All Good Things…

It’s a familiar phrase: All good things must come to an end.

Sadly, another good thing has come to an end in the world of book publishing.

Since 2007, Goodreads has provided an online community for book lovers. This social networking site allows readers to catalog books they have read, keep lists of books they want to read, provide reviews of books they have read, talk about books they are reading, and enter contests to win free books. For authors, Goodreads is a wonderful place to connect with readers, gain wider exposure for books, and potentially garner more book reviews.

Up until the beginning of this year, the Goodreads book giveaway program was a free program for all—both the author giving a book away and the reader receiving the book. Starting January 9, Goodreads’ new policy goes into effect making this book giveaway program a “pay to play” arrangement.

Moving forward, to place your book into a Goodreads’ book giveaway contest will cost you $119 (if you want premium exposure, you can pay $599).

With the change to a paying program, Goodreads now allows authors to giveaway either a print copy of the book or a Kindle version of the book (remember, Goodreads is owned by Amazon). They have also added a few additional features including:

  • Readers who enter a giveaway automatically have the book added to their Want-to-Read list.
  • The author’s followers and everyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification about the giveaway.
  • Eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review the book.

I believe that one reason Goodreads has implemented this pay-to-play policy is because the number of book giveaways on their site has grown exponentially as the number of independently published books has grown over the past few years.

In creating a pay-to-play program, Goodreads can keep the number of giveaways contests running at one time to a more reasonable level. My most recent count showed that on one day in December, Goodreads was running 2,700 book giveaways. In other words, as a Goodreads member, I could enter to win 2,700 separate book giveaways.

The beauty of the Goodreads free giveaway contests was that they allowed authors to gain exposure for their books for free. Book discovery is a huge challenge for independently published authors—one that will only become greater as the number of books published continues to grow.

Sadly, there are no quick and surefire methods to ensuring that your book is discovered by dozens of readers. I believe that the best advice for promoting a book was given by King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 11:6:

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

Heed this advice. Do a little of this and a little of that, and slowly people’s awareness of your book will grow.

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Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto.

What Successful Authors Do

If you are an author, one really important question is:

What do successful authors do differently?

This burning question prompted a survey of independent authors by BookBaby, a self-publishing platform for both print and ebooks. BookBaby received 7,789 responses to their recent survey, however, only 4,472 of the respondents were published authors.

Of these 4,472 published respondents, BookBaby found that 38 percent reported that they had made less than $100 on their most recent published book. Another 26 percent reported that they had made between $100 and $500 on their most recent published book. Only 862 (19%) of the respondents reported that they made over $1,000 on their most recent published book.

Based on the answers to the survey, BookBaby dug deep to find out what these 800+ authors are doing differently. The survey found that successful authors generally:

  • Had published five or more titles.
  • Published their titles in both print and ebook format (many also did audiobook format).
  • Paid for professional editing and cover designs for their books.

The survey also looked at what promotional activities these successful authors engaged in. The data showed that, by-and-large, these authors did the following activities to promote their books:

  • Offered the book for pre-sale.
  • Solicited reviews.
  • Held a book launch party.
  • Sent out a press release.
  • Held a Goodreads giveaway.
  • Offered a Kindle giveaway.
  • Took a blog tour.
  • Conducted book signing tours.
  • Created a book trailer for their book.

Interestingly, only 24 percent of these successful authors used a publicist. This means that you don’t have to spend big bucks on hiring a publicist to sell books and make money. This is good news for every independent author and small publisher operating on a shoe-string budget.

Do you want to sell more books? I think that we can learn from other successful authors. If you are not selling as many books as you want, ask yourself: Am I doing all these promotional activities that successful authors are engaging in? If not, then start. These are all actions that any author can take.

It is never too late to start promoting your book. Make a game plan and start working it. The more exposure you get for your book, the more people know about your book, the more sales you will make.

It’s not easy, but the effort is worth it. Promoting a book takes dedication, time, and effort. Decide what you are willing to do and start. You won’t regret it.

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