Happy Saturday, writing aficionados! It's my honor to present author Rachel Morgan for Six Questions!
Rachel lives in South Africa, and writes a series of gorgeous YA novelettes, Creepy Hollow.
Welcome to Finding Bliss, Rachel!
When you began writing, was it with the goal of publishing or just for a hobby?
When I quit my masters in 2009, it was because I wanted to write novels and have them published. To me, that initially meant traditionally published, but it turns out (for now anyway) that I prefer independent publishing.
What are the major things you've done to build buzz (platform) for your books... what worked for you and what didn't?
- Online launch “party” – on the day I launched the first book in the series, I asked as many bloggers as possible to post an announcement about it on their blogs.
- Blog tour – this is the most MAJOR thing I’ve done. I contacted a number of other bloggers and for a period of just over two weeks I organized guest posts, author interviews and book reviews.
- Giveaways – entries for giveaways generally require sharing on Twitter and other social networks, which spreads word about the giveaway and thus the book.
- Teasers – I sometimes take part in Six Sentence Sunday and post six sentences from the next story in the series. People who’ve read and liked the previous stories really enjoy this :-)
- Free promotion – I had to enroll in KDP Select in order to make my ebook free on Amazon. I got over 2300 downloads, so I think it was worth it!
What worked the best? The free promotion. Once I had three stories out, I made the first one free for a weekend. This resulted in the sale of far more copies of story #2 and #3 than normal for the next two or three weeks.
Did you begin your career by querying agents?
No. I wrote a novel that I wanted traditionally published, but before I even got to editing that, I decided to write a series of novelettes that I would self publish. So I am still a “querying virgin”!
How big of a role has branding played for you? Did you have certain conscious steps you took to build an author brand?
The whole idea of branding is something I haven’t actually thought about that much, and didn’t really consider before I began publishing. Looking back, I think I did some things instinctively that reinforced the brand of stories I was publishing (light-hearted YA paranormal fantasy). For example, I wrote all my blog tour guest posts in the same “relaxed” tone or style that I used in my stories.
I do, however, now recognize the importance of branding, and know I should start paying more attention to the brand I want to portray!
What is the most important marketing tool you recommend for writers wanting to self-publish?
Book bloggers. Use Google to find lists of bloggers that accept self-published books. Send a copy of your book to as many book bloggers as possible. This helps to spread the word about your book, and also gets you reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (since most book bloggers will publish their reviews not only on their blogs). The other thing I would strongly suggest is to have a free promotion at some point, preferably once you have more than one book available.
How long should an author work on building a presence online before publishing?
Hmm. I suppose it depends how much time you’re able to invest in connecting with people online. If you only have a little bit of spare time for this, it will probably take you a while to develop an online presence. Honestly? I don’t actually know! I blogged for about two years before I published anything, but some people can build a wide presence in just a few months. What’s important to remember, though, is quality instead of quantity! 200 bloggers you’ve barely connected with at all will be a lot less likely to help you than 20 bloggers that you’ve taken some time to get to know.