Note: Some of the information from the post was inspired by Self Publishing Podcast Episodes 158 and 159. There’s also been lots of great information about this topic on The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast and The Creative Penn, so check them out as well!
With its recent Kindle Unlimited announcement, Amazon is attempting to sweeten the pot once more, hoping to entice indie authors into throw all of their chips in the Kindle basket. In my mind, the reason is simple: more and more authors are realizing that going all in with the Amazon machine might not be best for their long term careers. Here at the Everyday Author, we’re all about the long-term perspective, but the problem is many authors (including myself) are struggling as they attempt to diversify the distribution of their catalogs.
While keeping in mind that you can’t build a platform overnight, here are a few simple tips that may be preventing you from growing your readership with other vendors such as Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, etc.
1. People can’t find buy links to other booksellers on your website
This might sound like a no-brainer, but out of the interviews listed above, this was the number one thing that everyone mentioned. If you want people to know you’re on other platforms, people need to be able to SEE you’re on other platforms. Including buy buttons to other platforms not only shows your readers that they can find you in a variety of places, but it lets the booksellers themselves know that they’re not some dirty little secret you’re trying to hide in the closet. One WordPress plugin I use for this is called MyBookTable. You can learn more and grab the free version (what I use) here.
2. You don’t promote other online retailers
This one is similar to tip #1, but just as important. How will people know where your books are available if you never talk about it? When you send out an email or a social media post (don’t forget to keep this in moderation) hawking your book, include links to other stores besides Amazon. Also, a small hat tip along these lines for Twitter: use hashtags specifics for the platform you’re linking to (#nook, #kobo and so forth).
Another thing you might want to consider are platform-specific promotions. If possible, offer special discounts or other deals just for your Nook and Kobo readers. You might also want to consider doing an early release on a specific platform. Although it might take some extra time to produce, you could also offer exclusive bonus material (short stories or character sketches, for example) only available when purchasing your book on certain platforms.
3. Your back matter is a dead end.
When you distribute your book through a handful of different online bookstores, it can be a pain to change the backmatter in each ebook file to match the platform you’ll be on. Even so, you still need to do it for a number of reasons — the most important being readers who liked your book know where they can go to leave you a review.
Positive reviews are vital if you want to sell more books and they don’t come easy when you’re working on building up a readership on a new platform. (The creative minds at Everyday Author and Undaunted Publishing are working on a solution to this, but that’s a conversation for another day). You need to make it as easy (and as tantalizing) as possible for readers to leave reviews. One tactic I’ve adopted for this is to create a landing page on my website for all of my call to action material in the back of my book. Sure I’ve added an extra step in the process, but it saves me from creating separate back matter for each platform and allows me to track the number of people who actually make it to that page via a shortlink. Best of all, readers who make it there are one step closer to signing up for my newsletter, if they haven’t yet. I do these for each book I publish. You can check out an example here.
Starting up a following on a new platform can be rough. Keep the long game in mind and be patient. If you want attention outside of Amazon, you need to reciprocate it. And remember, a bigger catalog is always easier to find, so keep on writing!
What are some of the things you’ve done to grow your readership on other ebook platforms other than Amazon? Have any of the above tips been helpful to you in the past? Let me know in the comments!
Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.