QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Get Your Book Noticed in Today’s Changing Marketplace

by Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL

 ©Stina Lindenblatt

Unless you’ve been wandering lost in a desert for the past year, you are aware that the publishing industry is rapidly changing. With it, the number of self-published, small press, ebooks, and traditionally published books being published each week is dramatically growing. What does this mean? More people are trying to gain the reader’s attention. The same reader we want to check out our own new release.

Elana Johnson blogged last week on how we’re starting to suffer from asocial media hangover.  Promotional activities (blog tours, giveaways, interviews) that used to be effective are now turning people off. Some readers still enjoy them, but most don’t bother to read the posts. Based on comments from Elana post, personal experience, and feedback I’ve received from others, this is what I’ve learned:

Covers are important. If your cover looks amateurish, no one (other than your mom) will be interested in your book. When you send the JPEG file to be used on a blog, make sure you send one of high resolution; otherwise, it will look blurry and amateurish. If you plan to self publish your book, invest in a professionally created cover.

A compelling title always tromps a dull one. Study titles in your genre and figure out which ones grab your attention and which don’t. Why is one more appealing than another? Apply what’s you’ve learned to your own title. After you create a list of potential titles, google them to ensure every other author in your genre hasn’t used the same ones. You want it to stand out and be unique in case the reader can’t remember your name but remembers the title. 

Make sure your blurb is tight and interesting. If your blurb is dull and vague, I’m not going to read your book. I’ve seen a number of self-published books lately with great covers and boring blurbs. Use power words that hook the reader. For example, hidden room, strange fascination, obsession, horrifying discovery, chilling truth, terrifying events, mysterious disappearance, twisted legacy, malevolent life of its own, a bottomless hunger for new victims (In the Dark of the Night by John Saul).

Don’t irritate people with your promotion. This is a serious issue with Twitter and Facebook. It’s also becoming a problem on Goodreads. If you want people to pay attention to your new release, then please avoid spamming. If you DM someone who just followed you back on Twitter, you can guarantee they WON’T read your book (or blog) if you tell them to. Many people will just unfollow you.

Use Goodreads wisely. Goodreads is a great way for people to find out about your book via word-of-mouth. Plus, fans of your books can check the site for the release date of your next novel. It’s also a good way to invite your “friends” to your book-release party. However, people often delete the announcements (unread) unless they’re excited about the book or the author is a friend of theirs (A real friend. Not a social networking “friend”). Other people have mentioned they are frustrated by the amount of spam being generated on Goodreads by authors using it to promote their book. Spamming doesn’t cause people to want to buy your book. It does the opposite. 

Word-of-mouth is your best promotion. When we love a book, we can’t wait to tell our friends about it. And when we share the same taste in reading as our friends, we are more apt to rush out and buy the great book they just read, even if we’ve never heard of it before. This is how many books become unexpected hits. It has nothing to do with the initial promotion, which is often lacking. Just look at Harry Potter. In the beginning, it didn’t receive any hype. Its popularity increased due to its fans: the kids on the playgrounds in England, gushing to their friends about the great book they just read. 

Be selective with your blog tours. You are better off having your book reviewed on a major book blog (if possible) than swamp your blogging circle with a blog tour. According to the comments on Elana’s post, most of us avoid reading guest posts that are part of a blog tour. This is especially true when a number of the blogs we follow are part of the tour. The exception is if the topic is of interest to us. Then we stop to read it. 

Remember the purpose of social networking. The key word here is social. This is your chance to make genuine friendships. Friendships that could eventually lead to positive word-of-mouth about your book.   

Keep your promotion small, unless you can spread it around so it’s not hitting the same people again and again. Every so often, subtly remind us about your book. I might not buy it right away, but the reminder later on might be all I need to pick the book up. This is more effective than over promotion, which tends to turn some people off a book. 

If you’re going to do an interview, KEEP IT SHORT. Most of us don’t have time to read to a 750-word plus interview, unless it’s by our favorite author. When doing an interview, keep your answers brief. You are better off spending the time working on your next book than spending it on a long interview that most people will skip or skim over. 

Make sure your book is professionally edited. There is nothing worse than reading a book that is poorly written and ridden with typos. And there is nothing more damaging to your sales than word-of-mouth about the poor quality of your book. The best edits include structural, line, and copy edits. Unfortunately, editing isn’t cheap, but if you want to do things right, it’s worth the investment. 

Start working on your next project. The best promotion for your last book is your next one. I recently read a book that I loved so much, I decided to read another of the author’s books. It happened to be the first book in a trilogy. I ended up also loving that book and bought the other two. And how did I find out about the initial book? A friend recommended it to me. That’s right. Word-of-mouth is a beautiful thing.

How do you decide what books to read? Are there any forms of promotion that especially turns you off? Do you have any other suggestions for getting your book noticed?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes young adult and new adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog.  


Jess said...

Great advice!

Claude Nougat said...

Love it and couldn't agree with you more! I'm so fed up with "giveaway events", "free downloads", blog tours and interviews...I'm sure no one reads them anymore, we all suffer from Internet fatigue!

But what you're saying is that we're back to square one: word of mouth! That's pre-Internet, pre-everything! But I bet you're right...I know that I rarely read anything unless a friend - someone I trust - has told me.

The only thing that remains are - well 2 things:
- customer reviews, including the "poor" ones

- the chance to download a sample to decide whether to buy or not.

But for pure book discoverability it remains just word of mouth...

Debra Feldman said...

Helpful tips and easy to read in this concise format. Thank you.

Amy Gregory said...

This is how I've felt too, but have felt like I have to do all the Internet 'stuff' to keep up with the Jones'. Afraid that if I don't, I'll be swallowed up before I have a chance to even make it... :( This was a great article, thank you so much!

Ash Krafton | @ashkrafton said...

Great post, Stina.

I noticed a shift in the notifications at Goodreads promoting author fan groups and events and the like. I haven't done anything like that...and now I'm convinced I shouldn't either.

At Goodreads, I've been participating in read to review programs. I'll gladly offer a free copy of my book in exchange for an honest review--it's a chance to get my book to someone who will really appreciate the story enough to write about their rection.

Those reviews may inspire someone else to pick up the book...and while I know I'll never be Rowling or King, I think this is the best way to promote my book--the word of mouth and recommendation that accompanies an enthusiastic review.

Sherry Ellis said...

Great advice! I tweeted it.