Yesterday I glanced over how too many authors these days spam their books and don't really know how to use social media to their advantage. Again, a lot of it's a mindset. You don't write to just sell, sell, sell–yes, royalty checks are nice and encouraging–but even traditional businesses seldom succeed if they tackle their industry with the sell-sell-sell/spam-spam-spam mentality. It's like playing Chess and only maneuvering to claim your opponents pieces. Yes: capturing their pieces is the end goal, but that's not how you go about it.
Many businesses enter their industry with the idea that they have something to provide, something to say, or something they can do for their community. Look at the business model for Tom's shoes: they give back and people are happy to support them. As an author, what is your message? What are you trying to say? Are you trying to inspire and educate people with your knowledge and theories about the future of cryptocurrency? Great! That's interesting. So are you gonna walk through social media saying “buy my book” or are you going to write freely available blog posts, participate in cryptocurrency conversations defending your ideas, and actually work to spread information about cryptocurrency?
I write fiction, and my pitfall is I write different genres of fiction, so my target audience changes. I'm definitely not going to just spam the market with my five books that cater to at least three different audiences. I want to entertain people with a story they can enjoy, but still tug at their emotions by mixing in real-life unfairness, and I'm stingy with my happy endings. It's natural that I write urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, horror, and dark fantasy, but there are nuances in each of those genres that I have to adapt to. Sure, they may sound similar (three of the genres are fantasy), but then again so do the music genres hard rock, heavy metal, and metalcore, and as a music fanatic myself, I can assure you that all of those genres have major differences.
So what do I do when I have 5 different books to market to 3 different audiences? I go to Goodreads.
I love chatting with people about books. I recently picked up the Fatemarked series by David Estes, arguably one of my competitors, and his books are quite good. Different from mine, but remarkably inspiring, and they're newer books, too, so I'm excited to talk about them. Not everybody has heard of them, but they must. So what do I do? I leave a review on Goodreads. I go find other people who've read his book–on Goodreads–and see what they thought. Sometimes people point out things that I missed in a book, which makes me appreciate the book even more.
I then see what groups these other readers are in, and participate in their conversations. They often steer me toward new books I might like, a lot of which I can get for free through that author's giveaways, and I've made quite a few friends from it. Some people who've noticed my writing have even asked me for writing pointers, and I've been glad to talk to them.
I've also found some groups that dedicate themselves to author promotion. They do free giveaways and host a bunch of different indie books. It was there that I got the momentum built with a bunch of reviews from a giveaway for The Slender Man. If you look, some of those first reviews are still the top reviews, six years later. That's inspiring to me. It keeps me going as a writer.
A lot of other giveaways and forums are just more authors soliciting to each other, which doesn't work. It just doesn't, but those authors who go back and forth, liking each others books and following each others accounts to boost their numbers are just going to keep doing that, running in circles, and it doesn't work because it's not real engagement, and when they go through and message a bunch of readers or spam their books in forums, they get ignored, and they give authors–especially indies–a bad name.
Notice what I don't do? That.
Yeah, when I was 18 and first starting, those little author circles caught my eye, but it doesn't work. Again, it's not real. That's not how to fake it till you make it. That's not capturing social media and using it properly. The people that reviewed my book from those giveaways happily did so because I went through the right channels instead of spamming them individually. They got to see my book listed in a giveaway. They got to select it after seeing my pitch in the giveaways post. It's almost like they were a target audience looking for books to review and not a reader just trying to have a good time. It wasn't spam, and some of those people still read my books, but I wasn't going in to sell.
I was going in as a book enthusiast and I participated. I made connections, and then they connected with me.
I recently did a paid giveaway on Goodreads, offering 100 Kindle copies of my new book to readers who entered. Goodreads puts it in a designated Giveaways page and readers can go enter to win it. Yes, that cost me money, but it was a way to get my book to people without pushing it on them, and it worked better than self-serve banner ads. Because of that, I have more followers and engagement on Goodreads, my number of reviews increased, and now Goodreads acts as a good hub for me to determine how well my books are spreading AND a social media channel where I can interact with other readers and authors.
It's not a place to go spam a bunch of readers, but when used properly, it can help with your engagement. It links your books to where it can be bought, and then once the word spreads for your book, you can track and see what people are saying. When you are invited to giveaways, you'll also be in a position to let your book bloom.