Stand out in a sea of authors
I just read a blog post about book launches and in the first paragraph they stated that competition is fierce for physical space in brick and mortar book stores. That got me thinking. Competition is also fierce out there in ebook land for indie authors too (as well as traditionally published authors). We have to work that much harder just to get a few new eyes to glance at one of our books because there are thousands of new releases every day. We aren’t just competing with all the other indies out there, but the fancy traditionally published books that have entire marketing teams helping them out.
Being an author today is 95% marketing and 5% writing
I don’t mean to bring you down I just want to give you an idea of why I do these posts and to get you to think really hard if you are up to the challenge of competing with all that. If you are, then great keep reading.
I read somewhere that being an author today is 95% marketing and 5% writing. I don’t know if it is that extreme, but for beginning authors (all the ones who haven’t made the bestseller list yet or aren’t making a living wage off of their books) it is pretty close to those numbers.
This is why originality is so important. The more you stand out from the crowd the better chance you have at getting noticed. There are as many ways at being unique as there are genres and sub-genres of books. In this post I will tackle a few ways you can stand out from the author crowd.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to stand out is be a fan. All it takes is time. Of course you are a fan of your own writing but I am talking about the other authors out there. I am sure you have a few authors that you fan girl/boy over. Follow them on twitter, like their Facebook page and if they have a regular Facebook account you are or hope to be friends with them, join their fan groups, etc. Not only will you learn about how they go about getting their name out there but you may also have access to their special giveaways or ARC sign ups before others. The usual stuff the fans go crazy over.
Over time they may take notice of you and then one day they may like a post of yours or retweet something. I recently had Cara McKenna comment and like something I posted to Instagram. I felt like I was on cloud 9 the rest of the day. It wasn't anything book related but the fact she noticed me felt like the clouds parted and the sun shone on me (I know - a little over dramatic but you get what I am talking about).
The more you help them the more they notice you. Then one day you could have your dream come true: It’s your release day and they comment happy release day or share your post. I know I would die if my favorite author did that. I would have a heart attack of happiness.
If they are a well-known author or have a cult like following then their fans will take notice. Which will cause many of them to buy your book. I look at this as a win-win. You get to fan hard all over your favorite author and have a potential to get more fans/sales yourself. The only drawback is it takes time to make this happen but hanging out with your favorite author I think totally makes up for it!
Also, if you feel comfortable enough or become close enough to your favorite author, you could ask them to be a part of your new release party or write a blurb for you (you know those, “Jane Doe did it again. Her writing is fantastic. I always look forward to her books.” – from NYT Bestselling author Jacqueline B. Author). This is up to you. If you feel comfortable enough to reach out to them, by all means do it...
Another way to be unique is through your swag. You probably have the typical pens, stickers, bookmarks, buttons, etc. Which is great! But try coming up with some swag ideas that relate to you as an author or, better yet, to each book. Maybe in Book A the hero and heroine are trapped in the woods and about to be attacked by a bear. When you give swag as prizes give away a teddy bear too. Maybe you are crafty and can make something unique for your prizes.
I know Helena Hunting gives out plush beavers sometimes because of her book Pucked. I will leave it with you as to why the beaver. Tara Sivec has a special flask that you can buy from her store. My favorite is Penny Reid’s Cross Stitch Truth or Beard kit. It comes with the pattern for the cross stitch of her cover for her book Truth or Beard. If you cross stitch (which I don’t) you should really check it out.
just try to think outside of the box
I am building up some ideas myself for when I release the rest of the Cake Love books. I like to give out things that people can use. Like in some of my previous swag bags I gave out Cake Bath Bombs. I found a site that has shoes that look like cake called the Shoe Bakery– it’s awesome! Only I can’t afford to buy those shoes right now, but I keep it in mind for a BIG prize at a much later date for when I can afford to give a pair away. HERE is the website if you want to check it out, their shoes are amazing!
But don’t just stop at making unique swag, try other things too. Like I mentioned in my Party post, making your Facebook or Twitter release parties unique. I don’t want you to think you have to crack the books and come up with ten different ‘unique’ ideas, but when you do your normal thing (blog post on your website, coming up with your release parties, making your swag, coming up with giveaways, etc.) just try to think outside of the box.
Like these Book Barista posts. I didn’t set out with the plan to bring more traffic to my blog, but that’s just what happened. I really only wanted to organize my thoughts and ideas and put them down on paper, so to speak. I wanted to actually help other authors out there who may be wondering what they are doing wrong in marketing their book, like I was. That was my goal for these posts, but it also brought in more traffic. Attention to you as an author is always a good thing.
Also, when I did my Author Interview posts and started the Payne In The Blog character blog, I did those things because I wanted to have some fun. Yet, those posts always get the most traffic. Sure, some people only come to those specific posts and then never come back again, but there are always some that stick around and check out my books. I even gained a few fans from a Facebook party where I had a giveaway where they had to read the very first Payne In The Blog post and tell me what they liked best for a chance to win. A few told me later they loved it and came back week after week to get new posts and when Rules of Payne came out (the book inspired by the blog), they bought it.
So, there are many ways to be unique. You don’t need to be so utterly different as to come up with an idea no one has ever thought of…ever! This is where observing others, especially authors comes in handy. What do they do that’s fun and different? Maybe you can tweak that to fit you. I thought of the idea for a character post just a few months after I started writing. At the time no one had heard of me. I kept thinking of creating a character Facebook page and have my character post a few times a week. But that would take a long time to build friends or likes and some people might mistake it for a real person.
So, I kept the idea on the back burner. Then 6 months later I came up with the character Morgana Drake and her boss Henrik Payne. I wanted to write a book about them, but I wanted to start the book a few months after they met. Because I liked the idea that the heroine had formed a solid opinion of the hero and it was up to the hero to prove to her he wasn’t a bad person. Then one day I thought wouldn't it be fun to be a different character and write a post on my blog as that character. That's when I put two and two together. Morgana as that character and the months from when her and Henrik met (the interview for the job) to where Rules of Payne starts.
I gained fans
At the time (I hadn’t even been an author for a year yet) I got maybe 10-30 hits on my website every day. I watched over the next month as I published a new Morgana post twice a week, the numbers grow to close to 70-100 hits a day. A month after that I had close to 200 views a day. I gained fans through the blog. I could probably count on my one hand how many fans I had before I started Payne In The Blog and several months later I had a Street Team and a Fan Club. I could have gotten those numbers eventually, but things grew in a more rapid pace due to the blog posts.
I am not saying go create a character blog, but take advantage of every platform you have – that includes your website. It is your website, have fun with it. My author website doesn’t look like any other author website I have come across. I am not talking design layout, I am referring to the content. I am an author, an entertainer, a creative person, so I tap into that with everything I touch. Perhaps it’s my Improv and Theater background, but it has been drilled in my head that you are always on. You never know where that talent scout, director, agent might be so always have a joke or good story on the ready. Because of that way of thinking I applied it to my career as an author. I am always trying to be several steps ahead and wondering what might wow someone. Make me stand out among the crowd.
In this saturated book market (now more so than ever), you have to get noticed. Not just by literary agents or publishers – if that’s what you want – but by the reader. Next week I will do a more in depth post about Traditional publishing verses Indie publishing, but no matter your career path you have to do what you can to get people to buy your book.
That’s your cup of joe for this week. Make sure you check out next week’s post on Book Barista about traditional publishing verses indie publishing. There is good and bad with both.
Get the next Book Barista Post about Traditional or Indie Publishing HERE
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As an indie-author I was wondering what I could do to help get my books out there. So, I looked into it and that's when I realized I had a lot to learn. These posts are to help my fellow authors learn how to market and publish their book. I pass on what I found out about making a book a success.