Tag Archives: networking

Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Friends and Cross-Promotion

Ok, for those of you just dropping in, I want to mention that this post is part of a little series where I’m talking about things I did that helped me make it from a complete unknown to the Kindle top 1000 within 8 weeks of self-releasing my first novel, Hush Money. The first post is…here.

You know, I think I mostly covered the “friends” angle yesterday when I talked about social media. So for review, we’re talking about sphere’s of influence. I’m not the most motivated blogger, nor am I great at developing a large following on social media sites. But I have friends who are good at these things, who maintain quality networks with followers who trust them. And because my friends believe in my work, they’ve mentioned my book to their friends, who sometimes even mention the book to their friends. So it doesn’t HAVE to be about who has the most followers. Sometimes you can just be yourself, a good writer and good person, and that will get things going.

Moving on to cross-promotion. This is largely for indie ebooks. While at the 70% rate on Amazon, there’s a little bit of fee involved in how long your book is, for the most part, you can put in as much extra material at the back of your ebook as you want. When someone finishes the ebook version of Hush Money, they can go on to read excerpts from two other indie authors in my genre whose work I recommend: Imogen Rose and Stacey Wallace Benefiel. In addition, I have promo for some other indie authors I like in a related genre. (I have promo, not excerpts, because these friends write adult PNR and I write YA. If it were the other way around, I’d excerpt away.) I also have informational blurbs for all these favorite authors at the back of my print version, and I have a line at the end of my Amazon product description, recommending these authors.

In exchange, I have the beginning of Hush Money at the end of Portal and Glimpse, and I have a line of pimpage in the product description of Glimpse and Forsaken By Shadow.

Does it work? Check out “Customers who bought this item also bought…” on those pages. And look at this category list that Portal and Hush Money hang out on. We’re often very close together, sometimes with no books between us.

A lot of the time, when you read a book, you want more of the same. Right freakin’ now. When a teen paranormal book junkie finishes Portal or Glimpse, they can go right on reading the beginning of Hush Money, without even getting up. Until they get to the end of the excerpt and are forced to buy it because they’re a junkie and they’re hooked on another book already. And yay!ebooks again for giving them instant gratification on that.

So how do you get yourself in someone’s back matter? Um, carefully? How did I ever get the nards to approach two authors I didn’t know about doing this is a better question, but maybe not as important and I still don’t know that anyway. While it’s cool to do this while you’re in the final stages of getting your stuff ready to go, you can do this at any time. Find those books that are most similar to yours. You’re looking for books that will be enjoyed by the same reader. Portal, Glimpse, and Hush Money all have teen characters, supernatural elements, and romance. (And they’re all vampire-free, but that’s more by coincidence than design.) They’re all books that could be enjoyed by the “Twilight crowd.”

I only chose books I had read all the way through, books I enjoyed and believe in. Books I feel good recommending to the people who are paying my author salary. And that’s in terms of quality, but also in terms of genre.

I cold-contacted both of these authors before Hush Money was released. I had put up an excerpt on my site, just for this purpose, and linked them to where they could start reading. That way, I wasn’t a stranger trying to send them an attachment, and they could check out the quality of my writing and decide if they wanted to spend more time on me. In the email, I was clear about what I wanted: I would include excerpts of their books at the back of my ebook, and they would do the same for me in exchange. I was polite, and business-like. I didn’t wheedle, pressure, or sales pitch. I left it open to them to contact me if they were interesting in reading the full manuscript, and I was clear that I would completely understand if this offer wasn’t for them.

And I meant that.

Both authors were completely gracious and enthusiastic about the idea, and I’m sure we’ve all benefitted.

When looking for books, beyond looking for books similar to yours, I would also recommend not looking at the top of the charts. Notice that, even though “Twilight fans” is in my head as an audience, I did not ask to trade with Amanda Hocking. Yes, I would love to ride that comet, but I also wouldn’t have asked Stephanie Meyer if she were an indie. That just seems a little too “poor relation,” if you see what I’m saying. Amanda was already so far ahead of me. (Imogen was farther ahead than uneducated me realized at the time, but lucky for me she’s awesome and nice to me!)

Once you find these authors, consider yourselves a team. You already believe in their work. Promote each other. Do not keep score as far as who’s got a line in their description and who doesn’t, whether you’re in both their Smashwords AND Kindle editions, etc. Do EVERYTHING you can to help your teammates succeed. Be a friend.

Steps for Cross-Promotion:

  • Find authors who write books like yours, those which will appeal to the same readers.
  • Read the books and make sure you can recommend them without reserve.
  • Approach authors in a no-pressure, business-like manner.
  • Do what you can to support your indie team, don’t keep score– bad karma
  • If you approach an author who is not interested, be cool. If you can’t, don’t do this.

I was going to talk about pricing in this post, but it went on longer than I thought it would, as things always do, and why am I surprised by this? We’ll do pricing next time. Thanks for stopping by.

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Filed under books, Hush Money, ideas, Increasing Kindle Rank, insecurities, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, tips, writing

Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Blogging and Social Media

Saturday, I posted about reaching the Kindle top 1000 within 8 weeks of self-releasing my first novel, Hush Money. This post is part of a series in which I’m talking about some things I think helped me get there.

I have pretty much decided that blogging is the thing on which I get the worst ROI (return on investment), as far as my time is concerned. Pretty much every post I write takes more than an hour, often more than two hours. When I look at my blog stats, I can see how many people clicked links from my site to the places where my book is available for purchase. Even on days where I get better-than-normal traffic on the blog, there’s not the kind of clicking of my buy links to my 99cent ebook, of which I get 35cents per download, that’s gonna pay for those hours of work.

But blogging, and all social media activities, are a little more complicated than that, and time spent building and maintaining a network, in whatever way you do it, is about more than a ratio of visits to clicks. For more about the importance of such networking to authors, and a detailed method by which authors can approach it, I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I talked a bit about what’s in the book…here.

I didn’t put the time in on my blog, prior to my book release, to build a good, ready network of readers who were impressed by my brains, curious about my work in progress, and waiting for its release. In fact, I’m still having trouble figuring out what to talk about, and content is inconsistent in both topic and availability. (Hint: if your book’s not out yet, this might be something for you to work on.)

But you know who did? Kait Nolan. When Kait released Forsaken By Shadow, not only did she have a number of readers who were interested in her and knew that it was coming, but she also had a many contacts in the online writing community to approach for a blog tour that exposed her to the networks of, what, thirty different bloggers? In addition to blogging about her writing life, the Shadow and Fang blog focuses on topics of interest to writers: informative articles giving Kait’s perspective on many aspects of craft, as well as on industry news items she reads, and the changes taking place in publishing. This is something she enjoys and has been working on building for the last three years or so.

And I totally benefited from that base when she recommended my book to her readers.

Who else is a good blogger? Book-Crazy Jenn is an example, and one of book bloggers who took the time to share Hush Money with her network. Jenn is an avid reader (I think she’s read over 170 books already this year), and so updates her readers regularly with new books for them to read. She’s full of enthusiasm and warmth, and is a pleasure to read and to work with. She works to develop relationships with authors, which bring them back to her so that she can provide more content of interest to her readers, as well as occasional giveaway items.

And I totally benefited from all her effort when she reviewed Hush Money on her blog, as well as when she published a Q&A we did together. And when she mentioned my name in a post titled: Fangirl, Me?

Do you see where this is going? So you’re not a great blogger…yet. So what? You’re a great fiction writer, right? So buck up, ’cause maybe that’s all you need to be. Do what you can, and then leave the blogging greatness to others and just help them find you.

And then, just take that idea and rubber-stamp it onto other social media. I think it’s important to have some kind of presence, and to try to keep it up to date. After all, the more places you are, the better chance people have to stumble upon you. I have a Facebook profile, but I’m not good at Facebook. I put a little more time into my Facebook (fan) Page because I think it makes more sense to maintain that for people who go out of their way to say they’re interested in that aspect of you. Just because I don’t like Facebook is no reason neglect getting my information to the people who do like it. I do this by having my FB information in Tweetdeck. I do NOT funnel all my tweets to FB. If I were a regular FB user with tweets coming through on my NewsFeed all the time, I think that would really get annoying. But I do use Tweetdeck to send status updates of breaking news to my FB Page when I’m thinking of it without having to actually go to FB. And I try to check the page regularly to respond to any comments. I know the people there can tell that I’m not a FB user, but as long as I don’t make them mad, I think that’s ok.

I treat MySpace the same way, except that my MySpace is a wasteland where I don’t think anyone is listening. I have no idea how it works or how to make friends there. So it’s most just there for informational purposes, should someone happen to stumble across it.

Twitter is the place that I think requires the most hands-on approach. And fortunately, it’s also the easiest and most engaging, once you get into it. I have days where I’m really “on” on Twitter, and others when I have absolutely nothing to say. And still others where I don’t manage to get there at all. One thing I have on Tweetdeck that I want to mention, is a column with a search for my name. You already know when someone’s talking to you with an @mention, but what about when people are talking about you? If you set up a column for your name, you’ll see all those auto-tweets from Goodreads where members have just given you 5 out of 5 stars. So you can RT those if you want, or just send an @reply and say, “Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.” Make friends with people who like your work. They might RT some of your news later on.

And again, with Twitter, it’s not always about the size of your network, but also about the size and quality of your friends’ networks. When @kaitnolan spontaneously decides to send out a great tweet about my book, sometimes people buy. When I ask @zoewinters to RT something important for me, she’s very gracious and always does it right away. People I don’t even know who are just out to support indie writers will RT my tweets and help me sell books. Author Belinda Kroll, aka @worderella is an example of someone who does a lot of spontaneously helpful RTs. So don’t get too down on yourself over your number of followers. Just make friends, be nice to people, and wait for the karma to work its way back to you. (To avoid being a spammy tweeter, maybe check out this recent article on Parajunkee’s View.)

We can’t be everywhere and do everything, but at the same time, isn’t it kind of audacious to decide that readers should work to find you, in the places you’re most comfortable with, because you refuse to maintain any kind of presence in the place they prefer to get their information? I mean, as an author, who’s paying your salary? Just sayin’.

So what are you supposed to take away from this post?

  • You’re probably going to need to suck it up and do this stuff
  • But it’s also not as difficult as it feels
  • Concentrate at least as much on being a mensch as on adding people to your network
  • Get Kristen’s book if you need guidance

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Filed under Hush Money, Increasing Kindle Rank, links, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, tips, writing