I’m so pleased that Zoe Winters is starting off my once-a-week blogs by indie authors. We were online friends before she published her Blood Lust novellas, Kept, Claimed and Mated, and she’s been my role model and mentor. My paranormal romance, Cattitude, has been out for six weeks or so. I’m at the stage where I want to get my name out. I’ve peppered Zoe with questions, and I thought other e-authors would be interested in her answers. So here’s Zoe!
Zoe, you’ve become a success with your three novellas in the last 2 years since you published the first one, Kept. I’m guessing it didn’t happen right away. About how long did it take you to get your numbers up?
Thanks for having me, Edie. You know, people label me a success and I know I’ve sold a lot more ebooks than is probably the “norm” for self-publishing, but my goals are so high that it’s hard for me to see it that way. I consider myself still pretty close to the bottom of the hill from where I want to go. And yes, it started out very slowly. For the first almost year and a half, I was only clearing about $100 a month from my self-publishing efforts. Of course I only had one little 99 cent novella out there, too. Once I released Claimed and Mated, the numbers shot way up. In June I sold over 6,500 ebooks and made $2300 for that month. So it was a giant jump up from where I was.
What have you done to promote your book that you think was most effective?
That’s really hard to say. Marketing is something that I believe has a synergy to it. It’s not just “one” thing that is magically awesome. It’s a combination of several different efforts and your name increasing in visibility. Probably the biggest factor has been what a loud mouth I’ve been. Some people might not like me but I’m also one of the first authors a lot of people think of when they think of indie authors. It’s gotten me attention, and it’s sold me books.
What do you think is the most important thing an author should do?
Get out and mingle. Truth be told, I’d love to be a hermit… hole up in my house and write and not interact on the Internet at all. But that isn’t practical. You have to socialize and engage and let people see your name and associate it with writing. I don’t think there is “one” thing that is a silver bullet. Everyone will be different. Wherever you feel most comfortable is probably where you’ll have the most success. Whether it’s blogging, tweeting, facebooking, guest blogging, commenting on other people’s blogs, or hanging out and interacting on forums. But don’t be a lurker. If you lurk you aren’t doing your platform any good.
Get in the habit of commenting. If you read a blog or forum, it’s only going to take you a few more minutes to make a tiny mark and let people know you’re there and you have thoughts about whatever the subject under discussion is. Not only will you attract potential readers but you’ll attract like minds and later you and those like minds may choose to help each other out.
If you have something to say and articulate it enough times, eventually people will listen. If you’re a writer… coming up with stuff to say in written communication shouldn’t be all that difficult. Writers definitely should have a leg up on those who need to market and social network but “aren’t” writers.
What is the value you’d give the following:
I haven’t ever been very active on Kindleboards. Me and forums tend to be unmixy things because I tend to get a little rowdy. And it turns to drama. So I usually try to avoid. But… I know some authors who have done well here. The most effective thing is to have a signature line with your book covers and links into the Kindle store, and participate widely on the forum, not just in the writer ghetto there. The sig line is subtle advertising. Don’t talk about your book. Just talk to people about topics you’re interested in discussing there. You can even hang out in the totally off topic section.
I think on Amazon people are already on your sales page and if they’ve already heard something about you, if they want to read you they’re going to, no matter what the reviews say. I think on blogs negative reviews tend to have a neutral effect i.e. they probably wouldn’t have bought your book anyway (though sometimes a negative review intrigues someone and they buy), but positive and well-written reviews tend to boost sales, but only if the blogger has a decent audience. If ten people read the blog, don’t expect much.
I think this is most effective when you do a giveaway. It encourages more comments and interaction. You want to keep passivity to an absolute minimum, not only with how you interact but when it comes to getting others to engage with you. A lot of people get shy or read posts but don’t reply. If they have an incentive, like possibly winning a free signed copy, it can start some personal interaction going, which is always good for staying in a reader’s mind and possibly making a sale.
The more tags a book has, the more it gets found. I don’t think it necessarily makes or breaks you but… it *may* help Amazon recommend you more and help you get randomly found more.
Making multiple lists of the top 40 or more books for specific genres and sticking your book title in the lists:
I don’t personally consider this very effective. It might be, but I think when you list a lot of books, odds that it’ll get viewed a lot PLUS the reader will buy your book, seems rather slim. It can’t hurt, but it probably won’t help in a measurable way, either.
Writing the next book:
Probably one of the most important things. Platform builds excruciatingly slowly. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re going backwards or that you’ve fallen off the map and everyone has forgotten about you. There comes a point where your sales will plateau and maybe even lower some because of all the competition out there and the limits of your current reach. A new book is the most solid way to move that cycle back up again.
What would you do differently now?
I think it’s still a little early to answer that question. I hesitate to say I’d do things differently because even things I’ve done that I might not want to do again might have helped get me where I am right now. By the same token though, I might have been better off without doing them. But I truly don’t know. There are very few ways for an indie author to track the results of everything they’re doing. If it was as simple as plugging in a mathematical formula, I’d be a rockstar by now.
Is there anything else the author should know about promo?
Start a newsletter. You need a list of people who aren’t just Twitter or FaceBook followers (because they won’t see everything you post, trust me on this one and you don’t want to email spam your FB friend list. Everyone finds that annoying.) In most forms of internet marketing they say “the money is in your list”. Your newsletter is the one way you have of having your readers tied in to YOU in a way where you can easily let them know when you have something new available and where they can get it.
One last question. I mentioned the next book. I know you have one coming out soon. Can you tell us approximately when, and the title and blurb?
The next book is Save My Soul and it features an incubus trapped in a house by a fifty-year old curse. I won’t go into it here because it’s not available yet. One thing I don’t believe in is marketing a book before it’s here. What happens when you do that, is people tend to get bored with it before it even gets here, it’s not a novelty anymore. Plus they may forget about it by the time it’s available so it’s wasted energy. Instead I’d rather plug what I have for purchase right now.
It’s all about the blood…
Comprised of three novellas, Blood Lust gives readers a snapshot look at the world of the Preternaturals Series. (Future installments of the series will be novels.)
As a cat therian (shifter), Greta’s blood is already sought after to enhance spells and potions, but due to a quirk of her birth, her blood is potent enough to kill for. When her tribe plans to sacrifice her, Greta must ally herself with Dayne, the dangerous local sorcerer, and the only person strong enough to protect her.
For a vampire, Anthony isn’t a picky eater, but he’s drawn to Charlee’s blood more than any other. Like a fine wine saved for a special occasion, he’s denied himself this pleasure. But one night, high from the potent magical blood of another, he claims his prize and loses control. Ashamed of almost killing the one woman who means anything to him, he wipes her memory of the event. When Charlee awakens with complete amnesia, Anthony is the only one who can clean up the mess he’s made.
Because of the vampiric blood that has run through her veins since birth, Jane has been a target for vampires who resent a human being “kindred.” She’s forced to disguise herself as a vampire groupie to appease them and safeguard her life. When she’s abruptly given to Cole, the leader of the werewolf pack, to satisfy a gambling debt, she discovers the blood running through her veins has a far greater impact on her destiny than she ever imagined.
Print and ebook copies are available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. (other retailers coming soon.)
Digital copies also available at Smashwords.com for those with readers besides the Kindle.
You can find me here:
If you have any questions for Zoe, now is your chance to ask. Zoe has graciously offered to give either Kept, Claimed or Mated to 3 different commenters. I’m keeping the giveaway open until my next blog is up. Zoe changed this to giveaways to 3 commenters of her e-book Blood Lust, which includes all 3 novellas! Thank you, Zoe!