H is for Handy marketing tips for Authors – A Blogger’s perspective


I started blogging recently and posting my book reviews online. I have come in contact with lots of authors through a number of online websites and social networks. Through these interactions, I have seen authors trying everything they can to promote their books. While some of these things have appealed to me as a blogger as well as a reader, others have fallen short of really grabbing my attention, and there are still others which have left me seething in anger. This is a list of things that work for ME.

I’m not saying you should do any of these things as I am but one person with whom you’ll be interacting online. I also don’t profess to know what I am talking about, so continue at your own risk!

Blog tours:

Blog tours – They’re perfect

They are a great way to get a concentrated marketing boost as all the bloggers in the tour spread the word about the book and help authors reach their readers. Tours can be arranged personally by the author or be outsourced. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. By personally arranging it, authors get to interact and build relations with bloggers and it does not cost anything. By doing it professionally, authors save time and effort, but end up paying for it and lose the chance to interact with the blogger community.
Personally, I prefer to get to know the author, and be able to talk to them regularly. I have five blog tours scheduled over the next two months and would work harder on those where I ‘know’ the author.

Contests/giveaways:

Giveaway!

These are great for us bloggers, as they bring in a huge amount of traffic and subscribers. It is however, just a way to keep bloggers happy.  I am skeptical about the benefits to authors. They only get one new reader, and there is no publicity for the book/author, just for the giveaway. Giveaways on sites like Goodreads may be better, but authors should not really expect to get reviews out of the books given away in such contests.

Professional / Paid review services:

Are paid reviews worth it?

A number of professional book review services have come to my attentions. I would not give them any additional weightage over that of a normal reviewer. There are also scams out there with no additional benefits to authors or to bloggers/readers. Would you as an author pay hundreds of dollars to get a book reviewed by a professional and to get a blurb to put on the book cover?

Online Accessibility:

The BIG ebook retailers

As someone interested in reading indie authors, I find it quite difficult discovering books in the genre of my liking. Here is where accessibility plays a big role. I need to be able to find a book at my favourite book store or website. It is essential to have the books available at all major book retailers and at Goodreads and have the book being read and discussed by the groups there. This has been the primary source of how I have come across books by indie authors.
Also, I find it very helpful to go to an author website, where I can know much more about the book and author. I believe websites should carry book descriptions detailed enough to enable me to understand what the book is about and what genre it falls under. I find excerpts which help me understand the writing style of authors before I commit to a book to be very helpful.

Author interaction:

The place to meet readers and authors

A lot of people, me included will take a look at the books of authors with whom they have interacted at the various forums. This is how I have come across a lot of indie authors. A group on Goodreads was reading books by an author who dropped in to answer questions at the forum. I found this to be an excellent promotional tool, and I ended up buying his entire series. Joining forums dedicated to genres in which they write is an excellent way to reach new readers. But self-promotion, without contributing anything to the discussion is a big no-no!

Reviewer etiquette:

Authors going to war!

This is one point I have strong opinions on. We as bloggers are helping authors out without expecting too much in return. I have had authors come to me and dispute or disagree with my reviews. This is a big turn-off for me. Challenging personal opinions is not at all beneficial and should be avoided at all costs. Also, targeting the right blogger is important. I prefer books in the fantasy genre, and am ok with most others. But if you ask me to review a romance novel, I’ll most likely not like it. This is not useful for anybody.

Pricing:

The maximum I would pay to read a book by an unknown author is $2.99. Beyond this, it becomes too much of a risk. Also the huge number of other authors for me to try out will lead me to ignore books beyond this price range. I’d however, pay more for subsequent books by an author I like. I understand some research needs to be done here to understand this issue better.

Ritesh: So, what do authors think works best? Which of these things have you had the best results with? Do you agree or disagree with what I say?

Readers: What do you want authors to do? What gets you to pick up a book and read? And what gets you to run away from an author, without even seeing what his book is all about?

This article first appeared on Indies Unlimited on January 1st, 2012 here

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38 responses to “H is for Handy marketing tips for Authors – A Blogger’s perspective

  1. Hi Ritesh, as a newly minted author I realised very quickly I had to be very genuine in promoting my book. I am in love with my characters and it was most satisfying & impactful to share my insights into my characters with other authors, reviewers and bloggers. I also realised that me – the author is the real brand. So I asked those who believed in me and my characters to talk about it. The aha! moment was realising that there are more like me (who live on a different planet:) thru the book. I am really not alone:)

    • I completely agree Laxmi. Getting to the people really interested in your book and in your genre is the bast way to get the marketing right, I have seen authors pestering bloggers who decline to accept their book sue to such reasons to reconsider. This, in my opinion is really bad marketing. Getting to the right people may need more work and may be difficult, but it does pay off very well in the end.

  2. Hi Ritesh! I love your Handy Marketing Tips…and I especially appreciate your honest opinion about contests and giveaways. As a new author, its good to get insight on what works & what doesn’t.

    Personally, I love Twitter. Of course, it’s about building relatioships over time rather than blatant marketing. But I was humbled by the wonderful support both my stories received from my twitter friends.

    So glad I discovered your blog! Happy Monday! 🙂

    • I love Twitter too! I actually think it is one of the best places to have a conversation and actually develop connections!
      Targeting contests correctly is really important I think. If you get it right, it can mean exposure to a targeted group of readers.

  3. Ritesh, Nice article 🙂

    I’m still struggling to get a strong (and large) following but one thing I wouldn’t do is pay for a review. I don’t think it’s fair somehow. If the reviewer is paid, how on earth would anyone expect 100% honesty? The author expects value for their money and so could expect a good review so the potential reader can’t really trust the review as being unbiased.

    Blog tours do look interesting but I’ve only done interviews so far.

    One piece of advice I have taken to heart on reviewing is this:
    If you hated the book, tell the author privately and respectfully.
    If you loved the book, tell everyone!

    Good Luck Ritesh

    • Hi Michelle, completely agree with the reviews bit. But, what do you do if you like the book but it had some serious flaws? Such as really bad editing?
      You should look into doing a blog tour. It is a lot of work, and it may not immediately translate into sales, but it will get you and your book on the internet, and that is always a good thing.

      • Ahh, editing. It’s far more important than a lot of writers give it credit for. I review for a group and have had to give 3 reviews where I said that the book needs editing. One couldn’t even be put forward for inclusion on the site because it was so bad. No, not ‘bad’ but lack-lustre. The author had been advised that it needed editing, her reply; “No-one will notice and if they do, I can’t afford it anyway.”
        Whatever I do though, I always try to give constructive, never destructive reviews. There is nothing worse than a complete flame of a review. It doesn’t look good for either the author or the writer of the review in my opinion. Respectful, constructive advice wherever possible.

      • Totally agree with that Michelle. The tone of some reviews can be really hurtful, and they’re no help at all. But sometimes, writers take all low rated reviews badly, and this is not something I agree with.
        But, attacking a reviewer even for a very spiteful review is a bad idea.

  4. Liked this Retish!
    Blog tours I have been to afraid to do… thanks for the tips, I am always looking for help :0)

    • Hi A.D, organizing blog tours can be a lot of work, but there are companies around who can do it for you if you don’t want to put in the work. It is a tradeoff between spending money and ‘spending’ effort.

  5. Great article Ritesh – online accessibility & author interaction are so important! I personally love doing Goodreads giveaways & have had most of the winners leave reviews. I also struggle with paying for reviews. I know Kirkus is well respected, but the price is a bit too steep for my liking. I’m not sure it would pay off. Blog tours are a must – I’ve done my own & had services – I see the benefits of both, but either way, it’s important for authors to promote the tour on their own & interact with each blogger. Thanking them after they post on their blog & responding to comments left by readers is a MUST…Hopefully I treat all my blog tour bloggers well 😉

    • Karen, with Kirkus, I see it more as a marketing tool, and as such don’t really know if it would pay off, especially if they don’t give you and exemplary review.
      And, I have to agree with interacting with bloggers and responding to comments. This is true for every article or interview you post anywhere, I’ve had to ask a few authors to do this, and now make it a point to let them know right from the beginning that this is expected. Would be nice if every author did it by themselves.
      As for the blog tour, I can say by personal experience that we’re treated well! 😛

  6. Having the book available in all retails locations is a good tip, except Amazon is changing the rules. Authors are getting good returns from Kindle Select, but one of the hitches is that they can’t sell it elsewhere. Like it or not, I think the model is here to stay … at least for a while.

    • I agree completely and can see the benefits for both readers and authors with this. But, what I meant by that is, it is important to have your book visible online. Each author can do that their own way, but if I, as a reader and blogger, don’t see the book, there is a problem.

  7. rachelcotterill

    I find new books through Goodreads groups, and also, now that my book blog is up and running, through direct approaches from authors. I’m always very happy to hear from authors offering books in genres I like; I can’t promise to review everything I’m offered (obviously – my reading time is limited!).
    I think there are interesting possibilities using Rafflecopter for giveaways in conjunction with a blog tour – multiple blogs can embed the same entry-form code, and if you make the entries depend on author-centric things (e.g. ‘liking’ the author’s FB page, or writing a review of a free story) then that could result in real exposure and results for the author.

    • Hi Rachel! A blog tour done well is a terrific thing! It can get authors a lot of exposure and reviews. With rafflecopter, the problem is that it won’t work with wordpress.com blogs (like mine). So it can be a bit of a problem.
      The big issue I have is with authors not respecting bloggers and their time. They don’t really seem to get the amount of power bloggers now have when it comes to indie authors. But, this is a discussion for another post. LOL

  8. emailmanrocks

    This is fantastic info! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Handy post, Ritesh!!
    Marketing is the hardest part of being an author, I think, besides being skint for the most part!
    I’m hoping to do my first blog hop for myself this year. It took a while to get my head around how they work. I’ve got involved in other people’s blog hops and given away my books as prizes. Hopefully, the winners enjoyed reading them!
    I wouldn’t pay a reviewer for a review, although that’s not to say no one should – it might be beneficial for some.
    I think book groups on FB are great places to meet other authors and readers, and chat. Sometimes it’s difficult to promote your book without looking like you’re spamming, so it’s best to hold back on that. Don’t ram your book in people’s faces! Just let people pick it up themselves.
    I did email some reviewers on Amazon, requesting a review. I got two. It takes a lot of patience and persistence. Again, be polite and don’t demand anything.
    I think Goodreads is great, but I do get lost there as it’s a really big maze!
    There’s so much to learn, marketing-wise! So I love reading posts with tips! 🙂

    • Hi Vickie! Goodreads seems to be confusing for a lot of people, but I think I now understand how it works from a reader’s perspective. I am sure the author side is much more complicated! Goodreads groups are a great place to meet and talk with passionate readers. You can find groups for absolutely anything, and it is a great place for authors to be and interact with their readers.
      One new thing I have noticed is author spotlights, where an author can invite people to stop by and discuss their books and everything else someone might be interested in about an author. That is a great way to connect with readers.

  10. Hi Ritesh,

    Authors will keep wanting to be on your blog because you handle things so professionally. My blogtour ended last month and yours was one of the best interviews both for content and your interaction.

    One thing we authors need to realize is that there is no one thing that assures us of sales and discoverability. Blogtours are a piece of the puzzle (maybe), but things like that are simply stepping stones on the quest to create a “critical mass” of name recognition.

    We are all hoping to achieve that critical mass one day. Goodreads is another great place because most of the people there are avid readers. They want to find new books and interact with writers and I totally agree with your assessment of the proper etiquette.

    Arguing with reviewers is just SILLY and WILL NOT end well for the author. Sure, some reviewers are overly harsh but that comes with the territory. In most cases, a negative review is just an opinion. Authors need to realize that a well done “negative” review is a GOOD thing.. If a book did not align with a reviewers tastes, we as writers WANT that communicated to other potential readers BEFORE they buy the book and leave a negative review of their own.

    In other words, we want our books to get into the hands of people that are likely to enjoy them. We do not want our books being read by people who are predisposed to not enjoy them…that will actually lead to more negative reviews!

    Keep up the good work, Ritesh. Articles like the one you posted need to be out there in more places.

    Splitter

    • Thank you so much Splitter. I can understand why authors take bad reviews personally, but this does not mean it is ever a good thing.
      Personally, I love Goodreads, For one thing, that is how we met! And I have met a lot of great readers, bloggers and authors there. It is one of the best websites out there for book lovers.

  11. Great post, Ritesh!

    Re Goodreads: I’ve got my author page up, but I haven’t published any of my work there and I also haven’t tried going the giveaway route. How important are each of those for visibility, do you think? Or is it better to concentrate on participating in the forums? I very much like the “Connecting Writers and Readers” forum. Haven’t really tried any genre-specific forums yet. I suppose I ought to get cracking…

    • Lynne, for me, the author page is extremely important. That is the first place I go to, to see what all an author has written, get a sense of the genres they write in, go through their blog to see what they are talking about.
      There is no place, other than the author’s website to find this information quickly, and finding an author’s website and going through it is time consuming as most websites have different layouts. I have actually ignored a few authors who did not have an author page on Goodreads or Amazon (I’m talking here from my own perspective only).
      So, I’d suggest getting atleast your author page set up properly. It will make a difference,

  12. Your marketing tips for authors were very helpful. May I link this article in my next publication of my blog “Strand’s Simply Tips”? Better yet, would you want to do a guest article and summarize this? I’m transitioning my blog to Blogger, but you can see it in its current form at: http://joycestrand.com/BLOG

    • Thank you Joyce. You are most welcome to link to this post on your blog, but I really can’t imagine where I would begin summarizing this. IF you can create a summary of the post, you are welcome to post that as well.
      I am sure you’ll agree that the more authors and readers read this and respond to, the better is is for the entire community.

  13. Great post. I’m enjoying seeing you branch out into more than just reviews but hope you are able to keep up with the reviews as I’ll have books out later this year and selfishly hope you’ll be able to add them to your schedule.

    Finding good blog tour companies has been more complicated/difficult than I had expected. I’m running a free blog tour for a group we are on together over the summer just to give the writers some experience with blog tours and hopefully some increased visibility and added followers. I’m just starting to play on Goodreads. It is so hard to get work done and keep up with the social networking an author needs to do … says the social networking coach.

    I’m not convinced giveaways pay off much. I frequently enter them only because people ask me to. Rafflecopter does work on standalone WordPress as well as blogger websites but won’t work for my virtual tour where so many people don’t have stand alone WordPress sites.

    Paying for a review does not make sense to me. I’d be worried about the perception of readers if they knew I’d paid someone for a review. On the other hand I know there are some questions about authors reviewing each others work. A well written bad review can help both the author write a better book and decrease the number of returns an author might get. Unfortunately many negative reviews do not give useful information.

    • All very valid points Tasha and I agree with all of them. If you need help with the blog tour, let me know. I could host or recommend other blogs which would love to host a blog tour.
      If you need help with the organizing, just give me a shoutout, and I’ll do what I can.

  14. I really liked this post and agreed with most of it. Nice work. 🙂

  15. Great post, Ritesh. Tweeting it right now. You are a very professional blogger and a pleasure to work with.

  16. Great Article. Thanks for writing this Ritesh. You covered everything that is important and made the article very professional. I will write an article and link back to this post. *HUGS* my friend

  17. Thanks for the post Ritesh ! I never would have thought it but writing the actual novels is a million times easier than figuring out how to get people to read them !!! 🙂

  18. Well said. Shared on G+. Your blog is one of my must reads. The things that work for you, promotion-wise, seem to be the things that rely on respecting your audience and the bloggers/reviewers you are asking help from. Keep these important conversations coming.

  19. I’ve come across many authors who feel book signings are out dated and a drain on their finances. Even though they may not make much money in store that day, I find that people are much more likely to purchase something of that author’s at a later date (when they have money, more time to read, etc.) when they have met the author in person. That whole being accessible thing works not just onine, but in the real world to. In my own personal experience, I met an author of a children’s book before I had a child. My kid was 16 months old when I ran into the author for the second time at a book signing and I purchased the book on the spot, no questions asked, no hooplala. It was a familiar face in the bookworld and this time I had a reason to buy. I think if an author can find local bookstores within a short day drive, they should give it a shot every few months… just keep their face and name out there with their reading public.

    Also, see if your local bookstore would be interested in raffling off a signed copy of your work if you donate it and dress it up for an occasion. Customers like free stuff, and they have a huge respect for authors who have freely shared their work. Like it said in the above post – people wont spend very much (usually $3 or less) on an author they’ve never heard of, unless it has raving reviews from people they respect – but once they know and love that author, the sky is the limit. I may try new authors from the clearance section, but I have no qualms about spending $30 on the latest and greatest by someone whose work I am passionate about.

  20. I was a little shocked at your pricing statement. I use the preview tool offered on most sites these days to eliminate those that are not for me. I also heavily support my local library both by requesting new titles and donating books after I’ve read them (since today is tax day I’ll mention that little tax deduction). I don’t think I’ve ever paid $2.99 for a book (I don’t do e-books). I usually read about 5 books a week and budget accordingly.

    • Hi Kathleen, I know that statement can seem harsh, but you can get a LOT of amazing books for that price when you are willing to read eBooks. Also, from my perspective, I come from India, and here we get paperbacks for $2.99 to $4.99 price range.
      Also, I was talking about authors whose books I have never read before, and who have only published one book.

  21. What an interesting post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this topic. I agree with you about reading and reviewing books in genres you like. When I read reviews by people and they comment about how they don’t like that genre- I often wonder why they agreed to read it in the first place. 🙂

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