Are you tired of hearing the same people tell you the same things about what you need to do to publish your books and connect with readers? Me too. Recently I walked the periphery of Indie Land and spoke to some of the authors on the outside. You know – the ones who sell more than a modest amount of books and cross the line from time to time. The ones who know that all the information we receive about professionalism and product and content are common sense. The ones who will threaten to smack you if you suggest one more time that it all starts by writing a book that readers want to read. We know that already. Here’s some wisdom those fringers have asked me to pass along to you.
1. Rejoice when you receive a one star review.
Always think as a reader. When I’m clicking through Amazon books what attracts my attention? Scroll after scroll of five-star gushing praises or a stinker of a review in among some decent reviews? You got it. I want to know why that reviewer did not enjoy the book but others did. What’s wrong with them? Or, are they right? We want to keep a reader on our product page for as long as possible in the hopes that they’ll purchase our work. When you receive those less than favorable reviews (and you will receive them, we all do), clap your hands in joy. You just added a strobe light to the sign that advertises your business.
2. Never shave your armpits.
There was a brilliant marketing campaign that recently caught my eye. A woman had sent out ARCs of her new book to a number of high-ish profile Indie authors asking for endorsements. Her book was hilarious but dealt with a female malady that is rarely spoken of in polite company. She received less than complimentary responses from the authors she canvassed, including “remove me from your mailing list immediately” and “what is this? Is this supposed to be funny?” She used them. She used those same responses as endorsements. It’s almost impossible not to read everything on her product page. Readers bought her book too.
3. Take your readers to dinner.
Most of us know of the mega-selling author whose book title mistakenly attracted sheep farmers to its pages. One author and veritable nice guy sometimes shows up at book clubs when they’re discussing his book. Just shows up. The majority of us don’t have that kind of clout and the club members would probably ask us to leave, but there was an author who bought hamburgers for book groups of up to fifteen who were willing to read and discuss his book. They purchased print copies of his novel at a discounted price. The burgers cost him about twenty bucks but he made it back on the book profits. He called it the burgers and book club. What about cookies and a cozy mystery or booze and books club? Sponsor a reading club. All it takes is for one or two of those readers to start spreading the word. Word of mouth always has been and always will be our greatest advertisement.
4. Give it away
No, not your book. That’s a separate discussion. Would you like to have a book signing at your local, very popular book store? Bribe them. Tell them you’ll fill the place. Show them your list of local Facebook friends. Tell them you’ll turn it into a huge Facebook event and that you’ll even have someone passing out fresh baked cookies at the door as potential customers come in. Show them on YouTube what happened when Caesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, showed up at a pet food store. And tell them if security is required for the huge crowds you’ll pay the dime. Oh, and pick a slow business day, but make sure your followers and friends can attend. Retail stores want customers just like you and I do. Show them a way it can work for both parties.
Don’t be afraid to cross the line and think outside the box. Being different means you’re standing away from the crowd and that’s where you’ll be noticed. There are millions of eBooks for sale on Amazon’s product pages. Millions. What are you going to do to build your brand, create your unique identity and make readers remember you? Maybe that crazy idea you’ve been thinking about isn’t so crazy after all.