Marketing for Independent Authors, Part 2

In my last post, I wrote about marketing a new book and preparing for launch. Today I’ll cover marketing the book after launch. Leveraging Amazon’s marketing engine is great, but there are other things we can do to let potential readers know about your book.Let’s start by looking ahead to book #2. When you’re ready with a second book, wouldn’t it be great to email everyone who bought your first book, and let them know the sequel is available? But you can’t do that if you don’t know who they are. Amazon knows, but they don’t share that information with authors. So the answer is to develop your own email list. And the best way to do that is to ask readers, right at the end of the book, to join your email list. If the book is good, and you leave readers wanting more, many people will do this. And as a further enticement, you should offer them something in return for sharing their email address.

In my case, I’m writing a short story about one of the characters in my novel, which will be exclusively available to people who sign up for the email list (which you can sign up for right now by clicking on the nearby link titled “EMAIL SIGNUP”). I’m also working on a short video depicting an alien spaceship from the book, and if that works out, I’ll also offer that.

I’m using MailChimp for management of my email list, which takes care of such things as automating the subscribing and un-subscribing. It’s actually pretty easy to set up, and free for email lists under 2,000 subscribers. I have that set up with a simple link, that brings readers to a Mailchimp page where they simply fill in their name and email address. Then when I’m ready to send out an email, I create it in MailChimp and send it out to everyone on that list. MailChimp can even keep track of what those people do with the email, e.g., how many open it, how many click on a link in it, etc.

Now let’s go back to book #1, since we don’t yet have a big email list of potential readers. Fortunately, there are services available, like BookBub and FreeBooksy, which have huge lists of readers, by genre, to help you spread the word (for a price).

BookBub will send emails to their list of genre readers letting them know about your book. For example, they currently have a list of almost two million science fiction readers, and for a book priced at $3.99, they charge $2,450(!) to let them know about your book (for a free book, it’s “only” $350). They say they average 2,290 paid downloads, or 34,000 free downloads. I’m probably not going to do that, at least not at first. But it can work out. On a $3.99 book, Amazon pays the author 70%, or $2.79. If you sell 2,290 books, that’s $6,393 for an investment of $2,450.

FreeBooksy also has a list of genre readers, but it’s only for free books (although they do have a sideline called BargainBooksy for sale-priced books). And they have to be “permafree” which means it’s not just a sale price, it’s always free. Why would you want to do that? If you have a series of novels, you can give away the first one in hopes of hooking readers who will come back and buy the rest of the series (I’m not there yet).

Of course, Amazon provides paid marketing services, to push your book onto search results, for example under “Sponsored products related to this item.” And there’s always Facebook, which can selectively advertise to people who’ve marked an interest in reading science fiction. But notice that with all these services, they’re not sharing the actual list of potential readers with you. They send your message on your behalf. Which brings us back to the importance of developing your own email list.

If you’re interesting in learning more, here are the primary sources where I’ve learned all this:

  1. Joanna Penn’s excellent website, The Creative Penn, as well as her podcast and books. She is a fiction author who also writes a lot of non-fiction resources for independent authors, including Successful Self-Publishing, and How to Market a Book. I’ve read both of those, and they are packed with useful information and references to still more resources. I also listened to her podcast for most of my drive to Colorado a couple months ago.
  2. Chris Fox is another fiction author who has written extensively on writing and independent publishing. He also has a website and several books, of which I’ve read Lifelong Writing Habit and Write to Market.
  3. Chandler Bolt has an online school for independent authors (mostly for non-fiction, but a lot of it applies to fiction), called Self-Publishing School. The price tag is a bit hefty, but last year I was able to get a free copy of his book Published in exchange for watching a video teaser for his course. That book lays out a plan for launch, pretty much as I described in the earlier post.

If you have any other suggestions for putting my book in front of more readers, please leave a comment.

Author: RickAAllenSF

Semi-retired engineer, now a SF author. Recently moved to Colorado Springs, where I work in front of a window looking out at Pikes Peak.

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