Saturday, March 3, 2012

Best Practices for Self-Publishers

by Stella Atrium
Promoting an ebook on Amazon is a business, even for self-publishers.  I found a plethora of online articles for how to apply business principles to self-promotion, almost like gaining a BA in Business Management, I suppose. pushpins

These structures build a brand (online persona):
•    Maintain a focused and fresh website
•    Select areas for connections (Reddit, OpenSalon) and be supportive in comments
•    Build a platform for a diverse online presence
•    Blog regularly – but not too often – about real experiences
•    Link to colleagues, critics, and consumers
•    Learn habit patterns of followers and fans, and adjust behavior to serve them

Additionally, I found that a certain daily discipline is needed to avoid wandering off the path and to use my time productively.  The Best Practices listed below largely follow business principles for promoting any brand name product. The list is derivative and works for me.  Your list may shape differently.

1)    Channel my efforts – With new social outlets popping up each day, the writer must select those that drive traffic into the blog and drive sales for the book.  I have found success on GoodReads more than LibraryThing, on Reddit more than Linked-In. I have to develop a presence on social sites where visitors add comments and where readers make choices for purchasing the next trilogy in fantasy.

2)    Don’t get distracted – I love Harry Potter fans who are energetic and loyal, but I’m done with that series now (even Rowlings is done with that series now) and want to move on to readers who have moved on.

3)    Respond to comments – When traffic reaches the blog(s) and comments are posted, my timely responses are essential.  The visitor wants to feel acknowledged.  This principle has caused me to pace the timing for placement of guest blogs and interviews, along with questions posted to Reddit, so I’m not always chasing my tail.

4)    Add genuine responses – If the visitor chooses to comment, then my reply should address her ideas, not a promotion for more links.

5)    Get to know colleagues – On Twitter especially, I learned to stay within my genre and not wander into groups for romance or detective stories (well, some detective writers).  When I explore websites of loyal retweeters and get to know their interests, I can feel confident when I retweet fresh posts from them to my followers.

6)    Be generous – The world doesn’t revolve around my book on Amazon (big surprise). Look into more shared interests for music, writing advice, publishing advice, funny images in the news, global causes to support.  Present the whole person on social media.

triangle7)    Develop a consistent message – How does this imperative jive with number 6? I return consistently to my primary focus of developing real female characters in my stories.  Which causes, blogs, interview offers, fellow writers reinforce the message of global women rights and stories that feature women as lead characters?  These social advocates become my friends.

8)    Dress the blog with links to friends – Sometimes links overwhelm the presence of the blogger.  Sometimes the blogger neglects links, even “follow on Twitter”. I have remade the blog page many times to reach current friends and reinforce the central theme.

9)    Assess sources of traffic – I have been surprised with how traffic works on the blog(s) and home website.  Overall, content drives traffic as much as placement.  Fair-weather friends are soon absent, while friends with similar interests linger and retweet.

10)     Be patient – Building relationships takes time.  When I see traffic for a successful blog, I want more traffic – the definition of an addict, I think.  Some social media groups allow for comments that are more negative, so I learned to take the good with the bad.  Colleagues comment to build stronger platforms.  Consumers (who buy our products) comment when they object to assertions.  I must learn to serve both groups.  connections

These guidelines have focused my hours devoted to promotion online, and outcomes are mostly positive so far.  What additional best practices have you embraced that may also serve my efforts?  Any suggestions?


C.M.Brown said...

Excellent advice! I connect with new reading audiences by becoming involved in free giveaway blog hops! You need to watch what Hops are being advertised through your network of platform writers and become involved!

Potential readers of your book are drawn to your site and if they are interested in your book/s they will search it/them out to purchase!

I find that when I am active in these Blog Hops my book rises in sales at my various outlets!

Stella Atrium said...

I will have to try the blog hop. Thanks for th advice! Is there a good place to get started for fantasy writers?

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