Hey everyone! I've been quiet 'round these parts because I've been writing my face off and preparing for this launch. I thought I'd pop in and share my good news.A bit about me:
I've been indie pubbing for five years, with a brief stint with a small publisher. During the first couple of years (2011-2013ish), I sort of floundered around between horror and thriller shorts, and a few pieces that were New Adult (though at the time I had no idea what NA was, just that I liked writing it). I've settled into writing NA romance and suspense, with the stubborn goal of improving NA's street cred. As of Friday, I have nine full-length novels under my belt. In Spring 2015 I was making a decent part-time living (I write full-time and was making about $400/month), but the normal summer slump, chronic illness, and PTSD kicked my butt. By January this year, I was making just a handful of dollars and had to restart my marketing plan from scratch. As of June, I'm an indie again (with no plans of ever going with another publisher), and July was my best month this year. I'm still not where I was last spring, but I'm making a swift comeback. I expect to be paying my bills again by December!The series:
The series I'm currently publishing is my rockstar romance, the South of Forever series. Book 3, What Happens On Tour
, just released on Friday. Because my publisher had announced they were closing when Book 2 was released, it got very little marketing support. At the time, I'd decided to focus on self-publishing the four books I'd signed with the publisher, with plans to go all out when I released Book 3 in my series. The series follows a small band from the ground up, with each book focusing on one belle of the band. Book 1 focuses on the lead singer, Book 2 the keyboardist's girlfriend, and Book 3 on their manager. Book 4 will be their music blogger contact. Each book is third person limited POV, which is different for NA but several readers have mentioned that it's refreshing. The books focus on each MC's core issues, as well as some trouble with her beau. An overarching plot following the band's growth and some rivalry with another local band connects all four books. They can technically be read as standalones, since each ends with an HEA, but there's enough to pique readers' interest and encourage them to follow the series.The marketing:
Since I have a chronic illness and can't work outside my home, my budget is super limited. Every cent I make -- and then whatever I can scrape up -- gets poured right back into the series. I leverage free tools, social media, blogging, my newsletter, and advertising.
Tools: I use Unsplash and Canva to make teasers. (See below for an example.) I have a bit of a background in graphic design, and though I miss the heck out of Photoshop, I've found some workarounds in Canva. I post excerpts on Wattpad, where I'm growing a pretty strong following. I receive messages and comments there all the time from readers who love my work. I'm preparing to offer Wattpad readers review copies. I made Book 1 free (the series is currently wide), and share teasers and links to Facebook groups. Since I'm lucky enough to be in Kobo's promo group, I submit to as many as possible. Thanks to their promos, Kobo is my largest honeypot.
Social Media: Every once in a while I post a "buy my book" type thing. Mostly I use social media for interaction, and for sharing teasers, excerpts, and extras (see blogging below). Most of my reader interaction is on Facebook, as I use Twitter primarily to chat with my #spoonie friends (people with chronic illnesses). On Facebook, I have a reader group exclusively for my newsletter subscribers, my author page, and another reader group I co-run with three other authors who write in similar genres. I also participate in several other authors' reader groups. I sign up for regular takeovers (which is a whole other thread), and throw release parties. My last release party was a huge success, and one reader who couldn't make it even told me she was sad because I always throw great parties.
Blogging: I post regular excerpts (the first five chapters of each release, with a new chapter posted every week during launch). I also blog my teasers, with links to the excerpts and buy links. I have a dedicated blog domain, my pretty static author website on another domain, and a dedicated series website. On the series site, I post character bios, character interviews, quizzes, "tour dates," lyrics, and giveaways. On my regular blog, I write about everything from behind the scenes things, chronic illness, PTSD, and industry related topics (ex: a plea for authors to stop using rape as an empty plot device; ode to unlikable/difficult characters; my "do no harm" rule; etc).
Newsletter: I'm still on the free Mailchimp plan and can't yet afford automation, so I've found a workaround in the meantime. Since you can edit the welcome email subscribers get after they confirm their email, I added download links for a free ebook (as well as the link to my secret VIP reader group). I usually send a newsletter once a month with updates or a bit more often if I'm gearing up for a release. In the past I've sent exclusive weekly bonus content (such as cut scenes). This week I sent out my five favorite NA reads from this summer. My list is small but growing steadily, and I prefer it that way rather than a sudden crazy influx; I like getting to know my readers. I'm definitely not opposed to hitting 1,000+ subscribers, though.
Advertising: Because my budget is tiny, I've been doing a lot of book blog interviews and spotlights. I also have an upcoming promo with The Book Cave. They'd posted here in Kboards with a temporary free promo, so I signed up to advertise my free first-in-series. Because I did a GoFundMe -- with prizes -- to afford Book 3's cover, I have a bit extra that will go into advertising with a couple places I've had success with in the past. I'm also considering giving Facebook ads another shot to boost my email list. As mentioned above, I also post promos to various, appropriate Facebook groups. (For example, there are several Kobo reader groups that I'll post to during a Kobo promo, and tons of KU groups that I share my sole KU book to [which is a prequel to the series]).
None of this is genius, and it is time consuming, but all told it works pretty well for me. Book 3's sales have been steady since Friday, and making Book 1 permafree on Book 3's release is boosting the series. My next step is launching a plan to increase my reviews, which has worked pretty well for me in the past (another thread for another day). And, of course, writing the fourth and final book in the series.
In between Books 3 and 4, I'm releasing the first in a duology just to keep my hungry readers sated. They read wicked fast! I thought I read fast, but one reader inhaled all three books within one weekend. It's amazing!
I also have plans for about a billion more standalones/series, so I'm in for a nice, long career.
Thanks for reading. <3