details from Bubonicon 2014 talk by
Robert E. Vardeman & Joan Spicci Saberhagen
- If you master the # you can get a snippet of information
out to a lot of people. Great for announcements of book
publications, sales, autographings
- Getting lots of followers is important but getting "retweeted"
by your followers is better since it gets your message out
to people who might not know you-great for expanding an
- Follow and be followed.
- A tweet is very transient unless it goes viral (and the
chances of that, well, if you're that lucky, tell me the
numbers for the next Powerball)
- May be passe but millions still use it and Mark Zuckerberg
just became the richest man in the world by founding FB.
- Great way to keep in touch with fans through a fan page
or personal page
- Don't inundate with ads for your books. Comment on others'
posts, put up things that interest you and draw attention
(can you say cats?), develop a more personal (albeit impersonally)
- Be VERY careful what personal information
you post-it ALL belongs to FB. This is wide open for
the world to see. Forever. If you want that tatt in
a personal place to remain personal then never mention
it, much less post pictures of it.
- Focus on why you are here. Political comments will polarize.
If you want that, go for it. Remember that half your potential
audience now hates you, if you do. That's life in the
- You can set up your page so all your Tweets and blog
posts show up here automatically. Why not do many things
with a single keystroke?
- This is more of a professional resume site. If you are
looking for work as an editor, staff writer or other salaried
(or freelance) writing gig, this might be the place to poke
around. I've no good idea what use it is for a fiction writer,
but I have a seminar coming up to find out and will post
more here after I learn What It's All About
- Second Life
- Enter a virtual world where your avatar can be anything
at all. A talking horse or minotaur or the other sex or...anything.
There are a lot of writing groups. If you can't find a local
one, online is great. Quillians is one I know of.
- Authors can use this to meet fans. Michael Stackpole has
a weekly "office hours" to talk about current writing topics
and to answer questions about writing. Mike has spent a
lot of years building his reputation in SL.
- SL requires a big commitment of time since you need to
construct your avatar and learn to navigate from one section
of the world to the other. Another downside is the ease
of getting lost in all the non-writing things here that
will do nothing for your sales. But it can be an incredibly
fun time waster. Be warned.
- Your own website
- Whatever else you choose to ignore in promoting your work,
this one has to be first and foremost on your list of Do
- You have the chance to post book covers (visual is always
very good). Drop in reviews, be outrageously self promoting.
It's expected here.
- Other content can be minor or intricate. What do you think
will lure fans in (and back)? That's what you need.
- samples of your fiction work here
- always put in hyperlinks
to places where your fans can buy your work
- Your own online bookstore
- Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, iTunes reach all over the
world to people you don't know. With your own bookstore,
you not only get to keep a larger chunk of the $, you can
run specials, promote individual titles easily and have
a forum where forthcoming work is available.
- You can sell material you might not want on Amazon, etc.
- Ebooks from the other sources are only leased. You sell
your ebook and it is the purchaser's. It's not leased,
it's bought. When Samsung got out of the ebook biz, anyone
who had "bought" one lost it.
- Some sellers like Smashwords and iTunes don't like links
to other sellers. You can put any link you like into an
ebook sold on your store. Sell ads to others? Try. Swap
ads? Let's talk about that.
- Once the store is set up, you really only need to add
or remove titles. Most of the operation is automatic and
not requiring your attention. You can set up stores through
blogging sites and there are many standalones such as Zen
Cart which I use. Zen Cart is a fairly complex program,
so be warned about a steep learning curve.
- Most online stores have a newsletter feature. This is
great for contacting fans directly.
- Author pages
- Here is my Amazon
page, my Smashwords
page and my iTunes
- These are free and give browsing customers a convenient
look at your bio
- You can link to your blog to automatically post, giving
even greater exposure (though only the first line or two
shows-remember that the first line of your blog is like
the first line of your fiction-it has to catch the reader's
- If you post your own books, you have to be here.
Amazon sells 85% of all ebooks worldwide.
- There are many good references (free) for how to post
and Amazon's writeup is adequate
- To get the most bang for your buck from Amazon, figure
out how to garner lots of reviews. Favorable ones are better,
of course. The reviews do attract readers and Amazon is
more inclined to mention your book in the (free) emails
they send out to customers who have bought similar work
- How do you get the reviews? It's a chicken or the egg
problem. Books with lots of reviews get seen by more readers.
You get reviews by having lots of readers. Your job is
to use as many of the ways of getting eyeballs on your
work as possible to filter down to sales.
- Don't sweat the Amazon ranking too much. It is a relative
ranking to their other sales. A day when a blockbuster
sucks the oxygen from the room might mean your book selling
two copies is great. Usually sales are apportioned over
lots of titles which sell better, so your ranking is lower.
But no matter what, higher ranking means better sales
(or sales at all). The algorithm is complex and includes
an inertia component, so if you sell a lot one day but
not any the next, you won't fall off the face of the earth.
Continue to not sell and you slowly sink.
- If you are the No. 1 bestseller in a category (no
matter how esoteric) Amazon puts a #1 sales tag beside
your book to draw attention. This Is A Good Thing even
if the category is advanced left-handed yak milking
- Kindle Unlimited is probably a bad deal for most authors
since it requires exclusivity. If Amazon's not paying you
for it, don't do it. Sucking up the froth from their monthly
pool of money isn't likely to mean as much to you as individual
sales of your books.
- The tags you put on your books is very important. While
you can only get a general fiction/sf listing, on category,
Amazon (and Smashwords and Nook) let you put 7-10 fine-tuning
descriptors in. Is your book space opera? Military sf? First
contact? Alien empire? Time travel? All of them? The more
you can put in, the better the chance someone will find
you. Consider this SEO (search engine optimization) for
- Barnes & Noble
- The Nook is a weak player in a strong world dominated
by Amazon. But even a few sales here are better than none.
Once you put the ebook up, all you have to do is wait for
it to sell (because of your promotions everywhere else).
- If Microsoft is serious about making the Nook a player,
this might cause it to gain market share. If you're already
- The sales stats are primitive and not good for anything
but seeing how much you'll be paid eventually. Most everything
about the B&N/Nook store is primitive compared to Amazon
- They do send out a newsletter urging people who have bought
things similar to try yours-if you are lucky. Amazon is
far more focused.
- Publish through Smashwords and get your ebooks on iTunes,
B&N (sort of does away with the weak player Nookpress.com),
Kobo and other minor sales sites.
- Gives you a free ISBN
- Publish here first, then publish with Amazon and use
- There is a free
book telling how to prepare a book for Smashwords by
Mark Corker. The process is long but not complicated, even
for someone like me who hates and only uses MSWord when
- Your take of sales is better here than with Amazon, but
Smashwords does not now put books up on Amazon for you.
- Multiple pen names is something of a problem, unlike Amazon
and Nook where it is simple. But creating enough "ghost
authors" will do the trick, but the first one is the one
you're stuck with as primary author.
- Their online book store is a nightmare and jumping through
hoops makes me wonder if this isn't a governmental department.
- This is a minor POS (by that I mean Point of Sale <g>)
but every sale is good, right? I make $10 or so a month
from iTunes bookstore sales.
- Rather than going to Apple to post separately (as you
have to do with Amazon), use Smashwords. It will save frustration
and consolidate payment statements.
- Giving your
potential reader a sample of your work is a powerful lure.
This is one place to do it.
- On Amazon,
Smashwords, etc, always set up your book to give at least
10% free sampling. And remember to put a plug for your other
work so it shows up in that segment of "freeness." This
might be a few lines of blurbs or a link to your website.
Don't overdo it, though. You want your work to show up in
that 10 or 30% to entice the reader.
- It goes without
saying, have a dynamite opening that engages the reader
and pulls them along until...they have to buy to find
out what finally happens.
- If you have
your own online bookstore, do promotions where you include
a free short story or chapter from a novel in your newsletter.
- Have a
free story on your website.
- You don't have
to have a blog, but if you do it pays to concentrate on
one topic. I violate this all the time and my blog hasn't
anywhere near the readership it ought to. My piece on Billy
the Kid hit over 400 for the day. Going to an sf con racked
- You can link
your blog to Facebook, Amazon, Twitter.
- As with a story,
give it a snappy, eye-catching title. Then that first line
has to shackle the reader's attention. Many linked spots
will only excerpt the title and first line.
- Blogroll is
important-link to other blogs and have them link to you.
- Visuals work
better than only text. Link to YouTube or pictures of your
latest book cover or something that is eye grabbing.
- Swap guest
blogs to increase your audience.
- Mailing lists
- This is a free
mailing list generator
- Collect names
of those interested and directly contact them. The people
are self-selected as being interested. This is gold!
- Use your
own bookstore customers to generate a list
- Get additions
from people at conventions & talks you give
- If a picture
is worth a thousand words, this might be the way for you
to gain followers, interest them in your life and make them
wonder if your books are worth their time.
- Free promos
- It is still pending
but an RSS is starting up to give you a few lines of blurb
for your books. The link would be back to your blog, store,
- Get lots of
people reading and buzzing about your book. If you garner
good reviews, this only helps sales.
- You pay to
have notice of your (discounted or free) book sent out to
tens of thousands of people who have expressed interest
in, say, science fiction. Each genre is a different price
to post but $400 is about the limit. They give good stats
on how many copies you are likely to sell to those tens
of thousands, but the important part is introducing new
readers to your work.
- If you want
free or cheap books, sign up for Bookbub and get daily
notices. I've gotten a few books this way that I have
- You link the
title to whatever seller you like. I don't know if you can
link to your own bookstore, but this might be a bonanza
if you can and do.
- The few people
who have tried this all say they at least broke even-and
if they gained new fans, the experiment is successful.
- Coupled with
Amazon, this can be a powerful tool.
- Find reviewers
- Pay for reviews
- I have an aversion
to this, but it exists, big selling ebook authors use ones
like this, and it's up to you. It's not the same as paying
for sex. But it seems like it.
authors about their books
- If you are
inclined this way, start your own podcast.
- Book Trailers
- Check out the
one I did on this page
for Tales From Texas.
- The software
to do it is free at http://animoto.com/
- I am not sold
on book trailers, but the Big 5 pay huge amounts to promote
their bestsellers. (That may be a good reason to avoid it!)
- Some gaming
tie-in publishers will go this route, such as for Greg Bear's
Zero Three. These aren't too costly since they take
scenes from an already imagined game. To do them from scratch
would be very expensive.
- Have enthusiastic,
knowledgeable fans willing to do this for you! On the
- Get inventive
- The Chain Story
- Mike Stackpole
started this a few years back and it has run its course
- Short stories
chained together by the conceit of an adventurer's club
new readers to favorite author's links on either side
- It's free,
so why not go up and down the chain and see what appeals?
brought a large number of newcomers to my website.
- Mysterious Islands
- Mike is nothing
if not aggressive in marketing This is a new project just
taking form. The idea is for authors to set their stories
on an island of their invention, using characters from their
(and others') stories. When it is well enough established,
fans will be invited to contribute stories using their own
and their favorite authors' characters in the islands.
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