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For Indie Writers

My non-fiction books that I wrote in the 1990s were conventionally published, but for my new novel Rules of Force I paddled out into the largely uncharted waters of self-publishing. Along the way I devoured the advice posted by some of the champions of e-book self-publishing, such as Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Michael Stackpole and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Their insights  proved to be extremely valuable. They are truly providing a service to writers trying to make sense of the rapidly-changing business of publishing.

So now, instead of just being a taker, I hope to add some small bit of knowledge to the self-pubbing database. Specifically, I thought I’d share my experience with a recent promotional push. It’s no secret that getting your work in front of potential readers is the toughest part of self-publishing. Many online book reviewers are overwhelmed by the sheer number of submissions, and most of them flat-out state that they do not accept self-published books for review. Because, you know, you’re aren’t a legitimate writer unless a New York publishing house is taking 85 percent of the revenue….

Whether a book is selected for review is something that is out of your control. But there are a handful of avenues for promotion that are completely in your control. One of those is the Goodreads book giveaway. Most writers are probably familiar with Goodreads, but for those of you who aren’t, Goodreads.com is a social networking site for avid readers, and it has millions of users. One of their most popular programs is the book giveaway. For now, it is only open to print books (they are testing e-book giveaways) but, like many of you, I made my novel available as a print-on-demand trade paperback as well as an e-book.

If you haven’t signed up with Goodreads, it’s pretty simple. You have to register and set up an author page, which takes a couple days for approval. (You can review books, link to your blog, post book trailers, etc.) Then you (or your publisher) can enter a newly-published book in the giveaway program. You can give away as many copies as you like; I decided to offer two signed copies. You can also set the time parameters for the giveaway. They recommend two to four weeks; I set mine for three. Goodreads runs the contest and selects the winners. You just have to mail the books to the lucky recipients.

So how did it work? Over the three weeks of the promotion I had 623 people enter to win, and 65 people put Rules of Force on their digital “to read” shelves. I even picked up a couple of followers of my reviews. Better still, Goodreads provides a list of who entered the giveaway to the author or publisher, so you have a nice demographic snapshot of who is interested in your book.

You have two periods of maximum visibility: When it is newly listed, and during the last few days of the promotion when it shows up on the “ending soon” page. When my book popped up on the “ending soon” front page, I was getting 100 people a day sign up for a chance to win. Granted, some of these people probably enter to win every book in the giveaway program, but still, I had over 600 people look at the cover of my book, read what it is about, and decide “Interesting, I think I’ll enter.”

Not bad for the cost of two POD books and postage. The jury is still out on how much of a sales bump I’ll get out of this, but I definitely consider the promotion successful in attracting the attention of potential readers.

Presidential Review

My Presidential Muscle Cars e-book received a very nice review by Sam Fiorani over at AutomotiveTraveler.com. Follow the link to read it, and then spend some time on the Automotive Traveler website and magazine. It’s a consistently good read with some very entertaining travel stories and road tests.

Sci-Fi Debut

If you’ve been reading car magazines or off-roading publications for any amount of time, you’ve probably encountered Rob Reaser’s byline. Rob has been the editor of Mustang Monthly, was the founding editor of Jeep-centric JP Magazine, and was the entrepreneur behind J-Rations, another Jeep title. He has regularly contributed to a number of outdoor magazines, including a stint as editor of Heartland USA.

Well, like me, Rob has been a life-long science-fiction fan, and has been itching to exercise his skills as a fiction writer. He just released his debut novel, Age of Giants – awakening. I’ve read it, and it is an outstanding debut novel. Tightly plotted and realistically detailed, this book draws you right in and keeps a tight grip on your attention. Here’s the set-up:

Four generations have passed since the giants of old, the Nephilim, returned to dominate the world with an iron fist. After eliminating three-quarters of the human population with an engineered plague, these sons of the fallen angels have enslaved mankind to satiate their lust for power, gluttony and sexual avarice. Yet hidden among the rubble and decay of a vanquished civilization are scattered bands of survivors, raiders, who press their fight for freedom and the ultimate annihilation of the race of giants who once again threaten to lay waste to the earth. 

Nora is a tall and beautiful young woman whose skills in guerrilla combat have earned her a position as leader of a small team of raiders. While away on a mission to destroy an outlying Nephilim communications post in old New Mexico, Nora’s clan is nearly wiped out in a Nephilim attack. The survivors, including Nora’s father, are taken for slave labor deep inside the Kralen Dominion. Nora sets out to rescue her father, but along the way she’s held captive by a secretive resistance group, and uncovers a dark secret that puts her in the center of the war against the brutal giant overlords. 

Age of Giants – awakening by Rob Reaser