As an author who’s written 57 traditionally- and self-published books over 27 years, I love the creative process of writing — the part of my career that involves quiet solitude, characters who do what they’re told, and a relaxed writing wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, but it’s my job and I love it.
For those of us who enjoy the creative process, the problem is marketing. How can I put my books in front of both my established readers who want to know when I release a book, while also reaching new readers who like the genres I write (suspense, historical, and paranormal) but have yet to discover me? And what is the best use of the time I set aside for promotion?
Over the past year, I gained 25K BookBub followers. Having so many followers helps me regularly reach existing readers and gain exposure to new ones. In this post, I’ll share why I decided to focus on getting more BookBub followers, and how I grew my following more than 1,200%!
Why focus on BookBub?
There are several free ways for authors to reach readers online — let’s dive into a few of these promotional tools (including BookBub!), and the benefits and downsides of each.
Author website. I spell out how to get updates about my books on my website’s FAQ page:
I’m an author who likes stats. I watch hits on my website, see what pages readers are landing on, where they come from, and what they search for. Since many of my promotional campaigns link to my website, these stats help me measure the effectiveness of these campaigns.
Author newsletter. The heart of my operation is my newsletter. Every time I send a newsletter, the stats on my website soar. Book sales soar. But writing entertaining newsletters takes time away from writing my books, and sending a newsletter too often creates newsletter fatigue in even the most devoted of readers.
Amazon’s author page. Amazon has a “Follow” function, and that would seem to be the ideal place to capture readers — they’re already on the site buying books and everything else under the sun. But Amazon does not share information with me about my followers. How many readers follow me there? I have no idea. I know Amazon sends emails when my book goes up for preorder and when my book releases, but on their own schedule, and I don’t know if they send these alerts to all my followers or just some. I believe Amazon is worth my time and effort, but I can’t track their influence.
Social media sites. For day-to-day promotion, there are the social media sites: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. According to my website stats, hits from social media sites vary greatly from day to day. Most social media does work, but for me, isn’t worth the time away from writing. And the biggie, Facebook, is not targeted to readers and is unreliable when it comes to delivering your book message — even when you plunk down the money for promotion.
BookBub’s alerts to followers. When BookBub expanded their site to include author profiles, I popped on, uploaded a brief bio and photo, and discovered they also included a “Follow” button on my profile. If a BookBub reader decides to follow you, they’ll receive a dedicated email on the day you run a BookBub Featured Deal or launch a new release. This email includes the cover art, a brief description, and purchase links for the major online booksellers. Readers can also bookmark your book for later. BookBub’s New Release Alert email looks like this:
- They always send a book release notice to my followers as long as I’ve added the book to my profile.
- The new release email costs me nothing!
- The email is brief, clean, and concise with purchase links to all major online retailers.
- Because BookBub sends out a daily newsletter to a targeted audience of readers with links for free and discounted books, readers are trained to open BookBub’s emails.
- BookBub shows me, the author, how many followers I have on their site, so I know how many people these emails are reaching.
After comparing these different free ways to reach readers, I decided to put effort into growing my BookBub following: It’s an effective channel that doesn’t require a big time investment.
How did I build my BookBub follower list?
Here are a few ways I grew my following on BookBub. Hopefully this will give you some ideas!
1. Asked my newsletter readers to follow me. I know, I know — I send a book release day letter and of course I tell my newsletter readers about my book sales. Why would they need two notifications? We’re all inundated every day with deals and news from tech companies, cooking catalogues, and, of course, Nordstrom.com. It’s not that you don’t care, it’s just too much, so the open rate goes down. A backup for the newsletter is a good thing. Here’s what my call-to-action looks like in my newsletter:
2. Asked for follows on social media. On social media, I ask for BookBub follows and I repeat myself frequently. I generally give it context with an event. “I have a free book out! Read about it on BookBub and while you’re on my page, “Follow” me for more news!” Or, “Great news! BookBub put Because I’m Watching on their list of ‘Books to Read If You Love Nora Roberts.’ For book release info, join here!”
3. Placed a prominent CTA on my website. “Join my BookBub followers” has featured placement on my website home page and my news page:
4. Installed BookBub follow icons. I added BookBub icons to the social media links on every page of my website and on all my newsletters:
5. Updated my books’ back matter. I updated the back matter of my self-published books to include a link to my BookBub Author Profile. I also added an appeal for readers to follow me on BookBub:
6. Optimized my BookBub Author Profile bio. Finally, I made sure that any reader who found my BookBub profile saw information that would inform and intrigue. I listed my credentials, suggested that readers sign up for my BookBub notices and for my newsletter, said a little about the current release and the next release, and finished with the quirky bits of interest likely to send the reader to my website.
Everything I did — newsletter and social media appeals, BookBub website icons and placement, links in the back matter of my self-published books, and of course the information on my BookBub Author Profile — was easy, painless, took a minimal amount of time away from my writing. And over the course of a year, I gained 25K followers (an increase of more than 1,200%).
On that all-important day when I release a new story, it’s a relief to know those BookBub emails are going out to interested readers!
Do you have tips to improve your BookBub following? I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments below!
The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of BookBub.
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