Virginia Gray: One Indie Author’s Book Promotion Strategy

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About Virginia Gray

Indie Author Spotlight: Virginia Gray by Frances CaballoYou rank highly in the categories you selected on Amazon. How did you decide
to select those categories? Was there a strategy or did they simply make
sense considering your topic?

Amazon is an interesting beast. Rather than an online bookstore, if you think of it as a giant search engine–something akin to google—then the importance of searchable keywords becomes imperative.

Of equal importance is your choice of relevant categories. I write romantic comedy with a serious edge; however, if I simply dropped my novels in the “romance” bucket with the hundred-thousand or so other titles, the average reader would never find them.

Targeting is crucial. My settings are in the present, so “contemporary” is important. My heroines are women, so women’s fiction is another label. They are humorous, so now we have humorous contemporary women’s fiction. In fact, I could subcategorize it even farther…get the gist? Now I’m not simply offering my title to romance fans, I’m targeting consumers who actually want to read my kind of book.

If you are wondering why these sub-categories are not options when you upload your manuscript to Amazon, then you’re not alone. The answer eludes us all. My advice is to contact the lovely folks at Author Central and ask for help. But before you do, spend some time wandering around the site. Find authors whose stories and/or styles are similar to yours, and then look at the categories under which their books are listed. This will give you a better understanding of where your book should be placed.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Think of Amazon as a giant search engine–akin to Google via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Think of Amazon as a giant search engine–akin to Google “]

Please outline your book promotional strategy.

Bloggers can be very helpful, especially during new release time. There are hundreds of wonderful individuals willing to read and mention your books to their audiences. This requires work and fostering relationships. I am also a huge fan of advertising, both paid and non paid. Having your titles placed before a group of consumers specifically interested in purchasing books in your genre can be highly effective. You might be running a sale on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean people will find it.

Facebook advertising is also a growing sales mechanism to consider, but it takes serious marketing forethought and a crash course in their somewhat challenging ads manager software.

How does social media complement your marketing?

Social media is crucial. Growing your platform is highly time-consuming and steals writing time, but authors really can’t be effective without it. We need both visibility and avenues through which to connect with our readers. Facebook is my medium of choice, because its user-demographic aligns well with romance genre readers.

For YA authors, Instagram and Twitter may be better choices.

Bottom line: know your audience.

[clickToTweet tweet=” #Authors can’t be effective without social media via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Authors can’t be effective without social media “]

How long have you used social media for book promotion and what have you
done? Do you consider yourself social media savvy or successful?

I began using social media in a professional capacity shortly before publishing my first book. Was I savvy? No. But over time, I’ve learned a great deal from other authors, and that knowledge has allowed me to become significantly more successful. The indie community is filled with stellar individuals more than willing to not only help one another, but reach out to newbies and steer them in helpful directions. I can’t imagine a more welcoming group in any profession.

I noticed a successful bookstore reading. How did you get the word out
about that? Was there a good turnout?

I’ve had several bookstore signings with various turnouts. I’ve had as many as fifty people in attendance and as few as three. It’s a crap shoot, regardless of whether you’re an indie or a traditionally published author. For those, advertising falls both on your shoulders and the bookstore’s.

I’ve also participated in a number of author events. These are fantastic for increasing your visibility within your target consumer market. Though time consuming and costly, not only are you selling books and meeting readers, but you also have the opportunity to network with bloggers, other authors, and occasionally pitch books to agents and publishers (if that’s your desire).

To get the word out, I use Facebook’s “Events” to invite friends and followers living in that area. As with bookstore signings, advertising is a concerted effort between you, the other authors, and the event planners. Everyone wants a big turnout. Hitting social media with a sledge hammer ensures that.

What has been most trying about being an indie author?

An indie author is an entire publishing company. After writing a book, the indie must deal with all facets of the business, from editing to cover design to marketing to accounting. It makes us very versatile (and very exhausted) creatures.

If I had a dime for every indie who’s said, “I wish someone would do the social media stuff for me, so I could just write,” I’d be a very wealthy woman. The author’s dilemma is this: we need time to create products (aka write books), and we need time to sell our products (aka social media engagement). Finding a balance is tough. Would it be great to have some savvy marketer running the show? Absolutely.

[clickToTweet tweet=”An indie author is an entire publishing company via @CaballoFrances” quote=”An indie author is an entire publishing company”]

What do you enjoy most about being an indie author?

When I complete a book, I know it will be published and available to readers immediately. I don’t have to wait for an agent to convince a publishing group to contract it (which in some cases never happens), and then lose more time while my manuscript slogs its way through a publishing company’s bureaucracy. I also like having control over the look, price, and placement of my books. It’s a brave new world for writers, and a wonderful time for readers, who now have millions more choices than they did less than a decade ago.


Virginia GrayAuthor of this Guest Post: Bestselling Author Virginia Gray is a North Carolina native and graduate of Wake Forest University. A former university professor, she stepped away from academics to pursue a writing career. She is a great lover of humor, music, and all things food. Please visit her website to sign up for her newsletter and learn more about her new releases and upcoming events. Connect with Virginia Gray on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.





About the Author of the Blog:

Authors: Not Sure What to Tweet? Try These 44 Tweets Today by Frances Caballo, AuthorFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at She’s written several books including Social Media Just for WritersAvoid Social Media Time Suck, and Twitter Just for Writers, which is available for free here on her website. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writer conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Ask Frances to prepare a social media audit for you.

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