- Introduce the hero
- Convey the plot via one of the hero’s major goalsInclude some of the obstacles in the hero’s way
- Show what’s at stake for the hero if s/he fails
- Provide genre indicatorsUse the voice of the novel (in third person, present tense)Hook the reader into wanting more
If you are a self published writer, this may be the most important video you will ever watch. It is not enough to write the book, you also have to get somebody to read it.
The Amazon/Hachette dispute has been the catalyst for my own move into direct sales of books, even though I have been selling courses online for a number of years now. Amazon represents 60% of Hachette’s ebook sales in the US, and 78% in the UK, according to GoodeReader in June 2014. Once another company/platform has that much control over your business, negotiations are always going to be difficult.
The following are tips for agents and authors that fall within their control:I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Be a professional and positive player in the process. I’ve seen editors publicists/publishers do a lot more for a book because they just plain like an author/agent.
Be aware of the market around you. Two heads are better than one so if you see something being done that seems to be working, share it with the editor. I do this all the time and am pleasantly surprised to find that one publisher doesn’t know something another publisher is doing that’s working. Same goes for those savvy authors out there who may be following other careers.
Be a squeaky wheel. Don’t send emails just for the sake of sending but if you have news, share it! Brag about that review in the Times, or that blog interview you wrote or that awesome blurb you secured. Agents want to know and will happily pass it along to your editor who will in turn pass it along to the rest of their team.
If you are so lucky as to get one of those big fat advances, put some extra money aside. A publisher will tell you at the time of the offer that they are going to do this that and the other, but that’s before the book goes out into the world, where sales forces and buyers are reading the book. Things might not be as positive down the road and much of the marketing money will depend on the print run and general enthusiasm in house. So, if you can put something aside, do.
Do book clubs! Writers, agents and publishers are in the business because we love books. We love to write them or have no choice but to write them and we love to read them dare I say, our favorite way to spend our evenings is with a good book and a good glass of wine. And at the end of the day, when someone tells me that I just have to read this book, that’s a better way to get me to buy it than some NY Times ad, which I will never see as I read online these days anyway.
Connect. I for one am on social media so I was thrilled to hear one publisher recently say that they cared less about the number of Twitter followers an author had and more about the actual emails that an author had access to. It’s as if we’ve done a 180 with social media, and perhaps because we are all overwhelmed by the many ways to “connect” the best way is when you get a personal email from an author you admire, telling you that his or her next book is about to go on sale.
Read more at Writer Unboxed » Marketing Tips for Agents and Authors.
Most books sell less than 250 copies to say nothing of getting any significant attention. It’s impossible to tell whether a launch will be a success or not. And even if everything goes exactly as you hope—the results could still be disappointing.
So no wonder it can feel like you’re going to crack up, fall apart and die.
Every person who’s ever been there before you has felt this way at some point.
If you’ve ever thought of turning your book into an audiobook, here are a couple of reasons why I’m a fan of the practice:
1. There’s less competition in iTunes and at Podiobooks, so it’s easier to “be found.”
I’m not going to lie: creating a high-quality audio version of your book will either take a lot of time or a good chunk of money. I’d dabbled with podcasting and knew I didn’t want to spend the required time on narration and editing (I’ve heard it can take a new narrator ten hours of work for everyone one hour of finished audio that comes out). I decided to hire the folks at Darkfire Productions to handle my books. They are a small and fairly affordable outfit, but they still had a number of voice talents to select from. They suggested Starla Huchton, and I thought, yup, that’s my Amaranthe (Amaranthe is the heroine and main point of view character in my Emperor’s Edge books). And she does a good job with my male aristocratic dandy, Maldynado, too!
In addition to narration and editing, DP handles the file uploading for me, as well as the contracts with Audible. Some indies may wish to keep more control over these things, but I’ve found it great not to have to worry about them.
For authors on a tighter budget, or for those who simply enjoy the thought of narrating their own books (Nathan Lowell did his whole series this way and built up a huge fan base before he ever released his first ebook), you can check out Podcasting for Dummies or another “getting started” book. Everything that’s true for podcasting will apply for audiobooks. You can get a decent equipment setup for a couple hundred dollars, and then it’s just a matter of finding time and a quiet place in the house (I’ve heard of numerous podcasters who record from the closet!).
2. You reach an audience who might otherwise never have heard of you
The world is full of people who don’t have a lot of time to read but who do spend numerous hours a week commuting to their job, working with their hands, exercising at the gym, or perhaps even walking the dog. Those are activities that are tough to do while holding a book but that are perfectly suited for listening to something in the background. I know because I’m one of those people. I listen to 5-10 podcast episodes a week, and I’m usually listening to an audiobook too. When I think back over recent books I’ve finished, four out of five of them have been in audio form.
These busy people might not spend a lot of time digging through Amazon for new books (and when they do, they’re more likely to stumble across bestsellers, not obscure new indie authors in a very crowded marketplace), but they may love your story, if they simply have a chance to find it. As audio fans, they might browse at Podiobooks or iTunes (sites with, as we mentioned, fewer options in any given genre) and find your work if its there.
It’s pretty hard to have a “career” doing any single creative thing nowadays. If you really make a stir as a “science fiction writer” nowadays, you’re likely to get swept up in all kinds of network-society fringe activities, such as blogging, going to conventions, comics, gaming, TV, movies, collectibles…. The days when you could be a “science fiction writer” and work exclusively on books and magazines seem to have vanished already.
I’m pretty sure that the best way to get a toehold in writing is to start writing work that you yourself want to read. Then, see who really cares about it, and try to understand why. Wasting energy trying to ace your way through collapsing industries is a drag. You should never be surprised if your most effective, most influential writing is writing no publisher will pay for.
By far the single most driving force of sales has been not the bonus material or free things offered, but the readers. After reading the book, I’ve had numerous people purchase copies some up to ten as gifts.
The take away from all this: the best promotional tool you have is your book. Make sure it’s the best it can be. It will speak for itself.