Independent authors are in a good news, bad news situation when it comes to book discovery.
The good news is that there are a growing number of ways -- 44 to be exact -- that readers discover new books, which means there are more opportunities to get in front of the ideal book buyer. Those new methods include a combination of word of mouth recommendations (still the most popular) and discovery on mobile and social media.
More good news: according to Goodreads, the largest online book recommendation website, roughly 6 million books are discovered on the site per month.
Now the bad news: The burden of discovery remains completely on self-published authors. Marketing as an individual when a team of people is needed is a tough job.
There are some resources out there, though, that can make the life of self-published authors easier by boosting discovery and building in promotional opportunities.
I started the SocialSpine social media course for that very reason. I wanted to create a way to help authors get their books in the hands of excited readers.
Top ways indie authors can use social media include:
Crowdfunding Your Book
Crowdfunding has been an increasingly popular way for artists and entrepreneurs to skip finding an investor and going straight to buyers instead.
According to a crowdfunding industry report, in 2012 $2.7 billion was raised for one million campaigns. With physical products being a top category, there is plenty of opportunity for authors to raise money and find already-invested readers.
Check out the biggest and most well-known sites like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. Or try the smaller but more niche sites like Unbound, where books are the only product being funded.
As with any new venture, do your homework and see if crowdfunding is your best option.
A few tips to make the most of your crowdfunding project:
- Look at successful campaigns in the same or related field
- Offer perks or rewards
- Include a video
Advertise on Top Book Blogs
Advertising is usually not an ideal option for authors because it can be costly with few results.
What I suggest instead of posting ads on Google or Facebook is to reach out to top book bloggers in your niche and ask them if they advertise. Many top bloggers have ad space they're trying to fill.
If you're not sure who to contact, browse BlogAds or Litbreaker to see which blogs are already in a network. If you're gutsy, contact the blogger directly and ask about their advertising policies. You could inspire them to make a little money on the side, and you can get in on the ground floor (read: cheapest rates).
List Your Book on NetGalley
If there's one thing professional readers love, it's getting exclusive books in advance. It's a heady mix of garnering jealousy and the desire to publish a review first.
NetGalley is the top website for connecting journalists, librarians, bloggers and booksellers with pre-publication digital copies. Many titles are listed that have already been published, and NetGalley works with both indie authors and large publishers.
You can find out more about NetGalley's listing policies here.
This is a great opportunity to get reviews and feedback early on. Simply having a book known and recognized by readers can help authors sell books.
One statistic from Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis claims that nearly half of Amazon purchases come from those who already knew what they were going to buy. This means that book discovery is more critical than ever and is a crucial part in the book buying process.
For help getting started on social media, check out the SocialSpine course for indie and self-published authors.
Authors: What ways have you successfully used social media to find readers?