Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ch 4.10 Five Tips for Building Buzz

(This is an excerpt from my Indie Author Survival Guide, available on Kindle and Nook.)

Ch 4.10 Five Tips for Building Buzz

I just released a new book! (Woot! Hurray! *runs around flailing* Um... hello? *crickets*)

Everyone would like the world to stop in its rotation on their book release day, because, well... the world stops for us when our baby is launched into the world. It should be just as thrilling for everyone else, right?

I'm of course being facetious.

You can create a beautiful book package, price your book well, get some early reviews, and make a killer Marketing Plan, but ultimately buzz happens for one reason, and one reason only: people are excited about something. Hopefully that something will be your book, but creating buzz is largely out of your control. (Unfortunately, that mindjacking thing isn't real... yet.) However, there are things you can do to encourage and facilitate buzz (and excitement) about your new baby bird book leaving the nest.

Tip #1: Buzz is organic: remember you can't "make" buzz, you can only make it easier for buzz to happen. Give people something they like, then make it easy to spread the word, and buzz will happen. Or not. Some things just resonate with people, while others don't. It's a mysterious thing, so keep in mind that your book is not you. Don't take it personally.

Tip #2: Pre-Release Buzz is the Traditional Way: you now live in a new digital book age. Scarcity thinking (see Abundance vs. Scarcity) used to drive how books were sold - pre-release buzz was used to compress sales into a small window of time. That was because books had to be "successful" or get pulled from the shelf. This is still true for traditionally published authors, but if you're indie publishing, you live in Abundance Land, where the shelves are virtual and forever, books are plentiful, and attention spans are short. Indie books sell by word-of-mouth (even more than trad-pub books), and for that, you need to have your book in people's hands. Do that as quickly as possible, and buzz will follow from there.

When I first launched Open Minds, the buzz came from 1) I was doing something new (indie publishing), and 2) people were drawn to the book package before it even launched, and 3) I had some advanced reviews that were awfully darn nice (thank you Book Bloggers!). And the launch was great! But I didn't rocket up to selling thousands of books a month in the first day - that took time. And word of mouth. And a whole lotta patience.

By the time I launched Closed Hearts - seven months later! - there was a lot of buzz for the book. Why? Because people had read the first book, and were eager to see where the story went from there. For the third book, Free Souls, released six months after that, I didn't do much more than announce it was out, and it sold like crazy right away. This is why building a fanbase on a series works. And why the most important thing you can do is get your work in people's hands.

Tip #3: VALUE+ACTION: give people something worth their time, then give them some way to act on it. The whole premise behind social media is this equation: people share (take action) with things they value (connection, pictures, information, entertainment, inspiration). Books are sold all the time through social media, but it's important to remember that most of that sharing will be other people sharing, not you. You can seed the field, but it will only grow if other people find it worth nurturing. I focus on making high-value content and making it easy to share (action).

Example: When I asked people to sign up (action) for the Open Minds launch, I offered guest posts (value) and a party atmosphere/prizes (value), as well as a button for them to add it to their Goodreads TBR (action). A year later, with blogging on the wane and a busy time of year for the launch of Free Souls, I asked people to do a simple cut/paste Cover Reveal post (easy content at holiday time/value and action), offering a sneak peek at the first chapter in return (value, since there was already interest in the books, plus I was getting the book in their hands even before release). If I had offered a first chapter of the first book, that would have had less value (because there was no built-in interest).

Always keep in mind what is valuable to your customers, not just what is valuable to you.

Tip #4: Make it Easy: whenever I ask people to do something, I make it as easy as possible for them. For guest posts or cover reveals, I format the posts myself, then send them in HTML, so the person only has to cut/paste. When I run contests, I use Rafflecopter - it's easy on me, but more importantly, it's easy on the people entering. One click and they're done. When I send out newsletters (see Get Thee A Mailing List), I make them BOLD and TO THE POINT with lots of CLICK HERE kinds of things that make it easy for people to scan and click, if they wish.

Note: you don't have to have super-slick newsletters; in fact, the simple ones are nice in today's hyper visual world. But make sure it's easy to find whatever action you want your readers to take.

Tip #5: Make it Fun: people want to share things that are fun (or inspiring or informational). Releasing your book is a cause for celebration! You don't have to write a zillion guest posts, or spend a thousand hours making Pinterest Boards, or have twenty-five step scavenger hunts to win a Kindle. You can do those things if you wish, but if they aren't fun for your customers, they won't help build buzz. People are busy, but they'll take time for something that adds value to their lives. Make sharing your book fun, and they'll take the time to do it.

ABOVE ALL remember: Buzz is organic. If it happens for your book, awesome! If not, try making it easier/more valuable/more fun the next time. Or simply write another book. If you hit the right chord, people will buzz about it no matter what you do.

(This is an excerpt from my Indie Author Survival Guide, available on Kindle and Nook.)
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1) which is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It's possible she's easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she's up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or by stopping by her blog (
adult science fiction. Her latest release is

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
Kindle | Nook | Print
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal of a peace-brokering marriage.


  1. I'm writing these things down because my day is coming and it'll probably be here sooner than I think! Thanks :)

  2. You always have such amazing advice, Susan. Thank you for always sharing. :D And I agree - it's all exciting, but in the end it's whether people read and spread the word themselves.

  3. These posts are so helpful, Sue. I love that you're blogging this book before publishing it. Pretty awesome. I passed this link on to a newly published YA author who's a teen herself and looking for ideas on what to do now. All the great info throughout your blog, plus info on WANA Tribe discussion threads is what I suggested to get her headed in the right direction. She's new to social media, but teens catch on fast. You're the perfect role model for her to follow. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Very much appreciated!

    1. Aw, thanks, Lyn! I love that you're encouraging a young writer! I've been working all weekend on getting these posts lined up because I know there are people out there who can use it right now. Thanks for letting me know that's true!

  4. Yep taking notes here as well. I know you reply to these comments often. And I didn't see the answer to this around your site--but what are your thoughts on copywriting indie pubbed work? Is it necessary? Advisable? Your site here has been my go-to info in getting ready for my release. Maybe I overlooked the topic. :)