I think that all Indie authors can agree, that a large part of your job as an author is to get out there and build your author platform. There are many great ways to accomplish this, but most of us don’t have deep pockets to run expensive book launches or advertising campaigns. Here are some tips that I have used to get my message out there as cheaply (without looking cheap, that is):

  • Social networking. Most of you have this hands down, but if you don’t, you need to start now, long before your book release. Everyone has their favourite, like twitter, Facebook, goodreads or Indie Writers Network. Whatever it is, spend time there connecting with readers and other writers. Those connections can often times lead to your audience: the people that will read your books. Try not to over-tweet about your book. That just becomes annoying and I will unfriend you if you do it too much.
  • An author blog or website. This is absolutely free if you use WordPress or blogger, and many other blogging services. They have templates, many highly customizable, where you can add widgets and plugins and images, and all kinds of other things I don’t understand. Did I mention that I’m technologically impaired? Don’t forget meta tags, those little gadgets that help the search engines find you. Reciprocal links also help with traffic.
  • Site listings. This gets a bit murky, as some author sites charge you for the listing. You will have to pick and choose. This site, Indie Writers Network, offers a cheap and cheerful feature book listing for just $12.99.
  • Book review sites. I will caution you against paying a fee for service on this, when there are many legitimate book bloggers that will do this for free. But you have to find bloggers that review your genre of book and read their submission policies carefully. It feels a bit like a query, where they may not be interested in your book. Don’t take it personally, they might just be really busy, as I have found. To sweeten the deal, offer a giveaway of your book or swag. Readers and bloggers love swag!
  • Goodreads giveaways. There’s just one catch – it has to be a printed book. But, the good news for indie authors is that you can use author copies of your POD (print-on-demand) books or any self-published book for that matter and make it an author signed copy. To offer a giveaway, you determine the length of time and how many books to offer. There are two things about it: 1)you get goodreads members to mark your book “to read” and 2)the reader who wins your book will most likely give you a review (hopefully positive). You will have to pay for the print book and the shipping, but you can limit it to the countries of your choice.
  • Speaking of reviews on goodreads, Amy asked me how you can get your book up there if it’s not already available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo? You have to go in through a bit of a back door. Here’s how I did it:
  1. Become of member of goodreads. 2. Apply to be a librarian – this make take 1-2 days. 3. Manually add your book, that includes the title, author, the date of release, synopsis, cover image and ISBN (not mandatory). If you don’t have a cover yet, they will put up a generic one. Same for any other information you are not sure about. Once you are a librarian, you can edit your titles at any time. 4. Join the goodread author’s program. This takes a few more days, but once they process your application, you can create an author profile, links to your blogs and social networking, etc. You can also add any other books in your backlist or coming in the near future.

Don’t neglect the power of goodreads. I was surprised when a newly published author(through a trad publisher, that is) claimed goodreads was irrelevant. It is not! Goodreads members are readers, and many of those who become your goodreads friends are like apostles, preaching the gospel of your books.

  • Lastly, there are a few areas that you will have to spend money. I mentioned this in other posts. Please have a professional do the following for you, unless you are a Renaissance Man or Woman: 1. Book cover design for e-books and POD and any related marketing materials such as bookmarks or flyers – I don’t I need to elaborate on this one. We’ve all seen our share of ugly covers. 2. Proofreading and editing, unless you have a family member who is a wizard with words and grammar, or an old English teacher in your rolodex (look that work up on Google if you have no idea what I’m talking about) 3. Book trailer – I have seen one good one that was self-made, but at least another fifty that are terrible. I will admit, I am a tough audience.

Of course, you can ignore my advice. Just remember, I am just sharing what I have learned. If you found other things that work better for you, by all means, continue what you are doing. Happy writing.

Heidi Loney is a Young Adult author of Ravenous (Ancestor, Book 1), coming this June to Kobo and Kindle. She is also working on the novel Love and Cola Wars, a high school satire set in her home town of Toronto, Canada. Heidi also blogs about Toronto city politics on her tongue in cheek website, leftwingpinko.ca. When not writing, Heidi spends most of her time raising her two young boys with her husband Jack.

Find her blog: http://www.heidiloney.com