In the first of this week’s guest posts, ace author Terry Tyler talks about her self-publishing journey and how she’s used social media to build a readership and sell her books. Take it away, Terry!

Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler has six novels published on Amazon. She writes contemporary fiction, mostly relationship orientated, though not necessarily all to do with romance. The first of these novels, You Wish, won ‘Best Chick Lit/Women’s Lit’ in the eFestival of Words 2013, though she doesn’t think she writes chick lit, either…..! Terry also writes for the UK Arts Directory about self-publishing, and lives in the north east of England with her husband.

“Hello, and many thanks to Joanne for asking me to do a guest post for her blog. I feel a bit ‘hmmm!’ when asked to talk about my self-publishing ‘success’ as I’m not wildly successful – I’ve only been in the Top 100 very briefly once or twice, and sometimes I have a day or two when I don’t sell any books.  However, the other day, I read that the average self-published author sells just 10 books a month, and ‘success’ is measured as having sold around 4 or 5 thousand.  Phew, thought I – I can write this article!  Put it like this: my books sell in a moderately steady sort of way, I have regular readers and stacks of lovely reviews for which I am eternally grateful, but I won’t be buying that second home by the sea or having the Times Literary Supplement knocking on my door any time soon!

When I first self-published, two years ago, there weren’t nearly so many people doing it.  I think there were only about a million titles on Amazon UK.  ‘Discoverability’ was easier, but I still thought, when I first saw my book for sale, okay, great, but how will people know it’s there?  Why, social networking sites, of course…!  Luckily I had always used Facebook a lot (and MySpace before it) so I knew how these sites work – ie, that the key word is social.  Immediately I made a Facebook author page – I’d advise any new author who already uses Facebook to do this, as your friends will not want to see your book posts all the time.  Yes, some will like to know when you have a new book out, but that’s about it.  Many of my friends on Facebook don’t read much, don’t have a Kindle/ipad (my books aren’t in paperback), or might just not be that interested in the ‘other me’.  More than anything, I was aware that Facebook is NOT a sales tool – not directly, anyway.  I didn’t want to feel I was trying to sell people something; I use my author page for funny stuff, cartoons, observations, etc, as much as for promotional book posts.

What it takes

A friend who works in the media told me that I HAD to use Twitter, or my books would never sell apart from to friends, and friends of friends.  I started to do so, but at first I hadn’t got a clue how to use it effectively – thus, I only sold a handful in the first few months.  I mean, really.  Probably less than twenty.  Now, I find that many of my regular readers ‘discover’ me via this site.  I’ve written a post on self-published authors and Twitter, on my blog on the UK Arts Directory here, which is taken from my own experience and observations.  I’ll tell you what got it started for me, though – the Amazon KDP free promotion!

Now, I know that these aren’t as successful as they used to be, because a) there are so many books free all the time and b) everyone’s got Kindles fit to burst and only download the ones they really fancy reading, now – but if you’re on KDP and your book isn’t selling much at all, why not give it a whirl?  Do remember, though, that a free download is not a sale.  People buy a book because they really want to read it; they download it for free because they think they might as well.  About a year ago I read that only 20% of the people who download your book for free will ever read it.  I reckon that’s optimistic.

How do you capitalise on any success gained from the free promotion?  If people review it favourably on Goodreads, thank them (you can send a message to most people on there).  If they tell you on Twitter how much they’ve enjoyed it, or that they’ve reviewed it, thank them.  These people are your future reading public – treat them with care and courtesy!  If they enjoy reading what you enjoy writing, it’s likely you have things in common – some people who’ve now become good online friends, I first ‘met’ because they’d enjoyed one of my books.  Be active on Twitter/Facebook/other sites you use, to keep your name ‘out there’.  Write interesting blog posts – not just about you and your books, but about other things, too.  Get your next book out as soon as possible – but don’t rush it.

I reckon the main thing to remember when promoting your self-publishing self via social networking sites is that it’s a long game.  Don’t despair – most ‘overnight successes’ have been working at it for years.  It takes time to build up a readership.  You might not start to sell until your second or third book.  Every time a complete stranger buys and enjoys one, that’s success.  There is lots of help out there, too, for free – you can find so much information on blog posts up and down Twitter; don’t go spending money on all these ‘How to be a bestselling author’ books on Amazon (apart from My Way by Dave Perlmutter, if you’re a complete newbie – it’s good!).

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Here are the links to my Amazon pages, in case you would like to have a look at my books:

My own blog (where I write about anything BUT self-publishing!)

My blog on the UK Arts Directory (articles on self-publishing and book recommendations)

Goodreads… …and Twitter…

Thanks again, Jo, and I hope you and your blog followers have enjoyed reading this!”

Thanks Terry 🙂 I think your journey is inspiring because you are a ‘doer’ not just a ‘talker’. You don’t moan about it, you just get out there and promote your books in a way that feels right with you, and you also devote every spare minute to writing more books. Guys, I’ve read Terry’s latest novel, What It Takes, and I loved it! Definitely worth a read – I guarantee you’ll still be thinking about Karen and her sisters long after you’ve read that last page.