A few upfront thoughts…
The free marketing tip I’m about to share is really only for 2 groups of writers: Indies and Hybrids. If you’re a traditionally published author (only), read only if you’re in the mood to become frustrated (because you can’t act on anything I’m about to say; believe me, I’ve tried).
For indies and hybrids (hybrids, I’m referring to the books you have control over), I won’t leave you in suspense. The tip is simple. I’ll state it in the form of a question: “Are you using the front and, especially, the back pages of your book effectively?” I’m sharing this because, when I first started out, I wasn’t. I’ve since learned these pages offer some excellent marketing opportunities, if you do them right.
One of the great benefits of being an indie is the flexibility to fix your mistakes (once you see them). We can simply make the corrections, re-format, then re-upload the book. I should also say at the outset, most of what I’m going to share works best with ebooks (some of this works with print editions, some of it won’t).
Front Page Tip #1 – One of the best tips I’ve read about the front pages is…since most online stores like Amazon offer readers a free glimpse of the first several pages of your book, use them wisely. Don’t fill them up with all kinds of legal mumbo-jumbo and unnecessary intro information. If you do, you’ll cut down on the number of actual story pages they can read. As quickly as possible, get them to Chapter 1 (or your Prologue, if that’s how your book starts). Some of this “legal mumbo-jumbo” is important. If so, put it in the back of the book, not the front.
Of course, this tip assumes you’ve worked hard to create a great hook in your opening line and first few paragraphs. And that, by the end of Chapter 1, the reader is absolutely under your control and compelled to read the rest of the story. If your first chapter is dull and boring, feel free to ignore this tip and fill the front pages with as much clutter and nonsense as you please.
Front Page Tip # 2 – Create a brief 1-paragraph Author’s Note that draws their attention to the important things you’ve placed in the back of the book for them. Get them thinking right off the bat that you have more in store for them once they finish the book. What kind of things should you mention? For starters, the things I’m about to share with you regarding the Back Pages.
Back Page Tip # 1 – If this is the first book in a series, paste in the first chapter or two of the next book in the series (again, assuming they are flawlessly written and would totally hook the reader). Immediately after that, provide them a link so that with 1-click they can buy the next book. If the next book isn’t out yet, provide the link to the pre-order site. If the book isn’t ready for pre-order, write a brief paragraph that highlights your email newsletter, letting them know this is the best way you can inform them when the book is released. Then provide a link to your newsletter.
If the book is not in a series, follow the same advice above except draw their attention to other books you’ve written in the same genre (and provide links that take them right to the page where they can buy them).
Back Page Tip # 2 – Create a page that politely begs for them to leave a customer review. Explain how important reviews are and the connection they play to your ability to keep writing books like the one they’ve just read (and absolutely loved). Then provide a link so that with 1-click, they will be taken right to the place where they can leave a brief 1-2 sentence review. What if the book isn’t written very well and the ending isn’t all that satisfying? Should you still do this (won’t that be inviting a bad review)? I wouldn’t worry. Because if that’s true, they’ve probably stopped reading before they get to this page.
I’ve put a “begging page” like this in the back of my first 2 indie novels, and I’m seeing wonderful fruit from it. My first indie novel, When Night Comes
, now has 239 reviews (4.5 Star avg) after being out just over a year, and my second novel, Rescuing Finley
, has received 95 reviews (4.8 Star avg) after being out only 3 months.
Certainly, not every reader will leave a review but some of them will. Reviews from actual readers are simply the best.
Well, I have many other wonderful tips I could share, but this is a blog post. Experts say, you’re already beginning to lose interest because it’s too long. But if you have any great tips to share with other indies and hybrids, please leave a comment.