Should Indie Authors Approach Book Clubs?

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An author Skyping into a book discussion. By Cesar Astudillo via Flickr

It’s an area most indie authors ignore when promoting their work, and it’s a shame because many readers love to connect with authors. Whether it’s on social media, podcasts or live and in person, readers want to know more about the people behind the books they enjoy.  Made popular by the suburban housewife, book clubs are everywhere and not only that, there book clubs in schools, libraries and even prisons.

There are two routes you can go, approach an online book club or make an arrangement to meet with them live and in the flesh. It’s really up to you but I would recommend starting online and as you become more comfortable then, meet up with a group in your area.

 

Finding Book Clubs Online

It’s easy finding book clubs online because they’re pretty much everywhere but not all are author friendly. So here are a few places I found that offer to facilitate a phone or online get together with readers.

P.S. don’t forget to check out Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing as they have many groups that would love to hear from an author. Again, just make sure the group is author friendly before approaching.

 

  • Readers Circle (International) make sure to click list your book
  • BookBundlz has both free and paid services but I would just use the free one since their website doesn’t seem to get much traffic.
  • Skype has a program called Skype in the Classroom which offers free skyping to schools with an author.

 

Finding Book Clubs Offline

Many authors start off by meeting book clubs at their local libraries, I know the main branch where I live host lots of writer and reader events. It’s worth checking to see if your local library has an author program or book club.

Here are a few library databases as well as a few book club directories.

 

Libraries in the U.S.:

Libraries 411

Public Libraries

 

Libraries In the U.K. 

Find a Library

Canadian Library Database

LibWeb

 

Offline Book Clubs

  • The Loft Literary Center: Here you can post a community bulletin asking groups if they’ll host you like this author did here.
  • Book Clubs on MeetUp.com
  • Authors who are willing to travel can add their name to this database.  Hat tip to Galley Cat on MediaBistro.

 

Take Heed:

Remember when approaching a book club be polite and explain why your book would be a good fit for their club. Just suggest your book and let them know you’re available to do a personal appearance. It would be helpful if you could compare your book to something they’ve heard of, if that’s possible.

Also, keep in mind these are readers so no hard selling, it’s annoying and it may bite you in the butt down the road when they decide to give you bad reviews just based on the way you behaved.

 

So there you have it another book promotional hack you can actually use.  Stay tuned for next week’s post when I talk about researching promotional sites.

 

 

Noise Trade: Letting Others Decide Your Book’s Worth

NoiseTradeNoisetrade began as an indie music site where up and coming musicians could give away their work for exposure. However there was a twist, unlike most freebie sites, customers could tip artists. It was sort of a pay what you can thing.  Recently, Noisetrade got into the book business, and indie authors like Hugh Howey, are all onboard.  You see, all the cool authors are doing it but should you?

The Good, the Bad, the What?

According to the site, authors upload their ebooks and readers get to download it for free and if they (the readers) feel moved, they’ll tip you.  Noisetrade only takes a 20% cut and that’s how they make their money.  However, most people won’t tip at all and when they do, you might be able to pay your Netflix subscription with it.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Another point brought up by several authors is the permission issue. You see, when people download your book, they must give an email address. You are then sent that person’s email address via NosieTrade.  However you, the author, may still need to get their permission to email them or you could be spamming because it was NT that originally collected the data and not you.  It’s all contained in this line on the website, “Author/Publisher shall comply with all laws and regulations applicable to user data collection, data disclosure, and data use practices. Unless agreed to otherwise, NoiseTrade and Author/Publisher shall jointly own all user data collected from the Services”  In other words, you may need to send readers an opt in form just to make sure they’re cool with hearing from you.

Why Even Bother?

Noisetrade is being used by authors to build up their email lists or to amass a following for a book series. It’s no secret, free books are the most marketable because there’s no risk on behalf of the reader. Though I’m not a believer in giving things away for nothing, I do believe in a fair trade. If Noisetrade can get you a few reviews or new subscribers then why not? With a well rounded marketing strategy, NT can be an asset to any indie author’s book just like NetGalley or free-ebooks.net.

You can be Featured on Noisetrade for a Price

To be featured on their site you will need $250 which is a lot of money considering the site is new to the book business.  But if you want to take a chance you can email Joel Rakes: at joel@noisetrade.com and he’ll hook you up.

Honestly, you don’t need Noisetrade or any other site to giveaway your book. Many authors especially nonfiction authors, are giving away their books and using the pay what you can tactic on their very own websites.  However, if you want to spread the word about your book, you might want to expand your reach to where the readers are.  But since this is a new site there aren’t many authors who can vouch for NT’s effectiveness in moving books.  I encountered one author on the Kboards who claims she’s only had 50 downloads in a month and that was with promotion!

The Takeaway

It’s hard to say if Noisetrade will become the next KDP for indie authors, because it’s just too early but it is an avenue to consider if you got a free book to offer.  Honestly, I wouldn’t bother with paying for promotion because it probably won’t give you more exposure.  At least not $250 worth.

Okay, there you go, another promotional hack to add to your arsenal.  Next week, I’ll be discussing book clubs, how to find them and how to approach them.

 

 

 

How to get Featured on Kobo

Kobo

Via Wikipedia Commons

Kobo is quickly becoming a retailer to be reckon with, with over 12 million registered users on its site, I believe it’s time indie authors start paying more attention to them.  Since the acquisition of Sony’s ebook library  (U.S. & Canadian only) Kobo is likely to continue growing.  And although they don’t have a large share of the American market, (that honor belongs to Amazon) they do command 20% of the global ebook market.

So how do you make your run with Kobo successful? Easy, you take advantage of Kobo Writing Life, which includes a blog as well as a podcast that gives authors good tips on how to promote their books on the site. Also, you get your ebook featured on Kobo’s website.  And unlike Goodreads, Kobo, will feature a book for free if you meet their requirements.

Just like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Kobo, has several newsletters that regularly go out to readers alerting them of sales and new releases.  To add icing to the cake, Kobo prominently features books on the front of their website and guess what, it’s indie friendly!  Though, I couldn’t find the numbers on how popular their newsletter is, the Indie Next List section on their website has an Alexa rating of 5,000 globally which isn’t bad.

 

The Kobo BookHub Rules

Even though it’s free to submit, you still have to make sure the links you provide are from your book’s Kobo page and not Smashwords or *gasp* Amazon.

Here are the rules from Kobo’s own blog: What You Need to KnowNot all books will be featured; the selection will be made based on perceived quality and available slots. There will be more free books featured than bargains, and more bargains than full-price books. *Bargains are all books priced below $2 (regardless of whether it’s a promotion or not), Full Price are all books priced above that.*

So what does this all mean? It means your book needs to be free or cheap to get a push from Kobo. Also, your book needs to have several reviews as well as a sweet cover and blurb. So if you think you got what it takes, submit here.

 

How to Capitalize on the Free Publicity

Kobo isn’t as sophisticated as Amazon with its chat boards and multi-layered website but it is slowly catching up. If I were an indie with a new book, I would do this about the time I did a big push, mainly, to keep my book on everyone’s mind. I’d lower my price or go free, and tell the world about it on all the websites that feature book sales and freebies.

So there you go, another blog post, another promotional hack.  Stay tuned because next week, when I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of Noisetrade.

 

 

 

How to Find Interview Opportunities

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By Jim Parkinson via Flickr

When I was marketing my novel, I would often find myself envious of all the media attention some authors received.  Little did I know the author had a team of helpers to scour the earth for interview opportunities.  Another fact I didn’t know was that sometimes these teams were hired by the author and not their publisher.  In fact, many authors spend their entire advance (if they get one) on marketing their book.

You can hire an assistant as well, so that it doesn’t feel awkward asking for an interview. Just write the pitch letter for your assistant and ask them to send it, this way you’re still in control.

Timing is Everything!

It’s been said a million times but I need to remind you, most magazines and websites publish by editorial calendar.  For example, some magazines start looking for Christmas stories in July and Halloween articles in May. This is why it’s so important to send a pitch or query many months before your promotional blitz. Consider this part of your soft launch.

Pitching the Right People

It should go without saying that you have to be careful as to who you pitch because not all media members are indie friendly. In fact, some places are downright hostile to self-published authors. I think it’s because some of them blame us for the downfall of publishing.  So save yourself the frustration and anger by learning about the publication you wish to break into. Also learn the name of the editor or assistant editor responsible for the section you’d like to appear in. They hate, Dear Editor pitches and often delete them or worse, they forward them to the interns. *gasp*

What to do if you Want to Break into a Magazine that Doesn’t Feature Indies?

If you absolutely must get your name in O Magazine, or the New York Times, then you’ll need to write an article that will captivate their audience. However, this isn’t the same as promoting your book, yes, it will give a nice byline but little else.  However think about it, when was the last time you’ve read the byline of an article?

Here are a few resources to find the right interview opportunity for your book:

Finding Opportunities on Social Media

Social media is a great place to find information for opportunities not available anywhere else. There are newspapers and magazines that update their social media accounts more often than they do their own websites. The search engines of Google+, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter should be your best friends.

Research Tips:
Try typing the words: author interviews or looking for author interviews onto the search engines and see what you find.
Facebook
Twitter
Google+

You can do the same thing for the Goodreads search engine, just be sure to click both the events tabs as well as the groups tabs at the top.

Podcasts

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about podcasts.  This past week, Red River Radio launched its first Facebook page and the turn out was tremendous.  In less than 24 hours, they had over 270 likes, and several authors contacted us directly about wanting to be on the network.

Podcasts are a great way to land an interview as well as get a book reviewed.  Hat tip to BookBuzzr for this list of Podcasts for Authors.  Also go to Blogtalkradio.com and type in the search engine, books or authors and see what pops up.  The same goes for sites like Podbean and even iTunes.  Just make sure to listen to the podcast before you request an interview to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Radio Programs

Yes, it’s been said radio is dead but hey, in certain parts of the country and even the world, radio is alive and well.  Many radio programs offer interview segments and some are desperate for guests.  This is where you come in with swagging with your free books and t-shirts.  You can find thousands of stations here on, Radio-Locator and another international one called, RadioStationWorld.

Television

Believe it or not, television is still an option for indie authors promoting a book.  Sure you may not end up on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) or the Today Show, and honestly, you don’t need to.  There are plenty of places that want to interview authors of any stripe.  Just check out a few local programs in your neck of the woods.  Here’s an online station locator and another here.

Who and How to Approach? 

Many radio and television stations have a contact us page like this one here.  Depending on what you have in mind, you can offer a contest of some kind or just request an interview.  Whatever you choose make sure to perfect your query/pitch letter before clicking send.  It would be wise to approach the producers (if you want an interview) or the marketing department (if you only want to run a contest) in order to get an actual response.  If that information isn’t easy to find on the site, Google it.  That’s how I found the producer of the local morning show in my town.  Most television stations have terrible websites so Google or Bing are a necessity.

So there you go, another hack to help you promote your book.  Stay tuned, because next week I’ll be discussing how to get featured on Kobo.

 

 

 

Assistants: They’re Not a Luxury Anymore!

Via E-Lame via Flickr

By E-Lame via Flickr

Last year, I briefly mentioned the subject of hiring an assistant to deal with the promotional aspects of publishing and was stunned by the ignorance.  Many authors figure only the rich can afford such luxuries, while others are control freaks and couldn’t imagine handing over any aspect of their business to someone else.   However that’s total BS, if you are finding yourself overwhelmed by social media, email lists, and blogging then an assistant is exactly what you need! I’ll admit, it took me a long time to become comfortable with farming out work to someone else.  I mean what if they screw up?  Worse yet, what if they walk out on a project?  But what if they do an amazing job and save you time while preserving your sanity?  I hate to break it to you but the latter usually happens.

The Money Excuse

It’s no secret that most indie authors are flat broke even after publishing multiple books. But we can all afford something and that’s where we’re going to start.  If you value your time as a business owner then there are many things an assistant can do for you:

1. They can handle your social media accounts.
2. Pitch the media for interviews/reviews.
3. They can deal with technical issues on your website, or ebooks.
4. They can research markets and databases to help you find more places to sell your books.

Author Assistants are a Growing Business

Many vanity presses are notorious for over billing self-published authors for services like press releases and file conversion but a virtual assistant is way more cheaper.  In fact, they’re sometimes thousands of dollars cheaper than what a vanity press charges.  Here are just a few sites to investigate if you’re considering making the leap.
Writer.ly
Zirtual.com
Elance.com

 

Dead Broke?

If you’re publishing on a shoestring budget, you might want to consider hiring a college intern. The only caveat here is that you must offer them real world experience.  Also there are laws governing how businesses utilize free labor, such as, how many hours they can work before they’re considered an employee.  So be sure to research the labor laws in your part of the world.

Here are some places to get you started:

 

I hope I gave you something to think about in the future when you begin to find yourself overwhelmed and over burdened by things non-writing related.  There’s no shame in needing help.  Most businesses, even the Fortune 500’s are hiring interns and freelancers to help with redundant tasks like accounting and social media management.  That way they can keep the main thing, the main thing.

Well that’s all I have for now, stay tuned for next week when I’ll be discussing how to find interview opportunities for your book launch.

 

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