Changing things up a little bit on my blog tour. Here is an informative post from Lorena Angell, author of the YA fantasy books the Unaltered Series, on how to increase readership. (Even though she writes about self-published writers, I think it’s helpful for any published author.) I’d also like to add first the wonderful things she said about ILLUSION:
“I’m happy to take part in Christa Yelich-Koth’s Blog Tour today. I read the first two chapters of
her upcoming release, Illusion, and must say I’m excited to read the rest of the story. When I
read science fiction, I need to be sucked right in or I grow bored. Illusion hooked my attention
right off the bat in the first few pages. I have a strong draw to characters with an important
destiny unbeknownst to them. Maybe my draw to this book comes from writing the same type of
characters in my own work. Christa tells me Illusion contains no sex and minimal swearing, just
action packed, edge of your seat adventures from the Eomix Galaxy far, far away. Based on what
I’ve read so far in Illusion, I recommend this book to my readers. Go pre-order Illusion, by
Christa Yelich-Koth today!”
Now on to her post!
Five Ways To Increase Readership
So, you’ve made it over some important hurdles. First of all, you finished your book.
Congratulations! That takes serious effort—I know. Second, you went through the editing
process. Either you hired someone, or you performed your own line edit and acquired a few beta
readers to help strengthen your manuscript. Kudos. Third, you probably have a file full of
rejection letters from literary agents with the gut-wrenching “not for me” answer that brought
about a night of over-drinking and regret. And fourth, but not last, you’ve taken matters into your
own hands and self-published your book online.
And why not? With the ease of uploading on many different user-friendly sites, there’s really no
reason why you can’t offer your own book online. If you’re determined enough to figure out the
mechanics of formatting ebooks, you’ll succeed at uploading.
However, none of this matters, if no one reads your book.
1) Social Media
How do readers find your book? When I launched my young adult fantasy books in May 2011, I
searched for marketing strategies. The reality of utilizing social media became clear. I became
panicked because I didn’t know anything about social media. Back then I only had email and a
flip phone. That was it. I didn’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, or a blog. I didn’t even
know how many characters were allowed in a tweet. But I wanted to find readers, so I began to
learn. I gave my book away for a while to get feedback on my writing. I’d use Twitter to
broadcast the links to the websites hosting the free books. I used Smashwords, Obooko, free-
ebooks, and a few other websites. Smashwords distributed to Apple, Nook, Kobo, and more. My
tweets were retweeted many times by others and were also added to other people’s “free lists.” I
was able to gather many free downloads. Some readers left comments on the different websites,
but I could tell I needed a way for them to communicate with me.
2) Contact Me and Newsletter Opt-In Links
I set up a free blog with Blogspot under my own name. Then I set up a Contact Me account and
installed it on my blog. By using Contact Me, I’ve protected my email address from spam bots.
Next, I set up a MailChimp newsletter account to be able to mass-mail with one click and acquire
email addresses legally. The last thing I wanted was to be hit up for spamming. *If you’re not
aware of what I’m talking about, do some research on mass mailings and email lists.* I added
links to my blog at the end of my books, encouraging readers to contact me and to sign up for my
newsletter. I learned interacting with readers and making them feel special is the best way to gain
new readers because a happy reader will most likely share their enthusiasm with their
friends—which equals increased readership.
Here’s an example of how newsletters can bring in new readers. I recently put book five up for
pre-sale and sent out a newsletter telling my fans that until the release date, May 15th, 2015, they
can order book five for a reduced price. Within twenty-four hours after sending out the
newsletter, book five reached #16 on Amazon’s metaphysical chart as a pre-order. Because of
hitting the charts for book five, I saw an increase in downloads of books one through four. The
power of my “Awesome Fans” newsletter subscribers is, well . . . awesome.
3) Personal Connection
Woo hoo! Whenever I receive an email telling me I have a new contact, I always get excited. To
have a reader take the time to let me know they enjoyed my book is the most gratifying feeling
as an author. Especially when the reader tells me they relate with my characters. I make sure I
take the time to type an original reply to establish a personal connection with my reader. I refer
to the reader’s email when I compose a reply. I always thank them for reading my books. If they
ask questions, I answer them. If I have exclusive news that isn’t known to the public yet, I’ll
share it with my new fan. Why? Because without my readers, I’m just an aspiring writer. With
my readers, I’m able to make a living off my writing.
Sometimes a reader will respond to my email reply. They usually say, “Wow! I’ve never had an
author answer my email before.” When I get these replies, I shake my head, wondering why
other authors don’t make an effort to establish a personal connection. Granted, I’m not flooded
with emails every day, and perhaps things will be different once I’m ubber-popular. (One can
dream, right?) Until then, I’ll continue responding to my readers.
Giveaways are a great way to get reader engagement. I usually have a contest or giveaway going
on as an incentive to subscribe to my newsletter. This brings in new subscribers and also keeps
subscribers active, which is key when I announce a new release. One prize I give periodically is
a 2-1/2” crystal Sanguine Diamond replica, made popular in book one, A Diamond in My Pocket.
I invest money in the crystal, the packaging, and the shipping to reward my readers for
participating in my giveaway. I ask my new “Diamond Bearer” to take a picture of their diamond
so I can post it on my website’s Diamond Bearer Wall page. I’ve heard back from several
winners who said they showed off their diamond to their friends, co-workers, or students, and
told them where my books can be downloaded. Word-of-mouth recommendations.
Often times I’ll use Rafflecopter to host my giveaway. I like the setup and the entry possibilities,
plus the random selection of the winner. Entries can include Facebook Fan page likes, Twitter
followers, newsletter subscribers, social media sharing, etc., all of which help build my social
Reviews are important. Reviews are forever. I’ve had my share of unfavorable comments about
my books, like every other author out there. Some of the negative comments helped me locate
problems within my manuscript. Unfortunately, even though the errors have been repaired, the
review remains. My recommendation is to make sure your manuscript is in its best form before
uploading. Also, steer clear of padding reviews by asking friends and family to post. Don’t pay
for reviews, either. I’ve used a couple Facebook groups designed for authors seeking honest
reviews in exchange for free reads. I know there are other avenues, such as on Amazon,
GoodReads, and KBoards, to find readers who will review in exchange for a free read. The best
method I’ve found to get readers to leave a review is to simply ask. At the end of my books,
along with the links to my Contact Me page and Newsletter opt-in form, I encourage my readers
to leave an honest review to help other potential readers to decide if they might enjoy the book,
too. I also link to the sales page of the book to make it easier for them to leave a review.
These five ways of building readership aren’t anything new. I certainly didn’t invent or discover
these methods. However, they are tried and true. If you’re not communicating with your readers,
you’re missing out. Remember to diversify with your communications. Some of my readers
don’t subscribe to newsletters, period. Some only watch FaceBook. Some are strictly Tweeters.
Others follow my RSS feed on my blog. So when I have something to announce or offer I make
sure I cover all my social media bases to hopefully get the most coverage.
Check out Lorena’s blog HERE!