Being Discovered (Part 2)
After developing a good idea for a story, then writing a book and getting it published, the next step is to let people know it’s there, ready to be read. But how to do that? Because as gratifying as it can be for your work to be read and enjoyed by friends and family, there are bound to be other people out there who would like it too, if only they knew. (And I don’t think it matters how many there are, only that they can discover your books.)
The title of your book, its cover, and the blurb are the things that primarily serve to pique a potential reader’s interest, but first they have to see the title and the cover before they can investigate whether a book is something they might want to read. That first hurdle is called visibility.
Traditionally published authors get their books on physical shelves (even if only for a few months) where browsing book lovers might pick it up to take a look. Seeing the title and cover they might read the blurb on the back or inside flap and even read the first paragraph or two. Then decide the book is (or isn’t) for them.
Without a publishing house behind us, indie writers are limited in what we can do in the physical world, so we mainly rely on an online presence, which has its own challenges. Books on virtual shelves may stay, but they’re also hampered by the unlimited shelf space. Being listed in the appropriate categories is good, but how many books does someone have to browse through to get to yours? Because the order books are listed in is determined by how well they sell.
A new book by a new author sits at the very bottom of a big pile of books, making it unlikely to be seen until people start buying it, which they won’t do if they don’t even know it exists. You can see the problem facing the unknown author. And there’s really very little one can do to draw attention to their books.
A lot of writers use social media to try to connect with potential readers, build relationships, and develop a following. But there’s little evidence this is particularly effective. And of course it requires a lot of time and effort that might be better spent writing.
I think it helps to go where the readers are – and a lot of them are at goodreads, which offers authors many different ways to engage with potential readers. And one way to get your book noticed is to give it away.
Running a goodreads giveaway, for instance, will certainly get thousands of eyeballs on your book. Another way may be online advertising, which can be an inexpensive way to get your book out where it can be seen. I doubt it does much for sales, but then your book should sell itself, once people take notice of it. And all advertising is (or should be, anyway) is drawing people’s attention to make them aware something exists.
There are other tools indie publishers use to try to get visible, but one of the most popular is the perennial (and thorny) issue of KDP Select.
Part 3: Going Exclusive?