apps, Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Media

Litsy: The Instagram Of Books?



Last year I heard about a new social media app for bookworms called Litsy, from Writer’s Unboxed.  Then I heard about Litsy again on Publisher’s Weekly, who heralded it as the Instagram for books.  Needless to say, I ignored it, I really didn’t need to sign up to anymore social media sites.  Seriously, I have signed up and abandoned more social media sites than I care to count.  However, last month, I got an email announcing that Litsy had been purchased by LibraryThing.  Remember them?  They were the number three site for bookworms but they kind of fell off the map.  So why on earth would LibraryThing buy Litsy?  Perhaps they were going to merge platforms, Lord knows LibraryThing’s website is clunky and slow.  Plus, most companies buy others for either resources or in order to eliminate competition.  I’m assuming it’s the first and not the latter.  Anyway, I was intrigued and had to find out what was going on, so shamelessly, I signed up for yet another social media account.  *Sigh*

What Makes Litsy Different

Unlike Goodreads and LibraryThing, Litsy is a mobile app like Instagram and Snapchat but with books, of course.  What sets Litsy apart is their book recommendations based on real users rather than algorithms.  This can be a relief for those who are tired of algorithms and keyword based gate keeping.

Litsy is heavy on images and pretty easy to use, if you can figure out Instagram and Snapchat, Litsy will be a breeze.  Once you setup your account, you can choose to start posting reviews, pictures, quotes or even blurbs but be sure your text comes with a picture of some sort.  You can find free images to accompany your posts here:


They don’t call it the Instagram of books for nothing!


Here Are A Few Tips: Don’t forget to upload a picture of your own book cover if it’s not in their database.  You can check that out by going to their search engine and typing either your author name or book title.

Also whatever you do, don’t forget to become a community member of your genre, that’s what social media is all about, so join a book club, or start one of your own.

What Do You Post?

Here is a list of things of ideas on what to post:

  • Share a short quote from your book
  • Upload pics of your book cover
  • Hold giveaways
  • Give a review on a book you enjoyed.
  • Ask a question or for a book recommendation


Problems Authors Might Have With Litsy

Litsy is new and therefore still finding it’s way in the online world, so authors are going to have to grow and evolve along side it.  This could be a dealbreaker for some who have come to expect certain sophistication and privileges with more mature social media sites.  Here are more cons:

  • The community size is much smaller compared to Goodreads
  • There is a limit of 300 characters per post
  • Members of the site sometimes refer to themselves as Littens. No, I’m not kidding.
  • There is no syncing between LibraryThing and Litsy yet.
  • Their database is small making it difficult to find certain books and authors.
  • People are given a score based on their account activity kind of like Snapchat. This is how they measure influence.


My Personal Experience

I used Litsy for about a month, okay, I lurked for about a month and during that time I followed a lot of interesting people who were passionate readers.  Though the community is small, it is engaged.  However, you have to get used to the idea of relying on images and not words to get your message across, this means I won’t be posting too often.  I don’t have the time to stage a photo shoot with my book nor do I want to scour the internet for images.  I’ll use Litsy for only strategic marketing or promotional purposes.

Also as I was writing this article, Litsy announced they were going to be offline for maintenance purposes and it would only affect the app for about two hours.  However, once the site was back up, there were major issues, people couldn’t see their notifications, or search the database for basic information.  It took a better chunk of the day for them to get the site back up and running normally again.  And since their site only allows 300 character posts, they had to take a screenshot of a Facebook post along with an apology.  Apparently, even their admins and support staff aren’t immune to the rules.

Litsy Explanation Full
My screenshot of a screenshot of a Facebook post.


I’ve never experienced anything like this with an app before.  I’m hoping this isn’t a frequent thing with Litsy.

The Verdict

All in all, I think Litsy is a great addition to the online book world.  Mainly, because they reach the younger demographic that live on their phones and love to take selfies.  Honestly, I believe Litsy could be a good thing for authors writing in the YA and romance genres since their demographic is mostly young and female.  However, like Snapchat, Litsy, may take some getting used to but I think it could be worth it for those having a hard time targeting Millennials and Gen Y using other channels.


Well what do you think, have you tried Litsy?  If so, let me know in the comments section.

Indie Publishing, Marketing, Publishing, Writing Business

How To Know If Your Book Will Sell Before You Publish: Finding Out What Readers Really Want

Image via Pixabay

Before I begin, I have to give a hat tip to Steve Scott and his book, “How to Discover Best-Selling eBook Ideas,” which inspired this post. After reading his book, I asked myself how could I apply what I learned to the fiction market and ended up with a few surprising ideas.  And no, it has nothing to do with KDP Select, nor will it require the blood of a goat.

With the proliferation of the internet, it has never been easier to access book lovers.  I mean, they’re everywhere!  I believe if indie authors would just take the time to listen to what readers are saying maybe they could provide readers with the novels they desperately crave.  Most publishers already know which genres are in demand and make sure not to publish books that have no readership.  So how do indies find out what books will sell?  I’m so glad you asked…

Forget Amazon Rankings

Over the past few years, Amazon rankings have been used as a measuring tool for a book’s popularity and profitability.  That’s nice and all, but those rankings don’t tell you anything really important. For example, can you discern if a genre is more popular than another? Answer: No, not on Amazon. Even the New York Times Bestseller’s List isn’t a good source for that because you can only find out if a book is selling big.

How To Find The Hot Genres

When doing research for my post Cheap Advertising for Indie Authors, I stumbled across something interesting.  As I was scanning the prices for Bookbub and Kindle Nation Daily, I noticed that they charged more for certain genres like mysteries and romance, while charging less for others like, chick lit, children’s and YA.  Now why would that be? Most likely it’s because they base their prices on what sells best. This should give you a clear picture of which genres sell but there are ways to verify this information…

What Readers are Begging for: Checking the Math

To confirm what the ad prices are telling me, I went to Goodreads to find out what genres are the most popular. I did this by looking at the giveaways. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Rachel, giveaways are going to attract tons of people looking for a freebie,” but that’s where you’d be wrong. I noticed that the number of people entering the children’s giveaway contest is lower than the number of people entering the romance giveaways. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

PicMonkey Collage
Romance giveaway on the left, children’s on the right.

P.S. I omitted young adult (YA) books even though Goodreads includes them in the children’s category because most advertisers and readers consider them two different genres.  Also, this picture represents the most popular giveaways for the day of 11/18/14.

As you can see, 2,692 people entered the romance giveaway, while only 834 entered the children’s book giveaway.  I found this pattern over and over again. The children’s books just couldn’t measure up in popularity to the romance novels.  So logically it makes sense, if you can’t giveaway a book, then why would anyone pay for it?  

More Analysis

If you want to delve even deeper into this you can look at Goodreads’ Lists, Most Read This Week, and Most Popular Categories.  These particular threads will give you a peek into how popular a specific book is, and which books readers are talking about.  To find the categories for your particular genre just go to and click on the one you’d like to study.  Goodreads will take you to a page that will list everything you’ve ever wanted to know about that particular genre.

If you are a wise author, you would find a few books similar to yours and look at the reviews to see what readers are saying.  What are their most common complaints?  Now do your best to omit that stuff from your book.  Next, try to find out what are they going gaga over?  Now be sure to include lots of that stuff in your books.

This type of research will give you an advantage over the competition who are just following their muse, because unlike them, you can craft your book according to the desires of the readers rather than just guessing what people want.

This can be replicated on other book centric sites like Library Thing, Jacket Flap and even Shelfari.

But I’m an Artist…

Yeah, I know you’re an artist and your muse will guide you to the work you are destined to create. However, for the rest of us who would like to make money from our books, we need to know what the market looks like.  We also need to be realistic about the odds of our book’s success. That way we don’t waste time and money promoting a book that has no fan-base.

I’m not saying don’t write the book you were inspired to write, that’s the cool thing about being an indie author, it’s not all about profit margins.  You can publish whatever you want, but you shouldn’t go broke promoting that whatever.

Book Promotion, Social Media

How To Get Featured On Goodreads

image via Wikimedia Commons

Just mention Goodreads to some indie authors and you may get a hostile response. There’s no doubt that there have been several nasty author vs reader fights.  But there is no reason to treat Goodreads like a social media ghetto.  Seriously, you don’t need to clutch your books tightly to your chest every time a reader passes by!  Yes I’ll admit, there are trolls who wish to ruin your day, but on the flip-side, there are also authors harassing people on the site.  In fact, it’s gotten so bad that several groups on Goodreads have banned misbehaving authors like this one called, Anti-Asshat Indie Authors.

You see, it goes both ways.  My advice for social media has always been avoid drama, by having nothing to do with the people who cause it.

Things to do on Goodreads

Your first mission on any social media site is to claim some space of your very own. That means creating a profile and joining the author’s program. You have to do this in order to add your books and hold giveaways on the site.

Once you’re done with all that, you’re going to want to build up you fan numbers but before you go spending all your efforts on that, you might want to consider jazzing up your Goodreads author page. That means posting videos, creating quizzes, and sharing quotes from your book. Remember what I said about arranging your social media pages like a website?

Make Friends with the Cool Kids

If you’re going to follow someone, follow the people who are the power users. These people generally visit the site daily and sometimes have hundreds if not, thousands of reviews to their credit. Goodreads helps you find these folks using their People feature. It can help you find the most popular reviewers, and librarians who review books your genre.

Getting in the Goodreads Newsletter

Did you know Goodreads has a newsletter? Actually, they have two, one for adults and another for the young adult crowd. Though indie authors aren’t likely to get interviewed or reviewed unless, they buy one of the advertising packages, there is still a way to weasel your book into that newsletter.

Every month, the kind folks at Goodreads select the most popular Q&A sessions and put them in their newsletter which goes out to thousands people. If you can pull off an awesome Q&A then there’s a good chance you can wind up in their newsletter. However, you must contact them well in advance before your Q&A is scheduled.

Here are suggestions from Goodreads’ own website: “Create a special group ‘Ask [Author Name]’ or ‘[Author Name] hosts a Q&A.’ Make sure to categorize it as a ‘Goodreads Author’ group. The group description should clearly state what time range the author will be available to answer questions—we recommend running your group for a single day.”

You can contact them about it here and select Author Program in the question type drop down box.

Another Approach:

The editors at Goodreads are open to book submissions from publishers (which you are by the way) so why not? Keep in mind, it’s very competitive, there are tons of authors and publishers submitting and wanting in, but it’s worth a shot.

Here is the list of the editorial team, as well as the instructions as to where and how to submit your book.

So there you have it, yet another book promotional hack for indie authors.  Next week, I’ll talk about social media influencers and why Facebook may be the next big target for indie authors promoting their books.

Book Reviews, Marketing, Networking, Social Media

Where to Share Your ARCs For Free

Image via Pixabay

Last week, I shared a post about NetGalley where I talked about ARCs (advance reader copies) also known as galleys or proofs. Today, I want to give you an alternative to spending hundreds by giving your galleys away in the right places, and they’re all free.

The point of any ARC or galley, is to create buzz before the official launch of a book.  Galleys are in essence a soft push for a book before going to mass publication.

Reviews are the core of a legacy publisher’s marketing strategy.  The idea being the more positive reviews a book has, the more popular it looks, and the more likely someone is to buy it.  For years the mantra has always been: readers love what other readers love.

It’s no secret indie authors need to work harder in this area because of the simple fact, that we’re virtual unknowns.  Many indies don’t understand that readers feel like they’re taking a risk when they buy a book from an unknown author.  It’s a book’s reviews that make these risks feel smaller.  This was one of the areas I failed to promote my book.

One Very Important Issue You Must Address

Before you proceed, you have to convert your MS Word document or Mac Pages file to PDF, EPUB or Mobi files so readers can download it on their ereaders and phones.

The Obvious Places To Share Your ARC/Galley 

Book Bloggers & Book Clubs

I know you’re saying well, duh!  But seriously, there are some newbies that don’t know this.  There are bloggers and book clubs that will take a digital galley instead of physical book.  Find them and email them. ASAP!

Your Own Website

It would be wise to create a page on your blog or website letting visitors know that you are giving away ARCs.  However, instead of just posting the entire file on your page so they can download it, make them opt into your email list.  You do have one right? If not, read this step by step article by The Alliance of Independent Authors.

For those of you who do, put a link to your sign up page and then give that person a free ARC.  This way when your next book comes along, you won’t have to start all over again.

Here’s a tip: Make sure to include a field where you ask for a reader’s Amazon or Goodreads profile, this way you cut down on freebie fiends.   I did that in my signup  form here.


Goodreads is the perfect place to giveaway ARCs, it has a giveaway program called First Reads which is essentially a giveaway where most authors can list their galleys.  P.S. it has to be a print not digital ARC.

Another Goodreads feature to consider are events which you can create and invite all your followers and fans.

But that’s not all, another place to look are groups.  Yes, GR has groups of readers dedicated to reviewing ARCs.  I even caught a St Martin’s Press employee requesting reviews in exchange for an ARC.

Library Thing

Library Thing has a feature called Member Giveaways for self-published authors.  Don’t forget, you have to be clear that you’re offering a digital copy and not a print one.

Author Link

Is also a site where authors can upload their galleys and even review one another’s books for free.  It claims to have a readership of 80,000 so it’s worth the try.

Social Media Events

Don’t forget to hit up your social media contacts, Facebook and Google allow you to create events where you can invite all of your followers and friends to get a copy of your new book.  Also, don’t forget to reach out to book bloggers on Facebook and Google via direct message.

A Final Note

ARCs are best given out a few months before the launch of your book.  You need to give people time to read as well as review the book.  You have to assume these people are busy and have other books, jobs and responsibilities outside of reviewing your book.

Another thing I’d like to share is that when offering anything for free you shouldn’t expect too much.  From what I noticed, when writers give away free books whether they are digital or print, the average response rate is 50% if you’re lucky.  Also, you need to be warned that you may not get a review, but a simple rating, that was my experience with my KDP Select giveaway.  Out of hundreds of downloads, I ended up with only a handful of ratings on Goodreads and not a single review.  I know it’s better than nothing, but let’s just say that wasn’t what I was expecting.

Okay, now I’m handing you the mic, where do you go to give away your galleys?  Do you pay a service or go the free route?

Marketing, Networking, Social Media

My Review Of Wattpad

Image via Wikimedia Commons

*Check out the update to this post here and here because things have changed*

For those of you who don’t know what Wattpad is, it’s a story sharing site and most recently, a crowdfunding site.  Unlike, Wattpad, is much easier to navigate and more visually appealing.  Since joining, I’ve shared several stories from YA fiction, a crime story and even a vampire novel (which I have taken down).

Wattpad has become so hot that publishing companies such as Book Country (Penguin/Random), and Swoon Reads (Macmillian) have copied its business model.  Allowing authors to post their manuscripts and letting their “community” to vote it up or down.  Those that become popular, are picked up by the publishing company after all the hard work has been done.

My Pseudo Analysis

I signed up for Wattpad little over a year ago, and learned that most of their readers are bored, young people looking for a freebie.  And despite what you may have read in the various online publications, there aren’t many agents, or editors looking for talent on Wattpad.  Like KDP, there are only a handful of authors who can actually credit their success to the site.

But back to the matter at hand, I shared the first three chapters of my YA novel “Hag” and got no increase in sales and a mere 54 views.  My vampire novel did the best with 253 views and three votes.  My crime novel, “Fedelta” has 64 views and 3 votes.  By the way, “Fedelta” is a free serial story that I’ve been sharing online at the Cereal Authors Blog.  Sadly, there have been more views on the CA blog than on Wattpad, and that’s saying a lot since WP boasts of a monthly readership of 10 million people.

The Crappy Part About Wattpad

Wattpad is considered a social media site for readers so, this is a good place to find those who will take a chance on a new author.  Like Amazon, there are awards and even features on the home page which Wattpad only gives to those with lots of views and votes.  So in essence, it’s a popularity contest which is okay with me, but I’ve noticed they are rolling out the red carpet for authors like Margaret Atwood because of their already solid fan base.  For example, when Wattpad rolled out their own crowdfunding  venture several months ago, only certain authors with a large number of followers were allowed to participate.  I’m guessing it’s because they wanted their program to start off successfully.  That way they can pretend their site is better at raising funds than Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

I see this site becoming increasingly newbie unfriendly.

How to Get Comments & Votes

If you want to have a go at it, Wattpad has several pieces of advice for authors and here are the top 7:

  1. Make sure your profile has a picture of you, the real you.
  2. Upload often and consistently.
  3. Read and comment on other stories.
  4. Share via social media; Facebook, Twitter etc.
  5. Upload video and audio files to your work.
  6. Be sure that your book has a cover picture.
  7. If your book is available on Amazon or B&N you can add an external link to it.

Notice the tips above are very similar to those given to bloggers, so why not just create a blog and promote that?  There have been several authors who have had success blogging and even tweeting their books.  You don’t need a middle man.  But I digress…

The Conclusion

I believe if you put a lot of work into building your audience on sites like Wattpad, Goodreads, or even Scribd, it will work.  Unfortunately, this will be an audience of freebie seekers and not fans of your work.  Fans buy books, not followers.

Since I’ve published my first book in 2012, I’ve noticed that getting visibility for my book isn’t hard at all.  It’s getting people to PAY for my book that’s the most difficult part of self-publishing.  As of today, I haven’t met any indie authors who have seen an increase in sales due to their platform on Wattpad.  The common sentiment in the indie community is that it’s a complete waste of time, like Goodreads.

So what are your thoughts?  Have you used Wattpad and if so, what were the results?


Social Media

The Argument for Spending Money Part 9: Social Media: The Non-Douchey Way

Pic via Pixabay


Imagine being at a rock concert and the band hands you the microphone, the spotlight is beaming and all eyes are focused on you.  What do you say?  How do you act?  Social media can often feel like this to a lot of shy authors.

Sadly, there are authors who have ruined their reputations simply by being inappropriate or crude online. There are even a few who’ve had to delete their accounts at the request of their publishers.  Please don’t be that author!

Regurgitation and Deviation, Oh My!

I’m going to regurgitate some of what the other gurus have said (Sigh) but in order to build a following you may need to bug your family and friends.

But what happens if nobody responds to the call?  Then you’ll have to go where all the other nerds go to find dates, umm…I mean likes.

Now here’s where I deviate from the advice and tell you how people really get followers without spending money or humiliating themselves.  On just about every social media site there are hacks for finding fans, likes and followers.  Let’s start with the world’s largest social media site, Facebook…

The Secret World of Facebook:

On FB there are pages, groups and even like events where page owners help each other by liking one others page.  It’s a reciprocation thing and if you’re not cool with it then, forget it.  You’ll have to advertise or use a promoted a post.

I’ve found that the best way to get likes outside of advertising are events.  I participated in one of these several months ago and managed to secure 60 new likes.  It was an open event where you were allowed to invite others as well.  Here are some tips on how to create a Facebook event. Make sure you invite people with pages or people interested in what you do otherwise, you won’t get much of a response.

*Tip*  If you really want a big turnout, promote your event on writer’s groups to spread the word.  However, make sure you have permission to post first!

Having said that, there are also groups and pages devoted to helping page owners get a few likes.  Now before you ask, no, I haven’t altered the names of these groups to amuse you.  It really is this easy to find these people just by searching, “Like My Page” on the Facebook search engine.

  1. Like My Page
  2. Like My Page
  3. Like My Page
  4. Like My Page
  5. My personal favorite: You Wanna Like My Page

On Twitter

You can search hastags like, #TeamFollowBack, #INeedTwitterFollowers, or #FollowMeBack And before you ask, yes, Facebook has groups for those looking for Twitter followers, here are a few:

  1. Twitter Followers
  2. Twitter Followers
  3. Twitter Followers
  4. Follow Me on Twitter
  5. Follow Me on Twitter

Another way to get followers is to participate in a trending topic.  There are many writing related topics that are discussed on Twitter and here’s a list of the who, what and when. 

Goodreads Likes, Votes, etc

The same rules apply to Goodreads but you must be careful here, this is a place where you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself.  It’s where the readers and reviewers actually hang out.

On Goodreads:

  1. Authors Helping Authors
  2. You Like Me, I Like You
  3. Indie Book Club
  4. Independent Author Services and Promotions
  5. Tips for Self-Promotion, Sales and Advertising

Congratulations, You’ve Won Half the Battle

Now that you have a few likes/followers, you’re on to the hard part.  You’re gonna need engagement and that means reaching out to other authors and cross promoting.  That includes liking other pages and getting to know people.  Don’t like someone’s page and message them with something stupid like, “Okay, I liked your page, now like mine.”  I’ve actually received these kinds of messages on Facebook.  And by the way, no, I don’t ever bother with these people!

Find authors in your genre with thriving communities and try to study them as well as participate in what they’re doing.  Share posts and comment when you know something about the topic.  It is key that someone is comfortable with you before they’ll even consider working with you.  Remember, trust takes time.

Why Are We Doing This All Crap?

It’s a sad but God awful truth, that agents and editors want authors to have a large following on social media as this former editor explains here. It’s also a fact that some agents are now Googling prospective clients just to see what you’re up to online.

Personally, I wouldn’t drive myself crazy with social media, it’s just one pillar of an author’s platform.  I don’t believe you should be paying for fans or ads on social media especially, when there are free alternatives to build your numbers.

Many authors have done well without social media, but if you want to get an agent or a decent contract with a trade pub then, you’ll need to impress them.  Tragically, the only thing that seems impressive to them these days is not your ability to write, but your ability to pimp a book.

Okay, now it’s your turn, do you know any social media hacks?  Dish in the comments section.

Participant in the Make a Living Writing link party.

Marketing, Networking

Sharing Book Excerpts Online for Maximum Exposure.

After my KDP experiment, I was free to not only sell my book anywhere I wanted, but I could now share excerpts from my book.  The only question was where?  There are so many story sites but which ones were worth the investment?  I only have so much time as an author to devote to figuring out apps and uploading files.  So I sifted through the trash to give you the lowdown on the best places to share your excerpts.


Goodreads has a thriving community of 12 million reads which is great for exposure.  First it’s important to have an author account.  It’s also vital you claim your book under that account.  Goodreads only allows those with an author’s account to upload chapters from their books in an .epub or .pdf file on their site.

Go to your author dashboard and scroll down to the “My Books” section and click edit.

Click image to magnify.

Immediately you’ll be taken to the edit page where you can change the details about your book and even upload files like excerpts or even the entire book.

Book Excerpts


Within a day or so you will be sent an email asking you to go over the work and approve it, then voila, your excerpts are available on Goodreads.


Wattpad boasts of a reader base of 10 million, which isn’t bad.  Though it’s known as a teen site, you have to be over the age of 13 to join.  Also you can rate your work PG-13, or Restricted.  Nonetheless there are rules as to what you can upload.  According to their Content Guidelines  you can not: “ Submit any material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, libelous, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially offensive, or is otherwise inappropriate.”

It’s easy to share there as well, just create an account and go to the top of the page where you see your profile pic and hover your cursor over it.  Now go to “My Works” and near the corner where it says “New Story” click on and now copy and paste your story.


Uploading your excerpts to Wattpad

Like all story sharing sites, you need to gather followers like social media, or blogging.  You have to promote your own work, and make your rounds by commenting on other stories.

Your Blog or Website

Believe it or not, I almost forgot this one!  Your website needs to be your hub in case places like Goodreads, Facebook or Wattpad become obsolete or unfriendly to your work.


Scribd is mainly a nonfiction site but I found several books being shared in various genres like; Chick-Lit, YA, and Thrillers here.  They also have a Facebook app if you want to skip using the primitive, Facebook notes feature.

Social Media

Just about every author who has a Facebook, Google+ or MySpace page shares their work.  James Patterson and Sidney Sheldon are just a few authors who use social media in this way.  It wouldn’t hurt if you gave it a try.  I did this using the Facebook notes feature but saw that the professionals are using apps like Scribd and Heyo.  There is definitely an upgrade in my fanpage’s future!

*Tip* Make sure at the end of your excerpt, you share a link to Amazon or wherever you’re selling your book, so fans can know exactly where they can buy it.


Booksie is a sight where not only can you publish excerpts but also mp3 audio versions of your book.  Not a bad idea for those of us looking to branch out into the audio world.

Well I just about covered it, if you know of anymore free sites that allow authors to share excerpts or complete books (for free) let us know in the comments section.