I’ve got something to add: don’t just stand in front of them, but convince them that your item is what everybody else wants, activating what marketers call social proof. As in, “Everybody else has Zeebee tennis shoes, Mom, so can I have them too?”
Your first assignment is write a great book that your target readers will love. Your second is to find your target readers and present the book to them. Third: show them that so many others love this book.
Imagine a typical person you wrote the book for. Actual, individualized people. A woman in her thirties with a job and two kids who just wants a bedtime story. A man in his late twenties commuting to his job on the train, yearning for something interesting in his life, reading action ebooks on his smartphone. A teenaged boy struggling to learn to read whose teacher wants to give him an interesting book.
Figure out where this person might hang out that you can catch his or her attention or the attention of someone who might buy a book for him (as in the case of the teenaged boy mentioned above). This might be on Facebook or Pinterest, for the woman in her thirties. It might be on certain blogs or on Goodreads, for the man. And for the teenager, school-related publications and websites may work, as you try to attract the attention of his teacher or school librarian. And don’t forget the homeschool market! Where are those mom-teachers hanging out? Plot out a strategy for reaching them.
But while you’re plotting that strategy, realize that reviews are the key.
Whether you have a publisher or are self-published, do what you can to get the book considered for review at Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. This may delay the release of your book by four months, but if your book is favorably reviewed at one of these journals, it will open a lot of doors.
You also need reviews from other mainstream organizations. To get the ball rolling, you or your publisher may want to pay for an unbiased review at Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, or other places. This opens doors as well.
And there are the smaller reviewers out there who have blogs or review on Amazon regularly. If a lot of them “like” your book on Amazon, things are looking good. How to reach them?
Locate major reviewers on Amazon in your genre and contact them directly. Locate blogs aimed at readers in your genre, especially ones with high Alexa.com ranking, and inquire.
Netgalley offers your book for free in ebook form to thousands of vetted reviewers, who commit to review it if they take the book. It’s a great tool. But Netgalley charges too much for all but the big traditional publishers. Great news: recently, authors and small publishers have figured out that they can band together and share the costs and the exposure. These are called Netgalley groups. Something to look for or create yourself with your author friends.
If you put a request at the back of your ebook that asks readers who like the book to post a review on Amazon, you will find that helps once the book gets moving. People you don’t know are often generous and interested in spreading the word about something good.
When you get to 25 or so reviews on Amazon with an average 4 to 5-star rating, you’re a candidate for BookBub, an email service advertising ebooks on sale to a huge network of readers. It costs, of course, but it pays too. Once a lot of BookBub bargain-hunters buy your book for 99 cents and read it, many may go over to Amazon and post a little review if they see your polite request in the back of the book.
And you’ll be on your way!