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January 30, 2012

1. EMBRACE SOCIAL MEDIA: Many authors have a somewhat apathetic relationship with their author platform. They’ve heard the term. They’ve set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads; maybe even started a blog because they read in an article that they are supposed to even though they don’t know what the heck to write about. They anemically reach out to a few fellow authors and check in weekly when they remember.

Well, sorry but that will just not do! Social media and blogging regularly is your golden ticket to building a profoundly active and dedicated fan base. Remember the basics of marketing is knowing your brand. Like it or not, you are a brand, and you need to sell a product: you. Even if you book isn’t out yet, blogging regularly and interacting on Twitter and Facebook with a targeted message is critical to building a loyal group that will eventually purchase your books.

I had a several- thousand fan base on both Twitter and Facebook before I released my first book A Walk In The Snark. and that helped immensely when it came to finding beta readers, reviewers, and getting my book liked and tagged. Your buyers may not come from social media (though undoubtedly some will via your loyal following and word of mouth), but they will help get the word out about your book.

2. JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP: Do you sit at your desk and figure, hey, this book looks as good as the stuff out there in Amazonland, I’ll just load it up and see what happens?

Well, hold up there boys and girls. Lots of people make that mistake and it’s a big one. Putting yourself out there as a writer is a risk. You will be criticized. Learning how to take that criticism is part of becoming a better writer and a critique group is the ideal learning environment. If getting together in your local area isn’t feasible, find one online or via telephone.

That’s what I did (with my fabulous Indie Book Collective folks) and it was enormously helpful in helping me find my voice with my second book, The Mancode: Exposed. It also helps you read different styles and genres of other writers and learn different techniques, which makes you an innately better writer as well.

3. USE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES: When I decided to put out my first book, I really had no idea how to organize my thoughts into a cohesive manner that made sense as a product. That’s where paying a professional editor comes in. We highly recommend you hire for content and copy edits. We here at the IBC can refer you to plenty of terrific people who edit for a living. Not simply proofread for grammar and spelling mistakes (which we also recommend!), but help you organize your work.

Formatting – to me, it’s like math (ergo, writer here), so I pay someone awesome to do it for me. However, our amazing cofounder Amber Scott formats books , and teaches our Formatting 101 webinar. She’s terrific and is even for hire.

4. CREATE A BACKLIST: You’ve written that first book. Poured your heart and soul, many years, sweat and pounds. Congratulations. Now write another. Haven’t written another yet? Hook up with an author in your genre who you can cross promote, creating a virtual backlist.

‘What is the best way to promote your book? Write another.’

~ Ryne Douglas Pearson, screenwriter of KNOWING

Our founder, Carolyn McCray, coaches all of us to balance our marketing time with our writing time. Writing always comes first. Of course, you have to let people know about you book (more on that below), but establishing a body of work is what helps you become known. Set aside time to write every single day and have a marketing plan, a goal. This is your career, right? Treat it as such!

5. NETWORK: As mentioned above, social media is the best way to get the word out about your product (which remember, is you), as well as your book. Overall, that is called your brand. How will people get to know your brand? Networking.

Choose six to nine keywords that describe who you are, your book, your overall brand. That’s the message you want to convey in every interaction, whether it’s content (no link) or promotional (with a link). Even if it’s a thank you – be sure it’s branded. For example, I’ll leave a tweet that contains the hashtag #Mancode and even my reply will contain that. It’s funny (I’m primarily a humorist), it’s branded (#Mancode), and people know what to expect.

Remember to also be aware that networking means interaction, not blast. You should have a ratio of three to five content messages for every one promotional. If this is all Greek to you, take the free social media webinar I teach for the IBC – the first Tuesday of every month.

6. EDUCATE YOURSELF: What is KDP Select? What is a beta-reviewer? What’s an ARC? What is Smashwords? How do I get reviewers to review my books? Do I need a paperback version? How do I find a good graphic artist? Do I even need one? What’s an epub? What’s a Twitter list? What are tags?

These are all questions you need to find out the answers to. How?

Read the IBC blog – we’ve got over a year’s worth. Read the articles on our website. Follow our daily Twitter stream for insider tips. Take our webinars. Google stuff. Ask self-published friends you respect. Buy books on the subject. Hire someone who knows. Ask us!

7. SELF-PROMOTION IS YOUR FRIEND: We hear frequently from new authors that they’re uncomfortable with the process of promoting their own books. The “if you build it, they will come” syndrome. In our book Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-Publishing Success, we discuss this in depth. Basically, you need to realize that nobody knows your book as well as you do. Even traditionally published authors need to promote their own books. So if you’re thinking that going the traditional route means it will save you from the horrors of self-promotion, think again. In our experience, this fear comes from inexperience with the promotional tools available.

I personally love the interaction of social media, blogging, and interaction with friends and fans on Twitter and Facebook. Carolyn looks at it differently. She’s the first to tell you finds Twitter and blogging works for her because she can riff on a topic (say, lasagna) and still be interactive while still staying branded.

Promotion is what you make it. You simply have to understand the tools.

8. GUEST BLOG: It’s quite easy to begin your own blog. Open up WordPress, Blogger, or other platform and in an hour, you’re good to go. But will anyone know you’re there? Probably not. A critical part of getting your brand aka your product out there is guest blogging for other authors with established blogs. How do you find out about these authors? Twitter or Facebook!

It’s important to build up your Twitter in a targeted way (following readers, bloggers, reviewers, authors) so start following all their blogs as well. Leave comments. Retweet them. Caution: don’t be that guy at the party who constantly talks about their own book or blog and hits people up with links. That’s called spamming and is frowned upon.

You can also ask other people to come guest on your blog. If you’re just starting out and have little to no following, this is a bit of a challenge but not impossible. Pay attention to Twitter memes (rhymes with themes) like #MentionMonday and #TagItTuesday to help gain followers and give back to others. You will quickly gain a healthy blog following and people will want to co-promote with you. Which brings us to…

9. CO-PROMOTION: No one is an island, to paraphrase John Donne. A perfect example of this is when I signed up for Amazon’s KDP Select program and took my book A Walk In The Snark free for five days in December, right before Christmas. I had over 10k downloads. Awesome, right? But wait.

When I co-promoted my second book, The Mancode: Exposed in early January as Bestseller For a Day, with five terrific authors (Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott, Ann Charles, Taylor Lee, and DeeDee Robson), I had over 22k downloads in only TWO days. And, when I ported back over to paid, I ended up in the Amazon Top 100 paid list.

Will this happen for everyone who co-promotes? No. I’ve established my fan base over the course of two years, my first book had already hit Number One on the Motherhood list multiple times, and the amazing authors I co-promoted with are bestsellers already – the planets aligned.

Could this happen for you? Absolutely. How? Get involved in our amazing promotions like Indie Book Blowout, Free Par-Tay (only open to KDP Select authors), Blog Tour de Force, Bestseller For a Day, and more. Our promotions are all about co-promoting each other to bring attention to you and other authors to raise us all up!


Announcing full Indie Book Collective membership, coming in February 2012! For $25 a year, get discounts on classes, a monthly meeting with a board member, network with other authors on meta-message and marketing, plus so much more. Stay tuned for details.

Whether joining IBC or another writing organization, by networking with peers, we can all learn, cross promote and get that much needed support that sometimes only other authors can provide.

 ~ ~ ~


Rachel Thompson (aka RachelintheOC) is the author of the consistently 5/5 star reviewed humorous and at times, poignant, collection of essays, A Walk In The Snark (released 1/2011), which hit #1 on the Amazon Motherhood Kindle list (beating out the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Tori Spelling!) in September, 2011!

Her second release, The Mancode: Exposed hit the Amazon Top 100 Paid within the first month of release, thanks to IBC programs and strategies.

You can find Rachel most days on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, giving daily tips on the IndieBookIBC Twitter stream, contributing posts to the IBC blog or her own popular blog, giving free social media workshops through IBC for writers, promoting her current book or working on her next book, Chickspeak: Uncovered due in May. Rachel also has her own social media consulting business.

She lives in the OC, aka Orange County, CA (home of Disneyland). Somewhere in there, this redhead in a sea of blondes fits in being a full-time wife and mom to her two young children and just one husband. She loves coffee, dirty martinis, and sleep.

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