41. Previous publishing credits: Long before I wrote my first novel, I published short stories online, mostly for critique. Timbooktu got the creative juices boiling, and I credit them for jump-starting the path I’m on now. Some made it into local print media for free; others on a national level with pay. My biggest paydays came from an erotica anthology by New York Times-bestselling author Zane and two Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Every now and then I’ll stumble on an ancient piece of writing from over ten years ago. A few old pieces link to my website (I first purchased my domain in early 2003). I was building a platform before I knew the definition of a platform.
42. Automated Newsletter: You can create a quick newsletter with Paper.li that does all the work for you. Similar to Google Alerts, all you do is select a topic, write keywords related to that topic, choose media sources (Twitter, Facebook, Google), how often you want it to post and boom! Instant newsletter with the latest 411. Pretty easy. My KDP Select News newsletter posts daily via Twitter and email with the latest “news,” usually current blogs from other authors that have tried (or trying) KDP Select. If a new tweet contains one of my keywords or hashtags (i.e., “#kdpselect”) the newsletter links that tweet and hashtags the author. Or it may find a recent post on Google and Facebook. When notified via Twitter, authors often thank me for including their blog. Then they follow me and sometimes retweet my newsletter. KDP Select News has my bio, including my two novels and website link.
43. Being male: Book clubs are mostly comprised of women. No matter the book of the month, what often becomes the number one topic when a bunch of women get together, often fueled by some alcoholic beverage? Yup, you already know—the weaker sex. Not many men write in the multicultural fiction genre, either, so that alone helps me with book club invites (I’ve found women like to get male opinions on relationships in particular, with “why do men do such-and-such” type of questions). Sometimes, I feel like the sole spokesperson for the male species when blasted with questions from ten to fifteen women. Also, three of the four main characters from my two novels are female, so I know a few readers who have purchased the book purely out of curiosity to see how I handled the female voice. From the reviews, I think I got it a right (thanks to my female editors, of course!).
44. Controversial topic: Yes, race relations have improved, but interracial dating, especially between blacks and whites, is still taboo for some—not so much for black women and white men, though, (think the show Scandal), but the other way around. Cheerios ran a commercial of an interracial couple and hate flooded the Internet. Be honest: Do you think Barack Obama would be president if his wife was blond-haired and blue-eyed?
45. Being approachable: I accept everyone who sends me a Facebook friend request and respond to authors who ask questions on the publishing biz (I get about 5 friend requests a day). People hit me up in Facebook chat all the time, too, mostly just to say hi or ask questions on fitness and health (I’m also a personal trainer). I’ve responded to a few random pop up chats like “I’m on page 238 of your book!” You think I’m going to ignore a fan reading my book in real time?
46. Questions of the day: I often post questions related to issues between men and women, and boy, they get heated! No holds barred on my page—sex, dating, married life, divorce, cheating, etc. I even post questions from friends who want to remain anonymous and are looking for unbiased opinions. Sometimes, questions derive from events or character actions in my books.
47. Facebook friends with cover models: I wanted live models for the cover because I had this wild idea that by promoting themselves, they would promote the book, too. If featured on a book cover, wouldn’t you tell everyone about it? And the book cover gig becomes a part of their resume (like on Tribble’s site). Of the four models, I’m Facebook friends with three of them and have sent each autographed copies: Tribble Reese, Ebru Keskin and Deborah O Ayorinde. These three are doing big things, and it’s always fun to see them in random spots, like while browsing a magazine (Deborah in Essence magazine); channel surfing (caught Tribble on the reality show Sweet Home Alabama while both females were on the show The Game); or even a motion picture (I spotted Ebru sashaying like a model in Tyler Perry’s movie Temptation). Ebru and Deborah even took pictures of themselves holding a copy of SELLOUT!
48. PayPal link for various sites: During the first few weeks after launch, we linked PayPal buttons on my author site, TPC site, and even our Facebook fan pages for customers to order autographed copies (they’re now on all our individual websites, too). PayPal makes book transactions easy because you can pay with either a credit card or PayPal account, especially when processing bulk orders. Then I take my happy self to the post office and mail them off.
49. Time and patience: Reading a book takes time. Building a platform takes time. Reviews take time. Selling 10,000 copies took time (nearly three years!). Just the way it is. However, with e-books, you don’t have to worry about returns or limited shelf space. The World Wide Web is your shelf space, and there’s plenty of room and time to build demand for your book—even if it takes years. Still, the earlier you lay down the “slab” for your platform foundation, the better the chances of high book sales.
50. Being open to just about anything. In this wild journey toward writing, publishing, promoting, and selling SELLOUT, we have encountered many waves in rough seas, but instead of staying ashore, we grabbed our mythical surfboard and rode as many waves as we could—not entirely certain where the waves would take us. That’s what happening in the publishing industry right now—waves and ripples. Borders has closed forever. The #1 bookseller in the world is an online retailer (Amazon). Publishers and literary agents are redefining their roles. More people find comfort in reading on electronic devices. Geesh, could you have imagined these ripples just five years ago? Probably not.
Think what the next five years will bring…
However, changes help to usher in new opportunities, which is why it’s a good idea to stay abreast of which way the tide is turning by subscribing to newsletters and staying active in different writer groups—and be willing to try new things. I’m not saying throw your money at just anything. Research will help you decide on the next move, but if the results of your analysis shows you can possibly improve sales, why not try it (whatever “it” is)? BookBub had less than 100,000 subscribers last year. Today? Over 1,000,000. Yup, things just ain’t the same anymore, but I find it exciting! Don’t you?
Well, I hope you found these blogs helpful! If you’re looking for a PDF copy of this blog with all the “reasons,” hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.