Luck can get your work found on Kindle but with 4 million competitors it's a fall-from-a-plane-without-a-parachute-and-survive luck. And if you’re that lucky, why bother spending years writing and months editing—buy a lottery ticket instead and save the heartache. Don’t rely on luck. Promote yourself.
Before suggesting how, let me put my hand up, wave it about and confess: I cannot claim to have successfully promoted my novel—yet. What I pass on in this article is what I’ve learned so far. You judge its usefulness.
Facebook and other social media are the obvious start. Tell your digital friends and ask them to share.
Put a tag line (signature) on your email account/s telling people you're an author, what you've written and where to buy it.
Get yourself some business/author/book cards. They’re cheap and easy to carry around. If someone asks you what you do, don’t be shy, give him or her your card. You never know. In fact, give any potential buyer your card. And make sure to include where to buy it.
Encourage any readers you know to leave a review on amazon (if they enjoyed it). Unfortunately, those close to you may get their reviews blocked because amazon is keen on rooting out bias and they have log tentacles, but don’t give up. Reviews help your book stand out. They give it credibility.
Start a website promoting yourself as an Author. It’s hard work and you have to give a lot to it to make it work, to get found and to keep surfers returning, but it’s worth considering. There are plenty of internet sites that will help you set it up for a small fee. And you might enjoy it. I do.
Write a good blurb. It’s part of the process of placing your book on Kindle. The first four lines appear next to your book cover on the amazon site. To see the rest, potential customers have to click on ‘more..’ Choose your words carefully and pay particular attention to those first four lines because if you don’t hook them there, they won’t read all the other good stuff you’ve written.
Suggestions for a good blurb:
Put yourself in the mind of a reader and ask yourself what would persuade you in to click on ‘more…’ See my blurb at the end of this section and note its structure. The first two lines are independent reviews. The final opening line is a hook, briefly outlining what sort of book to expect (action packed thriller) and what makes it different (near future and no heroes until…).
You’ll see I’ve included my amazon.uk star rating in those opening lines and you may wonder why as this already appears on amazon.co.uk. The reason is those star ratings won’t appear on amazon.com or any other country’s amazon platform. Frustrating but true, and if you decide to pay for a kindle ad campaign it won’t appear there either. So, stick it in your blurb.
A blurb/synopsis is there to tell prospective buyers what your novel’s about, to contain key words and phrases (thriller, action, ISIS etc) that will make it findable through amazon’s search facility, and to sell it. Hooks and keywords are essential but keep it accurate and honest to avoid bad reviews. And make it punchy. If you’ve got them to click on ‘more…’ you’ve tweaked their interest. Don’t fall at the final hurdle by underselling your writing ability.
Blurb for Conjuring the Blood:
‘…imaginative, intricate and convincing…’ ‘...an impressive achievement.’ Robin Wade, London literary agent. Five-star rated on amazon.co.uk.
An action packed thriller without heroes until love and fear conjure the blood.
It is 2029. From the ashes of ISIS’s defeat, a new force has emerged. Based in Europe, they see in Britain a siege mentality and opportunity to disunite the United Kingdom. Their aim: to establish a Sharia governed enclave within London—an Islamist foothold and stepping stone in the symbolic heart of the West.
With the Security Services weakened by political expediency, the nation divided, social order collapsing and the liberal elite discredited, all that stand in the way of the terrorists are an Islamophobic MI5 agent, more concerned with his disintegrating love life that the nation’s future, and a troubled Islamist with good reason to hate his brothers-in-arms.
These are no tough and uncompromising guardians of Western democracy working together to save British freedoms. Naive and blinded by bigotry they hate each other and, with their children taken hostage, become pawns rather than obstacles to the enemies of the state.
But, Conjuring the Blood, unremarkable people do remarkable things. Traitors can be heroes.
A Kindle ad campaign deserves an article all to itself. I’ll cover it next time.
Book Review/Recommendation: The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Too often I read a book and wish I was that bright, that sharp, that good. It’s disheartening but I blunder on with my own small contributions. Beatty pushed me to the edge. This African American satirist looks at Black America in his novel and imagines segregation and slavery on their terms. He imagines a horrified Establishment America forced to examine its liberal navel. He imagines the impossible and it all makes hilarious sense. It’s satire at its keenest and don’t imagine White America is the only butt of his incredibly sharp pencil. This is not taking sides, this is taking the piss with a very large P out of assumptions thought sacrosanct.
If you ever fancy a country walk and a natter over a pint of English ale Mr Beatty, get in touch. My treat.