This is part two in our Free Marketing series.
Whether you are traditionally or independently published, it is important to engage with the author community. As a follow up to our previous discussion on free marketing strategies we will cover two tactics to help promote your work and build relationships with your fellow writers. There will also be a bonus tip thrown in at the end (so stay tuned).
Why are relationships in the author community something to consider? Being a writer is often a solitary endeavor. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that being alone with our thoughts furiously typing our stories is an enjoyable feat. However, this doesn’t fare well when it comes down to selling our work. If we exist in a lonely bubble we miss the chance to find readers, cultivate support, and make friends. Community, relationships with other writers are imperative in helping us succeed in the publishing industry. We can tirelessly struggle without proper support and fail to grow as artists.
So how can being involved in an author community and communicating with readers help us sell our work? By networking.
These you will find all over the internet or perhaps at your local meet up. Mythic Scribes is such an author group. On the writing forums you will find discussions, writers looking for beta reading swaps, books to read by members who post links to their work, and also writers who are in various stages of the craft. You will find writers who are more experienced, those just starting out, and some who are right where you are. The support writers gain from author groups is invaluable. I’ve met some pretty neat people on Mythic Scribes and made friendships that I greatly value. Here, we hold each other up by educating ourselves and learning together.
Facebook is another great tool when it comes to joining author groups. There, you can find genre related groups, Indie publishing groups, etc. Whatever your choice and where you will feel the most comfortable Facebook makes them all available. Some of these groups require that you have at least one work published but many don’t.
I have found the author groups on social media to be extremely helpful in marketing my books. Many authors post new release newsletters with spots for other authors to place their work. There are often genre related promotions that you can join in on with your books to access new readers. Pinterest boards with other authors who write in your genre are a helpful option, as well as staying up to date and educated on the industry. You can get to know authors whose work you might enjoy reading and discover new books to recommend to your readers. Networking in this manner has the advantage of gaining you new readers by having access to other authors’ lists. Maybe some of their readers would like your work.
Either monthly, weekly, or simply for new releases, newsletters are a fantastic way of keeping in touch with your readers. Cultivating a list takes a long time and it’s not an easy process. There are ways of growing your lists quickly but in this post we will cover how newsletters can be an effective strategy in helping you to sell books.
An option to join your list should be placed at the end of your books and on your author website. There are various ways of creating the link and sign up form (Mailerlite & my Wix website are the programs I have used).
Some sources will say that you must send weekly newsletters, or welcome emails with several auto ones to follow. Honestly, my advice is to use what works for you. Make a schedule that you feel comfortable with but one that also allows your readers to remember who you are. The point of a newsletter is to engage readers, stay in communication with them, and have direct access to them for when you release new books. It’s perhaps the most effective way to market for free and a powerful technique for career longevity. Without a list you risk losing readers who like your work. My opinion is that this should be a priority for any author from the start.
Ideas to place in your newsletter include new release information, book reviews and recommendations (to help out fellow authors), news on promotions, blog posts, chapter excerpts, world building and character notes, deleted chapters. Newsletters allow your readers access to more of your writing that might not be readily available or published. They also work to boost your new releases because readers on your list are often fans of your work and will buy your books straight away. You are able to build relationships with these readers by giving them insight to how you work and giving them the special treatment of promotions, sales, and anything else you want to treat them with. I do a monthly newsletter detailing my latest projects, book recommendations, Pinterest pins of the month, and bits of history applicable to my genre that readers might find interesting. It’s a small list for now but organic takes a while to grow. This tool is invaluable and although it takes some time figuring out how to make it work, the effort is greatly worth the reward.
A Good Product
And this brings me to the conclusion of this post with, perhaps, the most important item next to the newsletter: you must have a good product for your readers to enjoy. Well written, professionally packaged books will be easier to sell once you get the word out. It begins with craft. Take the time to really know your genre, what readers like and prefer (understand your audience), and hone your skills by writing often. Keep learning about the craft. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Show off your strengths and work on improving the weak parts. Write, read, study. Write, read, study.
The second part to this is learning how to package your books properly. What sorts of covers are popular in your genre? What title(s) can you come up with that are hooky and contain keywords to help you come up in searches? Editing and covers are expensive investments but they are so, so important for signaling to readers that you take your work seriously. If you are asking readers to pay for your work, then be as professional as you can in your delivery so they come back for more. The secret sauce to selling more books is to be good at your craft. The best you can be and then some.
Are you a part of any author groups? If so, how have they helped you sell books and improve as a writer?
Do you send out regular newsletters to your list? What sort of information do you include and how have newsletters become a part of your writing life?
What other free tools do you use to help you sell books and find new readers?