Last year, I joined The Lion Fish Press to publish all of my future books. In fact, you might not have heard anything about it, but my debut book with The Lion Fish Press (and their first book as an imprint) dropped today. A little guy titled BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. I haven’t said much about it, so maybe you weren’t aware, but I’ll just drop this right here:
Regardless, I have learned one thing about publishing that is the same for indies–which I was–and writers signed to imprints and publishers–which I am now.
Word of mouth is EVERYTHING. Everything, everything, everything.
Unless you’re James Patterson, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Neil Gaiman, and you have a built in audience of millions…you need to get people talking about your books. Especially with each other. Especially leaving reviews. Especially mentioning your work on their social media. You just need to get a discussion started about what you’ve worked so tirelessly on so that it becomes part of the collective conscious. Marketing (graphics, videos, and ads) are all important, but they mean nothing if they do not connect with a part of a potential reader.
You can have the coolest ad in the most read magazine, blog, or website–but a pretty thing is just a pretty thing. When someone sees the marketing medium in front of them, of course you want it to catch their eye so that maybe they will stop and learn more about your work. Maybe they will even make a purchase. Maybe it will make them talk about it with others. But, more importantly, if their first thought can be: “That’s that book I heard so-and-so talking about!” it’s even better.
If you can get someone to have a thought such as that, you’ve really made an emotional connection with a potential reader. People are more likely to look at a piece of marketing, or stop to look at a book in a store, if they know someone they care about who said something nice about it.
So…how do you make a connection with readers? How do you get people talking about your book?
First and foremost, it is important to know what my main goal as a writer is (besides writing quality stories people want to read). I want to write books that have a life. If I ever debuted or hit number one on any chart, that’s great. However, what I most desire is to sell books consistently, constantly growing my reader base, writing books that people emotionally connect to, and having a long career as a writer. Being famous is not my goal (being rich is another story). I just want good books that sell respectably and find the people who want to read them and enjoy them. My biggest nightmare is having a book debut at number one, selling a lot of copies immediately, and then just fading away.
Great stories. Invested readers. Long career. That is what I am aiming for in my writing journey.
So…I take more of a grassroots approach in building my readership. I talk to people. I share snippets of my writing. I ask people to beta/critique. I read others work and promote them, too. I feel that all of us lesser known writers need to pull a few people towards the spotlight with us. Being rich and famous means nothing if no one is emotionally invested in your stories or your journey as a writer.
It makes my heart explode with rainbows when someone DMs me or emails me to say: “So-and-so told me about this book of yours, so I read it and loved it. I’m going to tell everyone I know about it!“
You literally can’t buy that kind of publicity. If you have thousands of dollars to blow, you can have ads pretty much anywhere you choose. But to have someone read your book and love it so much that they go out of their way to tell others about it…that is priceless PR, my friends.
Phrases that always thrill me are: hidden gem, why don’t more people know about this, bought a copy for, and the like. I love seeing readers really invested in the success of one of my books and the characters. That, more than anything, tells me if I did a good job.
My method of getting word out about my work is a slow climb uphill, but I feel that I am building a loyal and friendly reader base that will (hopefully) be with me until I am done–whenever that may be. Even if there comes a day that I no longer want to write–or just can’t–at least my books will have their own life through readers’ word-of-mouth.
So…how do you help the writers you love (not just me)?
As I’ve mentioned, tell a friend (or 50 friends) if you really enjoyed a book.
Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository–wherever the book is sold.
Write a blog post if you have a blog.
Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – light up social media with your love for what you’ve read.
You don’t have to say anything more than: “I love this book!” Insert a link where people can buy it, or a picture of the book, and you’ve done so much for the author.
Also, don’t just buy the book from Amazon. If you like supporting indie bookstores, get the ISBN (it will look like this: 978-1951860011) and take it to your local bookstore. Ask them to order it. Go to your local Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half-Price Books, or other major chain and ask them to order it. This puts the book on the bookstore’s radar.
Ask your local library to carry a copy. Give them the ISBN to help them find it and order it.
If you have a monthly book club, suggest that the book is a monthly choice to read. If the author of the book is near you, invite them to come speak when you discuss the book.
Or, if you’re not comfortable doing any of these things, just send the author a message telling them you loved their work. It’s such a boost in confidence and will keep the writer chasing their dreams.
Whatever you do, if you love a book, don’t keep it to yourself. Put that love and positivity out into the universe. We all could use it.
Last but not least, we all know that JMI6 is coming out in 2 weeks. However, my next book after that will be a YA Fantasy novel called A MILLION LITTLE SOULS. It will arrive on 4.14.20. You might remember seeing a cover for it already, but now that I’m with the imprint, it’s been given a new cover. Check it out!
Tremendous Love & Thanks,