A writer can never have too many marketing tricks up his or her sleeve. But with marketing, the less amount of work it takes away from your writing, the better. That's why I've chosen a few simple strategies to give your marketing efforts a shot in the arm.
Writing is a lonely profession, but marketing your writing is even more so. Knowing that, why not team up your marketing efforts with another writer? The concept is simple. Find one or two authors that write in the same genre as you. Agree to put a sample chapter of their book at the end of one of your books if they agree to do the same for you. That way you get exposed to their audience and their audience gets exposed to yours.
It's free, it's simple, and it's effective. I once did a three author swap with one of my books that got me a nice spike in sales as well as new fans that had never heard of my writing, even though I wrote in the same genre as the other authors.
Multi Author Boxed Set
This takes the sample chapter to the extreme. Instead of just swapping chapters, use full stories--either short stories, novellas, or whatever you like. Band together with five or more authors and create an anthology/multi author boxed set. You can put it up permafree, KDP select free, 99 cents, or $2.99 to get maximum exposure. That way you can get five to ten times as many eyes on your work (depending on how many authors participate).
What better way to promote your book than on Amazon's own site? Listmania is a feature that lets you create lists based on different topics. Anyone with an account can create one, and as an author, it's especially beneficial. But first, there's one thing you should do first. Go into your account at Amazon and change your name to denote you're an author. For example, instead of Joe Schmo, list yourself as Joe Schmo author. Or Joe Schmo, author of "Joe Schmo's Book." It's a subtle change, but that way anytime you leave a review or post a comment, people will know that you're an author.
Once that is done, go here to start creating your first list: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=14279651
What kind of list should you create? That's up to you, but I'd go with something related to your genre. If you write romance, you could create a list called "Top Ten Romance Books Of The Last Decade." If you're a horror writer, you could make a list called "The Scariest Books Ever Written." What will these lists do for you? Well, the creator of the list gets to write in their qualifications. So you can put, "as the writer of the thriller (insert your book name here), I'm an authority on the genre. Then go ahead and list your favorite thrillers. It's free promotion for your book while tying your book to other great titles in the genre.
Note: I'm not suggesting you put your book in the list of the greatest thrillers. Just that you list your book in the qualifications section.
www.kboards.com is a message board site devote to Kindle owners, readers, and writers with over 50,000 members. You can set up your account for free and create a linkable signature to your book covers through their link maker http://www.kboards.com/link/. Once you account is set up, you can post a free add for your book in the Book Bazaar department Also, you can have discussions with potential readers in the Book Corner section. The key is not to actively push your book. Just be part of the conversation. And if you're interesting, readers will click on one of the books in your signature.
For the small price of a listing fee, you can get potentially hundreds of eyes on your ebook. Just list a copy of your book for sale on www.ebay.com. Then at the end of the auction, you can email a pdf or epub version of the book to the winner. A listing fee will only run you a buck or so, but you'll probably end up with hundreds of ebay buyers looking at your book.
Play To Your Strengths
There's a reason I haven't brought up social media until now. I'm a firm believer that you can have a successful writing career without the use of heavy social media. That isn't to say that you can't build on that success with a little social networking though. The problem with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc is that for them to be effective, it requires a significant time commitment. And if there's one thing writers are short on more than anything, it is time. We all have friends, family, work, leisure time, and writing time pulling at us everyday. That's why you need to play to your strengths.
At some point, every writer is faced with the decision to either a) write another book, or b) to set up a social media push. What I've found through experience is that the most effective people with social media are the ones that enjoy it. That would be spending their time Facebook or Twitter anyway. If you're a voracious social networking person already, then you can use that interest to help sell your books. But if the idea of spending an hour or two a day on social media sounds awful, then you're probably best not doing it.
Here's the reason why--social media is about selling yourself, not your books. So many authors just constantly talk about, link to, and go on and on about their books. People on social media are being pitched to day in and day out. If all you do is talk about your work, they'll just treat you as spam and ignore you. Effective social media is about the soft sales pitch. Selling yourself instead of selling your book. If you can get people interested in you, then they might seek out your book. But while you're doing that, you have to realize there are many roadblocks on your way to success.
Why? Because social media pitches to everyone. And what you need is to be marketing directly to readers. But not just any readers. Ones that already have Kindle, Nooks, Ipads, or the free reading apps. And although the Kindle and Nook reading apps are completely free, getting people to click away from their Twitter or Facebook feed to download the app, then buy your book adds more steps than most people are willing to take.
I know it sounds silly, but most people want to be able to click on a link, then hit the "Buy" button. If you add on that extra step of them having to download the app, you're going to lose people. Besides, with the apps being free already, most people that want to read online already have a Kindle, Nook, Ipad, or at least the free reading app. But on social media, you're not just pitching to them. You're reaching to a lot of people that only read paper books, or don't read at all. That's a recipe for disaster.
There's a reason book blogs are so successful. They have cultivated a following of not only book readers, but readers that already have ereading devices. They have already done the social media legwork for you. And for a price, they'll give you access to those readers. So in essence, getting a paid promotion on the right book blog is the best social networking you can do.
That being said, if you are going to use social media, here's how to make the best use of your time.
Your Profile Is Key
It doesn't matter if we're talking about Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, your blog, or your Amazon Author Page. The concept is the same. It should be something along the lines of "My name is Joe Schmo. I write paranormal thrillers. Check out my books here (insert link to your Amazon Author Page or your Blog/Website). If you want to be the first to know about my new releases, sign up for my mailing list (insert link to the sign up form for your mailing list).
It's short, simple, and effective. People know exactly who you are and what you're about. Plus they have a link to find your material as well as a link to sign up for your mailing list. That way you let your profile do the selling, not you. From there, you just need to get people to look at your profile. How do you do that? Be interesting.
Don't Bore People
Remember, social media is about the soft sell--and sometimes not selling at all. The key is to engage other people. Talk about their lives. Make them feel important. Get them to like you as a person. When I'm on Twitter or Facebook and says something that's interesting to me, I click on their profile. Because I want to know more about them and what other interesting things might be going on in their lives.
It's not a quick process. It takes time to make connections, just as it does in real life. It may take you weeks or months for people to gain an interest in you. And you have to put the time in, to stay interesting, to not bore people. But eventually, if you engage people long enough, you can build a following.
How To Get More Followers
So how do you find the right people to engage with? Easy. Think about the five or ten most popular authors in the genre you write in. Look up their Facebook or Twitter pages. See who's following them. That's your audience. That's who you want to engage with. Fans of X writers thriller work can be fans of your thriller writing. Same with romance. Or humor. Or science fiction. Follow those people. Engage them. Take an interest in their posts and tweets.
In the same vein, search for people talking about the same topics you write about. Look up book bloggers. People follow the Kindle and Barnes & Noble fan pages. Those are your potential readers. So follow them. But remember, don't sell them your book. Get them interested in your as a person, then they'll take an interest in your work on their own.
Play To Your Strengths
In the end, remember you have to play to your strengths. If you enjoy socializing and connecting with people through social networking then go for it. Otherwise, that time is better spent writing another book.
The journey to success is different for every writer. There are a lot of the same benchmarks along the way though. And one of those marks is to always be writing. The more books you have for sale, the easier it is to sell more books. I know it sounds like double talk, but most successful writers are not just one hit wonders. They keep producing.
Also, even though you can find success with stand alone books, it's much easier to gain traction and a following by writing a series. The good news though is that the term book has changed in meaning in the ebook age. Now a book can be a short, novelette, novella, or full length book.
When you get a new book done, make sure you have a link to your mailing list sign up form at the back along with blurbs and/or a sample chapter for your other works. Take the time to find the right keywords to give your book exposure. Try to find one mega category and one niche category to fit your book in. Then enroll your book in a series of one week giveaways, trying to get to that all important number of ten or more reviews as soon as possible.
Email your list about the new release to try and get enough sales to become a hot new release in your genre. Then, when you have enough good reviews, submit your book to www.ereadernewstoday, www.pixelofink.com, and/or www.bookbub.com for a paid promotion.
After that, go back and write your next book. Then repeat this over and over, varying different paid promos while building all important followers to your mailing list. Finally, repeat this process as necessary until success finds you. And it will.