Recently, I showed you how to set up an author platform strategy that has the potential to really take off and grow. But, of course, there’s always a period of time once it’s set up while you wait for things to kick into high gear. And waiting isn’t fun. While you wait, you start to second guess if this strategy is actually working, and you kind of start to squirm in your chair as weeks pass without any real indicator that your strategy is a good one.
The good news is that you don’t have to just sit there squirming. There are things you can do while you wait, and some of them can even help your strategy get off and running. Here are five things you can do right now.
Way #1: Cover the Basics
It seems so simple, but sometimes you just need to step back and reevaluate how you’re doing at the basics. Remember that it’s difficult to find new readers if they won’t pick up your book. People really do judge a book by not only its cover, but how professional it feels—and we self-publishers get a bad rap for settling for subpar quality. So just take a minute to think about if your book truly appears professional. Here are a few things you might want to look at:
- Does your book have a great cover that stands out in a crowd?
- Is your book edited professionally? I’m not just talking about typos and grammar. Did you have an editor work with you to hone your style?
- Is your book formatted well?
Making sure you’ve covered those three areas can mean a world of difference. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I’ve talked to who say they stopped reading a book because the formatting made it hard to read, or because they were constantly stumbling over typos and grammar mistakes. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by letting these basics slide.
(And if you need some help with the editing and formatting, the folks over at Penoaks Publishing are fabulous. They didn’t pay me to say that, either.)
Way #2: Be Consistent
The next step is to just be consistent. I know that it feels hopeless when your e-mail list is tiny, but you need to keep going if you want to succeed. Don’t give up. Value the small group of subscribers you have now, remembering that they are the ones who really care about your books. They are excited about your content, so keep giving it to them. You’re getting in the habit of consistency now so that you can retain the big mailing list later when you have it.
And then keep in mind that you never know when you’re going to earn new subscribers. The next three things I’m going to talk about are ways to get the word out about your books and find new readers. When one of those takes off, your list will start to grow. But that only works if you’re consistent in the meantime.
Way #3: Round Up a Roster of Reviews
Reviews are great social proof that your book is excellent. The key is to get some that are outside Amazon so that people who aren’t searching the world’s biggest bookstore for your book end up finding it anyway. And the best way to do that is to get your book reviewed by bloggers.
I’ve covered how to find bloggers to review your book before, so check out that post for all the details. What we’re concerned with here the number of bloggers you get lined up. It’s not going to do very much if you get a review from just one person. What would be better is if you could find fifteen, twenty or even a strike force of thirty (or more!) bloggers who will write a review.
This certainly takes time to queue up, but it’s well worth devoting a day or three to researching bloggers and contacting them with review requests. Plan to only stop once you’ve lined up a certain quota of reviewers.
Way #4: Paid Promotion
A lot of authors balk when I suggest this, but you can really get the word out with a paid promotion. Remember that your goal is to get your book in front of new readers, and paying to be featured on a deal site is a great way to reach a lot of new people.
This is especially great if you have done as I suggested and made one book permanently free to attract new readers, with a page in the back offering another free book if the reader subscribes to receive your e-mails. If you’ve gotten that set up, it’s time to let readers know that this great free book exists and draw them into your platform strategy.
A simple, fairly safe way to approach this is to spend a small amount, perhaps $15 or $25, on features with Kindle deal websites. I’d recommend buying slots in more than one deal mailing. That way, you’re maximizing your reach to multiple groups of people.
Of course, you could go all-in and try submitting to BookBub, which many indie authors consider to be the Holy Grail of deal sites. BookBub is expensive, but check out the average download statistics on their pricing page and do an evaluation to see what you’re getting for your dollar. If they accept your free book promotion and you’ve set up a good reward for joining your mailing list, you could easily make a big splash and get thousands of downloads. It’s pretty true that you get what you pay for when it comes to a Kindle deal site.
Way #5: Get Published
Get published?! Relax. I’m not talking about abandoning self-publishing. What I’m suggesting is that you try to get some work published in a magazine.
There are myriads of magazines that accept submissions. Think about the exposure to new readers you could get if you had a short story or excerpt from one of your novels printed! The key is to make sure you get to include an author bio at the end. You want to give interested readers a way to find your books after they’re hooked by your short story.
If trying to get a story published appeals to you, you might start your research at this database from All Indie Writers. There’s also this list at New Pages. You want to find a magazine that publishes the kind of material you write, then carefully follow the submission guidelines for the best chance of success. You may have to submit to many, many magazines before you get a yes, but the extra exposure could be well worth the effort.
Those are my five ways for getting your author platform off and running. Do you have any other ideas? Feel free to share in the comments!