Over the last two years I have self -published five books and each campaign has been a unique experience. I continue to take risks and grow with each production while staying within a budget. The key for me is to manage my expectations and write the best damn book I possibly can. I constantly remind myself why I write. It’s not for money; it’s strictly for the passion of writing. As long as I stay true to those principles and do the best I can, I am guaranteed to be rewarded with satisfaction and fulfillment. However, as authors we are often validated by our readers. So how does an indie author go about connecting with prospective readers? I wish I had an absolute answer, but this is how I go about it.
The first question I would ask any writer is What do you want to do with your masterpiece?
If all you want is the satisfaction of seeing your book in print and you are happy for it to sit atop of your coffee table as a conversation piece that is absolutely fine and dandy. However, if after you have put your heart and soul into your book and you decide you want to hang it on social media for all to see, you will have to strategize and make your book stand out amongst the thousands of books that are published every day.
One hard fact. Although you are an amateur, that doesn’t mean you write like one. You will need to blend in with other writers who are established. You don’t want your book to scream Indie Alert. In my humble opinion, you need a slamming book cover with a killer synopsis. People do judge a book by its cover and it would be a shame to lose potential readers. My advice is to stay away from friends and family members who are mere Power Point Rangers. First you will need a graphic that has appeal and flair. Shutterstock is my recommendation but there are several other royalty-free image galleries to choose from that will suit your needs. Royalty-free means you pay a nominal one-time fee for the license to display the image in publication. After you have selected the perfect image then locate a cover designer to bring it to life. A service I employ is Elance. Elance is an online database of freelancers from thousands of professions who will bid on your work. You set the budget, post the job and wait for your inbox to explode with bids. I always check prospective vendor’s satisfaction rating and view sample work, usually from their own website. You are in complete control of the project, they work for you.
One valuable lesson I recently learned from my novel The Seduction of Monet Dawson: Confessions of a Military Wife, is that you can get slated for having a title that the reader feels is misleading. My readers were led to believe the book would be from a woman’s perspective and they were surprised to find out it was not. Fortunately, most of my readers found it a refreshing surprise, but not all. I did take some heat for it.
In my opinion, the best tool for an indie author to get exposure it to have their book reviewed, a lot. According to a reliable source in the industry, reviews help determine if your book will be read or not. Readers have become more clever these days and are able to identify sock puppet reviews from family and friends. I refrain from asking people who personally know me to review my books on Amazon. Why? Because they write reviews like the one below.
Nail biter! Must read. The best book I have ever read in life. Good job son!
You are better off with a three-star review with criticism than the review above.
I also know an author who solicited 5-star reviews from her Facebook friends. Unfortunately, when you search for her book on Google, you also see her solicitation for 5—star reviews on FB. This is a credibility issue for readers who want an honest and candid assessment. Brace yourself for those readers whose reviews appear to be mean-spirited. Remember, there is no scale for Indie authors. Your book will be judge alongside other great works they have read. When you get a one-star rating, and you probably will, it will sting. The best thing to do at that time is to look up your all-time favorite book on Amazon. I can assure you, it has one-stars as well. Also, be prepared for varying review criteria. I have had reviews that say Great book -3-Stars.
One of my best resources has been Goodreads. Goodreads has a giveaway program for those whose books are in print. It cost nothing but postage to the winners of your book. You can sign up in five minutes and you are done. I chose to give away four signed books of my latest novel. I chose the giveaway to end after one week. I was pleasantly surprised at the response. Nearly four hundred people signed up for the chance to win a signed book and over 155 readers marked my book on their to read list as a result. I plan to do another giveaway in a month or so.
Many people think you have to be a known author to get a book signing at a Barnes and Noble, not true. I called a Barnes and Noble and asked to speak with a Community Relations rep. Once it was verified that I had a book (hard/paperback) in their system, that was it. It was a very pleasant experience and I had all the Starbuck coffee I could handle courtesy of Barnes and Noble.’
Lastly, you cannot maximize your book’s online footprint without YouTube. For my next book trailer I plan to use http://www.prforbooks.co.uk. I have never used them before but for $300.00, I am willing to give them a shot. I saw a few samples on their site and I was impressed.
Good Luck and may 2014 be a banner year for you and your book!
Eddie Thompkins titles
The Seduction of Monet Dawson, Flagrant Misconduct, My Name is Elijah, The Mogadishu Diaries, Insider Threat