(Ed. Note: Please welcome bestselling author Scott Nicholson to indieKindle for this guest post this morning. I would be happy to consider similar pieces from other authors, but Scott is a shining example of a successful author who possesses some real wisdom and is willing to share it. And just to underline how important his overall approach has been, let me note that Disintegration remains firmly in the top 50 in the Kindle Store sales rankings more than three weeks after its Kindle Nation sponsorship. –S.W.)
By Scott Nicholson, Guest Author
I’ve worked with Stephen Windwalker and Kindle Nation Daily several times this year, my first year as an indie author. And I can tell you from a career in media and as a New York author, marketing is a real crapshoot. The fact that I spend my marketing money here is a testament to my faith.
Windwalker has that thing called “target audience.” If you’re a Kindle author, he can introduce you to a Kindle audience better than anyone on the Internet except Amazon itself. KND subscribers are voluntary—they want the message. And you’re part of the message. (Ed. Note: When Scott refers to KND throughout this article, he is referring to the Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship program, which is described on this info page.)
But it’s not fair or realistic to expect KND to be the magic bullet. To maximize the impact of an instant audience, you should already have a platform firmly in place. So take the time to build your business from the ground up, starting by writing the best book you can, revising it, getting some proofreading or peer editing, and then seeking out professional cover artists (I use Neil at Ghostwriter Publications) and formatting (I use Ted at Dellaster Design).
While you’re doing that, grow your newsletter and meet Twitter and Facebook friends. Don’t worry about “numbers.” Better to have 10 people who share your enthusiasm than 1,000 “followers” who ignore you. Cultivate people who believe in your message and contribute to their lives as you can. Then, when your KND sponsorship is scheduled, mobilize your friend base. Try to get your book up a little early if you can, as a “soft opening.” That will give you time for sales, reviews, and a chance to work out any kinks. Then inspire your friends to amplify the sponsorship with freebies or other unique opportunities.
In my case, giving away Kindles as prizes on my blog tour was a natural fit. Even people without Kindles who participate will probably buy kindles later and maybe buy my books. If not, we had fun meeting and learning about the new digital era. It’s like giving away seeds to your gardening neighbors—it’s likely to come back in the form of tomatoes and zucchinis.
Price low, as Stephen recommends. I fared much better dropping to 99 cents for a limited time, because even after a number of books, there are plenty of people who don’t know me and won’t spend $6 or $9 on an author that’s new to them. I want people to try me because I believe they’ll want my other books, too.
I’ve done very well with my KND sponsorships. My crime thriller Disintegration hit #44 overall on the Kindle list the day after my sponsorship Oct. 31, partly because I already had the launch in place through my newsletter, with the stated goal of hitting the Top 100 (because then I’d give away an extra Kindle, so it was not only a team effort, it also carried personal incentive for participants). Disintegration was also a #1 Kindle Mover & Shaker, proof of its rapid rise up the charts.
The Red Church hit #144 after a Scary Short feature on KND a month ago and has stayed highly ranked in “Ghosts” ever since. Drummer Boy hit the 300s during a one-day blitz. On Saturday, Nov. 6, I ran a mini-campaign built around As I Die Lying and hit #317. The only time I didn’t get big success was when I released my YA paranormal romance October Girls under a pen name. There were only two reviews at Amazon at the time, few sales, and no one knew who “L.C. Glazebrook” was. That to me showed the stark difference a foundation makes.
But don’t get hung up on rankings. Books have a natural rise and fall in the Kindle era, so don’t panic when you slip. You’re going to slip. Every writer in history eventually slips. You can always come back by staying positive, staying consistent, and staying visible without exhausting your social capital. And your next KND sponsorship will build on the previous effort. It’s a long-term investment in your business, not just a quick buzz.
Most importantly, think of your readers as “friends.” I’m uncomfortable with the words “followers” and “fans.” It implies a note of smug superiority. But you are nothing without your readers. Treat them like gold, and treat them like equals. So treat yourself like gold. That’s the true secret to success.
Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Speed Dating with the Dead, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, Burial to Follow, and Cursed! With J.R. Rain. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. His story collections include Ashes, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers.
Join his Kindle giveaway blog tour at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm.