It’s been a month since my debut novel Blue Karma hit digital shelves, and the ensuing weeks spurred my next stage of evolution as an author: from pure writer/editor to publicist. Anyone who thinks publishing an e-book is a “set it and forget it” enterprise is in for a shock. If you really want your book to have a chance at success, you have to become a one-person marketing division.
Promoting a book is, in some ways, as much effort as writing the darn thing in the first place. Self-published novels flood markets these days, so distinguishing your book from the endless glut of vampire romance, insipid thrillers, and paradox-laden sci-fi is a tremendous challenge. Still, don’t despair for your indie ebook! If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, try some plays from my (developmental) Indie Author’s Guide to Shameless Self-Promotion:
- Freebies. The first step of shameless self-promotion isgetting your book into as many hands (or onto as many e-readers) as possible. Four times as many people downloaded Blue Karma from Amazon on the single day I offered it free than paid for a copy in its first month of publication. It may seem contrary to the idea of selling your novel, but it’s an investment. If some of those people who get the book for free give it a positive review or recommend it to a friend, it will earn you back the few lost dollars (and, ideally, more).
- Blogging. If you don’t have a blog already, what are you waiting for? Maintaining a website on topics of interest to your target demographic can connect you with potential new readers. For example, since I write primarily speculative fiction, my blog features trending science news and discussions of relevant genres, topicsI think will attract the types of readers who might be interested in my novel. An established blog is also the perfect platform for generating advance interest about your next book. The trick is to avoid pure advertising. No one wants to read a ceaseless parade of posts abjuring them to buy your book. But provide fresh content on related themes, and you’ll slowly build a base of regular readers.
- Book review blogs. Browse GoodReads or WordPress and you’ll find plenty of prolific, well-followed book review bloggers, many of whom are glad to review indie novels. Contact those who feature genres appropriate for your bookand offer them a complimentary copy in exchange for their honest review. In addition to their own sites, many bloggers will post their review on hubs like GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, multiplying exposure for your book. I’ve had great success with this method so far. Best of all, it’s introduced me to some thoughtful, interesting bibliophiles whose blogs I truly enjoy browsing in my free time.
- GoodReads. With 25 million members and over 20,000 book groups, there’s no better place to build a platform and connect withpotential readers. But simply slapping an advertisement in the “Author Promotion” threads won’t do. Find groups dedicated to your genre and start talking. Get involved in some discussions and share some thoughts. Be an active community member, not just a billboard. If you contribute thoughtful posts, people will check out your profile and notice your book. When they tag it to read, their friends will see it. And so on.
- Persistence. Few things are more discouraging than seeingyour Amazon sales chart flatline. But how long did you spend writing your book? Blue Karma took me over a year. After that, a few months’ launch time doesn’t seem so onerous. We’d all love our novel to be an overnight bestseller, but that’s not realistic. Accept that it’s going to take longer than you’d like to generate momentum for your book. Don’t be daunted, and don’t give up.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of options; there are many promotional avenues I haven’t yet explored. Blue Karma is presently an e-book exclusive, which precludes opportunities like book signings at my local library or bookshop. I’ve also elected to pursue only cost-free marketing methods for the time being; I want to see how much I can accomplish with my own effort before I experiment with paid advertising.
It will be a while before I can assess accurately whether my strategy proved successful. Shameless self-promotion is a brave new world for me, and probably for most other indie authors making their debut. But so far the tactics discussed here seem to be working for me, so if the prospect of launching your book seems overwhelming, try a few of these approaches. Hopefully they’ll work for you, too!
About the Author
J.K. Ullrich likes to joke that she began writing environmental fiction at age six, when she won the local library’s Captain Planet essay contest. In the ensuing 20+ years, she earned a B.A. in English and pursued a successful career in analytical writing, although fiction remains her true passion. She published her debut novel, Blue Karma, in 2015. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her running on a favorite trail, jamming with a local cover band, or yelling at her baseball team. Keep up with J.K. on her website, www.jkullrich.com.
Water. It covers almost three-quarters of the planet, comprises more than half the human body, and has become the most coveted resource on Earth.
Amaya de los Santos survived the typhoon that left her an orphan. Now she scrapes by as an ice poacher, illegally harvesting fresh water for an always-thirsty market. But when she rescues an injured enemy soldier, she’s pulled into a storm of events more dangerous than any iceberg. After years of relying only on herself, she must learn to trust another…or risk losing all that’s left of her family.
Logan Arundson should be dead. After a mysterious attack destroys his military unit, he abandons his Arctic post for his native California, where droughts have made water a religion and a resource worth killing for. But when the water wars follow him home, he must face his frozen demons if he wants to save his town…and the girl he loves.
Paul Hayes is heir to an empire. But being vice president of a powerful hydrology company isn’t all gardens and swimming pools: he deals with ice poachers, water rights, and the crushing expectations of his CEO mother. His investigation into company sabotage and the miraculous appearance of a lake in a small California town lead him to a shocking discovery…and an impossible decision.
Blue Karma is a story of choices and consequences, humanity and love.
Buy it now on Amazon