With the rise of the internet and social media, the common wisdom says that fewer people are reading books. But, according to multiple sales reports, there are still billions (yes, billions with a “B”) of books being sold worldwide every year. Hardbacks and paperbacks have made a slight comeback lately, but not surprisingly, the segment with the highest growth expectation is still ebooks. This is good news for indie authors who almost always choose to release their books electronically, given the economic advantages of that publishing method.
So, now that we know people are still buying books by the virtual truckload, the question every author has to face is “How do I get readers to buy MY book?” That’s the tricky part isn’t it? Most avid readers have a set of favorite authors they like to read and tend to go back to those same sources time and time again. Why fix something that isn’t broken, right?
But, if you’re a new author trying to break into the business, how do you get readers to give your book a try? While there aren’t any methods guaranteed to work for every book, we have a few suggestions that have been proven successful for quite a few authors, including one on our staff whose book downloads can be counted in tens of thousands.
Connect with readers online
Sadly, publishing isn’t like Field of Dreams. If you publish it, they will NOT always come. Failing to connect with readers would be a huge mistake. Readers want to know more about their favorite authors. You’ll need a website with a blog where you can engage your readers.
And by “engage” we do NOT mean that you should constantly spam them with “please leave a review” requests or updates about your book countdown deals and WIP. Ask them what THEY think. What THEY like. What THEY’RE reading (even if it’s not your book). Be approachable and friendly. Your efforts will earn you a loyal (sometimes rabidly loyal) following.
We know, we know. Spending time on social media takes time away from writing your next book. But if you want anyone to remember you between releases, you’ll need to maintain a consistent presence on social media (at the very least Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads). Set aside an hour a day to address your social media platforms. You won’t regret it.
Give your book away for free
This one hurts your heart. We understand that. You spent months (maybe years) writing your book baby, and the thought of offering it for free is devastating. But it’s a fact that some readers just aren’t willing to pay for a debut author’s work. They’d rather pay for a sure thing: an author they’ve read and enjoyed before. Consider running a short, free launch for your debut work. It’ll help you start strong on Amazon, which will help the almighty algorithm realize you exist.
Learn how Amazon works
The inner workings of Amazon are complex and sometimes confusing, but not indecipherable. Your choice of book categories and search words can make all the difference when trying to get your book noticed. Consider reading Let’s Get Visible, which offers good, practical advice for navigating Amazon successfully. The book talks about the other platforms, too (Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, etc.)--but let’s face it, Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. If you master Amazon, you’ll be in good shape.
Write another book
This one seems obvious, but it’s true nonetheless. If readers see that your debut effort wasn’t a fluke, they’ll be more likely to buy your future releases.
Authors, what do you think? Did we miss anything? Feel free to comment and share your wisdom with the group.