Coral McCallum has used free giveaways to generate word-of-mouth interest in her books. Learn which marketing methods have, and have not, worked for her.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My current work in progress is the fourth book in the Silver Lake series – Shattered Hearts. The series is set in the small Delaware town of Rehoboth Beach and follows the story of Lori Hyde and aspiring rock star Jake Power and all things associated with the rock band Silver Lake. The series makes ideal summer vacation reading – goes great with a flight or a day by the pool and is perfect for a day at the beach. These books will make you laugh and they’ll make you cry and you might even fall in love just a little bit with Jake Power.
Stronger Within was my debut novel. After a period of self-reflection I took the plunge on May 8, 2013 and literally sat down in the early evening sun on my front doorstep with a notepad and pen and began to write. My old high school English teacher’s words rang in my ears: “Write about places you know and subjects you are passionate about.” Despite living in Scotland, Rehoboth Beach is a place very close to my heart.
2. How have your sales been?
Sales have been slow but steady. Since I published the first book in April 2015, I’ve received a royalty payment every month. Okay, most months it would barely cover the cost of a cup of coffee, but it’s something. What I take great pride in is the reviews the books have received. So far no one has told me that my “book babies” are ugly!
3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
I’ve used KDP and previously CreateSpace for all four books. I’ve been really pleased with KDP. Initially I made a rookie formatting error and didn’t appreciate that the e-book platform was more forgiving than the CreateSpace one proved to be. Six days of re-formatting my manuscript later and I had Stronger Within in an acceptable CreateSpace format. With the other books I have formatted the initial manuscript using the CreateSpace paperback format template which is e-book compatible. Easy when you know how!
The only other negative I could mention here is the lack of guidance/support for authors when it comes to marketing. Some additional help pages within KDP would be useful.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I make good use of social media platforms and the countless Facebook book/author groups. I try not to over promote as it’s easy to add your book/books every day and put readers off. I know it needs to be “seen” but I personally feel there’s a balance to be struck between being seen and potential readers being sick of the sight of it. I use my author Facebook page to advertise and update readers and also my own weekly blog. I’ve recently started to write an author newsletter every couple of months that I share via my blog and author page.
I have profiles on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, AllAuthor and Amazon, and keeping these updated is key. I also try to support other indie authors (I’ll share yours if you share mine kind of approach). I think it’s working….one indication was when I reached out to congratulate an indie author who is a resident in Delaware. She surprised me by saying she’d heard of me!
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
By enrolling in KDP Select I can run “freebie” days or promotions. I tend to use the “freebie” days and do a run of Freebie Fridays but I’ll share the books for free out of sequence to encourage potential readers to buy the others. “Word of mouth” marketing is invaluable – let your readers spread the word. If they’ve enjoyed the books I encourage them to write a short, honest review and to tell their friends. I’ve also benefited from the support of my local newspaper. Currently, I’m trying to get some “local” support in Rehoboth itself but that’s proving more difficult.
I’ve tried paid Facebook adverts – waste of time and money.
6. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Ones that cost money! My creative budget is tight so if I can source a free promotional opportunity then I’ll grab it and run with it. From past experience, I’ll steer clear of paid Facebook adverts as in the past, despite the promises of extra interest etc., they have generated nothing.
7. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I knew nothing about publishing when I started out. There’s a strong argument that I still know very little but I’m learning. I knew nothing about legal disclaimers, ISBN numbers. I didn’t even know how to source a photo to use as a cover shot. Every day is a school day though and I’m learning fast.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Oh, good question! From the learnings from my first book, I’d publish the e-book and paperback simultaneously and make both available from pre-order a couple of weeks before the release date.
9. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Don’t be afraid of freebies – don’t be afraid to give a few copies away. As a new author, you are a tiny fish in a huge ocean, but if you can catch people’s eye then you can swim freely. One thing I am hugely proud of is the reviews I have on Amazon.com. The fact that a story I wrote on my front doorstep or at my kitchen table in Scotland has caught the eye of an Amazon.com customer who has subsequently taken the time to leave a review blows my mind!
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on the fourth book in the Silver Lake series, Shattered Hearts, and hope to publish it before the end of the year. There will be a fifth and final part to the series but I’m not sure whether that will be next or not. I have a couple of other ideas that I’d like to work on. I showcase some short fiction on my blog and there’s a rough plan to turn my Silently Watching dark angel/vampire stories into a novel. I’ve already written one standalone spinoff from the Silver Lake series called Ellen that explores one of the sub characters and her band After Life. There are a few more characters in the Silver Lake books that could merit their own story.
11. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Straight from the heart story lines that will make you laugh and cry and leave you wanting to get to know the characters a little bit more.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?