Tuesday, August 13, 2013

12 Ways to Resurrect a Dead Book

A dead book is a book that has been published for months or years and is not selling well anymore. In traditional publishing, the company would probably just take this book out of print. But in Indie Publishing, we have so much flexibility. It costs us nothing to keep the book going since print books are only made when they are ordered and ebooks don’t take up any space and are around forever. It is never too late for us to breathe new life into an old book, and reach new readers. I have had to resurrect dead books on several occasions so I’m going to give a list of the things I’ve done that have worked in the past. I’m also going to talk about one specific book that I resurrected and has since died again. So I’m going to explain what I plan on doing to bring it back to life again.You can also listen to this info on my radio segment here.
1.      Get a new editor or proofreader. Your book may not be selling because there are too many grammatical errors. It is amazing to me how many people put their work out there without having another pair of eyes go over it. I usually four or five pair of eyes on each of my books and I still find mistakes on the final run-through. It is nearly impossible to get a completely error free book, but you should try as hard as possible to do so.
2.      A new cover and/or title. You may love your cover, but it may not accurately represent what your book is about. Or it may not be enticing enough. Go to Amazon, do a search of the books in your genre, and see if your book cover is comparable to the top books. If not, hire a professional cover artist. My favorite Leslie DuBois book that I’ve written called La Cienega Just Smiled. I personally felt that it was the best book I had written, but it was just not selling. It would do maybe four or five copies a month and I couldn’t understand it. I loved the title, I loved the cover, I loved everything about this book. But I took my pride out of it and sat back and took a look at the other YA books that were similar to mine. I realized that the title and the cover was all wrong. So I changed the name and the cover and the book started selling. 

I also changed the cover to Priscilla the Great

3.      Blurbs.  Make sure your blurb is enticing. This may be the most important tool for selling your book. Your goal is to make it impossible for someone not to buy your book after they have read your blurb. This is a difficult task and you may need to get SEVERAL people to read SEVERAL versions of your blurb.
4.      Tags. Many people are unaware of the importance of tags on the Amazon page. Go to your book page on Amazon and make sure the tags associated with your book are appropriate. Add popular tags that will make your book show up on searches. Do a tag exchange with other authors. I did this for a while and it was really helpful, but it gets time consuming after a while.
5.      An extensive free run. Once you made sure the cosmetics of your book are in order, try an extensive free campaign. I did this for my book Ain’t No Sunshine. It would only sell a handful of copies a month. Then I set it free and it was downloaded over 40,000 times in two months. This worked to raise it in the rankings. Then when it went back to paid, it started selling hundreds and hundreds of copies a month. The only ways I know of to go free is to use Smashwords to distribute your book to Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Amazon for free. Or let Amazon price match it when your book is free somewhere else. The problem with this method is that it is difficult to control when you want to stop being free.
6.      Try Kindle Select. Another option for the free method is to use Kindle Select program. When you do this, you make your book exclusive to Amazon for a number of months and then they give you the option to control when you’re free.
7.      Try a free preview. My book Ain’t No Sunshine has died again since its great run over a year ago. So one thing I’m trying to do is put up a 15 chapter preview for free with links to the full book in the back. I uploaded the book on Kobo and set it to free and now I’m waiting for Amazon to price match it to free before I start promoting it. I tried to upload it to Smashwords, but they would not allow me to upload a preview book.
8.      Write a short story. Another option is to write a short story that is related to the book and offer it for free. I have done this several times with my Priscilla the Great books. Almost every time I release a Priscilla the Great short story I will let it be free for a while and then start charging 99cents. I also did this with Nothing Else Matters. I wrote a short prequel to that book and included it in anthology with other authors. Now I offer the short story for free. The cover of it is the same as the book just a different color. I plan on writing a short story to tie in to Ain’t No Sunshine to offer for free. I want to think of a way to tie it in to the new movie The Butler since Ain’t No Sunshine ties in nicely with African American History and segregation.
9.      Google ad. I finally got another one of those Google coupons so I’m going to try a google ad to promote Ain’t No Sunshine with tag words such as African American historical romance, segregation, The Butler, The Help, just popular search words people may be using in the next few weeks with the release of this movie.
10.  Facebook ad. When my preview is finally free on Amazon, I plan on creating a post on my Leslie DuBois facebook page about it and then promoting it to a specific audience. Do a Facebook ad for your Book Trailer. I like the trailer for Ain't No Sunshine, but I need to update it since it references a book cover I no longer use.

11.  Guest blog. This is tricky. You want to do a guest blog on a hot button topic on a popular blog in order to draw attention to your book. But you also don’t want to alienate any of your readers. One of my fans offered to have me write a guest blog on her blog about racism. This is going to be such a tough post for me to write without potentially alienating or offending any of my readers. But it has to be interesting enough for people to want to read it and then share it.
12.  Paid advertising. Just be careful where you give your advertising money to. The most effective sites are Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink, Kindle Fire Department. There is also cheap ereads, kindle nation daily, Goodreads and many other places. I haven’t paid for advertising in a long time so I’m not sure which sites are effective anymore.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Ways for Indie Authors to Grow a Fan Base

As promised, here are my 10 tips for increasing your fan base that I talked about on my radio segment here. Please feel free to pass these on. Leave any ideas you have in the comments section!

1.      Ask fans to leave reviews of your books on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. One way to do this is to offer an incentive. Have a giveaway and make leaving a review one of the ways to enter.

2.     Team up with other authors to create an anthology. For example, below is an anthology of short stories that I put together with 9 other authors. In this way, we introduce our fans to each other and each increase or fan base.

3.     Get fans involved. Ask fans to create their own book trailers, character spotings, or fan art. Even just pictures of themselves reading your book. Post them in a section on your website. I’d have to figure out an appropriate way to do this since most of my fans are underage.

4.   Think of places where you can donate your book. Places with waiting rooms etc. I donate a couple of copies of Queen Bee to a dance studio near my house. Doctor’s offices, hospital waiting rooms, retirement homes, local coffee houses, motel lobbies. 

5.     Create a separate ebook that is just the first 10 chapters or so of your book and give that away for free. Make sure on the cover it says something like ‘free sample’ or first 10 chapters only. Make sure there is a link to the full book at the end of the sample. Right now, book 1 of Priscilla the Great is perma-free and it is doing pretty well. I’m considering changing this and going to the sample method. Below is an example of how James Patterson does it.

6.     Reach out to the city where your book is set. Contact the newspaper of that city, donate some copies to the libraries in that city. Do a target facebook ad for that city.

7.    Add book club style discussion questions to the end of your book and use this as a selling point to book clubs. Seek out book clubs, local ones so you can do in person visits and online ones as well.

8.     Go out and find your readers. Sit down, think about your book and the kind of people who read your books. Write down the top ten sites people who would read your book visit. Start visiting those sites and figure out how to become a part of them. If it is a forum, become a part of the community through relevant posts. Don’t just promote your book. If it is a blog, ask to do a guest blog. For other sites, think about buying an ad for that site.

9.    Find your super fan. A super fan is anyone who is so excited about your work that they have initiated contact with you. Use their enthusiasm to draw in other readers.  Give them a coupon code to pass on to their friends. Ask them for a testimonial to put on your website. Ask if they would like to lead a book discussion or interview you for your website. Ask if they would like to start a fan club for you and give it a cute name.

10Diversify. Create linked materials. For example t-shirts. I’m taking it a step further and creating a iPhone app for my Priscilla the Great series. I’m also considering doing dance bags for my Queen Bee series. Hopefully, by the gift season, I’ll have a package to sell with the first three books of the Queen Bee series in a dance bag for a special price. Or maybe a backpack for the PtG series.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Fairs Revisited

As promised, here are the links I mentioned on my radio show from today. If you missed the show, check it out here!

Some of these book fairs the deadlines have passed to be an exhibitor, but you still might want to visit for experience.  Also, when looking in to signing up for a fair, think about volunteering to be a speaker. This will increase your visibility at the fair. Especially effective at teacher fairs. I haven’t done it because I don’t have time. If you can tie in something about the classroom into your speech you will have a better chance at getting in.
·  The Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair will begin August 2, 2013 and finish August 3, 2013 in Denver, Colorado http://www.rmaba.org
·  The Martha's Vineyard Book Festival will begin August 3, 2013 and run through August 4, 2013 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. http://mvbookfestival.com/2013_book_festival
·  The Brooklyn Book Festival will begin September 22, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York. http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/BBF/Home
·  The Bookmarks Festival of Books will be held in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on September 7, 2013. http://bookmarksnc.org/book-festival
·  The Kansas Book Festival will be in Topeka, Kansas on September 7, 2013. http://kansasbookfestival.com/
·  The Westchester Multicultural Children's Book Festival will be September 14, 2013 in Westchester, New York. http://www.qbr.com/westchester-childrens-book-festival-1.aspx
·  The South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood, South Dakota will run from September 20, 2013 to September 22, 2013. http://www.sdbookfestival.com/
·  The National Book Festival will take place in Washington, DC from September 21, 2013 through September 22, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/
·  The Baltimore Book Festival will begin in Baltimore, Maryland on September 27, 2013 and end September 29, 2013. http://www.baltimorebookfestival.com/
·  The Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee will run from October 11, 2013 through October 13, 2013. http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books-celebration-written-word
·  The Iowa City Book Festival will begin October 11, 2013 and end October 13, 2013 in Iowa City, Iowa. http://www.iowacitybookfestival.org/
·  The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair will begin October 12, 2013 and finish October 13, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. http://www.seattlebookfair.com
·  The Texas Book Festival will begin October 26, 2013 and end October 27, 2013 in Austin, Texas. http://www.texasbookfestival.org/
·  The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (37th Annual) will be held November 15, 2013 through November 17, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. http://www.bostonbookfair.com
·  The Miami Book Fair International will kick off in Miami, Florida on November 17, 2013 and wrap up November 24, 2013. http://www.miamibookfair.com/

I also found a webpage that gives a state by state list of all the book fairs. From what I can tell, these might only be state supported fairs because when I looked at the list for South Carolina, there were a couple missing. So it is not a complete list.

There is also a list of library conferences by state:
Once again this is only a partial list because it only gives the public libraries. But I will take this opportunity to reiterate how important librarians are. You have to get to know your local librarians. They can be your greatest ally. Here are a couple of reasons why:
·         Librarians host book events
·         Review your book on their blog
·         Might feature your book on their website
I won’t go into details about how to get into libraries because I’ve done that segment before and you can find it at www.sybilnelson.com/libraries. I will reiterate a couple of tips.
·         Family. friends, and fans have great influence. Ask them to visit your local library and request your book. If your book is already there, ask them to check it out. It will make your book more popular.
·         If your library has an applicable book club, offer free books to the first 5 members or something.
·         Go to WorldCat.org to see what libraries have your book in order to put into action the above tips.
If it is not a local library or you don’t have enough fans in a certain area to get into a library then you have to do it the organic way. Which means, you need to get a review from Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, or Kirkus. You have to contact each of them individually and follow their guidelines to get a review. So far, I have found it impossible to crack that nut. I’m still trying. Libraries will also accept reviews from School Library Journal for children’s books. RT Book Review for romance books. And Locus Magazine for Science Fiction Fantasy.
Look into OverDrive for eBook distribution through libraries. Romance ebooks are really big in libraries right now. You may even want to look into turning your book into an audio book.