It is my pleasure this morning to introduce Patricia Bradley, one of the regular participants here at the Kill Zone community. During a recent discussion of marketing, her comments on use of social media and success with creating a following caught my eye. She has agreed to share her methods and experience with us. Please welcome Patricia with your comments and questions.
Getting Your Books Noticed
by Patricia Bradley
When Steve Hooley emailed and asked me if I was interested in writing a post for TKZ on how, as a traditionally published author, one goes about getting their books noticed, I replied, “YES!”
Can you tell I’m very impulsive and step into things before I think them through? Once it sunk in that I would be posting on The Kill Zone, nerves hit. You see, y’all are my heroes. Posting on this blog is a dream come true, but also very intimidating. It took me years before I even posted a comment.
So here we go: how to get noticed among the thousands of authors publishing today, and how to do it when you’re traditionally published and not in control of the numbers.
I have a wonderful publisher who invests advertising dollars in their authors and their books. They send my new releases out to about a hundred bloggers who review my book on their blogs then post reviews at places like Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, B&N…and my state’s very own Mississippi Magazine. They also buy advertising spots at conferences and provide swag for me to give away and probably a hundred other things I’m not aware of.
So, if my publisher does all that, what do I do? I promise you, there’s plenty left to do to get your name out there. Number one is to write the next book.
At the same time, you need to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram even though these social media outlets seem to change their algorithms daily, shrinking my readership. I am active in several groups that are geared to romantic suspense and connect/interact with my readers there.
One way to connect with your readers is to ask questions. My readers have named a few of my characters, towns, and even suggested titles for the books.
I’ve learned that videos get more attention on these sites than plain posts or even those with photos, so I’ve learned how to make trailers and all sorts of stuff on BookBrush. It’s like Canva on steroids for me. I can upload my covers and use them for all sorts of things, like the short videos and book trailers. I also make all the memes that appear at the beginning of my Tuesday and Friday blogs.
Speaking of blogs, I’ve had one since 2010, but in 2016, I found a theme for it. In 2015, I had less than a thousand visitors. Since then I’ve had over 193,000 visitors with 20,000 comments. I know some say that blogs don’t sell books, but that’s not why I have a blog. I use it to interact with my readers and to catch the attention of people who are checking me out.
I post twice a week on my blog. Some people post every day and some only once a month, but how often isn’t as important as being consistent. If you’ve told your readers they’ll get a post from you once a week, make sure you post something, even if it’s an explanation of why you’re not posting that day. It’s all about connecting.
It’s important for you to tie your theme to the genre you write. For instance, both of my blogs are connected to what I write. On Tuesdays I have a Mystery Question for my readers to solve. There are four stories, three true and one made up. Lately it’s been con games or scams, and thank you very much, Debbie Burke, for your excellent True Crime posts. More than one has ended up on my Mystery Question blog.
My readers love to try and figure out which one I made up, and once or twice, I’ve skunked them. Right now, I get anywhere from ten to twenty comments on the posts. For the week of November 8-14th, I had 1,149 visitors. Since some blogs get thousands of hits a day, that might not sound like a lot, but you have to remember that before my first book released in 2014, readers had never heard of me.
My Friday posts are reviews of books I’ve read. Ninety-five per cent of the books I review are mysteries of some sort–romantic suspense, thrillers, straight mystery, or cozies. Often I’ll give the first line and ask my readers to give the first line of the book they’re reading. I get just about the same number of responses to the Friday blog as Tuesday’s.
You can check out my blog here. Once you get there, just scroll through and find a post that interests you. Another thing, I also post on other blogs like the Suspense Sisters, How to Write a Novel, occasionally on Suite T, and I comment on a lot of other blogs like Carrie Booth
Schmidt’s Reading is My Superpower and KTZ. In other words, I’m visible. Readers get to know me. Then when they see I’ve written a new book, if it’s in a genre they read, they will check it out.
One advantage of a blog is that it gets readers to your website where they can sign up for your newsletter. They (I’m not sure who they are) say that a newsletter is the most important marketing tool you have, and even though I don’t know who they are, I agree.
Like your blog, you own your newsletter—unlike social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Readers sign up for your newsletter because they want to know more about you. In the past I’ve used Rafflecopter giveaways to get people to sign up for it, but no longer. I figure the 50% who don’t open my newsletter are the ones I acquired through a big giveaway, and they only signed up hoping to win the prize. I do give away a novella when someone signs up on my website. It’s tied to one of my series and acts as a magnet for my books.
So how many newsletters should you send out, and what do you write about? I send out one a month unless my publisher runs a deal on one of my books and I think my readers would be interested in it. Nicholas Erik’s book, The Ultimate Guide to Book Marketing has helped me tremendously, especially with his section on newsletters.
As for what I write about, mine are usually short because I rarely read long newsletters myself. I include something about how my writing is going, often discussing a problem I’m having with the manuscript. If I have a book releasing, I talk about that, then I spotlight a couple of books I’m currently reading—it never hurts to promote other authors. I always end with a recipe. A few of my newsletters have videos—the last video, lifted from my YouTube channel, showed how to get rid of pet hair using a rubber glove.
Before you say you’re too old to learn how to make trailers, videos and memes, I’m telling you, if I can do it, so can you. I came to the writing game very late in life. Not sure it’s wise to give my age, but let’s just say I watched the original Andy Griffith Show as a teenager.
There is so much more I could say, but this post is long enough. In summary:
§ Write the best book you can, then write another one.
§ Chose at least one social media platform and connect/interact with your readers.
§ Consider having a blog.
§ Read and comment on blogs aimed at your genre.
§ Develop a newsletter list and send out newsletters.
I hope this post has given you a few tips on how to make yourself visible. Additional suggestions are welcome!
Patricia Bradley is a Carol finalist and winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, and three anthologies that included her stories debuted on the USA Today Best Seller List. She and her two cats call Northeast Mississippi home–the South is also where she sets most of her books. Her romantic suspense novels include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. Crosshairs, the third book in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, released November 2, 2021. She is now hard at work on the fourth book, Deception, and will soon start work on her fourth series set in the Cumberland Plateau around Chattanooga, Tennessee..
She’s conducted writing workshops at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference, the KenTen Retreat where she was also the keynote, and several other conferences. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2S6DKGY Bookbub- https://www.bookbub.com/profile/patricia-bradley Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7789445.Patricia_Bradley Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ptbradley1/ Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/ptbradley/