In the second part of my interview with Karl Vadaszffy, he unveils some of the things he did to help his indie book, The Missing, soar into the Amazon Top 10 and sell 35,000 copies. Read on for some useful tips. And thanks again to Karl for taking the time to answer my many questions. Part one of this interview is here.
What is the biggest challenge faced by writers who want to find an audience?
Getting published if you wish to reach publication the traditional way. And then, whichever route you choose, getting the name of your book out there. It can be on Amazon, but until people know it’s there sales will be limited.
Do you think that cream always rises? Will good books always find an audience?
No, sadly not. If you don’t put in the time using social media, you’re missing a golden opportunity and I fear your reach will be limited. In the ideal world, it wouldn’t be this way, but with so much choice available to readers you really have to find out a way to stick out from the crowd.
Can you share some things you’ve done to help you sell books?
Twitter has been central to my approach. Fortunately, I had contact with a number of authors because of my work at school, and have been in contact with many of them for several years, so I asked them to tweet about The Missing. Several did. Some other authors also mentioned The Missing on Twitter. They were exceptionally kind to me and I know how fortunate I was to have received their help. I approached some other authors and some of them obliged. Some authors are happy to retweet about books, but some are not because they are asked such a lot. Following book fans, book reviewers and book clubs is also a helpful way to share information about your book; sometimes they follow back and they can then find out about your book. There are quite a few book clubs on Twitter and, combined, they have a vast number of followers; some of these are willing to retweet about a book. I also used Facebook and Goodreads (here you have to remember your friend network can be the building blocks of countless other friend networks, so if messages about your book are shared they can spread very quickly). But I’ve found Twitter to be the ultimate wide-reacher.
Is there one single thing you did that you think made a big difference?
I’d have to say the author support I’ve received for The Missing. The blurbs offered from authors who read it have not only been incredibly helpful, but humbling. In addition, the authors (and a handful of other celebrities) who retweeted about it provided me with an amazing start for which I’m very thankful.
The Missing was also released for free for one weekend (it was downloaded 12,000 times over three days). This is an effective technique because the result is the book appears on many pages as ‘Customers who bought this also bought this’. It makes the book visible. The Missing reached number one in the free chart that weekend, so its visibility became widespread after that.
How much time have you spent marketing your books?
A lot when The Missing was initially released. For the first month, I used social media daily. Less so far for Full of Sin because the new school year limits the time I have for book promotion.
How important are the following – with examples, if possible:
a. Cover design
You have to attract potential readers. Poorly designed covers put me off personally, which I’m sure is the response of many people.
b. Book description
You have to hook your readers, so they have to be catchy and well written. In addition, having blurbs written by authors supporting my writing has helped no end. Readers trust their opinions. And as a writer it’s most gratifying to receive their compliments.
I tried it when Full of Sin was first released four years ago, but I struggled to reach people, so I haven’t attempted blogging since. However, I’m impressed by how well it’s used by so many writers.
d. Social networking
Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I can’t say it enough.
From authors, they’re invaluable. Positive reader reviews are also really helpful in convincing people to give a book a go. The negative reviews are hard to take, partly because they’re sometimes personally attacking. Those that constructively criticise are useful for writers, however, because they can provide you with focus areas for the next book.
Have you had any success outside of Amazon?
Both books are currently available as eBooks on Amazon only. They will soon be available as paperbacks exclusively through Amazon.
What do you think the advantages of being a self-published writer are over being a traditionally-published writer, if there are any?
If a writer selects the self-published route, they have a lot of freedom to use reader feedback to improve their product. There also isn’t the pressure that’s there when you’re traditionally published. However, I’m aware that there’s a lot of discussion in the industry about how much ‘unpublishable’ self-published material is in the marketplace – books that haven’t been checked carefully and haven’t been given the time they need – and I think this makes it difficult for all writers, whether self-published or traditionally published, to get exposure for their novels. I’m fully supportive of self-publishing and think amazing things can be achieved through it, but I don’t think every person has the skills to write a novel.
Have you had any bad experiences?
The most difficult experience I’ve had has been learning to deal with negative reviews. I’m lucky that most of the reviews of The Missing and Full of Sin are positive, but the negative ones do bite a lot.
Have you done anything that you’ve regretted?
This isn’t related to recent experiences, but I regret allowing Full of Sin to be published so speedily four years ago. Books need more time to ensure errors aren’t there. They need care and attention (although I think it’s impossible to achieve perfection if you’re not working with a team of editors, and even then it’s not necessarily possible).
Have you witnessed any unpleasant or dishonest behaviour and what is your opinion of this?
There’s been a lot about this in the press recently (and I think it’s gone way too far), so instead I’m pleased to say that the authors I’ve made contact with have been encouraging, incredibly kind and helpful.
What one lesson (good or bad) would you like to pass on to new self-publishers?
When you think your book is ready for release, redraft it. And when you’re sure it’s ready for release, redraft it again. And then again.
The Missing and Full of Sin are available on Amazon now. Visit Karl’s Amazon page for more details.