Do you love indie authors (or an indie author)? SkipJack loves indie authors. In fact, we love them so much, we publish them. Which begs the question of whether they’re really indie anymore once we do that, so we’ll answer it. Yes, yes they are.
We’re an indie author collaborative, and our authors have our help and meager investment, but not to the level of the authors published by traditional publishing companies. For instance, when an indie author releases a book, most of the sales are done online or in person. There is no mega-order from Barnes & Noble shipped out to all its bookstores by the publisher.
We’re an indie imprint, if you will, an indie consortium, an indie co-op of sorts. Our authors still spend their own coin, and, if they don’t shop it out, they slave over editing, cover design, manuscript formatting and ebook creation. They just do it smarter and faster with our help.
As you can probably guess, since we love indie authors so much, we would like to show the fans and supporters of indie authors– whoever you are, stalking around in our cyberlobby — how to help indie authors succeed. And it’s all based around the most powerful and ageless concept in publishing: word of mouth.
We’ll cover a wide range of options in this long-ish blog post, starting with the simplest and moving on to the most complex ideas. I’m sure the indie author in your life would appreciate any efforts you make on her behalf, even if you stop after the first one. But, heck, why not try them all? Any of us can eat a very large elephant, if we just do it one bite at a time (and preferably utilize vacuum sealed freezer bags, because it’s going to take you a while). I will not address the vegan/vegetarian ramifications of this last statement; suffice it to say that I truly meant “can” and not “will want to.” Now, back to the topic of promoting indie.
The Old-fashioned Way
Buy their dang books, people, in whatever form — print, ebook, audio, or whatever. But don’t just buy them. Read them. Tell everyone and their long-legged brother how much you loved them. Lend one to a friend, who might in turn buy the book as a gift for someone or tell five other people about it, who then go buy it. And there’s an idea — you can give them as gifts! Put one on your book club’s reading list; start a book club if you don’t have one. Ask your local bookstore to order it for you. Ditto your library. Your words are powerful. Use them.
The Techie Way, but Low Techie
A. Subscribe by email to your favorite writers’ blogs and newsletters. Then forward them to other people, who might also subscribe or visit your authors’ websites. This connection can lead to book sales. While you’re at it, follow them on all forms of social media.
B. On Facebook, Twitter, and similar social media sites, post links to the authors’ books. Or share/retweet links posted by others.
C. Everybody uses Amazon. Logon to Amazon (http://amazon.com), and do several important things:
1. Visit their author pages. “Like” them. Share/tweet them. If you don’t know how to find their author page, then go to one of their books. If you click on their name below the title of the book, it will take you to the author page. If you don’t know how to find their books, you’re in trouble. No, seriously, just search for the book by name in the search box. It’s in the center of the page near the top.
2. Visit every one of their books. “Like” them. Share/tweet them.
a. If you feel favorably about the books, leave favorable “reviews,” with credible ratings. Write from the heart. It can be super short. Rate it, too.
b. OK, this next one is advanced, are you ready? Add “tags” (descriptive words) to each book page. Don’t be scared. It’s super easy, and, along with sales rankings, “likes,” and reviews, it is critical to the future sales of the books. Why? Because the tags/descriptive words are “searchable.” So, if the book is about dogs, you could tag it with dogs, but also with daschunds, dalmatians, and dobermans. Ah, so.
i. You get fifteen tags/descriptive words per Amazon user. Use them all. You want to get super-strategic? Tag the books with words about popular books, movies or authors that are similar to your authors’ books and would attract new searchers to them. Think of someone typing in a search for “Books like The Notebook” or “Nicholas Sparks,” and coming up with your author (who is not Nicholas Sparks and did not write The Notebook, or you wouldn’t be reading about how to help an indie author) …pretty awesome, huh?
ii. Where do you tag the books? It’s way down at the bottom of the book’s page, under “Tags Customers Associate With This Book.”
3. Your author probably doesn’t make a lot of money if you buy on Amazon, at least not directly, but indirectly, your Amazon purchases improve your author’s Amazon sales rankings and that in turn can drive up their future sales. Which makes them more money than you just buying their one piddly book, right? Amazon controls the largest share of the sales in the indie book market, and sales increases on Amazon lead to increases in sales…on Amazon. Here’s how it works. Statistics tell us that for each page a book moves “up” in the sales rankings in different Amazon categories, that book gets a seven percent bump in sales. One page up — seven percent increase. Two pages forward — 14%. And so on. That’s because buyers get tired of paging through the rankings and either bail out or buy something they come on one of the first few pages. Make sense? Now, I’m not telling you to buy on Amazon. But I am saying that it could make a difference to an indie author.
Not High Tech, But For The InterWeb Savvy
A. People buy books online at other retailers, too, and the best places, besides Amazon, for an indie author are Barnes & Noble (http://barnesandnoble.com) and Smashwords (http://smashwords.com). On B&N, you can leave a review/rating, and that’s pretty much it. But on Smashwords, you can “favorite” the author, and “like” all their books, which is awesome. Unfortunately, you have to buy the book on Smashwords in order to leave a review. Ask your author friend nicely, and I’ll bet they’ll give you a 100% off coupon code to download the ebook in exchange for that great rating/review you’re eager to give. You can’t do 100% off coupons on Amazon, but Smash is great for this. (Authors, take a breath. I’ll address Kindle Select and free ebooks on Amazon some other time. This post is for your fan club, not you guys.)
Don’t forget to share/tweet the author and book pages on your social media.
B. There’s a virtual author/reader social club online, and it is a powerhouse: Goodreads (http://goodreads.com). Join, people, join. Here, you can “fan” your author, rate and review all their books, and even add their books to your “to-read” list. By adding their books to your to-read list, you are in essence recommending to the world that they all do the same. Or at least to the world comprised by your Goodreads friends. Goodreads is very helpful with friends, and allows you to send invites to all your Twitter and Facebook friends who are already on Goodreads, so you can bond with your homeys almost instantaneously. Your author might feed their blog through Goodreads, and, if so, be sure to stop by and like his posts occasionally.
Bonus: you’ll read more if you stop by Goodreads from time to time. The book discussions are scintillating and the offerings delicious.
C. Do you Pinterest? From a page with your author’s book and an image of its cover, “Pin it” and include a comment about why you love it. The power of the Pin.
D. Do you Stumbleupon? Again, from a page with something awesome about your author and their book, stumbleit.
Now I’m Talking To The Bloggers
A. Invite your author to guest post. They can whip up a custom confection for your site, or you can interview them.
B. Here’s an idea: you write about their book — as in, review it. I’ll bet your author friend will even give you one of those Smashwords 100% discount coupons so you’ll have an ebook for a giveaway. Don’t expect expensive loot, though. Indie authors are ramen-noodle eating, Salvatian Army clothes-wearing sorts of people whose kids walk uphill in snow to school, and like it.
C. Guest post on their blogs, which brings your traffic over to meet them, and potentially creates followers/purchasers.
D. Join Amazon Associates and make money by selling your author’s books directly from Amazon links/widgets on your blog. Do the same for the Affiliates Programs with Barnes and Noble, and with Smashwords (and any others).
D. And of course, share/post/tweet/pin/stumble like mad over all of the posts created above.
What have I left out? I’m not some sort of savant here, so pepper this post with ideas in the comments. And, readers, especially readers who subscribe by RSS or email, be sure to visit the the actual website version of this post, because the comments will contain the latest and great tips from those smarter than me.
Bonus: Here’s an author’s hyper-organized grass-roots marketing spreadsheets, for her “army,” free for you to download and emulate. If you hover your mouse over the icons below the frame, it will show you the options. The down-pointing arrow is for download.
Some of you are salivating with intention and I lost others of you at the first mention of booting up your computer. That’s OK. Send us an email with questions. We can walk you through it step by step. If you’re brave enough, leave it in the comments. That way everyone gets the benefit of our answers.
Now, let’s practice some of the skills we learned today, boys and girls. What are you going to do with this post???? (Hint: share/tweet/post/pin/stumbleit…) And be sure to subscribe to our informational Indie Publishing Blog while you’re here, and follow us on twitter (@SkipJackPublish).
Remember, we Skip all that Jack. So can you.
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