Whether you’re published by a small, traditional press or you’re your own publisher, getting recognized is always a problem. Unless you’re already a big name, traditional publishers aren’t going to spend marketing dollars on you. They may give you a marketing plan and suggest a publicist to hire, but you’re not going to get full-service marketing from them.
And if you’re independently published, the same is true. Marketing and publicity is up to you, unless you have the bucks to hire a marketing consultant and/or a publicist. Either way, you’re often relegated to the no-no post on social media: “Please buy my books.”
Any author in this circumstance has readers or fans, and in some ways because that’s generally a small group, it can be a positive in terms of interaction with them. However, as your fans, they can help. Here are a few suggestions.
Buy Your Favorites’ Books
Duh, right? Marketing consultants always caution against the hard push, the “buy-my-books” call to action in your marketing because it can put readers off. They like to make their own decisions about what to buy, and they don’t want to be pushed into it. Consultants will offer softer, less directive wording.
Whichever, the best way to support an author is to buy his or her books. Yes, it means we get royalties, but so does your favorite singer when you download a song; so does a farmer when you shop for groceries. You get the picture.
Buy books. Mine would be nice, but simply buy books.
The obvious one, right? Many publishers withhold perks from authors until a review threshold is met. After 25 or 50 or ever how many, the publisher might do some marketing for you. Some traditional publishers will withhold the production of an ebook until the hardback or paperback garners a specific number of sales. What are a lot of sales based on? Reviews from readers.
There are many places where you can pay for reviews, but you get what you pay for, i.e., is it an honest review or did the reviewer say good things because he or she got paid? And you want an honest review. Nothing puts a reader off more than to see a plethora of positive reviews bought and paid for, but the book itself doesn’t live up to them.
Your friends and family can review, but on some sites, namely Amazon, if the ‘Zon bots determine there’s a connection between a reviewer and an author, they won’t allow the review or will take it down.
There are book bloggers who review, but, frankly, anyone can set up a blog and declare themselves a book reviewer. Ideally, what you want is an “influencer,” whatever that is, to review your books, and that takes research. Even then, if you don’t hook up with someone who gets or likes your genre, you run the risk of a bad review.
Don’t get me wrong, reviews are important, and you should seek them from friends, family, readers, influencers, etc. There is usually a reminder at the end of ebooks to review what you’ve just read. If you have a Kindle, you can turn on a feature that automatically posts to Goodreads what you’re reading, and when you finish a box pops up to remind you to review. I generally put a review reminder as the last page of my books.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be a book report. Stars will do, because potential readers can see how many people gave how many stars. That is not the primary reason I read a book, but if the description intrigues me, I do go look at how many stars and read a couple of reviews before I click buy now.
Give Books as Gifts
I love getting and giving books. I give away short stories as book magnets. I even give away copies of my books at times because the whole point is to get them into someone’s hands. Not to keep harping on the ‘Zon, but it is the biggest elephant in the room; it also makes giving ebooks or print books to other people easy to do.
What better way to support the author of a book you like than to give a copy to someone you think would like it, too? You’ve cemented a friendship and helped make an author’s day.
When I like a book, I tell people, especially if it’s something I think they’ll like. Word of mouth has sold millions of books, and it’s still a viable tool today. No reviews involved, and if you’ve read a book from the library, no cost either.
I love it when people suggest a book to me, and I keep a running list on my iPhone of what people have recommended. And on occasion I get a recommendation in a genre I don’t usually read, but if it comes from a friend who I know likes good books, I’ll give it considerable consideration.
Because technology has made video conferencing easier, having the author of a book club book “appear” at the meeting where that book is discussed is really cool. I can remember back in 2000 when my very first book came out traipsing all over Virginia to speak at book clubs. Now, I can Skype or FaceTime easily.
So, if you’ve read a book you like, recommend it to a book club you belong to. Better yet, start a book club and invite the author to “come” to the discussion to answer questions. Hey, one thing we do like to do is talk about our books!
Recommend on Goodreads
Goodreads is great for readers but a bit complicated for authors. We can get an author page and post our works, but Goodreads runs off reader recommendations, not author pleadings. Again, if you don’t want to write a lengthy review, you can simply recommend the book on Goodreads for other readers.
Another source for recommending books is BookBub. Though not as big as Goodreads, it’s up and coming.
Get Your Library to Stock a Book
Particularly for independent authors, getting a public library to notice you is difficult. Usually, the only way that happens is if a patron comes in and declares he or she can’t find a book he or she wants to read. Librarians like to keep patrons happy and will generally order the requested books.
And once it’s in a library’s system, the book is available for inter-library loans.
Use Your Social Media
Yes, when you like a book, you can tell your friends, but announcing that on social media exposes that book to hundreds of other potential customers. Again, you don’t have to write a book report; merely a couple of sentences about why you liked the book.
Post pictures of you holding or reading the book–a book selfie–too. That way people will know what it looks like when they go to buy it.
In this day and age, they might be fan emails or fan IMs or whatever electronic messaging you use. Frankly, these are my favorite things to get. Readers who’ve contacted me have always had positive things to say. Even when they’re critical of something, it’s been constructive. For example, many readers love my main protagonist, Alexei Bukharin (and I do, too). Recently, someone messaged me about A Perfect Hatred: Bad Company and said, “Oh, the things you put that poor man through!” That gave me a good laugh but also encouraged me because somebody besides me likes him.
I love using snippets of fan letters in my marketing–de-identified, of course. I feel as if I’m sharing an honest assessment of my work, and I think that resonates more with people who are new to my work.
There You Have It!
Quick, easy things to do to support an author you like, no matter how he or she has been published. Do as much of this as you can, and you’re part of that author’s success.