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How to Gain Followers for Almost Free

By Kell Inkston

Hey there, Writer. Let’s talk about How To Gain Followers for Almost Free, shall we?

Gaining “followers”, that is, beautiful human souls that love your stuff enough to keep tabs on you, is often a tricky and complex business. There are some authors that shell out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, pounds, Spanish doubloons, or what have you to get a following, but the chances are often unaimed, ineffective, and overall a waste of your time and money.

In this post I’m going to give you some advice and tips on that, except doing it for much, much less. We’re going to talk about not only grabbing the attention of prospective readers, but how to transform them into fans. This guide, while helpful to any author, will be particularly geared to those gunning for indie-author publishing, so you guys best read this extra hard.

B-but Kelly; I don’t want to spend any money at all! Dreams are nice and all, but making them come true is haaaard! *diaper-changing sounds*

Pish posh, Writer- you need to take this more seriously. Do you not have star-bound, ivory dreams of overhearing a conversation between two strangers, only to hear your work mentioned? Do you not desire to see your name in the hands of millions of readers? You know you need to start somewhere, and a foundation of knowledge is the greatest way to build your mighty castle! Are you willing to go the one million miles? If so, read on.

1: Work Presentation

Alright, this one should be fairly obvious, but everyone judges a book by its cover. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, more so a simple mannerism of human nature. A reasonable person when given a menu choice at a restaurant is more likely to judge that the “Lobster soup” will be more enjoyable than the “Rusty nail a la’carte”. This means that to attract readers your story must not only be appetizing, but appear appetizing. That bowl of rusty nails could be the tastiest thing on the planet, but no one would eat it, because they’re expecting it to be bad based on past judgements. Usually a careless cover denotes a careless book, and we definitely don’t want that.
That said, a good cover design is vital to grabbing more prospective readers.
I’m not unaware of the consensus, “good covers cost hundreds”, and what I’m going to tell you now is: that’s a rumor.
There are plenty of resources you can use to get a great looking cover. Here’s a few cost options for you:

Free: Download gimp and design it yourself. A risky move if you’re not a skilled graphic designer or artist, but if you want cheap, it doesn’t get cheaper than this.

$5: Check out fiverr.com, an artisan market place that sells services for only five dollars. This includes illustrations, icons, minor edits, but most importantly professional-looking covers for 5 bucks. You say it’s too good to be true? Go to the website and see for yourself. This is actually a very competitive website, so most of these cover artists make a killing churning out covers for so little. Definitely check it out.

$40: Check out goonwrite.com, an industry veteran that does pre-made covers for $40 dollars. If you’re shaky on the fiverr deal and afraid you’re not getting someone who knows what they’re doing, for $35 more you can preview hundreds of covers, order one, and have your title, subtitle, author name, and everything place in. What’s more after a cover sale said cover is removed from the website so your unique cover design is exclusive and customized to you. Great choice if you want thrift and certain quality. He’s also not against doing redesigns until you like it, too, so if you don’t like the first go around, he can switch it up a bit for you.

There are these three options, but there really are tons of indie design sites ranging anywhere from $10 to $1000 depending on how much time and quality you want spent on your work. Just keep your eyes open for level six scam lords though, always do research on a site before shelling over your delicious doubloons. That said, have a good cover, have a good blurb, make everything look bookstore quality or better, and you’ve got this part down pat. Well done.

2: “CTA’s”, “Funneling”, and a Mailing List.

So you got a download, sale, whatever, and the reader enjoyed your book- what next? Are they just going to go “that was nice” and always remember you as “that one person that wrote that nice book” and never check back on you again? Don’t let that happen! Don’t let them fall from your mighty grasp!

Skillfully employ a “CTA” or “Call to Action” at the end of your book to funnel your readers to something that would increase your interaction with them. A Call to Action is usually a short message that requests something of the reader. You just pleased them with your fantastic book, so there’s a good chance they’ll be in the mood to do you a good turn especially if your fantastic book was free (more on that later).

What you want your CTA to do is to invite the reader to do something that would help you out, but preferably help both you and the reader out. You could tell them of a special offer exclusive to those who finished your book, or bribe them with a short story that you’ll send them if they leave you a review on amazon.com. There are all sorts of creative ways to get your reader to help you out, but what you want more than anything is to establish a contact.

At the end of your CTA you should seriously consider a link to your mailing list (mailchimp.com is a great site for sorting out mailing lists), a link to your blog, facebook, twitter, whatever you use to connect and platform yourself for future releases. After all the more followers you have, the more that will hear about your next book, then the next book, then the next book. Employ CTA’s for every book you have, and you’ll steadily build up a base of fans that will clamor for your next awesome piece of… whatever it is you write.

Here’s an example of a CTA, shamelessly ripped from my short story Paper:

If you’ve enjoyed this story and would like to support the author, please, do any of the following:
1. Email Kell at [email protected]
2. Inspect Kell’s blog at http://inkston.blogspot.com/
3. Leave an honest review on the site you found it on
4. Read something else by Kell Inkston!

Thank you all so much for sticking with me all this time, writing for you all is truly a pleasure.
Until we meet again,
-Kell Inkston

While this CTA is very simple in comparison to others (you can write pages if you like, whatever works for you and whatever will pull the reader back in) it serves as a good template for what I’m trying to demonstrate.

For my readers, after they finish the book, that is not the end of their Kell Inkston experience. They can go to my blog, read more by me, check in for updates, anything they like. This is a prime way to get more fans who are more interactive and as such loyal to you and your brand. Consider it.

3: FREE

Alright, writer. I saved the holy grail for last.

If you are to add a single magic rune to your spell-writing arsenal, Free is the greatest among them.
There have been authors made simply because they set some of their writing out for free. I could share examples, but let me instead give you the significant benefits:
-Much much much more downloads due to non-existent pay gate
-Reader may feel somewhat indebted to you
-A free way to get people invested in the story and your CTA’s.
-Less likely to get bad reviews (very few have the audacity to look a gift horse in the mouth)
-People are more likely to tell friends and family about something of no cost to them.

Compare this to the downsides of “you won’t make money on this one thing” even though you probably wouldn’t make money on it anyway considering you would have next to know audience looking for your stuff. It should be obvious that you should have at least one thing in your catalog that’s free for curious readers. Remember too that this is a compiling effect, so the more free things you put out there, the more viewing goodness you’ll be receiving.

There you have it, three sure fire ways to increase visibility and gain more followers for next to nothing in comparison to the traditional methods to go about it.

 

Kell Inkston is an analyst for S.E.E.R. and writes ascended masterpieces of literature on the side, particularly in the fantasy and sci-fi genres. Hobbies include sushi, long walks through industrial parks, rainy days, and drinking regrettable amounts of coffee.

Follow Kell at kellinkston.com, where you will find all sorts of good reading as well as a free novel for signing up to the newsletter.

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2 Comments

  1. Another free technique is to self-advertise, but in a more professional, subtle way. There are hundreds of forums, newsgroups, mailing lists, Facebook pages/sites, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. that are either directly concerned with writing in general, or even specific to your genre or other aspects of your writing’s corner of the world.

    Frequent them.

    And offer real, true advice or solutions to real problems-but never “advertise”. Overtly advertising is more than just frowned upon. Instead, create for yourself a short (1, 2 lines MAX) signature at the bottom of each post (copy/paste) that might have the name of your works, your genre is nice to include, and even a URL (link) to a place for more info/sales/etc. Just the facts, no “COME BUY MY BOOK!”. You want traffic that is interested in your work.

    This “soft sell” approach is like a person stopping to help you with a flat tire, and as they drive off you see they are driving a car with their business on the side of the door. You appreciate them for helping, and respect them for not jamming a business card down your throat.

    You will always find that offering real help is always appreciated, while posting to tell everyone to come buy your book/eBook will not only likely be against posting rules, but be met with disdain or aggression.

    At least that is my personal advice.

    P.S. Resellers like Amazon will let you have timed “Free Downloads” of your book in eBook format. You can even put the first chapter or two in a separate product, and make it always free to download.

    1. Hi,

      Fantastic advice, I totally agree. Being helpful and informative is a great way to garner interest among other authors- it’s hard to be unappreciative of someone that’ll help you out of the goodness of their heart.

      I also think it’s worth mentioning you can make amazon.com books permanently free by price-matching the book to another seller, i.e. have it for free on barnes and noble and showing amazon.com’s support team the price difference via support email. I’ve found this to be immaculately helpful when trying to make a book free on all channels.

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