Maybe you’ve been writing your blog so long you have weeks of content already planned out. Maybe the promotion is, at this point, practically on auto-pilot. But for those of you that are just getting started or that are struggling to get traction, I’m going to give you the skinny on the 10 things that are working for me.
1) Take Your Time. Don’t jump the gun when choosing your design. In addition to getting your first blog post up for the world to see, create a few static pages for readers to peruse and learn more about you and your work. I started with About The Book, A Letter From The Author and my Blog. I spent hours making sure my header image displayed properly on every page, that the layout worked with my page titles and that I had three blog entries ready to go before making my site public. I have since added Teasers, Contact info, and even a Community Story.
2) Content Is King. This is such an oldie, but still a goodie. There is no gimmick or marketing strategy good enough to overcome a content deficit, so spend the time to create good content that will appeal to your target audience. This is an author blog for a dark urban fantasy novel, so my target audience includes other authors, potential readers, and fans of the genre. Therefore I blog about the writing process, marketing, and editing. I also post teasers for BLOOD TOY twice a week and typically one random blog per week about something meaningful to me.
3) Spread The Love. If you write, it is a safe bet you do a lot of reading. If you blog, it is a safe bet you read a lot of other blogs. Those blogs are bound to inspire some of your content and admiration. When that happens, quote (with permission) and/or include a hyperlink within your own posts to the blog that inspired you. Then, and this is the important part, let the author of that blog know you’ve given them a shout-out. At the very least, they will probably wander over to read what you’ve written. If they like, they just might return the favor.
Guest posts are also great way to spread the love. Katherine Dell first reached out to me about guest posts, so I have to give her credit for this idea! I didn’t even know it was a thing, but this is how it works: you reach out to bloggers you like and ask to re-post their content with links back to their site, and offer to let them re-post any of your content they like on their blog. Reblogging gives you access to some great content you didn’t have to agonize over creating and may attract some new followers to your site, while giving the guest blogger access to all of your following. Mutually beneficial. Some bloggers even make it easy with a reblog button on their posts (like the one at the bottom of this one—wink, wink).
4) Be An Extrovert. I know this is not an author’s natural state, but it is essential to getting read. Make sure your sharing settings allow people to like, comment, reblog, and share your posts. Likewise, make sure you site is configured to connect with all of your social media platforms so blogs are auto posted to your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, etc.
5) Be Visual. Include a picture on every blog post. Like a book cover, a picture helps the potential reader decide if they want to read your blog. Be sure you have permission to use every photo and that you provide attribution or image credits if required. This blog has a great list of sites for obtaining pictures and even more recommendations in the comments section. I have it pinned on my bookmarks bar and refer to it frequently. My favorite sites for free pics are morgueFile and Wikipedia Commons but, for cheap stock photos, I use photodune. Note: you will have to manually add pictures to your Twitter posts, but tweets with pics are many more times likely to be re-tweeted ,so its worth the effort.
6) Follow, Follow, Follow. There is no magic metric I know of to build a following. You create a following by being a follower. Just be sure to follow the people you want to follow you—other authors, particularly others in your genre, book bloggers and fans of your genre, popular personalities and the people who follow them. PS. I wrote at length in this post about how each of the social media platforms (Twitter, FB, etc.) stack up for me in terms of engagement, that is how many of my followers will actually read the stuff I post.
7) Talk To People Not At Them. If you take the time to follow people—especially if they take the time to follow you back—then also take the time to reply, retweet, comment, like their posts. This is especially true on forums. this group—is a great resource to connect and brainstorm and support other indie authors. But don’t expect to just spam the “Introduce Yourself” thread on a dozen groups and win any friends. Jump into the conversation with a useful opinion, a question, a congratulations, etc. The occasional relevant URL is fine, but no one will thank you for spam.
8) DON’T SPAM. If I see your book promo with the same (expletive deleted) cover and the same (expletive deleted) Amazon link and the same (expletive deleted) 140 character teaser text that was witty the first 150 times I read it, but now makes me want to puke…if I see that one more time, I swear I’m gonna unfriend you. That crap isn’t making anyone want to buy your book. You want to know what makes me want to buy your book? Besides having a good cover and blurb and being of a subject matter I like to read? Actually liking your spammy *ss. Yeah, if I think you’re cool, then I am likely to think your book might be cool. Spamming the same promo ten times an hour is NOT COOL.
By all means, mention your book in your blogs. I’ve mentioned BLOOD TOY twice in this blog. People that read me know I have a vampire novel called BLOOD TOY coming out this summer. See here, did it again. It’s expected you will make sure people know what the heck you’re building your platform to do, put up some teasers and share your excitement, but beating me over the head with your book promo a couple hundred times a day is not going to sell your book. I promise.
9) Be Authentic. I do marketing and advertising for a living. My day job is why I have a pen name, but it is also why I feel comfortable and qualified to offer advice on those subjects. I have also been writing for a really long time. I have read just about every book there is on self-editing, and I have worked with numerous professional editors both personally (with my writing) and professionally (with my day job), so I feel comfortable and qualified to be offering writerly wisdom as well. I am a mother. I am an adoptive parent. I write vampire novels. I love bad guys and sexual tension. I read a heck of a lot of urban fantasy and erotica. I am therefore comfortable blogging about all of these things. They are authentic to me.
On the other hand, I have a very dear friend who just started out blogging. Her personal experience is very different from mine, but she is working on her debut novel—a psychological thriller that has amazing potential—and has just started building her online presence to promote it. My advice to her was to share feelings and experiences authentic to her on her blog. She has some pretty significant stage fright when it comes to the whole self-publishing process, and rather than pretending they don’t exist, I suggested she embrace them. Her fears make her relatable, someone her readers are going to root for and want to see succeed. I know I do.
10) So above all, whatever you, do BE YOU.