This weekend I updated my social media headers to include all my latest releases. I felt a bit of pride seeing all the covers side-by-side:
It’s been two-year journey to get here and I keep learning new things as I go along. Here’s a short post about what’s worked best and worst during that time:
Reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers before I began. I was spared many of the one-star reviews new indie publishers typically receive due to grammar issues because I was given a very clear template of what not-to-do from this book.
Getting an Adobe Photoshop license for $10 per month. All of my covers and social media graphics are created in Photoshop.
Getting Blender for free. Blender is open-source 3D-modeling software. I’ve used it to create most of the photo-realistic graphics in my cover artwork.
Creating this webpage and blog on Squarespace. The blog is a forum for me to write but also drives more traffic to my site than just having my static book pages.
Creating an author Twitter page and connecting with other authors. I really enjoy participating in weekly hashtag games like #scififri and seeing what other authors are writing. You get a real sense of belonging to an author community.
Setting the first book in my series permafree on Amazon.
Creating an Amazon series page for my stories. Sometimes people read 43 Seconds, go to the series page, and buy the entire series at once.
Submitting my books to unpaid review sites such as Long and Short Reviews, which netted reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and their webpage, and gave me blurbs for my Amazon editorial review section.
Having a first reader. I’ll get a good work-in-process read about what plot elements are working and failing, and make course corrections or rewrites as necessary. My first reader has spared everyone else from countless bad chapters and cheesy ideas.
Creating a physical paperback. Even if you sell no copies, there’s something pride-inducing about buying one for yourself and seeing your works in print.
Just having fun. The blog post series Pixel Plane Adventures was about my personal journey learning about aviation. There was no agenda for it — I wasn’t trying to sell copies of my books, and I didn’t even think many people would read it. Still, it’s one of my favorite things on my blog.
Doing a Goodreads Giveaway. The winners simply sold their free copies on Amazon and eBay. The single Goodreads review was negative.
Creating a book trailer using Adobe Spark. In hindsight, I’ve never bought a book based on a book trailer.
Using Twitter for self-promotion. The occasional “my book is free this weekend” post is okay, but, in general, you will not get any sales from self-promo links on Twitter, and will likely lose followers if you use your author page mainly for this reason.
Sinking a bunch of money into multiple layers of ads for free book giveaways. Maybe you’ll pick up one or two reviews, but it’s not worth the cost. My stats show that for every two-hundred copies I move, I get a review. You really need to move thousands of copies with a promo to pick up more than one or two reviews. When giving out your book for free, keep in mind people will scoff up freebies simply because they’re free. The quality of the review differs from people who intentionally buy your book because they are fans of the specific genre.
I think the last bit of advice I have is that it helps to accept that not everyone is going to like your stories, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how you write. The genre of sci-fi is very wide. Some people want space opera and others want hard sci-fi. Finding your core audience, and, more importantly, helping them to find your work, is the real trick (one I’m still working on). Your audience is out there, though, so keep looking.