By Maia Sepp
What are some free – or nearly free – ways for the penny-pinching indie writer to promote their Kobo books and build their platform?
These days it’s crucial for indie writers to have a mailing list, website, Facebook page, Goodreads, Google+ and Twitter accounts, and whatever new technology pops up in the next five minutes. Now, not everyone is going to fall madly in love with every social media format – my relationship with Twitter is probably headed for divorce – but there are ways to cross-post your postings and tweets. Generally, it’s recommended that you focus on the one form of social media that you like the most and then distribute that content out to your other social media accounts (via software packages such as Hootsuite, or built-in site plugins.)
One other way to keep up with what’s going on in the industry is to join an indie author organization. For a small fee, you can rub virtual shoulders with other indies as well as established writers who are making a living off of their writing. One that I’d recommend is The Alliance of Independent Authors, a non-profit indie advocacy organization that blogs about the book industry, hosts guest speakers, and is generally full of awesome.
Much Ado About Free Content
There’s been a ton of buzz in the blogosphere lately about using free content for promotional purposes. Putting all that aside, free can still be a component of building an indie writer’s platform. Goodreads, a social reading platform that has over ten million members and growing, is a fantastic place to promote your book. There’s a good amount of confluence between Goodreads and Kobo customers, and one of the great perks of that relationship is that Goodreads reviews can be used to populate a Kobo writer’s product page. (If you haven’t added your book to Goodreads yet, you can take a look at the Goodreads Author Program here.)
One excellent way to find readers on Goodreads is to host a giveaway (running the giveaway is free, but you’ll need to cough up the bucks to mail a hard copy of your novel). I hosted one in January, which became one of the top fifteen giveaways that month, resulting in 3000+ entries, with 10 winners. Winners are expected to post reviews of your book (Goodreads says that about 60% go on to do so). Over 2000 readers added my book to their “to read” list as part of the giveaway entry, some of whom are now reading and reviewing my book. One thing that not everyone’s aware of is that you can do more than one giveaway in a six month period. I’m going to run a second giveaway in April to take advantage of this option. And another perk: lots of “to reads” will result in placement in “also bought” lists, which helps other Goodreads readers discover your books.
Another interesting way to use free content to build readership is to publish a teaser portion of your book for free on Kobo, Goodreads, or a site like Wattpad. Wattpad, another free social media site, allows people to read, like, and follow you as well as comment on your books, so you have a built-in audience when your next release comes out. People who enjoy my teaser chapter have gone on to review and read my full novel (and have been helpful enough to say where they found it). It’s challenging to determine the exact relationship between offering free content and subsequent sales, but what we do know is that it will help expand our online footprint, which is never a bad thing.
Kobo-Specific Promotional Sites
There are a small (and hopefully growing) group of Kobo-specific sites that list Kobo books. One is Kobo Book Hub, which lists books for free, and cross-promotes via their Facebook and Twitter pages. Another site is Trindiebooks, which posts recommendations, reviews and listings. Bookbub is also a site that can be used to promote on Kobo. (I can’t vouch for how successful these sites are in getting the word out, but I’ll be investigating in the next little while. I’ll post the results on my site.)
Kobo Contests and Sales
I’d recommend always putting your books forth for participation in Kobo Writing Life contests, sales, listings, etc. Thanks to the Kobo Christmas sale a few months ago, my debut novel, “The Sock Wars,” ended up on the Kobo Writing Life bestseller list, peaking at #9, which makes participation in Kobo sales my most successful promotional effort to date. Hopefully Kobo will continue to expand these types of promotional tools and offerings so that KWL writers can keep building their Kobo-specific platform.
What are Other KWL Writers Doing?
It’s always important to spy keep an eye on other writers who have been doing this a while, and who are doing well at it. Kobo Writing Life authors who are both successful and generous with their experiences include Joanna Penn, Edward W. Robertson, and Lindsay Buroker. Add these authors to your blogroll (and check out their books!) – you won’t be sorry.
What’s worked for you? What promotional tools have you used? Which indie writers do you follow?
About the Author
Maia Sepp left a career in IT to write about home renovations and sock thievery. Reach Maia online at maiasepp.com.