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Book: 200 Boosts for Indie Authors - Empowering Inspiration and Practical Advice (Writer's Craft Book 36) by Rayne Hall

Book: 200 Boosts for Indie Authors - Empowering Inspiration and Practical Advice (Writer's Craft Book 36) by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Indie Publishing, Book Promotion, Self-Publishing, Publishing Tips, Publishing Boosts, Publishing Tricks, Increase Book Sales, Indie Publisher, Independent Publishing, Publishing Advice, Publishign Guide, Indie Author


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Rayne Hall

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INTRODUCTION

Have you indie-published books, and are wondering how to get more traction and sales? Do you want ideas on how to make your publishing venture a success?

This guide is bursting with suggestions you can use. I've compiled them based on what I discovered from publishing more than 50 books, learning through trial and error. I'll guide you to take shortcuts, bypassing the tedious, time-wasting chores and go straight to what works.

This isn't a how-to manual, but a collection of creative prompts. Don't just read them, but use the prompts to get your own thoughts going: 'How can I apply this to my books, my situation, my publishing business?' After each suggestion, I'll ask a question to kick-start your train of thought.
Treat this as a workbook which prompts you to research, assess and plan your projects and find the solutions which are right for you.

Some of my suggestions are unconventional, and you may find it refreshing to simply ditch the book marketing efforts you dread, and have fun instead. Attract new readers with activities you enjoy.

I've mixed the topics up, so we'll explore publishing strategy one day, quality another, then cover design, money saving, font choices and much more. We'll circle back to some subjects several times, approaching them from new angles. By dancing from topic to topic like a butterfly collecting pollen, your mind gets a fresh perspective every day. This will prevent your thoughts from going stale.

You'll get the most out of this book if you have already self-published at least one book, are familiar with the challenges and want to take a leap forward. This volume doesn't contain how-to-publish instructions, so if you're a novice in this field, you may find some of the boosts too advanced.

While I've designed the book so you can tackle a prompt a day for 200 days, feel free to adapt the pace to suit your needs. If a topic isn't relevant to you at the moment, do the thought exercise anyway, because the insights will help at a later stage.

Are you ready to delve in?

Rayne Hall




BOOST #1: SKIP THE TEDIOUS PROMOS

Do you dread book marketing and promotion? You're not alone. Many writers find marketing a chore, but they feel forced to do the things they hate.

The good news – you don't need to!

Churning out social media promotions, paying for advertisements, begging and manipulating people to buy your book, pestering reluctant purchasers... it doesn't work. Readers find this as off-putting as you do, so these methods push potential buyers away instead of attracting them.

Do you really want to spend time, money and energy on something that hinders instead of helps your sales?

Just stop it. You'll feel better once you don't have to torment yourself and can instead focus on what you enjoy, such as writing.

Yes, you need to market your book – but not with those mind-numbing, soul-destroying, reader-repelling chores.

We'll explore some alternatives later. For now, just give yourself permission to stop the self-torment.


Today's Thought Prompt

What kind of marketing activities do you dislike most? Think of at least three specific activities you dread or hate. Write them down – and then cross them out.





BOOST #2: NOT JUST IN BOOKSHOPS

Bookshops – brick-and-mortar and online – may be the obvious places to sell your book, but they are not the only ones. Think creatively: what other businesses could be interested in this particular book?

Here's an example. My writers' group published an anthology of members' stories set in the English county of Sussex. A delicatessen company in our town sold Sussex-themed gift hampers. They already had Sussex cheeses, Sussex fish and Sussex wines, and were looking for a non-food product to add. When we approached them, they were delighted: a real Sussex product, with Sussex stories by Sussex writers! They immediately placed a big order for several hundred books.

I know writers whose books are sold in souvenir shops, in museums, garden centres, or bakeries.


Today's Thought Prompt

Consider your book from different perspectives – not just as a book, but as a product. The content can provide connections to a town, a region, an industry sector, a profession, a hobby... Might your survival adventure novel appeal to shops selling survival gear? Could your glamorous Chicklit novel about fashion design grace the display of upmarket boutiques? Come up with three ideas.



BOOST #3: THE EASY WAY TO GET REVIEWS

Book reviews are a powerful way to boost your book. The more reviews a book has, the more interesting it appears to future buyers.

Many indie authors despair over getting reviews. Some even stoop to buying, faking, bribing or swapping reviews – all of which are prohibited by review sites and cause a devastating backlash.

There's a simple, legitimate, natural and effective way of getting genuine reviews: simply ask.

At the end of the book, write a short 'Dear Reader' message. Encourage readers to write and post a book review on Amazon or wherever they have bought the book or have posting privileges.

This works, because readers who have just finished the book are thinking about it and in a mood to share their thoughts. This method is far more likely to succeed than approaching reviewers who haven't read the book yet.

Unlike traditionally-published writers, indie authors have full control over what they put in their books. Take advantage, and close yours with a review request.


Today's Thought Prompt

How will you phrase this request? Write a draft.


BOOST #4: ENTICE READERS WITH CHAPTER TITLES

Give your chapters titles as well as numbers, and make them as enticing as possible.

When readers are interested in your book and click 'download free sample' or 'look inside', they'll see a long list of chapters:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Often, this list spans several pages – and it has zero grabbing power.

Chapter titles, on the other hand, have a chance to grab the viewers' attention and whet their curiosity.

Chapter 1: The Stranger from Prague
Chapter 2: A Traitor in our Midst
Chapter 3: Escape from the Dungeon
Chapter 4: Laura Discovers the Truth

Craft chapter titles with words and phrases which have appeal especially to fans of your genre. Words like sheriff, deputy, settler, wagon train, stage coach, bank robbery, outlaw, lynch, cattle rustler and ranch will attract Western fans, while lovers of Regency Romance are drawn to rogue, governess, ball, elopement, manor, coming out, eligible and chaperone.

This applies to non-fiction books, too. For example, a 'how-to' type book benefits from chapter titles which include the phrases practical, how to, step-by-step.






The first draft of this book had numbered boosts without titles. While editing, I realised that I had to follow my own advice, so now each boost has a title. This makes the boosts more interesting and practical, doesn't it?


Today's Thought Prompt

What chapter titles would appeal to your target readers? Play with ideas and come up with titles for at least three of your book's chapters.




BOOST #5: HAVE FUN WRITING

Do you wish you could stop marketing and instead focus on what you enjoy – writing?

Rethink your strategy to do just that.

Some of the best promotional methods for any kind of product depend on strong creative writing skills – for example: brand storytelling, content writing, crafting product descriptions. You already have those skills, so use them.

With your passion for writing, you'll enjoy crafting texts which draw readers to your author brand and your books. You'll need to master some new forms of writing, which will be a fun challenge.

Many businesses actually hire freelance writers to write their brand story and product descriptions – you don't need outside help because you can do it yourself.


Today's Thought Prompt

Are you willing to employ your writing (your passion, time and skill) to boost your book's sales?
How do you feel about this idea? Write down three reactions. (This assignment may strike you as so easy that you're tempted to skip it – but it is potent with the power to change your mindset.)



BOOST #6: FILL YOUR SAMPLE PAGES

Readers use the 'Download Free Sample' to see if they like a book before they buy.

They want to experience the content: does the story grab them? Does the style please them? Is the non-fiction content clear, practical, helpful? If the book is what they're looking for, they'll buy.

The sample consists of the book's first pages – and with many books, these pages are taken up by copyright information, legal disclaimers, acknowledgements, dedications and a lot of blank space. Before the readers even get a taste of the actual book, the sample is over.

What a wasted opportunity! These readers are seriously interested, have jumped through hoops to experience the book – and aren't even allowed a taste. Many sales are lost this way.

Don't let this happen to your book. If people are interested in your book, give them a chance to get a taste, and better still, to get hooked.


Today's Thought Prompt

How could you format your book to avoid wasting the previous sample-page space?
(For example, could you condense the copyright information and legal disclaimers on a single page, or move the acknowledgements section to the book's end?)
Identify three possibilities.













BOOST #7: SHARE A NEWSLETTER

Creating a newsletter is a lot of work. Consider sharing this work with other authors. Not only will this save you time and stress, but it will make the newsletter more interesting for the subscribers.


Important: this works only if your partners' books are aimed at the same kind of readers, so the newsletter content will be relevant to your fans.

Before you start, put your agreement in writing, clarifying responsibilities (who does what when) and rights (e.g. who will own the address list if you end the joint project).

Today's Thought Prompt

With whom could you share a newsletter? Write down three ideas – either specific people, or ways to find suitable partners.




BOOST #8: HOOK READERS WITH THE NEXT BOOK

If you have a book series, or several books in the same genre, add the first chapter of the next book in the appendix.

Readers who've just finished one book are ready to start another... and many won't be able to resist reading what's before them just then. If the chapter is good, they'll be hooked, want to find out what happens next, and buy that book.

So, add the first chapter of another book at the end of the first. The next book in the series is ideal, but one of your other books in the same genre also works.

If you don't have another book in the same genre yet, you can team up with another author whose book is similar to yours (same genre, same target audience). Include the first chapter of each other's books in the appendix, to bring new readers to each other.


Today's Thought Prompt

Which authors could you approach for this arrangement?

Think of three authors who write in the same genre, perhaps indie authors you've met in online forums or who belong to your writers' group.






BOOST #9: USE OTHER AUTHORS' BLOGS

Instead of keeping a blog – which is a big commitment and devours precious writing time – guest on other people's blogs. This way, you can skip the laborious process of building and maintaining an audience for your own blog, and instead use other people's ready-made platforms.

You can bypass the stress of creating regular posts and promoting the blog.

Approach the owners of blogs related to your books – for example, devoted to the genre – and offer to write quality guest posts. Many bloggers will jump at the chance to get interesting guest posts, because this reduces their own workload.

Today's Thought Prompt

On which blogs could you be a guest contributor? Identify either three kinds of blogs, or three specific blogs you could approach.






BOOST #10: GET A SECOND PAIR OF EYES

However good you are at spelling, grammar and punctuation, get someone else to proofread your manuscript before you publish. As authors, we tend to overlook many typos in our own writing, because our eyes see what our minds expect us to see.

If your budget allows it, hire a skilled professional proofreader. If you can't afford this, ask several writer friends to proofread your manuscript, and return the favour by proofreading their books. Between them, they will spot most errors.


Today's Thought Prompt

Who can you ask for a proofread-swap? Think of three or more people who might be interested in such an arrangement.



BOOST #11: KNOW WHAT REALLY WORKS

Most paid book promotions are a waste of money. You may get a better RoI (Return on Investment of money and time) from the following:

* a good book cover (to draw attention)
* a strong title and subtitle (to attract the right readers and bring the book up in the right searches)
* metadata (selecting the right keywords, categories etc. to bring the book up in customer searches)
* an irresistible blurb (to make viewers download the free sample)
* gripping, content-rich, flawless sample pages (to make readers want to read on and click the 'buy' button)


Today's Thought Prompt

Choose one of the above features and think of three ways to improve it (if the book is already published) or to make it really good (for your forthcoming book).




BOOST #12: SAVE MONEY, BARTER SERVICES

If your budget is tight – or if you have no budget at all – look into bartering your services.

Instead of paying money for cover designers, illustrators, editors, proofreaders, formatters and promoters, offer to work for them.

If you have indie-publishing-related skills, swap with other indie authors. Example: "I'll design your cover if you format my paperback."

Today's Thought Prompt

What skills do you have which could be of value to other indie authors? Try to come up with three. If you can think of only one, break it down into its aspects, e.g. 'copy-edit books, copy-edit blog posts, copy-edit newsletters.



BOOST #13: KEEP YOUR BOOK COVER SIMPLE

Your book cover needs to look great and draw the eye at thumbnail size. Avoid cluttered images and fancy fonts which are hard to read.

Simple designs stand out most.

Today's Thought Prompt

What kind of simple image would convey best what your book is about? Write down three features of this ideal book cover.




BOOST #14: GO BEYOND AVERAGE

Most indie authors sell few books and earn only modest incomes. That's the average, so don't take it personally if it happens to your book.

But 'average' doesn't mean 'standard'. Many indie authors earn good money, and some earn very well indeed.

What it really means is that you need to set out to become one of the success stories.

Today's Thought Prompt

What can you do today to move one step closer to success?
What can you do tomorrow?
What can you do later this month?



BOOST #15: SELF-PUBLISHING IS TRADITIONAL

The so-called 'traditional' publishing system is a fairly modern invention. Publishing houses buying manuscripts, paying authors royalties and keeping the profits was the dominant system in the 20th century. Before that, most authors self-published.

Today's Thought Prompt

Do you think that 'traditional publishing' is the right word for the 20th-century system? If yes, why? If not, what word would you use?

Think of three different ways to paraphrase 'traditional publishing', which don't make it sound like it's the traditional way.


BOOST #16: TAP INTO THE SELLING POWER OF A SERIES

When writing a novel, structure it so that it works both as a stand-alone book and as part of a series. If readers love the first book, they will want more of the same kind.

The same applies to non-fiction books. If the first book is successful, aim to publish more books in the same style on related subjects.

Today's Thought Prompt

What other books could you write to continue the series? Come up with three ideas.



BOOST #17 RESPONDING TO FANS

How will you react when a reader tells you, either in person or online, "You're my favourite author", "This is the best novel I've ever read" or "I'm your number one fan"?

You may be so speechless the first time this happens that you miss the opportunity to say the right thing.

Today's Thought Prompt

Daydream and imagine three different scenarios in which readers (online, during a social gathering or at a genre event) tell you that you're their favourite author. What are you going to do and say?


BOOST #18: THE KEY TO SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS


Don't let social media drive you nuts. It's impossible to have a meaningful presence in every social media network.

Choose one SM – the one you find easiest to manage, or the one where most of your target readers hang out – and focus on this. You'll get a better RoI (Return on Investment) this way.

It's better to get noticed in one social media network than to be ignored in many.


Today's Thought Prompt

What are your personal criteria for the most suitable social media network? For example, 'easy to learn', 'posts can be edited after posting', 'popular with fans of my genre'. Write down the three most important criteria.



BOOST #19: THE MOST IMPORTANT TEXT TO WRITE

The blurb (book description) is the most important text you will write, because that's how potential buyers decide whether they want the book.

Use your creative writing skills to craft a powerful blurb, and invest time in polishing it until it shines like a diamond.

Today's Thought Prompt

How can you structure your next blurb, or tweak the existing one, to make it irresistible? Write down three ideas.



BOOST #20: DESIGN WITH A SERIES IN MIND

If your books form a series, give them the same book cover design. For example, use the same composition, colours and fonts, and only vary the image. This will signal that it's a series, and readers who loved the first book will want the next.

A recurring book cover design also arouses the collector instinct. Many people feel a strong urge to possess complete sets of everything, and in the case of books, they'll buy the latest in the series as soon as it's out or as soon as they can afford it. Tap into this market, stimulating the collector-buyers with visual series signals.

If you have only one book to publish, choose a cover design which could be adapted for a series, in case readers love the book and demand more.

Today's Thought Prompt

How can you mark your series visually as a series? In your mind, design a new cover, or tweak an existing one. Come up with three specific ideas for recurring elements.



BOOST #21: STRESS-FREE PRICING

Deciding on a book price is a big headache for many first-time indie publishers.

Don't stress about it. Set a price, and if it doesn't work, change it after a while. Changing the price can be done any time and takes only a few clicks.

If you really don't know what price to set, I suggest $2.99. This price often works well for an ebook novel by a new author.

Today's Thought Prompt

How much do other ebooks in your genre typically cost? Visit a big bookselling site and browse books in your genre. Check the typical prices for an author's first novel, for a book by an established author, and for the work of the genre's currently bestselling author.


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