Yes, while self-publishing has created new opportunities for us to by-pass the traditional publishing system, the harsh reality we’re now faced with is how to be found. It’s great that as a collective group of indie writers, we all have the same chance of reaching our audiences unencumbered by a publisher. But guess what? Unless you’re marketing your work in a box set with other authors, strength in numbers doesn’t necessarily work in our favor this go-around. In this case – for most of us – by taking a seat in that proverbial same boat, we all just became each other's competitors.
Yes, the blessing of self-publishing is also its greatest hurdle. Why? Because your work doesn’t end once your book goes live. The hard chore at hand commences when you don your marketing hat and use an entirely different set of skills to seek out ways for readers to find you.
To Pay or Not to Pay for Reviews. . .
Book reviews for indie authors is a solid strategy to position you in front of prospective readers. Both free and paid reviews are available and submitting to both types is definitely going to broaden your reach.
The IndieView’s Indie Reviewers List is one to consider. Launched in 2010, it provides self-publishing authors with hundreds of reviewers to choose from. The criteria for review sites to qualify for the list are as follows:
- Actively posting reviews
- Review Indie eBooks (Indie is defined as self-published and small press)
- Not charge for their reviews
- Not be affiliated with a publisher
- Have submission guidelines in place for an indie author to submit an eBook
Reviewers list their genre preference (if they have one) and the URLs where your review will be posted. Here is a sampling of a couple of reviewers found on the site.
As an added benefit for authors who achieve at least one four-star review or better, they’re permitted to sign up for a complimentary promo page on the IndieView site to gain additional exposure. There you can list and edit your bio, books and other reviews and recommendations you’ve achieved over time.
On the paid side of the ledger, Kirkus Reviews (a review site that dates all way back to 1933) is now also reviewing the work of indie authors. Based on its longevity, it’s considered by the literary world as one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. The process for writers who have a budget is fairly simple. Requesting a review just takes a few minutes to fill out their online order form, where you’ll note whether you’ll be sending a printed or digital copy of your manuscript, by snail mail or an online upload.
Standard service, which takes 7-9 weeks, costs $425, or you can put a rush on a review, which turns it around in 4-6 weeks at a $575 fee. When you submit your order, you’ll get a response from the Kirkus team confirming receipt of your request.
IndieReader’s founder Amy Edelman indicates that her site has been offering paid reviews for indie authors for some time now as well. One of the advantages if considering the IndieReader review option is their annual IndieReader Discovery Awards that represents the best from the website’s reviewed books. (For more on how their award program works, my previous blog post, “Achieving Indie Book Awards When Nobel Laureate Is Not In The Cards – Part I,” breaks it down in detail for you.
It’s always wise to check in with your local city libraries and bookstores to see if they are picking up on the latest trend to feature the work of local indie authors at their establishments. At the Rochester Central Library in upstate New York, librarians have responded to the public’s interest in this type of merchandising with their very own Self-Published Book Festival. Held this past February, the day-long event featured local authors promoting their work in a trade-show type of event.
The Clinton Book Store in New Jersey has actually carved out space in their store to also merchandise the work of their locals—and also feature them online. “Our local authors love to make themselves available to meet with local book clubs and aspiring authors,” is the promo message on their website.
Social Networks present authors with yet another opportunity to market their work inexpensively. With limited budgets, authors can access a distribution channel where they can telegraph their marketing messages to wide audiences, with virtually no cash outlay.
Consider branding yourself on Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn and Pinterest in a consistent manner, and engage with your followers and fellow writers. Do keyword searches for “indie authors” and “self-publishing” for starters, and then follow-up with those who might be interested in your genre; e.g., “romance,” “spy thrillers,” “young adult,” etc.
You can also search the same networks for hashtags like, such as #GoodRead #AmReading #MustRead to see what interested readers are saying about new books they’ve read recently. Then follow those who are reading what you prefer. Author Brandi Megan Granett at the Huffington Post notes that social networks allow for two-way conversations in real-time. “One of the best things about this new publishing marketplace is the level of access we all have to each other and new books. Spark up a conversation with an author or reader you like, and you just may start a literary friendship,” she notes.
Don’t Shoot for the Moon - You Won’t Find Readers There!
If you want people to find you, set your goals modestly at the onset. For newbies to sell a million copies of their books or to make the best-seller lists, it takes a lot of the stars in the heavens to align themselves, just perfectly.
So don’t attach yourself to a goal that has the odds stacked against you, as it will only lead to disappointment.
In the beginning, it’s more about building a reputation, credibility and honing your craft. If you’re really looking for ways for prospective readers to find you, it’s most important to write for your audience, not yourself. Books are found and sold by word-of-mouth, so by employing some of today’s tactics and tips, you will have gained a solid foothold in making this discovery process begin to work for you.
We love to keep our indie authors happy. Join BookWorks’ network of established and emerging self-published authors and gain exclusive insight into publishing and promoting your book. Sign up HERE.