and gaining followers is a close second.

Build Relationships and Friendships

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I lean heavily on popular social media platforms to build and maintain reader’s lists. More accurately put, I use social media to engage and build relationships with my readers. Using social media, I allow readers to come into my life and share in experiences that they can relate to, from the view point of one woman to another.

I think heavy engagement with my followers via social media is one key aspect to building my reader list.  Due to the viral nature of things like Facebook and Twitter, if a fan “likes”, retweets or comments on anything I post, the friends of my fans can usually see it, attracting a sort of viral attention to my social media presence. 

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I frequent Facebook and leave comments about whatever they've posted on various walls even if we've just met. By doing so, I'm building a friendship. The one thing I won't do is become their friend and ask them to buy my book. I've seen that happen a number of times and I think it's sneaky and bad business practice. I never advertise my book on anyone's wall but my own. I also offer contests throughout the year.

What are the methods other authors use to find their readers and build relationships?


Provide something of value

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I've chosen the path of using my writing about real-life scams and cons as a way to improve my reach to new potential readers. While some authors are naturally outgoing and can interact with readers about the most minor details, I've found that's not one of my strengths. What is a strength is my knowledge of how to help those same people avoid being taken in by a scam. As a result, that's the focus for the majority of my outreach. 

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

My mailing list was initially grown through my online writing school, Bootcamp for Novelists. When my partner and I closed the Bootcamp we had about 750 subscribers. Since then it dipped to a low of about 620 but is now up to just under 700.

My problem is that I'm not quite sure what to put into each issue. I don't want it to be a 'buy my book," "buy my book" kind of thing and my last major use of it was to solicit readers for my most recent new release. That was very successful and most of my posts on Bootcamp activities (I still do some) are successful. But pushes on my backlist are not so well received.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

I offer a free ebook download of an earlier book if people subscript to my newsletter, and people sign up pretty regularly. I know that some people subsequently cancel the subscription, but that's okay. It's also a promotional tool -- if someone is browsing my site, they have a chance to "sample" my work. In the end, I've ended up with a pretty substantial email list, and the "free" book hasn't cannibalized sales at all because the ebooks that I offer for free have continued to sell just as well as always.

Suspense Author Suzanne Jenkins @suzannejenkins3 (Website) is the author of the Pam of Babylon series and The Greeks of Beaubien Street.

HI James, the way I am building my email list is to give those who sign on a free download of a short story that is a prequel to a new series I'm planning. I advertise the download on my Facebook page and have used the paid boost on Facebook, too. I also use Booktweetingservice.com to tweet about it. Here's the link. http://suzannejenkins.net/.

Author Lorhainne Eckhart @Leckhart (Website) is the Author of Kindle Bestseller THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.

The methods that have worked well for me are by offering free books, for example the first book in a series free.  What happens is it drives sales to my other titles in the series. It's a great way to find new readers.  At the end of all my ebooks I always provide an afterword with a link to sign up to my newsletter and I notify my readers of upcoming promotions and new releases.

I advertise every month and always join other authors in giveaways of larger prizes and promote our books together.  I occasionally participate in blog tours for new titles, but when comes down to it, providing the link to sign up for newsletter in the afterword of my ebooks, on my website, Facebook page has had the biggest impact.

How should you use social media programs to develop a reader list?

To me, Twitter and Facebook are a shotgun approach to building your list. I do have a good group of followers and I try to interact but links to them are fragile. Here’s what my crew had to say.


General

Mark Barnes @markbarnes19 (Website) writes Mystery novels and Educational, non-fiction books.

As an education author, my publishers have tight marketing budgets, so I need to publicize my work as much as possible. Twitter is my best network. Over the years, I've acquired more than 10,000 followers, and they have helped get the word out. 

Facebook is another powerful network, and I've created pages for my books and for my blog. Brilliant or Insane is another excellent tool, as I publish education blog posts there daily, and my books are advertised there, too. I have an email list, but I'm not sure it's worth the time and money that goes into it. In the long run, I believe that writing and sharing content, which leads back to your promotional material, is the best marketing a writer can do.

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

In the beginning, Twitter was the best, then Facebook. Now neither have much impact in my opinion. I still use them as well as Goodreads and LinkedIn. They are still excellent ways of promoting new books, new ideas, etc., but they don’t really add to the number of readers.
Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I'm mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you're constantly promoting, you'll lose your existing fans, and you'll be unfollowed. Twitter is a great place to connect with fans, meet new people, and meet fellow authors. I resisted signing up at first, but now I have almost 50,000 followers, and I tweet almost every day. You can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cherylbradshaw

Twitter

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

When people follow you on various social media sites it automatically gives you a link to their profile that they have created. The site automatically compiles a list for you of fans who are interested in your work and you can use that to reach your readers by posting updates.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I haven't used these mediums to get subscribers to my newsletter. I do belong to a Twitter tweet team and am convinced it keeps me in front of readers because every time I stop, my downloads dry up. To increase my mailing list, I mostly do occasional blog hops or giveaways that increase new subscribers. Many of these actually stay, but some don't, being they were motivated more by the prizes than because they think I'm a fascinating writer. Most of my stable new subscribers come from programs where I appear personally and do a presentation. The rest of them come from my blog and my website, both of which have subscriber icons. I'll be working harder on making these effective over the next couple months.

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

For me personally, I focus most of my efforts on Twitter because this is where I can find the bulk of my audience online. It’s not just about using social media to promote, as an indie author it’s also important to use the right social media sites. I follow certain people on Twitter in order to find more potential readers. Book bloggers, book readers and other authors are often open to buying indie books.

Facebook

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

On Facebook I promote through targeted ads which point back to my Facebook author page and sometimes also link to a new book or one of my novels. It's inexpensive and effective, and I've found it's a good way to reach my demographic. Through targeting you can isolate your ad so it only shows to potential readers in your genre, thereby giving you the best bang for your buck. 

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Facebook author page, where I post notices about upcoming events, reviews, and links to articles I find interesting. This page is entirely about writing and the writing world. I never post anything about my personal life or views.

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

Other than the signup link for my newsletter on my website, I build my readership by meeting great new readers on Facebook. I'm getting more on Twitter, as well, but Facebook is where you build a rapport with new readers, and also meet other authors who will share your work with their readers.  I am also on the others, like Goodreads and Google+ but have not quite mastered them. Another great way to meet people are Yahoo Groups.

What other ways can you use to develop a list?

There are other ways to build that list that are more direct. Some of the Spotlight crew weighted in on them.

Newsletters

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series

For the last two short stories I wrote, I also announced on my Facebook page that if someone subscribed to the newsletter they would be able to get a coupon for a free copy of the short story for a limited time before it was published on Kindle.  This was probably my most successful tactic in getting fans to sign up for the newsletter. I now have 420 subscribers to the newsletter.

I have only sent out 5 newsletters--again, only when I have a new publication--but my average open rate is very good (65.5%) and my click through when I offered the coupon for my latest 2 short stories was 70-80% (very high.)

When I published my last book, I was fortunate in having Amazon put it up as a pre-order, and I had 700 people pre-order it. I assume that many of these were people who knew about the pre-order through my social media (website, Facebook, newsletter, twitter, etc.) My goal is to make sure that I have an even larger number ready to order the next book. :)

Using blog tours and Meeting bloggers

Ellen Mansoor Collier (Website) is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines. Ellen just released the third novel in her Jazz Age mystery series: Gold-Diggers, Gamblers And Guns

I don’t use much social media myself, but I hire blog tour hosts who do—and it works for me. http://abluemillionbooksblogtours.blogspot.com/p/future-tours.html

Also a couple of readers started adding my books to Listopia on Goodreads and I found a few more lists to help categorize my mysteries, e.g. books set during the 1920s, historical mysteries, etc.

I admit, I haven’t joined the Twitter or Facebook craze myself but I have a Facebook page that I don’t update and do enjoy reading tweets from various friends and famous folks.  What’s worked best for me are meeting bloggers via blog tours. When I first wrote FLAPPERS, I approached a few bloggers directly and gotten some positive responses from people who have turned into friends. Since then, I’ve discovered that bloggers are most likely to reply if you have a tour host to help promote your book. For only $25-30. and up, these experienced book tour hosts will do most of the work of setting up reviews/interviews and guest posts.

Sure, there’s a lot of preparation involved on some tours, but you can choose from a wide variety of hosts and services. They’ll tweet about your book, posts and reviews during the tour and often spotlight you on their own blogs. I’d opt for a tour that focuses on your genre (in my case, historical mysteries). Ask around, compare notes and see which tours come highly recommended by fellow authors, and try to find the best one for your book. Amy Metz has a new tour service specializing in mysteries that’s affordable and effective—try it out!

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

What groups do you use to find your readers?  All of these. (Support groups, Forums, Blogs, Author Networks, etc.) However, I mostly stick with the ones like (links) DorothyL, Murder Must Advertise, All Mystery Newsletter, and the like. I love guest blogging because, quite frankly, I just don't seem to have time to keep my own blog up.

Blogging

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Another useful approach is blogging. I blog weekly on my own blog and have been visiting other blogs once a week for my new book; after the first four to six months I cut back on visiting other sites to once or twice a month through the rest of the year. I have a regular monthly entry on Author Expressions, for writers published with Five Star/Gale, Cengage.

The important point about blogs is to write on a variety of topics that are mostly related to my books--travel, India, Indian food, New England features, the New England paper industry, writing and editing, and the like.

Contests

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

In addition to this I run numerous contests throughout the year, which in most cases requires a person on social media to like or follow me on social media, and/or identify a specific detail about one of my latest releases, and the prizes are usually pretty terrific which would encourage just about any fan of my genre to purchase one of my books. 

Kindle fire giveaways (Kindle book review)

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

One of the ways I built up this page was to participate in period Kindle Fire Giveaways sponsored by the Kindle Book Review. To keep up interest in this page--I post my daily word count when I am writing, link to pictures I have put up on my Pinterest page, and post notifications when I do any promotions of my books.  I will also pay to boost posts when I have published something new or when there is a promotion. I also have a number of Facebook groups that I will post to when I have something like a promotion, new book, or something else like an interview that I think might be of interest.  One of the newest that I am quite happy to have joined is Clean Indie Reads, which seems a perfect place for me to connect with potential readers.

Donations

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

One activity that is not often mentioned but one I consider important is charitable donations. Whenever I receive or hear of a request for a donation of books, I always send something, with an inscription if I know what it should be. These are always appreciated, and I reach readers I might otherwise never know about. In addition, if my book is remaindered I'll buy a number of copies to sell but also to donate on my own. I choose libraries in small cities that usually have small book-buying budgets and mail them a complimentary copy. The library can add it to their circulating library or pass it along. Some libraries will then buy copies of the other titles in the series.

What online tools and software can you use to record names and email addresses?

The winner by far on this topic was MailChimp. However, some of the authors had some very good alternatives.

Mailchimp

Award-Winning Author Jinx Schwartz @jinxschwartz (Website) is the author of the Hetta Coffey series.

I get fan mail because I put my email address in my books, and people email me all the time. So far, all positive:-) Also, on my website and email signature, I have a link to emailmeform.com. And then I use MailChimp to send out notices about free books, and any new releases.

Author Carolyn Hughey @ScribBLINGDIVA (K. T. Roberts) (Website) is a published author of humorous contemporary romance and mystery novels.

I use my own email GoDaddy contact list and add the name to a distribution list. I also belong to other small groups where I add names to MailChimp for a monthly newsletter. My website has a link for subscribers, ScribBLING Divas wordpress blog signup, The Write Authors on Facebook and blog signups.  At local book signings, I have a guest book sign in where I offer a gift card for signing up.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I like to use MailChimp to create and manage my mailing list. I have reveals to join my mailing list on my website and at the end of every book. When I do blog tours, I always add joining my mailing list as a giveaway option and that has helped it grow the most. Of course, I do get the occasional subscriber from time to time.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

I use MailChimp, mostly because the price is right, since it free up to 2000 subscribers. Most services start charging at 500 and I'm already over that.
Joseph Lallo @jrlallo (Website) is a bestselling author of the Science Fiction & Fantasy series: The Book of Deacon Trilogy.

I try to cast a wide net when it comes to connecting with readers. Just as I've found that the best way to sell a book is to have it for sale where people want to buy it (wherever that might be), I've found that the best way to connect with fans is to be present on the network they most use, whichever that might be. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram mostly. I've found Facebook and Twitter to be the most valuable, though Goodreads and Tumblr are great too.

As for tools, I do have a newsletter which I'm beginning to work on developing. I use MailChimp for it and it works great. My website is a semi-custom theme built upon Wordpress. I don't do a lot of searching for readers. I'm not as active on blogs and forums as I might be, and I've got this weird notion that showing up on a blog in search of readers is a little like poaching.

M. Louisa Locke @mlouisalocke (Website) is the Author of Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, bestselling Victorian San Francisco Mystery Series.

However, in the last year as Facebook has started limited who actually sees any normal (un-boosted) post, I also started encouraging fans to sign up for my newsletter.

For this newsletter I use MailChimp.com, and I recently upgraded from the free version so that I could send a reply letter when someone signed up that offered free coupons for various books. 

I only started developing a newsletter signup a year ago (should have done it earlier!), as I prepared for the launch of my third book. I started out by emailing any fan who had emailed me personally and asked if they would like to sign up--stressing that i would only send out a newsletter when I had an announcement for a new publication. I also added a signup link to the ends of all my books and stories and put the link on my website. I notice after a promotion--when sales (and therefore readers) goes up--the sign-ups for this newsletter does increase a bit.

Chantel Rhondeau @ChantelRhondeau (Website) is a Romantic suspense author. Chantel writes the Agents in Love series.

I'm fairly new to the mailing list thing, not realizing how important it was in the beginning. Now, I have an account through MailChimp and I put the link for the mailing list and the end of my books, encouraging readers to sign up to get information about my new releases if they enjoyed what they read. I also placed a sign up form on my website that is near the top of it. I did all of this before doing a free giveaway on one of my books, and ended up with several sign ups, so it seems to be working. I look forward to seeing what others have done!

Contact form plugin

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

For my fans who want even more detailed news and updates on releases, they have the option to sign up for my newsletter via my website.  If you’re looking for a more technical response, I use one of many readily available contact form plugins available on the web.  

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I use every tool available. I have a sign up page on my website. I send out tweets encouraging readers to sign up. Also I try to capture readers at events and book signings then add them to the list.

Software and Services

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I just released a newsletter informing my subscribers that extended samples of my books are now available on NoiseTrade for free download.  Since I write in more than one genre, I think it’s a great site to introduce readers to titles they might not of read.

In the future, I would like to put novellas, extra chapters, or scenes from different points of view together and give those away free to anyone who subscribes as a thank you to my readers for subscribing.

Constant Contact

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I use Constant Contact for my emails/newsletter list. 

Excel

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I have a website, dianneharman.com as well as a blog. I’ve just signed up for a newsletter feature and I have no idea how that will go. I have lists of people on Excel spreadsheets that are notified with a new release. That has proven to be very successful. I generally send it out to friends, acquaintances, and the book list.

Rafflecopter

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

I recently began to compile a list of readers for my mailing list. At some point very soon, I'm going to put out a plea on Facebook and on my blog, but even though I haven't done that yet, I already have quite a list going. I'm one of the authors participating in a Kindle giveaway in which the host of the promotion asked sponsors to provide a Twitter handle or Facebook page for contest entrants to follow as a way of gaining extra points on Rafflecopter. Instead of providing my Facebook Author Page URL like I normally would, I decided to use this opportunity to begin building my mailing list. Readers can earn extra points in the giveaway by signing up for my mailing list, and just a few days into the giveaway, I already have dozens of new potential readers waiting to receive my newsletter.

WIX

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

I use an app that I installed through my web provider (Wix) that compiles a list of people who are interested in my website and who sign up for updates.

Weebly signup sheet

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh (Website) is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

Right now, I'm using a simple contact form on my (Weebly) website. It's very easy for readers to fill out, and Weebly sends me an email each time someone signs up. In addition to finding readers via giveaways and contests, I also rely heavily on blogging. It certainly hasn't happened overnight, but my readership has gradually expanded. The great thing about blogging is it gives you a chance to have an ongoing conversation with readers. I try to respond to every comment, even if it's just a thank you. Through blogging, I've met both readers and authors, and I've made many new friends.

What groups do other authors use to develop their list?

Groups can be invaluable in developing your reader list. Here’s what some of the Spotlight crew had to say about using groups to develop their lists.

General

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman (Website) is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author.

I use twitter, Google+, Facebook & Goodreads. I do a lot with Goodreads because this is where the readers are. The others are kind of like shooting fish in a pool. You never know what percent of those are readers and what percent of those will be interested in your genre. I am active in several groups on Google+ that are specific to writers. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. Other than the Authors Social Media Support Group, I’ve had very little luck with involvement. ASMSG has been a huge factor in whatever success I have had as an author, not only for all the subgroups, but for the help I’ve received with all kinds of questions. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Twitter I use, but again it’s kind of a shotgun thing. I have almost 30,000 followers, but what number of those are readers and what number of those interested in my genre? Don’t know. On occasion I take part in the tweet teams on World Literary CafĂ© and ASMSG, particularly if I’m offering a reduction in price or introducing a new book.

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Goodreads as my primary focus social media outlets, as well as the Independent Author's Network (IAN) blog site, Author's Corner, and The Indy Writer's Group as forums for my books. I never attempt to "sell" my books on any of these outlets, but instead focus on inter reacting with old friends and making new ones while allowing them to make their own decisions as to purchase my books or not. I find other authors on these sites who constantly harp on their books and beg for people to purchase them tedious and boring.

Goodreads

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I’m partial to Goodreads forums. Many young book lovers, my target audience, use Goodreads to find other readers and discover books. I have looked at writer forums and Amazon forums before, but I can’t keep up with it all.

I do quite a bit to find new readers, it ranges from very basic in book advertisements to writing and sharing content amongst a close group of fellow self-publishing authors and participation in online (social media based or live chat) release parties.  In addition to this I advertise on various book sites like Goodreads.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I have a Goodreads page, and post reviews fairly regularly. These seem to get a good response from my "followers." I have joined in various discussion groups, but do that less now. I'm thinking of setting up a discussion group on a number of specific topics when I finish a collection of stories I'm working on. I'm also on LibraryThing and LinkedIn, but less active on those sites.

Award-winning Author Mohana Rajakumar @moha_doha (Website) is an author based in Qatar. She has a PhD and has been involved in various foundations supporting young writers.

I really love Goodreads for finding readers. Because those who read your book and like it are likely to read other books by the same author. I have has great success writing to past reviewers of my books in posting early reviews of new titles or even beta reading, which is offering comments on a manuscript in progress. They're often excited to read something before everyone else can and because they're avid readers, they have insightful comments. 

Hope that's helpful as that's the only real list I use for readers. 

Genre Specific

Susan Aylworth @SusanAylworth (Website) is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Rainbow Rock Series.

Sales and other special events are posted to several Facebook groups, specialized to my niche market, such as the Goodreads Clean Romances page. I'd love to find more!

Speaking at conferences

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

I have one of the best ways to build my readership and followers is with face time...actual time in front of readers. Speeches at writer’s conferences and book festivals always show a marked increase. Another successful method in reaching out to book clubs, Friends of the Library groups/chapters, writers groups, local women's and men's groups.
Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

I recently participated on a crime fiction panel and was pleasantly surprised to hear a woman in the audience talk about my books. She was a poet, not a fiction writer, and was not the kind of person who would normally read my books. This has happened quite often.

I go to a few conferences, participate in panels, comment regularly on lots of blogs, post reviews, and generally try to keep my name alive. I don't think reaching readers is a matter of working with any one site but in general maintaining a level of participation in the online world. I've tried to track e-book sales according to certain activities, but I can't identify any correlation.

Wattpad

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn (Website) is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

Good question. The truth is I've been using a scattershot method of enlisting new readers and I've taken a new direction. Currently I am advertising heavily and have seen a nice uptick in my sales. I've also put my first WIP up on Wattpad and am waiting to see how that turns out.

What I have discovered is that my newsletter is important because since enlisting the subscribers as beta readers I've also made them into fans and I want to create more of that. Not only is it good for sales, I've already made some new friends.

This reply is pretty scattershot itself and I hope it's of value. If you choose not to use it I'll understand. Your support has already been invaluable to me. 

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Wattpad is an interesting site that I have used a bit. I post a sample chapter from a book, for example, and then link to the whole book on Amazon. I've posted a short story, related to one of my mystery series.

I use these sites to introduce readers to my books. I'm less interested in putting their email addresses into a program for a newsletter, etc., than I am in making them curious enough about me to follow a link to my books and try one.

Support groups

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman (Website) writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

I am constantly in contact with support groups as I come across them, such as this one, and respond to them on a daily or as requested basis.

Are there problems you should avoid?

Author Jake Needham @jakeneedham (Website) is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author.

I have an opt-in mailing list and people who visit my website can add their names to the list. I don’t use any online tools to capture email addresses. My list is strictly opt-in and the only way to do that is by filling out a short form on my site. After I set up the mailing list, it very quickly ran up to about a thousand names, but over the last year or so growth has slowed to a trickle. I have no idea why since I’ve changed nothing and the number of visits I get to my website has steadily increased. Maybe newsletters have simply gone out of style and few people want to receive them anymore. That’s easy to understand since most of us already get far more email these days than we know what to do with.

I should also say that I have the sense that my mailing list is worthless as a marketing tool. Most if not all of the people on it are fans who have already read most of my books. I do get a lot of nice email back whenever I send out a newsletter that has any substance at all. Clearly many readers do enjoy hearing from me and reading my thoughts on things that touch on the subject matter of the books I write, but I don’t think the newsletters actually sell any books for me at all. Trying to sell more books through an opt-in mailing list is almost the definition of preaching to the choir.

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

I, like most people I know, am annoyed by the constant promotional efforts many writers use. As a result, if I am friends with someone, but the majority of their posts are promotional in nature, I'm going to distance myself from them. Everyone has to do some promotion, but that promotion should be a small portion of the social interactions, not the majority.

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne (Website). She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

To me the term “capture” implies some sort of unwanted data collection to somehow spam my fans with news they don’t necessarily want.  Typically all news of new releases is available through social media platforms, so any fans that follow me will receive updates as they occur. 

Unwanted email

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw (Website) is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

There is so much unwanted email these days that I have decided to stay away from this. I have a list of about 1500 names and addresses, but these change so often that I felt it wasn't worth the effort to keep up the list and then send newsletters or announcements to people who are already complaining about unwanted email.

Amazon Best-Selling Author Cheryl Bradshaw @cherylbradshaw (Website) is the creator of the Sloane Monroe series and the founder of the hugely successful Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook.

I'm mainly on Twitter and Facebook. I use Twitter for most of my interaction with fans, and usually only promote on there once a month when I run a BookBub ad. If you're constantly promoting, you'll lose your existing fans, and you'll be unfollowed.

Time

Liliana Hart @Liliana_Hart (Website) is a NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of romantic mysteries and suspense.

Thanks so much for emailing me. I want you to know I read each and every email from my readers, and those emails are awesome and keep me going and motivated. Unfortunately, I've reached the point where I just can't respond to them all in a timely manner. I wish I could respond faster and stay on top of it all, but I've realized I'm not Wonder Woman, despite what my favorite coffee mug says. Just be assured that I'm using my email response time to get the next book out faster. Thank you all so much for your support and for reading. 

Spam

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

In my experience, people are so overwhelmed with spam and emails that it's really difficult to get them to subscribe to email lists. They have to be (a) really passionate fans and/or (b) given something valuable in return, to entice them.

How should you use the reader list?

Now that you have laid all the ground work, planted the seeds, it’s time to harvest the crop. What do I do with my list?

Usage

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar (Website) is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

For now, I use my mailing list to alert my readers about the following: cover reveals, new releases and promotions. I send one out every three months or so. I like to be able to give my subscribers a reason to join, so I let them know of any promotions before anyone else.

Search engines/rankings

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer (Website) is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote.

Because I'm reaching out directly to my audience via search engines, which are now ranking my posts on the first page for the search terms, my website traffic is up and I have more opportunity to garner a potential reader's interest. With that said, the majority of those visitors are looking for something in particular, so converting them from a visitor who is looking for a specific type of information to someone interested in books can be difficult. 

Best-Selling Author Chuck Barrett @Chuck_Barrett (Website) is the author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series.

There is no single sure-fire method that works 100% of the time. Social media has had its heyday. Readers want more substance. They are overwhelmed with the preponderance of authors and books saturating the market. It’s confusing when there are hundreds (or thousands) of new authors flooding social media every month. Readers tend to stick to their favorites and sometimes it’s difficult to get them to break that habit. What works best is to have the best product you can have and get out and reach the readers. Face time with readers is important and that helps word of mouth...and word of mouth sells books. Advertising is only so-so effective and must be well-placed & well-timed or it’s a waste of money. Today’s author must try everything they can to sell books. When something works, stick with it until it stops working then find something else that works.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger (Website) is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

What do I do with the email list? I send out a newsletter, but I try really hard not to annoy people, so I try to make it (a) substantive, with some actual "content," not just all about me and please to buy my books, and (b) I don't send it out more than five times a year. When I have something substantial to announce, I send an email, and I know from MailChimp.com (the e-newsletter service I use) that I have a very high "open" rate compared to other marketers, so I think I'm doing something right.

Best Selling Author M. R. Cornelius @marshacornelius (Website) writes post-apocalyptic thrillers. Marsha echoed several responses I received to this study.

Looking forward to this post James, because I do a terrible job of finding readers. I could use some tips.

Throughout this study the authors have echoed how they use their list. They not only use the list to announce new releases, promotions and giveaways but to build relationships.

The communications should be well-timed and not overdone. The primary theme the authors used was ‘give them something of value’. There is no silver bullet here. Write a good book. Cultivate it. And then reap the rewards.

Here are the questions you need to answer.

Do you have a reader lists?
What methods would you use to develop the list?
How would you use the list?

To check out the complete responses to the Study from each author, click the link below.

eBook Author’s Corners  Related Posts


Some of the sources of information offered by authors follow:

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden (Website) is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.



Follow me:


Or EMAIL at: jim@jamesmoushon.com
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Or my Mystery blog: HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Black Mountain Secrets
NEW RELEASE: Another Jonathon Stone Mystery: Game Of Fire

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fun In The Sun – the Tucson Festival of Books 2014




I love this book festival: A weekend in Tucson, Arizona in the spring with the sun shining bright. You get to meet so many interesting authors. This was the sixth annual festival with the attendance over 120,000 for the two days. The TFOB is now the fourth largest book festival in the country.

I usually judge how big an event is by how far I have to walk after I park. This year I had to park two blocks farther than last year.

This year my goal was to talk to as many authors as I could, take some pictures and to see how the authors were trying to sell their books and themselves. Lots of authors. Lots of books. Lots of food.

There were over 300 booths. I was told that about 20% of the authors were in the Romance and Mystery genre.

One of the first booths I came upon had two of my Spotlight authors, R.P. Dahlke and Mystery writer Terry Ambrose. That was the start of a great day.

Author’s Goals

When an author attends an event like a book festival, they should have a set of goals going in like selling their book AND getting the reader/prospects to look further after they leave. If you sparked their interest, they will check your books out online. They may even tell someone else about meeting you.

A book festival requires a different approach than a regular book signing at a bookstore, to be sure.

Observations – Sales Tools

Let me share what I observed while I made my way through the throng, talking to the various authors. Let’s start with the sales tools. I picked up a lot of literature this year. I like to give credit to the top items in each category of sales items. This should be a good list of sale items to consider for authors attending book events.

Business Cards

The cards ranged from 4-color quality cards with cover pictures to computer stickers on cardboard to none at all. One author said he had none (In fact he had no sales lit at all). My top pick of all the cards I received was from:

Bookmarks

Last year there were some bookmarks without contact information. This year everyone I reviewed had some way to contact the author. Most of the bookmarks were professionally done with covers, review snips and contact information. I had a tie in my little contest on this one:

Post cards

Great Post Cards this year. Most of the post cards had copies of the author’s book covers. All the authors who had them had done professional jobs. My top picks came out in a three way tie:
Terry Ambrose – Con Game (available in April)
    

Flyers

I saw several flyers on colored stock. This was something that I thought I would see more of. There is so much area (letter size) to get your message across. Besides, the cost factor is a plus. My top pick here was:
    

Books

There were lots of books with great covers. The authors were more than willing to sign a purchased copy. Two authors even gave me a signed copy of their book after I introduced myself. Thanks so much.

Book Displays

The same great quality was displayed here, also with cover blowups. It was hard to pick one here too. These stood out.

Promo eBooks

 Before the event, there were two authors that I was aware of that were running promos during the event. Both for 99 cents.
R.P. Dahlke – Murderous Beginnings Boxed Set - 5 complete mystery thrillers from 5 outstanding authors

Action

I like confronting authors at their sales point. I talked to a lot of authors with mixed responses. Some had long pitches, some had none.

As you know, a book festival is more than a book signing. It is an on-the-spot sales opportunity. But more than that, it is a chance to sell youself. To me, the most effective pitch was the short, quick one. A long pitch surely lost some sales opportunities with that many readers in one area.

One of my observations was that most of the authors qualified me, unlike last year. They offered questions like this. Do you read Mysteries? Do you like Suspense? What type of books do you read?

Some authors saw a live one and jumped right into their sales pitch.

There was a variety of people at the festival. You had readers. You know people that love to read. The bookstores tents where filled with them.

And then you had tire kickers. These were people who were there for a good time but were not buyers. Note: Tire Kickers sometimes buy books and a good impression will last.

Like I have said before, there was a lot of foot traffic and the authors needed to work the prospects. Talk to them. Socialize with everyone. Hand them a copy of a book or literature. Here take a look? You never know.

My Takeaway Ideas


Idea 1
The trash cans are always a key to me about sales literature. Like last year they were filled with author’s literature and plastic bags.

Give your prospect something of value. Something they won’t throw away. Not expensive stuff. Maybe a pin with your book title, your name and web address or twitter tag. How about a pad of paper, hotel type, with your book title, your name and contact information?

Idea 2
A book festival is a perfect place to offer free or discounted ebooks to reader. If you are going to run a promo during the festival, why not give the attendees a shot at it. If they like your work, they will buy your other books.

I think authors should approach events like this with a marketing plan like they do with a book launch or a blog tour. Have readers seeking you out rather than just stumbling onto you.

Idea 3
Name plates are still a problem but they are improving. An author shift change in a booth is always a busy time: swapping books, literature and name identification. This year a penciled name on a white sheet was the primary ID vehicle. 

Face time with a prospect is very important. Have a name plate made up and place it on the table beside you. Something like: Mystery Writer - James Moushon – the Jonathon Stone Mysteries.

Give your readers/prospects more than a name. Readers looking for Mysteries will stop. Others would move on. Qualify. Qualify. Qualify.

And Then the Beautiful Day Was Over


Here is a parting word for authors. You never know who you’ll meet at the show and what that relationship will mean to you. The passerby could be a buyer, a tire kicker or they just may be someone who will write an article about you for a magazine or the Internet.

 

Related Articles:

Your Book Launch: Marketing Methods and Ideas Used by Outstanding Authors – A Study
Getting Book Reviews: The Methods Award-Winning Authors Use – A Study

Follow me:

Or EMAIL at: jim@jamesmoushon.com

Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels:
Or newly released

Monday, March 3, 2014

Your Book Launch: Marketing Methods and Ideas Used by Outstanding Authors – A Study



So the time is near. You have that next book on paper, it is being edited and proofread and you’re starting to get ready to launch that book to the top of the charts. You need to get all your ducks in a row to start marketing that novel to the world.

The first thing you must ask yourself: where, when and how do I start the promotion of my book? The answer to these questions are more complex than you may realize at the start. Besides a well-written book, you need a package of information and plan on how to use it.

An online presence is almost a requirement in today’s industry and a contact list is needed. And then you need to start that marketing buzz and at the same time develop your image to get those repeat readers. Before you throw your hands in the air, read what other authors have to say about how they approach the launch of their books.

It is study time again and I am fortunate to have a group of outstanding, award-winning authors whose opinions I value highly. Over 30 authors helped me with this study. (I have had to limit my post to ebook publishing and fiction but the ideas relate to all of the book publishing industry.)

From their comments, I was able to develop checklists on the related topics and reference the authors and their ideas. This is a long post but I hope it helps my fellow authors. For the authors complete detailed responses to my study questions, a link will be provided at the end of the post.

Starting Point


Every study needs a starting point. And so do authors when they start the book launch process.

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author. Dianne discusses this important point for us.

The book launch is a critical subject to the success of a book. I start about three months ahead of publication date and I use social media. I would tweet it, put it on Facebook (particularly as soon as I have a cover for it), Google+ and of course, would write several articles about it on my blog.

The Book


The book itself plays a key role in the success of a good book launch. For self-publishers the need to address the following issues is critical. Next is a list of topics that make your book more marketable.

1.      Professional formatting and editing

Todd Borg is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series. Here is what Todd had to say about formatting.

The most critical part of launching a book comes well before the launch. I know that sounds tedious - Sorry! But so many times I've witnessed authors doing all the right steps in their launch and then coming out with a book that has a non-professional cover and no beta reader input and non-professional editing.

2.      Cover design- thumbnail

The completion of the cover is one of the first items needed for the launch. Remember your cover will appear in a thumbnail (Amazon, etc.) so the placement of information and font size play a key role in the reader’s first impression of the book.

3.      Front matter

The front matter of your ebook should be Internet enabled. All the links should be live links including your website and social media addresses. Your list of other titles should be included with buy links to Amazon and other retailers.

This is a great place to ask for reviews. Give the reader a link to submit their opinion. Repeat this information at the end of your book. This is important for your book’s success.

4.      ISBN

Getting an ISBN number is one of the items that needs to be completed before you publish your book. It is required by most retailers. Your book doesn’t need to be finalized to acquire the number. Title, author, blurb and date of publication are required.

5.      Ebook format check

Always check your ebook formatting on the popular ebook devices. What may be good for print may not work on a Kindle or a Nook. If you don’t have the devices, download their software readers to your computer and check out your formatting.

6.      Price

The initial price of the ebook varies on reputation, genre and the marketplace. An established author usually can charge in the $3.99 to $5.99 price range. (Top sellers can charge more but the market is different than the paper version.) You should study other authors in your genre and see what the going price is.

New authors are usually a rung down on the scale, $1.99 to $2.99. Most authors are saving the $0.99 and the FREE price tag for sales and promotions. 

Southern Author Diana Anderson @DianaJAnderson1 is the author of the Southern Country Novel series. Here is Diana’s strategy.

I try to time my book launch date with another of my eBooks that I’m offering for free. I contact several websites that will promote for free my free eBook. I have to do this a few weeks in advance to get on their list.

7.      Publishing your book on-line

All the major retailers allow authors to upload their novels on-line including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords. Unlike the paper version, these are digital files that can be update at any time.

For example, if the your website address changes, you could update their digital copy and upload the new version on the spot. The same with other live links included in the ebook. And of course, if you found an error, you what to change the cover or you want to add something to the front matter that can all be done on-line.


8.      Buy Links

Once you have published your book, the sales/buy address to your retailers becomes a key to your book launch and the marketing of the book. I quickly grab a short link of the buy link to make it easy to push the book through social media. I use bitly but there are several good link shorting sites.

9.      Copyright

The copyright comes last. You can note the copyright in your book but the actually filing with the copyright office is done later and takes a while to receive your notice back.

Package of Information


Your book launch requires a package of information. You should do your homework before your start the launch cycle and before you publish. Keep a ‘Hot List’ handy (word doc works fine for this) with the information you will need to publish, market, and use on social media. The following is an outline summary of what our study group came up with.

Alan Jacobson @JacobsonAlan is the bestselling author of jaw-dropping thrillers. Alan added this.

Once I hand in the final to my publisher, I write promo blurbs for various uses and of different lengths. I do interviews online and radio interviews; Advance Reader Copies are sent out by my publisher; reviews are solicited; marketing materials are printed including business cards, bookmarks, etc. My website is updated to include the new novel. And…all the while, I’m doing full force on the next book. There is zero down time, no break, no moment to breathe…

1.      Author Bio/Profile

Spend some time on this one. Make it interesting. I have reviewed hundreds of profiles for my blogs. Some are interesting and engaging. Others are a waste of time and some authors have none. Make sure you keep your profile up-to-date. Authors will use their profile in a variety of places on the Internet and they should be consistent. Keep a list of where your profiles are in your ‘Hot List’.

2.      Author pic

This is one of the personal items that you can use to form relationships with your readers. In the paper world the back cover almost always has the author’s picture. On-line publishing is not an exception. Have a large version and a small version in high quality. Keep track of where your pics are and when you update your picture, change all your sites.

3.      Book description/blurb/teases

Develop the book blurb even before you finish the book. You will need it to start pushing the book to your reading audience. You need to broadcast your book description and cover to your readers before the book is on your retail sites.

4.      Excerpt

Have an excerpt of your book ready for bloggers, book tours and other broadcasts of your book information. Some use the first chapter. Others use their best scene. This should be part of your information package.

5.      Pitch

Develop a pitch about your book. Before you deliver your pitch you should qualify your prospect like a good salesman. Have a long pitch for the real fans and a short one for the tire kickers. You never know when someone will ask you what your book is about.

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote. I asked Terry, a veteran of book festivals, about his festival pitch?

“[Long ago I] learned the importance of the hook. Depending upon the reader, the author has on average 10-15 seconds to describe their book and get the reader interested. I have three different opening lines that I'll use depending on the question I get from the potential reader.”

One of my observations was that almost none of the authors qualified me. They saw a live one, and there were many at the festival, and jumped right into their sales pitch. We are talking 55,000 people on Sunday.

How about these questions? Do you read Mysteries? Do you like Suspense?

As I saw, there was a variety of people at the festival. You had readers. You know people that love to read. And then you had tire kickers. There were people who were there for a good time but were not buyers. Note: Tire Kickers sometimes buy books and a good impression will last.

There was a lot of foot traffic and the authors needed to work the prospects. Talk to them. Socialize with everyone. Hand them a copy of your book. Here take a look? You never know.

6.      Links

Keep a list of links in your package. Items like your buy links (all retailers), review blogs, websites and social media links and any Internet references.

7.      Tweets prep

Do your tweets in advance. Make them part of your package. Twitter lets you attach your cover picture and, if you use a short link of the buy link to Amazon, followers will be able you reference the book description right from Twitter.

8.      Amazon Information Package

This will give you an idea of what Amazon will ask for when you publish your book. Of course they want your title and subtitle. Also they what your book description which should already be a part of your information package. They ask for a list of contributors, the publication date, publishers name and royalty plan you wish to use.

Major items that need to be addressed are what is book’s genre, the initial price and the final cover image before you publish.  

9.      Book trailer

Way down on the list is a book trailer. The jury is out on how effective a video presentation is during your book launch process.

 Social Media Presence


If you’re a new author especially, a social media presence is a necessity. If you are marketing your own book, social media is the place to start. Get involved with your readers. It will pay to be in all the right places.

Award-Winning Author Judith Marshall @whipsandjingles is the author of Women's Fiction novels. Judith sums up the idea.

Set up either a free or hosted website/blog and start posting about the upcoming book. Add your URL to your email signature line, so it’s on every message your send. Also, use social media to build interest; i.e. Twitter, Facebook (start a page for your title), Google+, etc. You can also set up a board on Pinterest and post pictures about your writing, the steps to publication, or whatever will attract followers.  Be creative. Nobody follows a post that screams “buy my book!”

1.      Book topics/scene pics

Readers like to get involved with the author and the book's setting. Diana approaches it this way on social media.

Southern Author Diana Anderson @DianaJAnderson1 is the author of the Southern Country Novel series.

I’ve already started promotions with Remember When on Facebook. I find photos that pertain to scenes or places in my novel and post them along with a brief description. It’s just a little something to peak my fans interests.

2.      Respond – Comment

Getting involved with other blogs in the publishing industry can be helpful.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I did this by regularly visiting blogs and commenting, and not just about things related to my book. When the time came to launch my book, most everyone I contacted was very willing to help.

Lists

One of the most important activities you can do is develop a list of readers, reviewers, bloggers and anybody else that can help you sell more book. You attack this list during the book launch.

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman is Award Winning Bestseller Romance author. Dianne starts this section off.

Another method I do - and I have no figures to support it other than my books do really well out of the starting gate - is am email list I have compiled from book signings, blog, etc. I send out a brief synopsis of the book along with the links.

Steven Konkoly @stevenkonkoly is the Author of the apocalyptic thriller, The Jakarta Pandemic, and gritty covert-ops series, Black Flagged. Steven thinks list are important.

I approach my book launches a little differently now. Having built a solid readership, I rely heavily on their support in the beginning… For me, leaning on my reader list has been the most effective. Another important aspect of maintaining a dedicated reader list, is the sheer number of reviews they can generate within the first month.

Author Roger Stelljes @rogerstelljes is the bestselling author of the McRyan Mystery Series. Roger agrees.

Build a "New Release" email list and then send out an email announcing the new book.

1.      Newsletters

Many authors use a newsletter to develop a list. These are people who have a true interest in your writings. They should be the first ones you contact about your book launch. Some authors get their followers involved early in the process. Some even use them to help develop the cover.

2.      Groups

Being involved in groups of other authors is very important. They all have lists of their memberships. Below is a brief list of several national and Internet based groups.

National professional groups

Internet groups
Independent Author Network

3.      Friends - Street team -  readers groups

Everybody needs friends in this game to help with the book launch.

NYT and USA Today Best Selling Author Melody Anne @authmelodyanne. She is the author of many Romance and Young Adult novels.

I do several things at the launch of a new book. First off, I have a team of people who work for me who do an amazing job of getting the word out. My street team advertises the book and posts reviews. My marketing team places ads for the book in different areas, and my fans share the book as well.

I have a release party where I give out prizes and let people know a new book is out. The biggest thing, I guess, is letting people know that there is a new book, so word of mouth, I have found, is still the best advertising. I have done some Facebook advertising, too, but I don't know if that helps or not.

4.      Blogger connections – reviewers

Develop this list to give your book that extra boast during launch.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar is an indie author.  She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

I'm all about building connections with bloggers PRIOR to releasing your book.  If you can establish a relationship with bloggers who review or talk about your kind of fiction, they will be more likely to help launch your book.  

When the time came to launch my book, most everyone I contacted was very willing to help.

Lists are very important to the success of your book launch. John Huffman, as you see from the numbers below, has developed a large list of followers.

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers.

When I launch a new book, I announce its availability, with links, on Facebook, ( over 3,500 followers ) linkedin, ( 500 links ) twitter, ( 10,000 followers ) my web site ( www.johnwhuffman.com ) schooldfeeds, ( 500 friends ) Goodreads, ( up to 5,000 views )  the Independent Author Network 20,000 visitors a month ) and write my own article to eleven different small newspapers across the southeast with a combined distribution of 100,000 plus readers.

Written Plan: Tasks


A written plan of the scheduled tasks for your book launch with estimated dates of completion is very important. Hopefully this study will help you with the list of tasks. And then for your next book, your plan would be modified with your experience and what worked for you.

Award-winning Author Mohana Rajakumar @moha_doha is an author based in Qatar. She has a PhD and has been involved in various foundations supporting young writers.

Book launches are like delivering babies, you need month and months of preparation. If you wait until your book is out to tell people, you'll already be scrambling to get its attention. To get the most noise out of a launch, book a tour or ask your blogging friends to host you on a series of days leading up to or after the launch.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author Steven Montano @Daezarkian. He is the creator of the BLOOD SKIES series. Steven plans.

For me the hardest part about a book launch is remembering all of the steps.  You have to make sure your cover and ad blurb are ready early enough to start scheduling teasers and guest posts well before the release, you have to make sure to have the ARCs in your book reviewer’s hands early enough for them to be ready when the book comes out...and of course you have to make sure you give yourself time to get the book done in time to do all of that.

1.      Reviews and their timing

The timing of reviews is critical to a fast start book launch.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013. Brent talks about timing.

The good news about non-traditional media (blogs and social media) is that they'll sometimes cover unusual books -- self-published books or books from small publishers. The bad news is that most non-traditional media folks have no concept of the idea of "launch date."

On the contrary, they're often eager to be the first to review a book (to get in search engines, etc.). For whatever reason, they'll often post a review of a book immediately after they've read it, regardless of what you, the writer, suggest or want.

Which means that if you time things poorly, you can end up with a lot of reviews of you book weeks or months before your book is even on sale.

2.      Cover release

Like reviews, the timing of the cover release is important.

Author Roger Stelljes @rogerstelljes is the bestselling author of the McRyan Mystery Series.

Do an early cover release on your website/blog along with a couple of sample chapters to give the readers a taste.  (I don't recommend setting a specific release date until you know the book is live at all locations.)

3.      ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)

Several authors weigh in on the timing of their ARC process.

Brent Hartinger @brenthartinger is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club will be released later in 2013.

Unfortunately, the only real solution to this is to be very selective in who you give advanced reading copies too. Otherwise, wait until the book is actually released to send it out to blogs. This has the added benefit of spreading the attention out over the first few weeks and months of release. If you're using NetGalley, however, there's really nothing you can do about this. Chalk it up to building buzz, and hope that people will pre-order.

Awarding-winning Author Paul D. Marks @PaulDMarks is an Author of noir, mysteries, satire & mainstream fiction.

It's all really pretty basic stuff. Try to get review copies out to various people.  Then use social media like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.  Also word of mouth.  Then, hopefully one thing builds on another.  And if you have a good track record, a book that's been well-reviewed before or has won awards you can play on that to try to get more attention for the new one.

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers. John adds this.

I also send out copies of the book to selected readers who I know and trust to write reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. I then follow up with updates and author appearances where ever I can get a foot in the door, such as book stores and charity events, where I give a portion of the sales to the venue.

4.      Launch with a free book

One of the ideas that sounds good is offered by Diana.

Southern Author Diana Anderson @DianaJAnderson1 is the author of the Southern Country Novel series.

I try to time my book launch date with another of my eBooks that I’m offering for free. I contact several websites that will promote for free my free eBook. I have to do this a few weeks in advance to get on their list.

5.      Months in advance

Your plan should start way before your novel is complete.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Author Steven Montano @Daezarkian. He is the creator of the BLOOD SKIES series.

The easiest way for me to do all of this is to decide what my end date is, which I don’t bother to set until I know I’m about 90% finished with the final edits.  From there, I can plan backwards – if I’m releasing on Feb 7th, then I know to set the cover reveal two weeks before that, to have ARCs out 3 weeks in advance, etc.  If you can get yourself a street team to help you spread the word then you’re a step ahead of the game, because rather than soliciting book bloggers and reviewers you already have a built-in support base to help you get things rolling."

Author S.R. Grey @AuthorSRGrey is the Author of the A Harbour Falls Mystery series.

Preparing for the book launch begins weeks and months before the book is released. I utilize a lot of social media tools to drum up enthusiasm. For example, I may tweet teasers or post an excerpt on Goodreads or Facebook. I also keep the readers updated on my progress.

Another important step is to have the book blurb/summary ready in advance. It gives the readers an idea of what the book will be about. I always post this months in advance on Goodreads. And remember, you can always change it around as needed.

So, in closing, remember to: 1) get the readers excited for your release. 2) Use all your social media outlets to build awareness. And 3) prepare and post a blurb as early as possible.

6.      Sample Plans

Written plans are important to a successful book launch. I have included three author’s plans for their book launch tasks for your review.


Two Bestselling Mystery Authors writing under the name Sparkle Abbey @sparkleabbey. They are in real life Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They have written the bestselling Pet Mystery Series.

Here are our book launch plans:

a.      Contact loyal readers for potential pre-sale reviews
b.      Schedule blog tour
c.       Share book information with reader groups
d.      Share book information with indie bookstores
e.       Schedule Goodreads giveaway
f.       Send invitations to online launch party
g.      Contact Greyhound rescue groups who have assisted in research for the book
h.      Plan social media announcements (Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest)

Todd Borg is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series. Here is what Todd had to say about his plan.

So here is my launch timeline.

a.      After the book seems done, get beta reader input
b.      Rewrite accordingly
c.       Hire at least two professional editors
d.      Write compelling Back Copy.
e.       Get a professional book cover designer.
f.       Pick your official publication date enough months in advance so you can get Advance Review Copies mailed out a month before your publication.
g.      Pick your official publication date enough months in advance so you can get Advance Review Copies mailed out a month before your publication.
h.      Prepare your ARC review request letter.
i.        Prepare your email blast, your social media approach, and your snail mail postcard mailing.
j.        Set up book signings
k.      Put together a media kit that touts those signings
l.        Get your book and all of your related info uploaded to Amazon, your cover, your book description, which is your Back Copy.
m.    Prepare a humorous, self-deprecating fifteen minute talk and contact your local libraries
n.      Find other venues where you can sell books and do it.
o.      Get to work on your next book.
p.      Congratulate yourself.

Veteran Author Susan Oleksiw is a bestselling author of the Mellingham series and the Anita Ray mysteries.

Launching a book is almost as much work as writing it, but I have a few established steps.

1. I order updated bookmarks with the cover of the new book. I give these to everyone, and even put them into reply envelopes for bills, etc. I also make sure I have enough business cards. I put cards and bookmarks on every chair at a book event (if there is seating), and hand them out at events like book fairs.

2. I compile a list of reviewers and invite them to review the ARC. I send the ARCs out about three months in advance. I ask colleagues, friends, and professional reviewers to review. I include a letter from the publisher indicating the type of story, etc.

3. I begin setting up events--talks, panels, etc., anything that gets my name out there. 

4. I use social media, so I'll have a few posts on my own blog plus do a few guest blogs. I post on FB and I am learning to use Pinterest, especially since I have wonderful covers.

5. This one is harder, but I recommend it if you can pull it off. I recently sold a short story with the Anita Ray character, my series character, to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. This will probably be published in the coming year, which will reinforce interest, I hope, in the novel For the Love of Parvati, coming out in May 2014.

6. I use Wattpad to introduce readers to my series characters by posting very short stories for free. I also have posted the opening scene from a longer work, with a link to the site where the reader can buy the whole work.

Marketing Buzz


How it’s time for the good stuff. It’s time to start the buzz. It’s launch time. It’s time to turn on the NET.

International Best-Selling Author Luke Romyn @LukeRomyn writes Mystery & Thrillers, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy novels. Luke starts it off.

At first it was a bit daunting, but now I'm used to it. Once I do my run through and am happy with it, I'll send it off to several proofreaders to pick up the final crumbs, and then format it for both print and ebook. These can sometimes be annoying, but nothing too strenuous. I upload the copies and prepare the great Luke Romyn marketing machine - lots of begging, pleading, and ultimately, weeping.

Author Amy Metz @authoramymetz is an Author of Mystery & Thrillers as well as a blogger and book editor.

I think it's important for authors to try to get a "buzz" going about their book before it launches. About two months before a launch, I send out queries to as many bloggers and reviewers as I can find that fits with my genre. Many don't respond at all, some say flat out no thank you, but some kind souls agree to review the book or to do a feature on their blog. Interviews and excerpts give the reader brief glimpses into a writer's style and their work.

As an author, I know what an invaluable service bloggers provide to authors by helping us promote our work. I try to support authors on my blog in that way and my goal is to feature a blue million books--hence the name A Blue Million Books! In addition to author features, I hope authors will find my page "Marketing for Dummies (and Indies)" (http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.com/p/marketing.html) useful. There are so many free resources out there, authors should take advantage of as many as they can.

1.      Email blast/newsletter

Blast your lists with your book cover and description.

New York Times bestselling author J.A. "Judith" Jance @JAJance. She is best known for the Joanna Brady series and the J. P. Beaumont series.

A week and a half about before the book goes on sale, I write the newsletter announcing the upcoming book, and it is sent to my database (10,000 names amassed over 30 years.)  

The day after the announcement goes out, I'll receive probably 200 to 300 responses. Mostly they are nothing more than thank you, but I scan them all and respond to those requiring responses. (My first sales rep taught me that each personal contact with a reader is worth ten additional readers.)

2.      Paid Promotion

Colin F. Barnes @ColinFBarnes is a Hybrid writer of dark fiction & Technothriller novels. Colin added this in a recent spotlight post.

This is an area I’m still working on. I tried doing a blog tour for Assembly Code and given the amount of work involved for the return, I don’t think it’s effective. It can be good for certain genres where you have blogs with huge amounts of readers (romance particularly), but for me it was a bust…

My next launch will be more structured and ad-supported with the various bargain book newsletters and blogs. They can be really effective, and if your book catches, the Amazon algorithms can kick in and really get it going in those first 30 days when you’re on the ‘Hot New Releases’ list.

3.      Cover use

Dave Folsom @davefolsombooks is a Mystery & Thrillers author based in the Northwest. Dave’s take on covers and the book launch.

At about midway in the writing process I have the cover art finalized in order to use it for marketing.  I might make subtle changes later but mostly it is in close to final copy stage.

I begin adding it to my tweets, Facebook, and other social media pages early and include teasers about the book at least a couple of months prior to my estimated release date.  I also start blogging about it about the same time or even earlier

Two months to six week out, I add it to my webpage http://www.davefolsombooks.com along with a short excerpt of the first chapter.  The excerpt is somewhere around 1000 to 1500 words depending on a good place to leave the reader wanting more.

Christopher Meeks @MeeksChris is a Prize winning novelist who writes serious and funny fiction. Chris adds this.

In today’s environment, books with reviews by both customers and critics is the best way to have your book stand out.

4.      Blog plus pictures and the cover

Use your blog to start the marketing. Start way before the actual release date.

Amazon Best Selling Author Lizzy Stevens @LizzyStevens123 writes Paranormal, Romance and Woman's fiction.

I use my blog to post the cover, buy link and blurb and I use twitter to announce the new release and include the buy link with my tweet.

5.      Book tour – blog hop

Book tours and blog hops are becoming popular. The managed and structured approach to the marketing is finding results with some authors and with others, not so much.

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories.

With KNOW WHEN TO RUN I decided to do a book tour. First I put an advanced reading copy up on Kindle to get input and Amazon reviews, and then I hired a book tour company to guide me through my first tour, which lasted two weeks. So far I have written two blogs and completed four interviews and have compiled a giveaway list that includes my books and their various editions that will extend through the entire tour. I'm using a Valentine's Day theme and on the actual holiday I will offer a surprise giveaway.

Author Colin F. Barnes @ColinFBarnes is a Hybrid writer of dark fiction & Technothriller novels. Colin added this.

This is an area I’m still working on. I tried doing a blog tour for Assembly Code and given the amount of work involved for the return, I don’t think it’s effective. It can be good for certain genres where you have blogs with huge amounts of readers (romance particularly), but for me it was a bust…

My next launch will be more structured and ad-supported with the various bargain book newsletters and blogs. They can be really effective, and if your book catches, the Amazon algorithms can kick in and really get it going in those first 30 days when you’re on the ‘Hot New Releases’ list.

6.      Bloggers and promotions

Seeking help from bloggers to promote your new release is a good way to start. You need to form a relationship in advance with the blogger.

7.      Contests

Everyone likes FREE. This is a popular way to promote your works. Ebooks are an easy way to spread your writing around. Contests allow you to gain attention, pass a few free books to your readers and not give your book away free to the world.

Internationally known author of art-related historical fiction Susan Vreeland. She is a New York Times bestselling author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and more. Susan passes on this valuable information.

1.      First point, a book launch is not a problem to be tackled. For me, it is a joyous planning. I am happy to tell you of several new ideas that I will utilize for the launch of my new book, Lisette's List.

2.      Six months before pub date I announce the title on Facebook (I don't have a Twitter account) and make references to the book's content from time to time when something (like an art museum exhibition) comes to my attention for me to post.

3.      I host a little contest by posting two paintings by painters who appear in the book, and ask Facebook readers to guess the artists. The first person to guess both artists correctly gets a copy of the first chapter.

4.      I host a second contest asking another question relative to the book, for example, I will give a quote (about art in my case), and give away another copy of the first chapter to the first person who identifies who wrote the quote.

5.      Three months before pub date, I will begin posting a line or two from each chapter every week on the same day, avoiding lines that give too much information yet are intriguing.

6.      Random House is encouraging its authors to create a buzz about the revelation of the cover. I am now working with the marketing department to design a "cover reveal," some kind of hoopla to get people curious about the cover. Eight days before the date of the cover release, I will begin a countdown on Facebook, and encourage supporters to do the same. I chose eight days because Lisette's List is my eighth book. The cover reveal will include a blog or blogs that will go live on that date. (James, maybe that's how you can participate, with a blog about Lisette's List or a blog speculating on what the cover might be, the text preceding the cover image on the blog). Another kind of contest or giveaway might be arranged by my publisher.

7.      When the book is available for pre-order, I will notify a limited number of friends (not my whole mailing list of 5000) that they can order it now for delivery on pub date. The first mass mailing will also include this information and the cover.

8.      Even prior to being assigned a publicist, I will tell my local independent bookstore which has hosted my launches in the past the date of release, and will ask that they save the date, pending my publisher's plans.

9.      Giveaways - KDP

      Amazon’s free book program is a strategy that many authors are using. Currently you can list your ebook free for 5 days every 90 days. Readers take advantage of this sometimes big time. Exposure is the goal here.

10.  Sets and bundles

Another relatively new concept is bundling your ebooks into sets. (Always at reduced prices for the novels.) This increases your downloads if the bundle is marketed properly.

Along with this we are seeing the bundling of novels from different authors, usually in the same genre. The power of this concept lies in the combination of individual author’s social media presence.

For more on this marketing method see the blog, Ebook Marketing: Boxed Sets are Gaining Exposure and Sales. The featured bundle in the post was Mystery Reader's Circle - 9 Killer Thrillers bundle deal of the day. The response to this bundle is very impressive.

It’s time to launch that book


The book launch requires homework and devotion. The book has to be ready and you need your information prepared. You need to have a presence on the Internet. You need a list of people to contact. You need a direction or a plan. And after everything is in place, start that marketing buzz.

Author Roger Stelljes @rogerstelljes is the bestselling author of the McRyan Mystery Series. Roger wraps this up.

With each book launch I reassess the process in view of what changes have occurred in the e-book market. Since things are changing so fast what works one year may not work well the next.  Also launching a first book for an author will be ultimately more challenging than launching an additional book in a series.

Two Bestselling Mystery Authors writing under the name Sparkle Abbey @sparkleabbey. They are in real life Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter. They have written the bestselling Pet Mystery Series. They add this.

Like so many other things in the publishing world, book launches have evolved. The days of a release date, an announcement, and a launch party are no more. For many of us the book launch begins months in advance with getting review copies in the hands of readers/reviewers, getting the word out about pre-sale opportunities, and planning for online launch parties or blog tours. Do these things work?

We're about to find out as we have a new book coming out in April. Fifty Shades of Greyhound is the fifth book in our mystery series and we're hoping to use what we've learned on the past four to have a great launch! Still with the number of books available to readers today, finding those readers who are looking for your type of book is increasingly challenging.

For a complete summary of all the author’s responses access the detail post that accompanies this post: Your Book Launch Study: Detail From Outstanding Authors

Related Articles


David Brin @DavidBrin1 is the award-winning bestselling Author, Scientist and Futurist with such books to his credit as: The Transparent Society, Existence, Earth and The Postman. David Brin provided these references


I can also offer a general site containing advice bits from other top writers. (http://www.scoop.it/t/advice-for-writers)  

Then there is my advice video!
Many people have found these items extremely helpful.

Also, for remarketing, have a look at the amazing video preview-trailer for Existence, with incredible art by Patrick Farley! See: http://www.tinyurl.com/exist-trailer

Leti Del Mar added this reference.


I have a chapter on this in my book, How ToSelf-Publish: A DIY Approach.

Some sources from the HBS Author’s Spotlight Crew


Matthew Iden - Telling Your Tale
M.R. Mathias - The First Ten Steps
Joanna Penn - How To Market A Book   

eBook Author’s Corners  Related Posts


Follow me:


Or EMAIL at: jim@jamesmoushon.com
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Or my Mystery blog: HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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