Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on how to promote on Amazon

Amazon indie authors need to make themselves known to Amazon customers by hanging out on the threads there. (It's also helpful to post at www.kindleboards.com, but those are moderated, with helpful rules in place that stop authors from making pests of themselves by posting too much). It seems to be pretty much a given that you need to post on the Amazon boards (unless you're a well-known author who's Kindling his or her backlist, anyway). But based on my few weeks of observation, there seems to be a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

The right way, as far as I can tell (and again, I'm a newb, so I may not have grasped all the subtleties of correct Amazon behavior), is to post important stuff about your releases (first release, bestseller status, good reviews) on the threads that are dedicated to this. There are a ton of threads like this-- Self-published authors, help me find you!, March 2010 Indie Authors thread, Have you written a romance book?- come tell us about it! and so forth. It isn't hard to find these threads; they stay on the front page and are heavily trafficked by indie authors and readers. You can overdo the self-promotion here too (posting every day for no reason strikes me as a bit annoying; I try never to post about myself without some valid reason to toot my own horn), but since the threads are dedicated to promotion, it's harder to tick people off.

Where authors tend to become a bit obnoxious is the threads asking for recommendations. I admit I have posted a couple of times about my own books on these threads. In one case, the OP asking for romances featuring nerdy heroes, and hey, I specialize in those. The other was asking for dark heroes, and my first hero is a perfect example of this-- and mentioning The Light in the Darkness doesn't earn me a penny, anyway, since it's out of print. I'm still apologetic and self-effacing when I post in a rec thread, though, no matter how much my books fit the OP's request.

The big no-no is authors who post their books in too many recommendation threads. You say you're looking for paranormals like J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series? Try my romantic comedy In the Mood! You need more serious and heartbreaking historicals like those by Lisa Kleypas? Hey, try In the Mood! You want science fiction romance like Susan Squires? Well, why not try... You get the picture. It's annoying, it's off topic, and if you do it enough, it's going to actively turn people OFF your books, which is not what you want to do.

Another thing that seems to help is stepping off the self-promotion train and just posting on the boards-- joining in the conversation, and chatting in a friendly and nonpromotional way. I do this fairly frequently, but not excessively, often without adding a sig line. I don't want to do it all the time, because then I become annoying, and always using a sig line makes it look like you're just trying to sell books. But chiming in every so often on a topic that interests me, when I have something useful to contribute to the discussion, is a good way to get my name out there. Moreover, it's fun:-).

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