I just returned from the 2013 Novelists, Inc. conference in Myrtle Beach, SC and I’m more energized than ever by the opportunities available to authors. Not just indie ebook publishing, but audiobook creation, print on demand, and foreign markets. The merchandisers were there in force, talking directly with the authors about platforms they provide to help authors reach new audiences.
Most gratifying of all, for me, was seeing how many authors had taken the “lifeboat” concept that was presented at last year’s conference and run with it.
The Lifeboat Approach to Promoting eBooks
At the 2012 conference in White Plains, I participated in a panel with several other authors, talking about how we’d banded together, rowing in unison like a lifeboat team, to increase sales for all of us.
Our primary method for achieving this goal was cross-promoting via social media. We chose not to form a Facebook group page. Instead, we use our individual author pages, sharing, liking, commenting, and posting about each other’s sales and special achievements. We found it’s a lot easier and more effective to post about a friend’s book rather than posting about our own. Even so, make the majority of the post-sharing and commenting social rather than purely promotional. Example: If one of the authors in your group posts a funny cartoon or photo, share it on your page.
(TIP: To help me check all the FB pages for authors on my lifeboat team, I bookmark all their pages in one folder in my bookmark bar. Then all I have to do is click the folder and select “open all tabs.” This lets me check everyone’s pages in a few minutes.)
This approach worked so well that we all saw an increase in our individual Facebook likes, which led to an increase in sales. We know the increase in sales was due to cross promotion because we noticed each other’s titles showing up in the “also bought” rows on our product pages at the retailers, primarily Amazon.
More Lifeboats Join the Fleet
At this year’s conference, it was clear other authors had taken the lifeboat concept and put their own spin on it. Here are two groups who did just that.
The Jewels of Historical Romance
The Jewels of Historical Romance is a prime example of effective cross promoting. Among their efforts is the Jewels Salon, a Facebook page. The page works well because it’s not about constantly promoting. Instead, the authors have provided a fun environment for readers to interact with each other and the authors.
Most recently, they held a masquerade ball. Readers had a great time posting images of the gowns and masks they’d wear, and who would be their escort. (George Clooney, anyone?) The theme of a ball fit in perfectly with their brand as historical romance authors.
“What we have tried to do–on our website and on our Facebook salon–has been to subtly remind readers that we are historical romance authors of quality and that if they enjoy one of us, they can be assured that they will enjoy all our books,” says USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Wright, whose newest release is Tempest, (The Raveneau Novels, Book 4) . “Readers often post in the Salon about new books of ours that they are reading and it’s clear that many of them are moving from one Jewel to the next.”
The Indie Voice
Another group inspired by the 2012 conference is The Indie Voice. In addition to their website, they also have The Indie Voice Facebook page, and a weekly newsletter that promotes sales and new releases by other indie authors.
One project they’ve done that really impressed me was a continuity anthology titled Summer on Seeker’s Island. What impressed me wasn’t so much the fact that they did an anthology, but the accompanying Seeker’s Island Website that creates an extension of the imaginary world where all the stories take place.
This is the same concept I used when creating the website for my Pearl Island series: a place where readers can go to extend the connection they feel for the setting and the characters. Since my Pearl Island series is set in a B&B, the pages for the site include a “kitchen” for posting recipes, and a “gift shop” where I can share gift ideas for book lovers.
NYT bestselling author, Liliana Hart, author of romantic suspense and erotic romance, says, “We realized as a group, several of us were giving a lot of workshops and traveling all over the country talking to other writers about self-publishing, and we decided to combine our knowledge in The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing.”
NYT bestselling author Debra Holland, author of the Montana Sky series, says she too has gained visibility for her books through participation in The Indie Voice. “Some of the super fans of the other authors have tried my sweet historical Western romances (which are totally different from what everyone else writes) and have become great fans of mine as well,” Debra says.
It’s exciting for me to see authors taking ideas for self promotion and putting their own spin on them. Especially when it involves working together to help the whole group succeed.
Have you tried groups promotions with other authors? If so, what worked? What didn’t work. And what would your do differently next time?