I’m sure you’re familiar with the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”! Ideally, it takes that same village to help a writer promote his books. With a plethora of books from every genre known to man, and a few new ones like Psionic, it’s getting progressively difficult to compete in a glutted market.
In an effort to garner a following, many independent authors have opted to give our books away for free. Middlemen, who have no literary talents, have become wealthy in our business by virtue of the book giveaway companies they’ve formed. They advertise our hard work and offer it to the public for free. To register with the more famous of these companies, we must pay them for the privilege of giving away our blood, sweat, and tears.
I’m not blaming readers, since I’ve snagged a few of these freebies myself, but this is not always beneficial to writers. Sure, we go into giveaways saying we’ll just enter this one. From there we end up thinking to get the success we want, we should probably just give away the first book altogether, and then sell the others after that. I’ve seen writers compelled to sell their entire boxed sets for .99 cents.
Readers have a village, too. It’s fed by thousands of independent authors who don’t have any other way to get the marketing, support, and reviews they need to attain success. Consequently, they give away their product for a mere pittance. I’ve had readers ask me when my book is going to be free or .99 cents. “I love your writing! Your plots are so intriguing. I’m chumping at the bit for your next freebie. I’ll kill myself if I miss it!
Really! Then wouldn’t it behoove you to pay $2.99 or $3.99 to save your life?
Back to the Writers Village
Since launching my first full-length book five months ago, I’ve encountered some pretty awesome folks. I call them my Village. Each of them has impacted the writing, presentation, and marketing of my novel in meaningful ways. I didn’t go looking for what I found and that makes it all the more awesome.
I was looking for someone who’d know me—someone, besides my family, who’d care if I published a book. At that point I hadn’t yet completed the book, but it was forming in my head. I approached a couple of groups on Goodreads and exchanged “like my Facebook page” type interactions with them. What I found were screaming memes and book covers that said, Me, Me, Me!
That was if their sites were even professional or functional. (Goodreads has some wonderful groups. I didn’t know what to look for at the time).
Eventually, I stumbled upon a relaxed, low-key, getting things done group of like-minded authors. They also accepted readers as members. Initially, I stayed in the background and offered help and support. I liked the way they supported each other and I knew that even if I never completed a book, I’d want to be with these folks. After two years, I was ready to publish and they encouraged me to participate in a group sponsored writing conference. My excerpts were well received and from there I reached out to a well-known publishing company president in the indie community. Yes! She’d be interested in helping to create my first ever book trailer.
In helping me and the many others she’d supported, she would also be helping her company to grow, because that’s just how villagers think. She patiently walked me through the process, critiquing things like my cover fonts and image choices, while explaining that certain pictures weren’t going to work well to help sell the trailer. She offered encouragement throughout the process.
I heard about another villager, a children’s book author, who had created the most wonderful posters for other authors’ marketing campaigns. I’ll call her Mary. I reached out to Mary and asked for her help in creating a product for me. She took my project on, but she wasn’t satisfied with the work she’d created for me.
She informed me that if she’d known the story, she could’ve done so much better. I sent an ARC for her to read whenever she got time. In the meantime, I went ahead, using the posters she’d created (they looked fine to me)! Mary didn’t read my book right away. She put it in her queue, but eventually she got around to it.
What ensued from there were two new posters, at no charge, And… a stellar, unsolicited, Amazon book review. Mary is a prolific writer on her own. She works! But not a day goes by that she doesn’t tweet out to her followers in support of my book.
Through the suggestion of another author, I went back to my previous indie publishing company to have them produce my first blog tour. Awesome villagers, all authors, signed up to host me on their blogs and each day one of them turned over a page to introduce me to their readers and colleagues. I owe these bloggers my gratitude, but I can’t name them because when you have something as awesome as our “thing” people see it working and try to tear it down.
Another villager would DM me regularly on Twitter to see if I’d thought of promotional things. She asked questions like, did you schedule a blog tour; did you register on books down low; have you looked into KDP advertising? Last, but certainly not least, she reviewed my book on Amazon.
She remarked on things she hated to see go unchecked in what she considered a good book. That critique gave me impetus to reread and make minor corrections that made for a better read. I’d paid GOOD money for an editor, but I could’ve kept the money for all the g-o-o-d that editor did me. (I will use a village editor next time).
Even now, there are many villagers who keep my name and my book alive through Twitter and I appreciate them so much. One is an awesome supporter and I’m so glad I ended up on his team. He goes out of his way to make sure we get noticed. Promotion is a thankless job unless your team reciprocates. Unfortunately all teams don’t and here I’d like to say it’s not always good to receive. Sometimes, in order to keep the strong chi flowing our way, we’ve gotta give!
Personally, I believe that our readers can read more than one or two authors in a season. I certainly can and that is why I constantly tweet out good books by struggling indie authors like me.
I could have accomplished these things by hiring the creative people we see advertising on the web, but it wouldn’t have been as satisfying as knowing who I was working with. It was worth everything to know that people were interested in my success.
Before I go, I’d like to emphasize that my village is a diverse one. So I need my readers to support diverse books. Readers, please provide diverse marketing support without trying to influence who your readers get to hear from. Readers are intelligent beings and they appreciate choice. After all, reading opens up new worlds of possibilities or at least glimpses into new villages.
Before I Go
Finally, search out these authors on Amazon because there are enough readers in the world for us all to share.
S. Jackson, When Angels Fly, http://amzn.to/2qTFGmJ
Raven Price http://amzn.to/2chXbai,
Patricia Guthrie http://amzn.to/2pZnKaa
John Howell http://amzn.to/2pZntnE
Marlena Smith, http://amzn.to/2pULj5H
A. M. Manay http://amzn.to/2pUOz0R
Beem Weeks http://amzn.to/2pUBqVi
Shirley Slaughter http://amzn.to/2evZFAz
Stephen Geez, http://amzn.to/2dyLf4V
Yvette Calleiro http://amzn.to/2qBDeDJ
Nonnie Jules http://amzn.to/2qTuXIR
Literary Services offered by Rave Reviews Book Club can be found at: http://bit.ly/2pUtnIg
Author Linda C. Mims author of the paranormal, dystopian novel, The Neon Houses http://amzn.to/2qzrIYV