How did you promote your book so well?

Over the past four days I ran a promotion for my book Lúnasa Days that helped put it at the top of the Fantasy and Literary lists on the Amazon free store. Several people have asked me how I managed to do this.

Instead of writing a lengthy how-to, I’ll point you to some of the articles I used to learn the ropes:

The book that took #1 in Fantasy

Note that I perused significantly more articles than this; I’m focusing on these because they offer specific actionable steps, they do not have a “here is what a great author I am” tone and they aren’t just hooks for you to buy a how-to book. If you read these, you’ll know just about everything I know when it comes to making a Kindle Free Promotion work. It’s rather formulaic, actually.

However, there are two things I would emphasize that these articles don’t. The first is writing a book that’s actually good. If your book isn’t good—and if you don’t pay for a professional editor—then you’ll see poor results long term. When an indie author puts out a mediocre book, it makes all of us look bad (and, long term, it hurts your own sales). I’m very proud of Lúnasa Days and I had two different editors tear it apart before I dared to show it to any of you.

Secondly, talk to your readers first. I think a lot of the “how to win at Amazon” type blog posts focus entirely on the numbers and the tactics, and really don’t look at readers as human beings. If you hope to be an author then I assume you have a blog (if you don’t, you should start a blog). So you have a group of readers who are almost definitely going to buy your book the second it comes out. How involved are they in whatever happens after that? Do they feel like they were there with you as you struggled to produce this book? Did you reach out to them for their opinions as they read it?

I made a point to send a review copy to about 80 people, almost all of whom would have purchased the book had I not sent them one. That’s 80 sales I gave up, but it also meant I quickly got lots of reviews on Amazon—and that 80 of my best friends and readers knew their opinion matters to me, and were invited to talk to me about the book.

I also told my readers about the free promotion in advance, explaining why it was an important marketing step. Hopefully no one felt cheated that they’d already spent money on it.

The result was that when the promotion happened, I already had 21 reviews on Amazon and my readers cheered and Tweeted the book all the way to the top. So I really, really recommend being good to your readers… if not because it’s the right thing to do, then at least because everyone loves a non-douchepan.

(To be clear, this advice comes from someone who once stole a date’s car because I thought it would be “funny.” If I can manage not to be a douchepan, so can you.)

Are any of you writing a book? If you have a link to it, put a shameless plug in the comments (there is no shame in plugging). If it’s a work in progress, tell us about it!

Thank you 1,000,000 times to anyone who helped promote my book, left a review, bought a copy or downloaded a free one. If you missed it you can still grab it on Kindle or in paperback.