Authors: Becoming Visible - Indie Pub It
Visibility is a word that has crept into the indie publishing lexicon, and is bandied about more frequently every day.
What is visibility? In terms of indie publishing, it is the degree to which your name and your books are “discovered” by new readers.
Established fans of your books are not part of the visibility equation because they already know your and your work. If you’ve done your job right (see last month’s post on The Great Promotion Hoax), once they’ve read your book, you will lead them directly to the next book in the series, along with coaxing them to sign up for your email list, and subscribe to your blog or Facebook page. In this way, when your next book does release, the reader won’t need to find you: You’ll tell them the book is there.
Visibility is all about waving your hand to attract attention in a steadily growing, increasingly crowded marketplace.
For this reason, chatting on social networks fails epically, for even if the people you’re chatting with (a) read, (b) read your genre, (c) get to like your personality and (d) decide they might try one of your books, there is still no direct connection between your social account and your books. The reader has to either search a bookstore, or dig through your likes and links on the social site to find a link to your books in the bookstore. This takes a degree of effort that the merely curious reader won’t bother with.
You need to find new readers where they congregate: On the bookstore sites. How? Here’s seven tactics. There are others, and depending on what you write and how creative you are, you could come up with more – combinations of these tactics and others, and brand new ideas of your own. The critical question to ask yourself is “How do I let the reader know I’m here?”
It’s an old saw, but so absolutely true. Covers sell books. If your covers are at all weak or (help!) amateurish, update them. Truly stunning covers will go viral, just for their beauty, twist, or shock value alone.
If you’re not selling, try dropping your price to see if this stimulates sales. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your pricing. Note: The trend for indie prices now is a slight upward gradient. 99c for nine book sets, and other deep-discount tricks are losing their power. Readers have got used to the idea of indie publishing, and are willing to pay a slightly higher price for a decent read.
3. Your author profile
Amazon’s version is Author Central, while all the other retail outlets have their own means for keeping your bio and current booklist up to date. One Amazon advantage is that you can add your blog’s RSS feed to the page, which means the content is updated automatically, and always look fresh. On Amazon, your author page can show up on search results.
4. Free Books
I know I just explained that average prices are shifting upwards, but “free” should be considered as a separate tactic from pricing. There are two types of free pricing: temporary sales and perma-free. Both have a role to play in finding new readers. In fact, you should consider the finding of new readers the primary reason for using these tools. Temporary free sales are useful if you don’t have many books; make one book free for a short period of time and advertise that widely (more on advertising in a second). Perma-free works well for first books in series that you’ve fully published, or for which you have several titles published already.
The more the better. When, for example, Amazon lists search results by order of relevance (their default display order), if there are two books that are equal in all other respects, the one with the greater number of reviews goes first. A vast number of reviews will lift your book above books with better rankings.
6. Categories & Tags
Readers can no longer see tags on the book’s page, or add to them, but you still get to tag your book with the magic seven keywords when you first upload it. In addition, you also get to pick two categories for your book. There isn’t room in this post to go into all the methods and research you can do to find the ideal categories or keywords for your book (perhaps in later posts, I’ll cover these). But don’t slough off these two steps in your publishing process. All publishing platforms let you choose categories and keywords, and all of them use those categories and keywords to sort books for search results.
7. Your Product Description
If you know even a little bit about SEO strategies, then this will be quite obvious. If you work your keywords into your product description (in a natural way), then your book will rank higher in search results.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published 26 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book Of The Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com