You’re an indie: you self-publish your own books. Therefore, it’s vital that you stop thinking: “buy my book!” and take a broader view — you’re a publisher now. Publishers focus on the marketplace, and you should too. Book marketing is no longer optional, and it’s more challenging than it used to be.
In 2016, the environment for indie authors has changed. Previously, you could write your books, make some of them free, or go all-in to KDP Select/ Kindle Unlimited, and rely on collecting a five-figure income each month. Now you need to not only become visible, using the freebie promotional tools at your disposal, but you also need to consider spending money to make money.
We’ve talked about advertising, and said:
“It’s impossible to predict what results you’ll gain from advertising, until you’ve tested venues. Promote one ebook at a time, rather than a slew of them, if you have many ebooks to sell.”
Some authors do make amazing incomes using strategic advertising. You can use advertising too, and as long as your books are worthy, you can make a healthy income on the back of it.
Sadly, advertising also has pitfalls. You can spend a lot of money — more money than you make back from sales. This is the reason I recommend that you use free promotional opportunities before you start spending money on advertising.
Free promotions for indie authors — immensely valuable as your own mini focus groups
No one knows what will sell. You can write a book that you love. That your friends and other authors adore. That your beta readers drool over. And that book tanks.
Who knows why… no one. So take this to heart: if you can’t sell it easily using free marketing opportunities it’s almost certainly a mistake to throw money at it.
Sell what sells.
While there are many ways to promote your books for free, Pinterest is one of my favorite networks for promotion. Pinterest users are enthusiastic, they’re engaged, and they buy.
Let’s look at some Pinterest tips to help you to get the most from the network… for free.
1. Use Pinterest for yourself first: secret boards are amazing tools for inspiration, plotting, and planning
Do you use Pinterest? If you’re an indie author, get to know the network. Use it as your own bookmarking tool for at least a month, BEFORE you start using it for promotion.
Create a “(Your Name) Books” board by all means, but don’t be mendacious. Use the network as a real user would — that is, as someone who doesn’t have a “marketing” mindset. Here’s the reason: readers are everywhere. You have no idea where your next reader will come from, so bookmark pins that you sincerely like, for at least a month, before you pay too much attention to using your Pinterest account for book marketing.
Aside from its uses for marketing, Pinterest is a wonderful resource for inspiration and research, so use it for that too. The more comfortable and at home you feel on the network, the more useful it will be for you as an indie author and publisher.
Whenever I start a new book, or a series, I create a board or two (I keep them secret) for the book.
Pinterest is also useful for plotting your fiction, if you’re a visual person, as I am. I create a secret plotting board for a novel, then add pins to it for locations, characters, ideas, and scenes.
2. Think “readers”: what do your readers love, do, and enjoy?
When you’re creating boards, consider your readers, and what might appeal to them. Are your readers primarily male, or female? Visit magazines.com and check out some magazines that your readers might read. The advertising in the magazines is targeted to readers… your readers, too.
The more you understand your readers, the more your writing will improve. If you’re a new author, it’s very natural that you’re focused on the writing itself. Over time, you’ll become much more interested in your readers. Pinterest can help you to get to know them.
3. Think “authors”: promote other authors, and grow the cake (you’ll get your slice, don’t worry)
You’re an author. You’re in the same boat as every other author. If you’re looking on other authors as competition, stop being defensive… please. Befriend your fellow authors. Follow them on Pinterest.
When you set out to promote other authors, you’re growing the cake — the marketplace. Grow the cake, and you’ll get a bigger slice.
Check to see which group boards other authors in your category or genre have joined, and join those groups as well. By pinning to group boards, you’ll grow your following — and eventually, you’ll sell more books.
4. Traffic, traffic: use Pinterest’s analytics (convert your account to a business account)
It’s easy to convert a personal account to a business account on Pinterest. It’s worth doing, because business accounts have additional analytics. You’ll see your average daily impressions, which of your pins are getting the most attention, and you’ll learn more about your audience. Pinterest analytics become more valuable over time, as your presence on the network grows.
Since over time, Pinterest analytics can help you to write better books… so use them. 🙂 (Analytics are free.)
5. Focus: your first 100 followers are the hardest to win (join group boards)
We’ve mentioned group boards.
Group boards are the best and easiest way to grow your followers when you’re just starting out on the network.
Initially, your following will grow slowly. That’s OK — it’s completely normal. You’re starting from zero, after all. After you win 100 followers, growing your following becomes easier.
Major tip: growing your following means following others. Follow the pinners you enjoy, and your own following will naturally increase.
Make your Pinterest book marketing FUN
I’m all about the FUN. Writing should be fun for you. So should book marketing. If either of those things are not fun, stop what you’re doing now, and focus on finding ways to have fun with your writing and marketing.
Fun is serious business. Here’s why. If you’re not having fun, creativity is impossible.
One of the reasons I enjoy Pinterest so much is that it’s fun. Join me on Pinterest… I hope you enjoy the network as much as I do.:-)
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