Nowadays, being a writer means spending so much time on the periphery of writing that it's hard to remember the only way to sell books is to write books. We're expected to maintain an Internet presence, interact with readers, and keep our names in front of people. And, I'll confess, often it's fun to spend a little time tweeting, or seeing what our friends are doing on Facebook. Unless you're disciplined and set a timer, it's easy to look up at the clock and see you've frittered away an hour. Or three. Word With Friends is not even "pseudo" writing time.
One approach many writers have taken is to band together to help expand their reach. And it is about reach, not sales. If your goal is solely to sell books, you're likely to be frustrated. Unless you're a Big Name Author whose next release is highly anticipated, makes the best-seller list before it's even released, and have a publisher that markets you and your book, odds are, very few people have heard of you, especially if you're an indie author with no brick and mortar presence.
I'm now a member of a small group called Booklover's Bench, and we're reaching out to readers. At the moment, there are five of us in the group, and now that we're getting the hang of things, we plan to add a few more.
By working with and for each other, we're reaching more people with less effort than if we each had to do everything ourselves. We can share what works, what doesn't, and each of us has an area of "expertise" that we can bring to the group, which also saves time and money.
In addition, we promote for each other. Readers get tired of the "buy my book" approach to everything (and it's a total turnoff in the social media). However, if it becomes, "buy HIS book," or "buy HER book" it's not self-promoting. And, of course, we've all read each other's books, so we can stand behind what we're saying.
When you have a team helping out by sharing your Facebook posts, they become visible to all their followers as well. So, while my 'reach' via Facebook (unless I pay extra) might be 1200 people, when I add in the followers of the other four people on the team, I'm now reaching a lot more. And we try to include "non-promo" stuff as well. It's about engaging people, not whomping them over the head with promotion.
In my newsletter, I offer special contests to subscribers, usually with something of "mine" as the prize. Now, with a team behind me, I can include prizes from them as well. It becomes less about "me, me, me" and more about, "Here are some nifty things I think you might like." And up goes our reach.
On the financial side, any expenses incurred are split five ways. That's a help right there. We have a website, and we hold monthly contests. So far, we've given away a Nook Simple Touch and a $50 gift card, as well as downloads of our books.
Have you had any experience working the marketing side of things with a group? Successes or failures you'd like to share?
(Oh, and of course, I'd love it if you'd pop over to Booklover's Bench and "like" our pages. We'll be having another contest in April, so bookmark the page and check back.)
Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, mystery novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists, the Pine Hills Police series, set in a small Oregon town, and the Mapleton Mystery series, featuring a reluctant police chief in a small Colorado town. To see all her books, visit her website. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.