Firstly, you will notice how plain this blog page is. It is devoid of stunning pictures, a myriad of notices, and copious text flowing around jaw-dropping travel pictures. I’m sorry. No, really, I’m sorry because at the moment I have no idea how to do that stuff. I have only recently begun to find my way around the Net but I find I’m in good company. There are many new people discovering exactly what I’m discovering through digital self-publishing. These are some of the things I’ve learned along the way that you may find helpful if you’re contemplating self-publishing on the Net:
1) Jacket blurb – Romance is king. Or should I say, queen. Always the top genre in print, it is even more so on the Net. This led me to thinking about my customers – where would I find them on the Net, and how I would package my product. My books are for women and about women – but they’re not romance novels, rather psychological thrillers. When positioning, promoting, advertising your book – the gender, age-group and the background of your reader must be considered. A nice cover is one thing, a good title is another – but who is looking and where they are looking is critical. Romance genre writers have this taped – their covers and titles signify exactly what they’re about; likewise paranormal romance and most science fantasy. But if you’ve written book that doesn’t portray itself clearly by it’s cover, you are left with a short jacket description with which to give your potential readers an understanding of what the book is about. If they can’t tell the book by it’s cover, that little paragraph that goes up beside your cover is the difference between interest and no interest – and you have exactly three seconds to explain yourself. So give this piece of writing the greatest attention. Rewrite until it shines with both intrigue and clarity of content. It is not the plot in three sentences – it is about what type of book it is.
2) Multiple books – It seems that prospective buyers are heartened by a list of books by an author. They interpret this as: good/trustworthy/serious/professional/worth a try. It also means that your name will be wider spread on the net with a spread of books – Google likes this. So, my advice would be to wait until you have two complete novels before you set up on the Net. My choice was Smashwords and luckily, by the time I discovered this site, I already had four books to go up. So I had a running start. One book looks lonely in the field – two looks like serious business.
3) View yourself as a brand – This is key to developing a marketing program. Begin with a Facebook page as a brand page. Forget the personal one – that’s personal. The brand page needs to be developed to stand alone as a business/brand page – and for that, you need 25 ‘likes’. These, initially, you may have to beg from friends and family – and then eventually build on through advertising your books. But to start with, build for free through those you know, and who they know. Once the page is accredited as a brand page, you can link to a Twitter account and drive both together. If you can set up a blog, so much the better – and find time to connect on topics and interests as you choose. Twitter engages in direct interface with many people. Look to follow people who will provide you with valuable information and try to provide value in your tweets in return. Retweet and reply as often as you can where your interest is genuinely peaked. Don’t only promote yourself and your work to the exclusion of engaging with others on their work, and you’ll slowly forge relationships.
4) Advertising – Once you’ve targeted your books to the right audience, and you’ve set up your brand and begun to develop a social platform, you are in a good position to tackle advertising. This is where you will, for the first time, have to spend some money. But on the Net a little advertising precisely targeted, can go a long way. And Facebook allows you to do this with the precision of a heat missile. PPC – Payperclick advertising allows you control over your budget, and a perfect map of your target market with regard to gender, age group and social situation.
This is what I’ve learned thus far. There’s a whole lot more still to learn and I’m enjoying every second of this new learning curve. For those of you who are thinking of taking this route, don’t hesitate. You will not only control the writing of your book, but its public life thereafter. And to those of you with way more to say than I’m able at this point, please put me right if I’ve missed an important point or failed to emphasize a key aspect. May I wish you all great success in the brave new world of Indie authoring!