By Becky Wicks & Jeanine Henning
As indie authors swimming in this endless ocean of ebooks, we all know by now that we need to get smart if we want to actually sell any of our own. Here are some nifty must-haves from authors Becky Wicks and Jeanine Henning.
What Becky’s found….
Most traffic to my blog and to my books comes from Twitter, and here’s where most interactions with readers, writers and social media big-wigs takes place, too. TweetAdder ($19 a month with 30 days free trial) lets me make a list of Tweets and then sends them for me at random while I scribble away. I can also search for interesting/likeminded people by keywords in their profiles (ie: ‘book blogger’, ‘reviews books’, etc). I accumulated 800 useful followers in just over a week using this tool and the number is still growing.
Author Marketing Club (for sourcing reviewers and more)
I’m so glad I discovered these guys. Paying for a Premium Membership ($105 a year) grants me access to a world of coolness, like a handy Amazon Description Generator, and an Amazon Reviewer Grabber, which scans Amazon for readers who’ve enjoyed books similar to mine, and lets me email them to see if they’d like a free copy of mine to review. Amazing! There are lots of other great tools and workshop videos to watch on AMC – it’s been well worth the membership for me.
Formatting and admin pros from ODesk
I use a great guy to format my ebooks – he does them very quickly and very well. (Tip: ask for your table of contents at the back of your book. It’s easily searchable by readers on all devices so why waste that precious ‘sample space’ at the front when it’s up on Amazon?) Another ODesker cleans up my mailing lists once I’ve made a mess of them (doh) and does other small admin tasks. I’ve tried employing people from Fiverr.com, who offered cheaper services, but I found they didn’t do a great job.
Sigil is a free app you can download from the Internet and this has been an essential tool for me! Once I get my formatted epub back from my ODesk expert, I can use Sigil to open it back up and make any changes myself. For example, I can add a call to action to enter a Rafflecopter competition whenever I have one running, in order to gain more mailing list subscribers. I can then re-upload the file to KDP whenever I like (allow 12 hours for changes to apply). It’s very simple to use and if I get stuck, there are tutorials on YouTube.
Mailchimp and Rafflecopter
Two tools I wouldn’t be without; both of them free. I use Rafflecopter to run contests, whereby each entrant is entered (willingly) onto my mailing list. The more competitions I run, the more people I get to add. Amazon vouchers are quite alluring as prizes, as are advanced copies of my books. I use Mailchimp to keep track of my lists – one for bloggers/reviewers and one for readers. I never spam.
I discovered this by mistake but now I wouldn’t be without it. Canva lets you create (for free) a host of professional-looking memes and social media posts that you can then send out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I use it to mix images with quotes from my books. Tweets with these memes attached have a much higher click-through rate than others. (Tip: make sure you’re on a speedy WIFI connection, or this site can be a little slow).
What Jeanine’s found…
…is all the reasons to use cover designers, editors, and nifty tools like social media headers, email signatures and the meaning of life (kidding about the last part!) The first few tools that deserve mention are ‘smaller’ tools, but, they add in creating awareness about your books and your brand as an author.
The short and sweet usefulness of these affordable marketing additions is the extra attention you generate for views to your site and book locations. It is always best to have a signature designed by a professional, but we all have budgets, and until you can rope in an artist and create a proper signature with all the bells and whistles, you can use companySIG for a quick and easy signature!
More and more authors are finally using this silent and constantly visible marketing tool. It’s often the first thing people see when they land on your Facebook page and again the opportunity to garner book and page views increases. For those on strict budgets, try Bannersnack. Alternatively, use a professional who can make sure your brand remains looking good!
For me personally Twitter is an invaluable tool! Becky’s already listed the awesome TweetAdder. This platform has connected me with clients and readers, and it keeps us connected. But I make sure I design my Twitter banners to convey the work I do, and that the banner suits my personal brand and visual look. However for those who want to try it alone, Fotor.com offers free online header creation.
Proofreading & Editing Tips for Your MS
Editors are crucial to a successful manuscript – whether you want to self-publish or submit to agents. However, your manuscript still travels quite a journey to get to that editor. Make life for yourself easier and your book better, and read these 21 proofreading tips for authors.
Personally I have written many an article about cover design – and this area of speciality is my stomping grounds (visit my cover design page here). The importance of a professionally designed cover for indie books is becoming more prominent as indies are gaining ground when it comes to taking sales from the bigger publishers.
A quote from this well-read article makes the importance of a proper cover clear:
“Let’s face it – if you saw the average, self-designed book sitting next to Karen Kingsbury’s latest, it would stand out, though not for the right reasons. Self-designed books rarely assure book buyers that they are anything other than, well, self-designed.” Read article here
Remember, time is a tool, too
Just as important as having talent, is having time. Time is what you’re going to have to spend the most of when you dip your tentative toes into the pool of indie-publishing. Spend wisely and good luck!
Becky Wicks is an ex HarperCollins author gone Indie. Book 2 of her Starstruck Series ‘Before He Was Gone’ is out August 25, 2014. Find her on Twitter @bex_wicks
Jeanine Henning is a professional cover designer and author. She is currently preparing her first trilogy while working with authors and publishers world-wide to bring books to life. Find her on Twitter @JenVinci