It's received wisdom that every indie author should have a website as the central and authoritative source of information about their books and their writing lives – but how does an unknown author attract potential readers to that website? British crime writer B L (Barry) Faulkner shares his lateral thinking solution that has helped him raise the profile of his books a different way: via a specialist blog about a subject that will appeal to potential readers, including those who have never heard of him.
Okay, so the book's done and dusted, it’s on Amazon, listed with IngramSpark, or if you are ‘going wide’, it’s with everybody. So you sit back and wait for the accolades and the money to roll in… you wait…and wait…and wait…
Then the penny drops: people have never heard of you or your books, so why would they buy them?
There are a few million books on Amazon for potential readers to choose from besides yours. If you are an unknown author, even if you have an author website, and a presence on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you are in the same dilemma.
You need to drive readers to your book. So what can you do to get them to key in your name?
What I did was to sit back, look at what successful indie writers were doing, make a few comparisons of what seemed to be working for them and what wasn’t working, asked some of them questions via their Twitter or Facebook accounts, and then decided on an action to take.
Choose a Topic Relevant to Your Books
First off I looked at my books. What are they about?
They are about a British detective operating in London in charge of the Serial Murder Squad at Scotland Yard. He’s getting on a bit, an irascible old bugger at retirement age, with a young Asian female Sergeant who knows how to twist him round her finger. In some of his cases, he bumps up against old adversaries from his younger days in the force when the notorious Krays and Richardsons were strutting their stuff in London – the ‘diamond geezers' as they were known at the time.
Now, it seems to me that there is still a great public interest in those geezers, their gangs and their ‘jobs’, so there was the hook to hang my promotion on.
Set Up a Topic-Specific Blog
I set up a freeWordpress blog, www,geezers2016.wordpress.com, (2016 was the year I created it), and put up pages of text and pictures about those geezers and their major heists. Most of the content came from various books I have as that era interests me too, or from the internet:
- One page to each geezer, gang or robbery
- On each page a header mentioning my books
- Plus a page solely about me and my books, with a click through to my Amazon UK sales page
Tweeting the Word
I then hit Twitter with six different picture tweets worded to attract a click-through to the blog. I launched one every hour.
Who couldn’t resist clicking through to find out about ‘Princess Margaret and the Baker Street bank robbery’? or ‘Who really financed the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit heist?’ or “Bertie Smalls -the first supergrass“?
At the same time, WordPress was pushing out teaser pages on their blog every time I added something and at no charge to me.
Yet if I had just made the blog about me and my books it wouldn’t have got any hits because nobody had heard of me.
Ideas for Other Genres
So that’s the secret I give to you, my ALLi friends! Forget yourself, at the outset of your writing career – you are not important enough to be a big draw on your own. Don’t call the blog “Fred Smith Author”, call it something related to your work.
Look at your novel’s genre, name your blog to reflect that genre and find related things to it that people would be interested in and give each a blog page. Plus, of course, add pages about you and about your books, with a click-through to your Amazon sales page. Then promote it with enticing tweets or other social media posts.
For example, if you write romance, it could be a romance blog of many different pages, each one acting as a keyword to attract people interested in:
- romantic meals
- best romantic rilms
- romantic holidays
- celebrity weddings
- wedding planning
- Valentine's Day, etc
If you write historical novels, how about pages relevant to your chosen era: Magna Carta, Civil War, militaria of the era, battles, wars, social history etc.
If you promote those interesting pages via social media with a link to your blog, you have a chance of people interested in the subject clicking through, and then also looking at your profile/book page. If your books interest them, it's an easy step to click through to Amazon and buy.
As you become better known, people who Google your name will still be able to find information about you and your books, as they would on an author website.
Evidence of Sales
Does it work? Well, my free blog attacts viewers from all around the world, looking at an average of four posts each, and giving a significant number of click-throughs to my Amazon sales page. The resulting sales cost me nothing but a small amount of time and trouble involved in setting up the blog and occasionally updating it. As I'm writing a series (the seventh book has just come out), there's also a strong chance of sell-through from each click. So yes, it's working for me, and it's a system I am happy to share.
OVER TO YOU Have you tried Barry's approach to promote your books? We'd love to hear about other authors who have taken a similar approach.#Indieauthors - wondering how to draw attention to your books when you're relatively unknown? Check out @crimewriter1's lateral thinking tip here for using a specialist blog Click To Tweet
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