Today's topic comes courtesy of Rick Starkey, who happens to have a middle grade book coming out next month, so his question is quite timely. Rick wants to know what mistakes a debut author should avoid and what are some tips for success.
Let's start with the mistakes because those are easier to identify.
- Don't claim your book is better than *Insert Best-Selling Title Here.* Nothing makes a reader or buyer cringe more than someone who thinks they are better than everyone else and, therefore, wrote the best book ever.
- Don't talk about nothing but your book. Spamming people is guaranteed to make people tune you out, unfriend you on FB, unfollow you on other sites, and not buy your book.
- Don't badmouth other authors. Again, this goes with the first tip. Putting other people down does NOT build you up. It brings your own reputation down. Don't do it.
- Don't sit there doing nothing and expect readers to magically come to you. Marketing is tough, but we have to do it or readers will never find our work.
Okay, let's move on to things you should do, and notice I didn't say things that will ensure your book's success. The reason for that is because really nothing will ensure the book's success. What works well for one author may not work at all for another author, so there is no real answer to what will make your book sell. What you need to do is make sure you are putting yourself and your book before readers in the best possible light. After that, you're kind of hoping for the best. So how do you do that?
- Let readers know you have a book out. Readers can't buy what they don't know exists. On release day, tell the world your story is now an actual book.
- Post genuine content and make an effort to connect with readers. Again, it can't all be about your book. Talk about other things too. Let people see you're a real person.
- Offer bonus incentives for people who review your book. Everyone loves free stuff. So offering bonus scenes, deleted scenes, signed copies, SWAG, etc. for people who review the book is great. Now, you may have to hold an exclusive giveaway if the items you're offering cost money because you don't want to spend your lifesavings. ;)
- Support other authors. In the midst of sharing the news about your book, promote the works of others. Writers need to stick together.
- Utilize Joint Promo. This is similar to the last one, but a little different. Banding together with a bunch of other authors means you can offer big rewards to readers and also drastically increase your online reach. Think of this. If you get together with 9 other authors and all pitch in $10, you have a $100 prize to giveaway. That will attract a lot more people than doing a $10 giveaway on your own. Also, you now have the audiences of 10 authors seeing your book. That's great exposure.
- Let readers try before they buy. One of my favorite features on Amazon is the Look Inside feature, because I want to read page one to see if I like the author's voice before I buy. So jump on Wattpad (and your website) and post a few pages of your book to let people test it out. Then create some teaser images to post all over social media. Why go through the effort to do this if Amazon let's readers Look Inside? Simple. If readers don't see your book on Amazon, they'll never use that feature to try out your writing. But posting a teaser on your social media accounts might just draw them in and get them to read more.
Okay, I could keep going but this post would get really long. I think that's a good start. If you have any tips you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments so we can all learn from each other.
*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.