This is topic How does one go about promoting their epub after self publishing? in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
So I finally went beyond writing and put my first book up on Amazon Kindle. Working with publishers and agents just seems like a Sisyphean task that's constantly daunted me, but epublishing is much more manageable. And it turns out the process was much simpler than I'd feared, aside from a few minor hurdles.

That said, now that I've got it up how do I go about promoting it? I took the advise of offering it at $2.99, the most popular rate for ebooks. I've plugged it in all my social media profiles and tapped into my fanfiction readers. I put up a writer's page on Amazon even though I don't exactly see the benefit. I've even got an Amazon promotion going to offer the book free until May 26th. So far I've got 50 or so hits, which I consider a minor success in its own right, but I'd like to do more. Especially since I can see that number dropping to 0 when the free promotion ends.

So what do you self publishers out there do to promote your work in simple but effective ways? I'm confident the writing will speak for itself, but only if it has eyes reading it.

If you want to see my publishing setup or author profile on Amazon to give me some advice the book is "Salzan", Book One of the Cavnar series.

While the free offer's still going if you want to get the book itself and read it, you've got nothing to lose [Smile] . I've been asking my fanfiction readers to rate and review the book since that will almost certainly help, but so far no one has [Frown] .

Anyway advice would be appreciated. I've spent all my time on the writing part of things so this is new territory for me.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
The four corners of marketing are packaging, advertising, promotion, and publicity.

Packaging marketing is more than the physical or digital object, wrapper, and appearance, foremost an appealing product. In the case of writing, that is the writing.

I sampled the novel, above average style, craft, voice, and I suppose appeal for a self-published work, some shortcomings that if conditionally accepted for conventional publication might have been worked out. Punctuation and conjunction issues in the grammar and rhetoric style departments.

Craft and voice, though mechanically sound, are on the bland and lackluster side, though consistent with and above average for self-published works generally. Craft, generally, a bit of a slow start that takes a little too much time to build toward tension for the genre's audience generally. Voice, a few promising ironic commentaries I feel are underrealized, and a generally underrealized emotional attitude about the topics and subjects on point. The reality imitation is also somewhat remote in distances narrative, aesthetic, emotional, though, again, above average.

Appeal generally relies on style, craft, and voice, and distinguishably a genre's conventions. Again, above average, though held back a step by underrealized craft and voice features. Appeal is the elusive cornerstone and magic for word-of-mouth buzz, Buzz, BUZZ, the only marketing that genuinely makes a difference.

Advertising marketing you're doing as best as most any self-publisher can: generally, notifications a product is available for public consumption. One area that conventional publishers do for an advertising campaign is collect from a writer his or her contacts' addresses, once mailing addresses for sending out postcards and catalog solicitations, now e-mail addresses, though spam e-mailing controversies have diminished that practice.

Promotional marketing is enticements to consume at a discount rate and bonus product attachments, like Amazon's discounted free product promotion period, and promotions like two for the price of one.

Publicity marketing takes many forms, among them speaking tours, signings, conference and convention presentations, civic presentations, say at local libraries--bookstores will not entertain most online bookseller writers' presentations, not even boutique bookstores--in-person hawking, soliciting reviews, and the elusive fame attractions scandal, controversy, and celebrity raise.

Carrying a supply of "calling cards" to public events is a subtle and inviting marketing practice. Calling cards basically list at least a website contact address. Simple, understated, plain black ink text on a white card is most elegant, mysterious, and appealing. Clutter distracts and alienates. An ideal website address is a writer's writing site using the writer's name in the domain, no personal contact information, only professional contact information. One to three lines for the card's text, ample white space, and maybe a simple logo or icon. A feather quill was an icon convention flourish for writer calling cards before telephones.

However, a newly evolving trend in self-publishing marketing is showing strong potentials and about as assurable for a modicum or more of sales improvement as conventional publishing marketing. Develop an inventory that establishes a strong citizenship in the self-publishing marketplace. One novel that sells a few copies doesn't establish a stand-out presence, several begin to stand out, a dozen or so or more do stand out, and also write and publish books about writing topics not yet done or writing topics done in a more entertaining and accessible manner than before--what to do with those writing craft studies that were picked up along the journey: reinvent them and publish.

In other words, write the next novel, let worries about the current one lay, continue studies and skills improvement, all the while striving for and realizing writing improvements, such that when a later novel at last makes a splash, sales of that backlist will also take off and pay off for the effort getting to the splash novel.

[ May 24, 2014, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Ah. Now that is the question. And a moving target.

First, stop spamming your social media. That won't work.

Put your book up on Goodreads and/or similar sites. I've never had much luck with Goodreads giveaways (and you have to have a physical book for that, anyway.)

Go searching for review blogs like this one:

On Facebook. Try joining Indie Author Group and maybe Marketing for Authors.

Blog tours sometimes help. Joining up with other authors for promotions (so you reach each others' followers) sometimes works. Facebook events.

Still trying to crack the code myself.
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
I haven't self-pubbed yet but it's in my plans. Here's my advice.

Start by making what you are pointing people to worth their while. I trust you that your story is up to snuff but your cover is lacking.

People like color, black and white can be striking but for the most part we still have cultural remnants that associate color with higher value. (It's a color TV vs black and white TV thing.)

Your title is being eaten by the whiteness of the picture. It looks like Arial to me which is pretty much a sans serif Times as it is usually the default setting. You don't want anything too fruity unless your book is fruity, but make it more interesting.

Look at books similar to yours or that are targeting the same audience and examine the covers, see what works about them and what doesn't. What does it tell the reader about the story?

And your author bio should be about what is interesting about you. Being a writer isn't interesting enough to separate you from all the other writers. Make it about some expertise you have or some special moment in your life. Make it exactly as quirky as you are.

You'll want a professional picture too, it looks like you just screenshotted your webcam. Get someone to take your picture in a setting that tells about who you are as an artist.

Beyond that look at the blogs of successful self-pubbers because they love to share their wisdom with everyone. Keep in mind survivorship bias, Tobias Buckell has a great essay about it.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Go check out the indierecon site. The "con" is over for this year (although I think they're doing some real-life in-person thing this summer that I won't be able to get to). But all the posts from the last indierecon should still be available. There were some interesting marketing ideas bandied around there.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Thanks for all the advice offered so far. I'll try to implement some changes to hopefully improve the presentation of my book and author page. The cover I'll probably wait on until the 5 day free promotion expires, since it takes 12 hours after you make changes for the edits to go into effect. But yeah, I'll definitely find better art for it, try to improve the fonts as well. Also I wonder if the series should be something like "The Cavnar Series" as opposed to just "Cavnar".

Thanks again for the help and the advice. I'll check out the links you provided and the sites you recommended and see what I can do there.

I'll admit I went into this knowing that it's my first self publish and I was going to do some things wrong that would impact the success of the book, but I'll do my best to mend what can be mended.

And if in the end it's a throwaway that's not the worst thing in the world, and I have other books and more in depth worlds that will benefit from the things I learned publishing this one.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Just remember Hugh Howey's advice. "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

My first ebook covers were dreadful. Everything is fixable. Uh, except Goodreads. Don't put the book on Goodreads until you fix the cover. You can get them (with some difficulty) to upload a new version of the cover, but the old one will live forever.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
When I saw the title I thought about responding to this, but it looks like you have already been given a bunch of good advice.

I will add one more though--I haven't read every comment on each note so I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but another way to get the word out is to write more stuff. Someone reads you new publication and likes it so they will look for your older stuff. Of course that may take a while, but it can work eventually. [Smile]
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Thanks LDWriter2. I've got plenty of stories ready that I've been trying to publish more conventionally, but now I think I'll work on polishing them up a final time and self publishing them. I also have plenty of projects I can complete with a bit of effort.

Even if self publishing doesn't promise the same big results of more conventional publishing and requires more promotion work, it's actually incredibly motivating to know that I can do something with a completed manuscript, rather than having it just sit there while I try to entice agents or publishers who are already swamped with queries.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Publishing your book in only an e-format severely limits the amount of promoting you can do with your self-published title. I'm all for the ease of the digital platform, but its limitations in marketing for the indie author seems fairly obvious.

I've pointed this out before, but local communities like local artists, and will often support them. When I was promoting my self-published book 13 years ago, local bookstores stocked the title, as well as the library system. Granted, we don't really have bookstores anymore, but there are business establishments that will put your title on display for a limited amount of time. It's just as easy (or difficult, depending on how introverted you are) as asking them.

Talk to community centers and teachers in your area. As a local artist, you might be able to give workshops, or talks about craft, or even free writing lessons. Bring two or three dozen of your book with you at each event, and again, sales.

I learned some important lessons when promoting my book. First of all, it's a numbers game. Ask everyone. There are a lot of impulsive shoppers out there. And there are a lot of writers who want to do the same thing as you, and will support you just for that reason. And then you'll also get people who are genuinely interested in what they see of the story.

The problem with the e-format is that you have to trust someone to buy your title once they're no longer standing in front of you. And I think people are more likely to take the risk of paying money for something they've never heard of if they can physically hold it.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Good point, Denevius.

What do you think of Amazon's CreateSpace self publishing venue? I haven't really looked into it yet, but I probably will for other books or even this one if it does well.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Well, I just did a light google search of pricing and CreateSpace, meaning I put exactly that in the toolbar, hit Enter, and then skimmed the links of three pages of results. The first thing I noticed is that pricing doesn't seem to be explored. Like, fixed prices that anyone blogging about their CreateSpace experience actually paid.

From what I gathered, I guess that's for two reasons. One, CreateSpace customers seem to primarily be interested in eBooks. That's groovy, but in my opinion, not helpful when it comes to marketing.

The second reason seems to be that CreateSpace is a Print-on-Demand. That's groovy, too, except the prices will probably vary a lot, and you won't have books readily available that you can sell.

So anyway, maybe someone else here who has worked with CreateSpace can give you more detailed information. For myself, if I was producing anything else, I'd do it without. It really isn't that difficult or time consuming, though for certain aspects of the process to be completed takes time.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
CreateSpace is Amazon's print on demand.

I've used it.

Pricing: The author sets the price (above a lower limit based on the printing costs).

Formatting is a bit of a pain, but doable.

It has the advantage of being automatically available on Amazon. Can be linked to your ebook (so they appear as alternate formats on a single page) and also is eligible for Amazon's matchbook program, which allows you to essentially discount the ebook to verified buyers of the print book.

Expanded distribution to other outlets is also free, now. (Used to be paid for separately.) Just checked and at least some of my books are available in print version on B&N, so I guess that works.

I can't really say anything about how CreateSpace compares to other print on demand, like Lulu.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
By pricing, I meant how much it would be to order physical books? Or if your book costs 8.99, you pay that amount if you want a physical copy to sell? If it's the latter, that would get expensive quick.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
CreateSpace is a Print-On-Demand service and book manufacturer. Though their expanded distribution packages offer up through global outlets and indexing in library, university bookstores, and brick and mortar bookstore catalogs at a reasonable price, those brick and mortar bookstores strongly avoid buying books with CreateSpace branding because Amazon is the enemy. CreateSpace does offer use of private ISBN assignments, however, CreateSpace slips in their manufacturer associations anyway. Lulu does not, if that option is wanted and set up.

CreateSpace emphasizes sales through Amazon anyway. Distribution to other retailers is deeply discounted too, though not comparable to conventional publishing discounts. Actual, if any, writer revenues from expanded distribution are lower than direct Amazon sales revenue. This website article discusses many of the finer issues of self-publishing "royalties" and wholesale discount policies:

"CreateSpace Connections"

Print publication through any bookmaker is a high learning curve, one that stymies self-publishers generally. Formatting principles unique to Standard Publication Format are overlooked by self-publishers that as much as say "self-published" and broadcast its associated vanity publishing reputation stigma. ISBN assignment finesses are another common issue. CreateSpace and Lulu, the two POD print publication giants, host guides to basic formatting; however, the guides overlook subtler and essential SPF formatting criteria, Such books end up looking like manuscripts composed in their native wordprocessor software with all the warts.

I don't have any overt issues with either's methods and applications, nor with the whole SPF specification. The only personal issue I have is working around brick and mortar booksellers' resistances. A private ISBN assignment, print self-publication through Lulu, whose expanded distribution package includes international Amazon and Barnes & Noble, cataloging for library, university, and brick and mortar bookstores, available optional no additional charge otherwise for stripped-away bookmaker branding, and professional, comprehensive SPF production values appearance gets around that brick and mortar bookseller resistance issue.

In the meantime, I advise studying CreateSpace's, or Lulu's or both, formatting guides, their revenue protocols and calculations, advices and tips, etc., the entire publishing aspects of the site in any regard, and dress rehearsing for when a writer is ready to publish through them (no charges at all until the required single proof copy is ordered). Though, for me, Lulu is the E-train ticket, and, of course, the same research is warranted.

CreateSpace stole a march on Lulu in terms of a writer ordering copies for writer independent distribution at manufacturing cost plus a small manufacturer revenue charge; however, Lulu recently adjusted their writer copy price policy to a competitive level. Lulu also offers casewrap hardback and slip cover hardback; CreateSpace only offers paperbacks.

[ October 29, 2014, 07:21 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by rstegman (Member # 3233) on :
One thing Isaac Asimov said was to keep writing. When one of his new books was read, people would go and search out what else he wrote and he would then have more sales on his older works.
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Originally posted by Denevius:
By pricing, I meant how much it would be to order physical books? Or if your book costs 8.99, you pay that amount if you want a physical copy to sell? If it's the latter, that would get expensive quick.

Well, the answer to that is that it depends largely on the length of the book.

But no, the author can order copies through CreateSpace at a reduced price. My copies are normally in the range of about $3.50 to $4.00, plus shipping. Longer books would be more, of course.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Worth note, publishing through Amazon's CreateSpace (print) and Kindle (digital) raises proprietary squabbles between them and other sales outlets. Kindle, of course, doesn't post for Nook and vice versa. Kindle compilation puts a proprietary Distribution Rights Management on a publication. Nook does too. Apple iPad, Sony, Kobo do too. Smashwords and Goodreads insist upon DRM-free publication.

International print publication format standards are slightly different from U.S. and British standards, different enough that a print book needs to be formatted so that no cross complexities arise: different paper size and book block size, availability of paper type and cover design options, like spine considerations, color interior plates, and bleed printing options. Different text justification options for digital and print too, full justification causes electronic reader issues, though is a strong signal of high print production values.

In order to enjoy maximum self-publisher platform options, a great amount of foresight is warranted, not least of which is out-of-pocket cost savings. A self-publisher can, of course, choose to buy into one platform and perhaps risk per se alienating consumers, or splash onto as many platforms as are available at minimum cost. For that Lulu is the ideal: one file converted for each electronic and print conformed to both U.S.-British and international standards is only a slight effort more. Global. Of note, digital publication through Lulu has a higher formatting standard than Kindle's.

Direct Nook, iPad, Sony, and Kobo publication have a red-tape step requiring publication on those platforms be from registered and vetted publishers. Oh my, another six to eight weeks delay publishing? Yeah. Through Lulu, that step is bypassed, though Lulu meets those platforms' standards expectations by running a quality assurance evaluation for conformance to digital publishing standards, which takes up to a week or two if no glitches crop up--based upon consumer expectations of easily navigable, uncluttered, undistracted, spam-less reading.

Four most common reasons why a digital publication fails Lulu's quality assurance standards: no linked table of contents, no section-chapter break format codes, stray hard returns and formatting codes, forbidden spam links or text directed to "bonus" content, to vendor sites, to content-related mechandise solicitations.

[ May 27, 2014, 12:09 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]
Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
Originally posted by extrinsic:

Direct Nook, iPad, Sony, and Kobo publication have a red-tape step requiring publication on those platforms be from registered and vetted publishers. Oh my, another six to eight weeks delay publishing? Yeah. Through Lulu, that step is bypassed, though Lulu meets those platforms' standards expectations by running a quality assurance evaluation for conformance to digital publishing standards, which takes up to a week or two if no glitches crop up--based upon consumer expectations of easily navigable, uncluttered, undistracted, spam-less reading.

I can't speak for Lulu, since I've never tried it. And I'm certainly not trying to persuade anyone to go one way or the other. Figure out what's right for you.

That said, I treat ebook publication and print publication as two separate things. They do require different sorts of formatting.

I did direct publish one ebook through Nook Press (by its earlier name) and had no trouble. Now, I reach Nook, Kobo, iBookStore, and Sony all through Smashwords, which also has its own quality check. The only one I've ever had problems with was Kobo for my last two publications. Smashwords took care of it.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Meredith, is your process then individual Kindle digital publication, individual CreateSpace for print, and Smashwords as digital outlet and distribution to the other major e-booksellers?
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
I figured I'd post in this thread rather than starting a new one, since I'm still on the topic of self-promotion [Smile] .

So I've been banging my head against my keyboard trying to think of unconventional ways I can promote my work that doesn't require large amounts of money or stepping outside the bounds of good taste by plugging my work in inappropriate places.

As you can imagine that severely limits my options, but I did find one option that seems good: a lot of science fiction/fantasy or general fiction forums have a place where independent authors can promote their work. I guess it was happening enough and appearing all over the forum that mods in general decided it was probably a good idea to have a specific place for it. Especially since I imagine most would want to encourage that sort of self promotion in the proper setting.

Unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of forums out there, but for my newest book I've been doing my best to promote it on several forums that have one of these self-promotion areas.

On a similar vein, with my first published book my cousin plugged it on Reddit, which I think helped it a ton, but I'm running into 2 problems with promoting myself there: 1. I've never even been to Reddit and have no idea how it works, and 2. Looking at it I think they might have rules against self-promotion that would prevent me from being able to promote myself the way my cousin promoted me.

Any Reddit savvy people here who can give me tips?

And finally, on the subject of self-promotion [Smile]'s the post I put up for my new book Veiled Trove, free until Friday, on the other forums I've tried. The other posts also have the cover image but I don't know if that works here so I'll just do text:

Hey everyone. I'm pleased to announce that I just published the first book in my new series on Amazon Kindle: Veiled Trove, Book 1 of Legacy of the Deep Gnomes, a Young Adult fantasy adventure series. It will be available for free until this Friday, or from Oct. 15th to Oct. 17th.

Here's the book's description:

"For Drew Matthews life hasn't been normal since the incident two years ago. Not only does everyone think he's crazy, but he finds himself constantly getting picked on in school for what happened. Now that he's started high school he doesn't really expect things to get better, but he's dismayed to find that the teasing has gotten even worse.

While escaping the pursuit of a classmate who tormented him all through junior high, Drew encounters an antique shop that had been an empty storefront just a few days ago. Something in the window display immediately catches his eye, and when he investigates the item he's shocked to learn that not only does the shop's owner not think he's crazy for what he saw during the incident, but he knows about magical realities Drew has never even heard of. What's more, the incident that's haunted Drew's life is actually a sign that he has a hidden gift he never knew about.

Drew finds himself recruited by the shop's owner, a hunter of magical antiquities, to help him raid a treasure trove. When he agrees he finds himself plunged into a world he has no knowledge of with dangers around every corner.

What's worse, thanks to his involvement he ends up the middle of a race to save the world. Only he doesn't know where the real threat is coming from or whether his efforts are making things better or worse. All he can do is rely on his wits and friends both old and new and hope it's enough.

The world may have forgotten the deep gnomes' legacy, but it cannot be ignored."

I hope you'll take the opportunity to pick it up while it's free, and if you enjoy it I'd be grateful for any reviews or recommendations.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
Reddit is a social network site. Reddit frowns upon self-promotion for the sake of self-promotion. If that's the only agenda, Reddit may not be, probably isn't a site for release self-advertisement.

Marketing's four corners are packaging, advertisement, promotion, and publicity. Packaging first and foremost and last and always is less physical package and more product merit. Only pranksters buy toothpaste made from sludge, no matter how appealingly wrapped. for example; or no one uses toothpaste for fountain pen ink if marketed for that optional use.

The blurb and the part of the narrative I sampled don't work for me due to generally bland wordiness and vagueness from too-long withheld essential details. "the incident" withholds a major crisis development readers need to know as soon as practical because Drew knows beforehand.

A magical treasure trove raider holds promise, possibly would work for me, though blunted by signals from the blurb and start I sampled that the whole's writing style, craft, and voice don't suit my senses and sensibilities.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
So I've been banging my head against my keyboard trying to think of unconventional ways I can promote my work that doesn't require large amounts of money or stepping outside the bounds of good taste by plugging my work in inappropriate places.
The only inappropriate place I can think of to market your book is a funeral.

There's nothing wrong with trying to sell your writing when you first meet people in most other settings. Get a couple of cool business cards made up with your website address and email, and get an online phone number for cheap through skype.

Attend local readings. If your community doesn't have one, set it up. Make yourself available to bookclubs and community colleges.

A lot of people who have writing to sell only do it online because it minimizes the negative feeling of rejection. But talking about your work in person has benefits that's lost in the world wide web where there's myriad content all vying for attention.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Originally posted by Denevius:
So I've been banging my head against my keyboard trying to think of unconventional ways I can promote my work that doesn't require large amounts of money or stepping outside the bounds of good taste by plugging my work in inappropriate places.
The only inappropriate place I can think of to market your book is a funeral.

There's nothing wrong with trying to sell your writing when you first meet people in most other settings. Get a couple of cool business cards made up with your website address and email, and get an online phone number for cheap through skype.

Attend local readings. If your community doesn't have one, set it up. Make yourself available to bookclubs and community colleges.

A lot of people who have writing to sell only do it online because it minimizes the negative feeling of rejection. But talking about your work in person has benefits that's lost in the world wide web where there's myriad content all vying for attention.

Yeah personal plugs are a much better way of selling books. I purchased a book series for my nephew that I probably wouldn't have looked at otherwise because the author was doing a signing at Costco. Unfortunately that's not great for me because I don't have a social life and I'm not sure I'd want to publicize in person.

Ineffectual and flooded as the internet is for promotion, it's still my best option.
Posted by TaleSpinner (Member # 5638) on :
As one who buys and reads much SF on Kindle, and hopes to face the self-promotion challenge soon, I have some suggestions:

The cover picture is eye-catching, but leads me to expect some kind of Western or desert adventure. The covers for your other books are much better IMHO because they seem to be visual metaphors of the main theme of the book. I like cover pics that help me get into the story.

The blurb on Amazon starts, "When Drew started seeing ghosts he thought he was crazy, and so did everyone else." But the description in the post above starts, "For Drew Matthews life hasn't been normal since the incident two years ago." The second is too abstract, feels like witholding. I'd suggest one blurb not two, with the premise as clear as you can get it. (The deep gnomes aren't for me a hook because I don't know what they are or why I might care.)

Your Amazon author page tells us nothing about you. Why do you love airships - do you fly or design them? I learned once from a sales course that "people buy from people", so I think an author page should tell us who the author is, why the author - and therefore his books - might be interesting, especially if he is writing about something he knows. I'd delete the stuff about this book being your first, another your second - why does it matter? (Sure, you're proud of your work, but that's for family and friends, no draw for readers.) This and the request for reviews (which the Kindle will do anyway) could make you seem to some insecure. (Which the reviews of your books indicate you should not be.)

There's also, for me, the concern about buying book 1 of a series that's not yet complete (not to mention that you're writing another series concurrently). I've stopped buying such books from previously unpublished authors because in my (limited) experience they can't make a complete story fit into one book and divide it into two or more parts for no obvious reason. If I wait until the series is complete I know I'm not risking money on an incomplete story. I only bought JKR's HP series because I became convinced she had a plan for 7 books, no more, and would probably execute - and the premise for the first book alone was engaging. I would suggest in the blurb making the premise for the whole series clear, not just the first book.

You might take a look at Mark Terence Chapman for some ideas. His "My Other Car is a Spaceship" is listed alongside your other books in Amazon's "customers who bought this also bought" section - perhaps your main competitors.

Mark lists his website and his blog - do you have such?

Those self-promotion forums - how many young adults, parents and teachers peruse them? Further, where does your intended audience go on the internet? How can you get engaged there - not promoting your books, but getting to know people who, sooner or later, will wonder who you are, ask where your website, facebook page or blog is, and find your books.

Why not do a signing at Costco? It's one thing you know works. I suspect authors build readerships one reader at a time. You have several hundred thousand competing books, a forest that's easy to get lost in. But if one reader likes your book and tells another two, and they each tell another two, and if the local newspaper runs an article on "our local author"... Or you might get excerpts published in the local paper, or write short stories for it, or do poetry readings for YAs at libraries, or at skateboard parks, or wherever they go. Maybe ask your kids, or someone else's kids, where they go and what they read? Read excerpts from your books onto YouTube videos or SoundCloud?

Just some suggestions,
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Thanks for the comments, TaleSpinner.

I changed the blurb on the Amazon page as a result of extrinsic's advice, and hopefully it now works better than the one that still remains on this page.

As I've said, presentation is still a new process for me in comparison to writing, and one I'm glad to get feedback on. I've butted my head up against the fact that I'm writing Young Adult, but if anything Young Adult relies even more on flashy covers and attention grabbing blurbs than other fantasy. That and you're correct that I need to figure out what haunts they frequent to promote my books there.

I'll take a look at my writer's bio and try to polish it up. Maybe separate it into the two series with the current titles and brief descriptions, as well as something about myself.

As for the cover, I had two options I was leaning towards with the graphics available. Even though the mesa fits the book well and looks pretty nice I agree that it has too much of an old western look to it. I'm not a fan either. I'll try the other cover and see how it works.

Lastly, about readers being cautious about starting unfinished series, I totally get that. George R. R. Martin poisoned the well for a lot of epic fantasy readers with the utter contempt he shows for finishing his series, and Robert Jordan's death during Wheel of Time was another event that raised concerns about that. Not to mention in many areas such as gaming and TV shows the quality has generally gone down and the dirty dealing has gone up, and customers are waiting for a finished product and reliable reviews before tossing their time and money at something.

My reasoning is that I'm working on an advanced timetable. My last 4 books were published in the last 3 months, and only one of them was complete. My goal continues to be publishing a book a month, in which case I'll have both these series completed before most authors would even have out a sequel.

Once they're completed people won't have to worry about whether they will be or not, but until then yeah, having two series in progress looks bad. I don't have Brandon Sanderson's reputation [Smile] .

Thanks again for the suggestions, I'll do what I can to polish what can be polished.

[ October 29, 2014, 06:54 PM: Message edited by: Natej11 ]
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
I think I must have done something right with my Corsairs cover/description/search keywords when I put it up around 3 months ago. It got 3 sales before I even told anyone about it, which might have been a fluke but is still pretty encouraging.

If you want to compare it to my presentation on Veiled Trove here's the info on it, and shameless self plug now's the time because it's free until Nov. 2nd [Smile] . Here's the promo I've been putting on other writing websites:

Hey everyone. Corsairs, the first book of my Young Adult fantasy series The Protectorate, is up free on Amazon Kindle for the next 3 days, from Oct. 31st to Nov. 2nd. Here's the blurb:

"For Kale life has been one bad thing, then a worse thing, then something even worse ever since his parents died and he was sent to the orphanage. So when a Corsair from Ikrith skyhold comes to the orphanage and offers to take him to the sky, he's suspicious of a trap.

The idea of a place where he'll always have enough to eat, where people will treat him like a brother and he'll have a chance to become a crew member on an airship, seems too good to be true. But, as the Corsair says, there's no place worse than the orphanage, so what does he have to lose?

When Kale chooses to take a gamble and go with the Corsair, he little realizes he's entering a world of danger as well as discovery. The Corsairs may rule the ground as well as the sky, but there are some who chafe under that rule. He will have to learn who he can trust, and quickly.

Because few who go to the sky return to the ground."

I hope you'll take the opportunity to pick it up while it's free, and if you enjoy it reviews and recommendations are greatly appreciated.

[ October 31, 2014, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: Natej11 ]
Posted by johnbrown (Member # 1467) on :
Two posts that may help AND lead you to additional sources of advice.
Posted by johnbrown (Member # 1467) on :
You might find something else useful here:
Posted by Captain of my Sheep (Member # 10362) on :
Any Reddit savvy people here who can give me tips?
I've been a redditor for a year and I've learned a few things that you might find helpful.

Always read the rules of the subreddit you wish to post in. Always. Each subreddit is a world of its own and its denizens have those rules for a reason. You can do a form of self-promotion in most of the subreddits dedicated to writing or reading if you follow their rules.

The best subreddit I can come up with for you is r/fantasy. I think they have weekly posts exclusively dedicated for people to self-promote, even. I've seen a few posts about readers that want to help out self-published writers, too. I don't go there often but when I do, the posts and the comments are always polite.

Their love for reading fantasy is palpable.

Other subreddits you might like to visit:

A post about your book with a link is a major nono. Don't do it. If you contribute with comments for a while and then just happen to drop a link to your book in a comment then that's better.
Or maybe someone posts a question and you just so happen to have a blog post that talks about it, you can link the blog post at the end of your comment, too. (This is assuming you have a blog and that that blog has the cover of your book and a link featured in the sidebar.)

A post about your book with a link is a major nono. Don't do it. If you contribute with comments for a while and then just happen to drop a link to your book in a comment then that's better.

What will get you crucified is a "Here is my book, please buy it" kind of post. People will go and see your comment history for the subreddit and if that's the only post you've made then it won't be appreciated.

Those are the only subreddits about writing that I visit but there are plenty more. The important thing is to read the rules for each, contribute a little first and then study how the people there self-promote.

Hope this helps! If you want to know more you can always email me if you want.
Posted by Sylvia Frost (Member # 10292) on :
Get thee to
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Thanks for the suggestions. There are all sorts of promotional opportunities out there that I'd like to explore, and each new one puts my work before that many more eyes.

Although I still have work to do with making sure it catches those eyes. I noticed that after the success of Corsairs (which probably also benefited from being my first book and drawing much more support from friends and family), with Withered Sea and Veiled Trove the response was far more lukewarm.

I'm sure plenty of that is due to much needed improvements on the book covers, and I could probably go through the blurbs again to make them that much more snappy. But the more I looked at the titles themselves, the less satisfied I was with them. Veiled Trove sounds more like a romance novel than an adventure book, and Withered Sea kind of does too.

So after checking to make sure there's no problem with changing a book title after publication (there doesn't seem to be), I changed Withered Sea to "Revenants" and Veiled Trove to "Undying Heights". Revenants is actually a much better fit anyway since it's the sequel to Corsairs and both refer to relevant groups of people, and Undying Heights is basically the same idea (a location in the book), while sounding much better.

There's still a few kinks to work out, such as waiting to see if the new titles update in search engines and on Goodreads (I could also go into them misattributing a book to my Goodreads profile, but that was easily resolved with an email to a Goodreads librarian). Changing the titles also tanked the search results, something I hope to resolve by doing a few free book promotions, but ultimately I think the new titles will improve the books' reception to prospective customers.

On the subject of free book promotions, I have one going from Feb. 10th-12th (Tues-Thurs) on my newest book Firefly Girl. It's more of a children's fairy tale than a young adult fantasy, and I'm far more satisfied with the cover (even though it could still bear improving)

Anyway here's the link if you want to pick it up while it's free:

And if you enjoyed it I hope you'll review it and recommend it to anyone you think would also enjoy it.
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Advertising on the internet will probably always get you lukewarm results because there are hundreds of other people on dozens of other sites all doing the same thing. People may want to be supportive, but it starts to become an issue of dollars and cents. How many unknown artists do I want to take a risk on in a year with limited financial resources?

If you publish traditionally, the best job you can have to enable a decent number of books sold every year is a university professor. It's not uncommon for new or perspective students to English programs to buy the teachers' book just to see what type of writing they're interested in. If you want to be an English major, it's actually encouraged as part of researching the program.

But other than that, print out some business cards and start pressing palms. Tell people the type of writing you do, where it's available, and let them know they can call if they have any questions.

When you're a small writer, you have to wear a lot of different hats to get your work out there, but I really think it's most effective in the real world, not on the internet.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
You're right, Denevius, the real world is probably the best place to promote my work. Unfortunately for me the real world is pretty small and I prefer to stay within its boundaries [Smile] . I have been contemplating walking down to the local library and exploring my options there, since it's only a block away.

Thanks for the recommendation to visit kboards, Sylvia. I'm really digging the fact that you can showcase your books in your signature. I've got my profile up just in time for my most recent promotion of Corsairs, so I hope to see how it goes.

And on the subject of promotion [Smile] . If you haven't had a chance to pick up Corsairs yet it's free until the end of Monday, Feb. 16th.
Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
I sampled five hundred words of Corsairs. I can think of no way to persuasively guide its successful marketing and because I can think of no way to persuade stronger writing appeal development. The style is the identical lackluster language idiom as, I expect, millions of other self-published works languishing in oblivion, the same as several thousands I've sampled anyway.

To the positive side of the ledger, the novel and its antecedents signal above average effort and aptitude, strong motivation, and potential for skills development. Strong motivation may, with continued effort and newly developed self-guidance from the effort, develop a puddle into an ocean.
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
In the early days, I found that approaching independent book-sellers directly (with a free sample--a book) started the ball rolling. Not certain that method would work now.

As for Corsairs: I wonder how the cover art relates to the story? It gives me no hint about either genre or content. Are you relying on prospective purchasers taking the plunge and reading a sample? You know, investing their valuable time and effort on spec and completely blind.

Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Being from a small town definitely has its setbacks. My last suggestions are:

1) churches: this is common throughout rural America, and they tend to have social functions.

2) fairs: small towns tend to have this somewhere nearby for the kids, and just for the local community to sell their wares.

3) coffeehouses: if there is an artist's community, you can probably find them within a somewhat near radius at your local coffeehouse or Wafflehouse.

But I guess if you don't have a car, or regular access to one, yeah, your options are going to be quite limited. Ah well, either way, best of luck!
Posted by Grumpy old guy (Member # 9922) on :
The Internet is essentially a large room full of people shouting and waving their arms about as they jump up and down trying to get someone’s attention. That’s what anyone who is trying to sell something on the Internet has to do: Get some attention.

I guess, when answering this question, I have to ask: Just why has the writer chosen this method to get their story out into the wide, wide world? Why haven’t they chosen the traditional path through a publishing house? Is it because it was too much work? If that’s the case, you won’t know what work is until you try and promote a book on the Internet. Which, again, brings me back to why publish your self? Couldn’t get out of the slush-pile? That could be telling you something about your story or your style: published authors aren’t lucky, they work hard at their craft and know what they’re doing--for the most part. Let’s not mention 50 Shades of Grey, though. Couldn’t get an agent? Same thing: that could be telling you something. Or, is it just vanity, “Look Ma, I published a book!”

Whatever the case, designing a promotional campaign for your book should start a year before you plan to publish. If you’re serious, then you’ll set up a website or blog for your story, get on Twitter and Facebook and start mentioning it, and doing everything you can to direct traffic to said website or blog where you interact with visitors. Btw, don’t blanket the Internet with promos of your impending story--you'll just annoy people. Then you just keep the ball rolling and post, post, and post about your story and get other people involved. Then, as the release date gets closer, start a countdown and ask for help with book covers, jacket blurbs etc. Any involvement you can encourage is an almost guaranteed sale followed by word-of-mouth praise (hopefully).

That’s just a potted outline; the devil is in the detail, along with the blood, sweat, and tears. [Smile]


Added later, just to depress people:

In Australia, a best selling book will garner sales of about 50,000 copies. If you are publishing on the Internet (this is world-wide distribution we're talking about here) and if your sales don't exceed 150,000 copies in its first year, then your book would be considered a flop by most standards. [Eek!]

[ February 16, 2015, 06:24 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
Posted by Denevius (Member # 9682) on :
Just a quick mention. I don't know anything about Redditz (or hardly much), but a writer acquaintance of mine I recently got in contact with after about two years directed me to a writing prompt he did that I guess Reddtiz users throw up (I'm unsure how it works, honestly).

Anyway, he got more than 500 replies on a prompt that's probably about 200 words, and he spun that into a series of illustrated shorts that seem to be doing well.

People who are familiar with Redditz may already be familiar with their writing venues. But if you're someone who's squeamish about actually interacting in real life to promote your writing, Redditz probably is a good way to go. Lots of stuff that goes viral on the internet seems to start with Redditz.

Some time ago I tried to get into Redditz, but it's why too chaotic for my taste. But if your writing is engaging enough (craft seems not as important), it definitely has its advantages.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
So I've been learning some useful things from kboards, since there are so many independent publishers on there who have been where I am. One really interesting tidbit was about the algorithm for Amazon rankings. Apparently a steady increase in number of purchases will boost you higher on the rankings than an even rate of purchases over the same time.

Because of this the person explaining about the process advised planning your promotion to get that sort of steady increase over time by gradually increasing the number of places you advertise over the course of the promotion, to try to get more customers over time.

This is the exact opposite of what I was doing, which was basically just sending notices out in a burst as soon as the promotion began to try to get a strong surge and bump me up in the ranks, hopefully high enough to get over the hump to where the sales would keep coming in.

So I'm going to try taking his advice during the 5 free days promotion of my newest book, Ithel's Library. I'm also going to ask for advice on places where I can promote the book that other kboards members have had success with. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, if you're interested in checking out Ithel's Library to give me feedback on the cover, blurb, sample excerpt, etc (or if you want to pick up the book to enjoy [Smile] ), the promotion started today. Here's the post I put up on other websites I'm promoting on:

Hey everyone,

Ithel's Library, Book 2 of Legacy of the Deep Gnomes, will be up on a free promotion on Amazon Kindle from Tuesday, Mar. 31st to Saturday, April 4th. Here's the link and the blurb.

Against all odds Drew has survived his trip to the Undying Heights. Unfortunately that hasn't improved his situation with the Watchers much since he failed to bring back the Gruzk artifact he was sent after. Now, with Yavic and his assistant Amy getting closer and closer to their goal, Drew and his friend Tyler must try even harder to help the Watchers retrieve the other pieces of the Druzagh Sidh before they're stolen as well.

Those six pieces were long ago given to races friendly to the deep gnomes, and now the Watchers turn their attention to any ally in possession of one. They must convince those allies to turn their pieces over for safekeeping. Even in that simple task Drew and his friends find themselves neck and neck with the antique hunter, who has been planning his thefts for a very long time and doesn't intend to fail.

To make matters worse they discover that a new enemy has taken an interest in one of the pieces for his own nefarious purposes. Ithel, a fearsome lich whose seat of power is in the Land of the Dead where few dare trespass. In order to protect the Gruzk artifact the Watchers must find a way to deal with him as well.

As if that weren't enough, Drew has doubts about whether they should even be trying to stop Yavic. The antique hunter claims he's going to save the world, so wouldn't stopping him be a bad thing?

Hope you'll take the opportunity to pick it up while it's free, and if you enjoy reading it reviews and recommendations are greatly appreciated.
Posted by dkr (Member # 10397) on :
I am hanging ten on the very edge of taking that same plunge! Again I can't say enough how vital a good, professional editing pass can be.

My publisher and I have utilized this, much to our joy and relief;

The two books to look for here are - Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible. Excellent advice waiting there. Tested and true...
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Thanks for the advice, dkr, and I hope your foray into publishing is a success! I'd definitely recommend taking time before you publish to prepare a promotion strategy and make sure you have all the kinks ironed out. That was something I didn't do and didn't even really know to do, but which would have helped me in the long run. Kboards can help with that because there's a lot of experienced authors who've done it all and can give good advice.

My promotion for Ithel's Library has been fairly lackluster, but I'm going to try something this weekend that I haven't tried before. (Mostly because it's generally agreed to be a less than ideal promotional method.) But I figure I've got free days on all my books that are about to run out so now's the time to try it.

And that's what I'm going to try. All of my books free at once this Friday and Saturday, Apr. 3rd and 4th. The drawback is, obviously, that people won't be buying any of my books since they're getting them all free, where before they might get one book on promotion free then decide to buy others.

But a possible benefit could be that people who weren't interested in picking up a single title from an unknown author if it was part of a series might be more willing to try all the books at once, at which point they could become future customers or recommend the books to others. There's even a 1 in 200 chance (that seems to be the statistic I've seen for my books) that they might leave a review. If extra readers pick up a book during the promotion that will shoot it up in the rankings, which will lead to more potential readers browsing Amazon's top 100 lists picking it up.

At least that's the hope. Anyway here's the link to my author's page where you can find all the books if you're interested in picking them up while they're free.
Posted by Natej11 (Member # 8547) on :
Sad to say I haven't gained any new insights since my last post. Still the same hurdles I need to jump but am too intimidated to or are blocked by other hurdles I also need to jump.

Still, if anyone here has been following my books I wanted to let you know that Invaders, 3rd book in The Protectorate series, is now up and available on Amazon Kindle. Here's the details as I've put them up on other forums, and any thoughts or comments are appreciated:

Invaders will be up for free until July 17th, or this Friday. Here's the blurb:

Kale and Avelya have followed Captain Avernus, the Last Savant, in disobeying orders for the Sylph to fire upon their Revenant brothers and sisters on board the Jormungand. Now they must face the consequences of their choice, which may very well paint them as traitors in the eyes of the Elders.

Fearing the worst Avernus has convinced the crew that their first priority must be to see to the safety of their friends, who may face the wrath of the Elders in retaliation for the Sylph's defiance. Those in the most danger are Avernus's own wife and young daughter, who have already been threatened by the Elders in order to ensure the Last Savant's obedience.

Before being brought back to the sky against his will Avernus told his family to go to the gambling city Renais, on the southeast corner of the continent in the territory of Olympus Skyhold. Aided by their remaining friends Kale and Avelya must travel there to help Avernus mount his rescue, facing the threat of meeting other airships during the voyage who might see them as enemies.

To make matters worse an unknown fleet from across the Withered Sea has appeared to threaten the Protectorate, and Renais is right in their path of conquest.

I hope you'll take the opportunity to pick it up while it's free, and if you enjoy it reviews and recommendations are greatly appreciated.

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