Aileen Erin is Editorial Monster, Writing Monster at Ink Monster LLC, an independent publishing house that focuses on New Adult Romance in the genres of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy and kick-ass heroines.
Recently, I’ve been asked the question of “why aren’t my books selling” by a number of indie published friends. Sometimes I have no good answer. The book gods are kind to some and not to others. But there are a few things that I’ve noticed that have constantly worked for Ink Monster.
So, here are my top five tips for indie authors when launching a book or series.
This might sound crazy, but when you’re an indie author, you’re your own CEO. You’re the boss! You have to be in charge of your brand. From covers to website to social media presence. This can seem overwhelming, especially at first. It can be tempting to let the web designer go crazy doing what they think would be best. Or letting the cover artist do what they want for it. But it’s your book. Your brand. You’re in charge. Make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.
There’s no room for error. You get one launch. So make it as good as you can. And make sure it looks professional.
Don’t just try, be awesome.
2. Plan the launch.
I know this sounds rather elementary, but so many indie authors don’t do it! What?! They spend months—years—slaving away over every word, and yet, they put their book up with little or no fanfare. But writing the book is only half the job when you’re indie publishing.
Don’t just put your book up there once you’re finished editing it. Wait. Plan your attack.
- What pricing are you open to? Will you put it up for sale or free?
- Where are you going to advertise?
- How are you going to reach your intended audience?
- Do you want to work with a distributor?
- How are you going to get reviews? Because reviews are what sell books.
You need answers to all of those questions before you even think about putting your book out there. My cohort and Business Monster Christina Bauer and I thought about this for a full year before doing our first launch. We thought out pricing strategies. Decided to work with our amazing distributors, INscribe. Figured out how to market to our readers in the most cost effective way.
Honestly, you can’t take enough time or care with figuring out how you want to approach the business side.
Once you can answer these questions and you feel comfortable and confident, then you’re ready! Let’s put your book out there.
And what’s next?
3. Get those reviews!
There are a few things that have worked for us, but the most effective one when Ink Monster was starting out was NetGalley.
If you haven’t heard of it, now’s the time to do some research! It’s an ebook service that gives galley copies of your book to reviewers. It’s a quick, easy way to find people to review your book.
But once you put it up there, don’t just leave it to fate for the reviewers to find your book! Tweet about it. Put it on whatever form of social media you’re comfortable with. Reach out to friends, other authors, and especially bloggers, and give them a widget for an automatic download in exchange for a fair review. Ask them nicely to post their review on retailer sites. You’ll be amazed at how willing people will be to do this!
Once you hit 50 reviews, your book will sell. And once you have more than 100, it will sell. Really well.
4. Reach out to readers, bloggers, and fans!
Yes, I’m talking about social media. It’s one of those things that every author has to do. For some, it comes naturally. For others, it’s like pulling teeth. You should have this somewhat set up before you launch, but it really comes into play after.
Now that you’ve got some reviews, it’s time to start reaching out. And not just trying to hard sell your book. No one likes that filling up their newsfeed. Show the readers who you are. They want to know! And once they do, they’ll stick by you. And that’s what you want.
You want them to buy this book. Of course you do! But you want them to buy the next book, too. And you don’t want to have to go hunting down your readers again. You only want to search for new readers next time. You want to grow these readers and keep them close by. And you do that through social media.
5. Start writing your next book!
With all of this business planning, don’t forget that you’re a writer.
You need to be working on your next book. Build your back list. Slowly, but surely. Some writers write four books a year. Others one or two. Don’t rush it. Ultimately the book has to be good. But you have to be consistently publishing to make any headway in this business.
Ink Monster has found that series work best. So, that’s what we focus on. We don’t launch a book until the sequel’s metadata is already up and available for pre-order.
Okay. So that might sound a bit crazy. But when we launch a book, we really do make sure that the next book is ready for pre-order. If that reader finishes the book, they know when they’re getting the next one. And they can go ahead and order it if they want. No forgetting about a release day. No more searching for that reader. They already have the next one pre-ordered as soon as they finish the current release.
Sounds a little nuts, right? But if you can stick with your writing schedule and meet your deadlines, it’s the way to go. For sure. With this tactic, we’ve created a snowball effect and grown in readership with each and every release.
That’s a very simplified plan. But that’s how Ink Monster went from zero books moved to over half a million in eighteen months. It works.