Thursday, July 07, 2016

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Reader Retention Plan? Part Five

By Jami Gold, @JamiGold

Part of the Indie Authors Series

In this Indie Publishing Paths series, we first focused on how to decide which path will work best for us. Once we know our goals and priorities and are ready to put our book up for sale, we need to decide on:

The second phase of our indie publishing journey is to figure out how best to increase our chances for success along our chosen path. Whatever our goal, we’ll have a better chance of success if we can hold onto our readers from book to book.

So far, in the second part of this series, we’ve covered our options for…:

One of the options we discussed in Part One of this Reader Retention Plan phase was enticing our readers to stick around by offering extra content on our website. Let’s take a closer look at what information should be included on our author website and what information we could include as bonuses.

Wait…an Author Website?

If you already have an author website, great! Skip to the next section down.

If you don’t… *ahem* We need to have a talk.

As soon as we’re serious about becoming a career-focused writer, we should do two things:
  • We should decide what name we’re going to use for our writing (so all our blog comments, social media accounts, etc. match with our author name).
  • We should start building our online presence (so our author name—or our name and the word author—shows up in a Google search).

Sure, Facebook is popular and that’s where our readers are, but we have zero control over it. They’re constantly changing the rules about how we can communicate with our audience. So while we can use Facebook or other social media to supplement our platform, we shouldn’t rely on it for everything. The only place that we can use for an online home base and have control over the platform is a website.

What Should We Include on Our Author Website? The Basics…

Before we get into the extra bonuses we can include, let’s cover the basics. Our author website should be able to answer a few questions for readers and visitors:
  • Who are we? We should include an “about” page with our author bio, what we write (fiction, non-fiction, both?), our genres, etc.
Our goal with this section is to create a connection to visitors.
  • What do we do? We should include a “books” page, with our book covers, buy links, back-cover blurbs, and excerpts.
Our goal with this section is to deepen the connection with visitors, interesting them in our work.
  • How can we connect? We should include a newsletter sign-up, our social media links, and maybe a “contact” page and/or reader forum/street team links, etc.
Our goal with this section is to keep readers connected beyond this time and place.
We’ll get more into the newsletter sign-up on the third bullet next month, but suffice it to say that it shouldn’t be treated as optional for any author who has the goal of keeping their readers from one book to the next.

What Can We Include on Our Author Website? The Extras…

The options for what we can include to further engage our readers or entice them to form deeper connections with us are limited only by our imagination. This list is just to help us brainstorm possibilities. *smile*

Book-Specific Extras 
  • Deleted chapters or scenes
  • Bonus epilogues, scenes, or short stories
  • Story inspiration
  • Background information on story research, cover models, or cover design
  • Book trailer
  • Soundtracks to accompany the story
  • Hints of “easter eggs” hidden in the story (or bury easter eggs in the website itself)
  • Character interviews
  • Inspiration pictures for characters, settings, etc.
  • Setting maps, character family trees, etc.
  • Recipes from the story
  • Quizzes or contests
  • Photos of fan art
  • “Coming soon” information for forthcoming stories
  • Downloadable book list for series or books in order
  • Icons, screen wallpaper, etc.

Non-Book Extras
  • FAQs, author interviews, video welcome, etc.
  • Details about our life, pets, hobbies, etc.
  • Story of our publishing journey
  • Reader-focused blog (harder than it sounds)
  • Lists of favorite or recommended books, movies, TV shows, music, etc.
  • Photos of readers (from our book signings, holding our books, etc.)
  • Information for book clubs/groups
  • Author schedule for book signings and appearances

Again, the goal with any of those items is not to take us away from our writing but to help readers connect with us. An engaged reader is more likely to remember our name and our books. And that makes them more likely to consider buying our next books. *smile*

Until next time, let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

After escaping Area 51 armed only with a ukulele, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.

Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo | Additional Retailers

About Pure Sacrifice, part of the Mythos Legacy series:

A shapeshifting unicorn desperate to save his race...

The last guardian of his kind, Markos Ambrostead must keep the chosen Virgin hidden and untainted. But when an attacker breaches his protective magic, he’s forced to reveal himself to defend her life.

A tenacious woman who refuses to be ignored...

Celia Hawkins wishes the world would get a clue and stop treating her like she’s invisible. Only one man notices her, or is that her imagination? After narrowly escaping an attempted rape, she demands answers from her mysterious rescuer—starting with why he’s been following her.

Rules were made to be broken...

Markos can’t risk being tempted by the Virgin, yet emboldened by his attention, Celia’s determined to become his friend. Maybe more. Maybe much more. Now he must hold onto his crumbling willpower to maintain her purity—or his tribe will become extinct.

Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Additional Retailers


  1. Ooh I especially loved the part on extras. My favorite idea was the character interview. :D I'd love to read interviews with my (very many) character crushes, haha.

    Good point that on an author's website, we would have full control over it, unlike at other venues. As for my questions...Do you think one should have an author website even if we've only published one book (or none yet)? This is assuming that we're not blogging at the same time. Or I guess we could describe our WIPs/ future published works.

    Also, what do you think of the Amazon author pages, where you can have an author bio and your list of published books? As well as a button readers can click to follow the author? (I'm not suggesting that we should let our Amazon page replace our author website, haha, just curious what you think of Amazon author pages.)

    1. Hi Serena,

      Oh yes! As a reader, I love character interviews as well. :)

      As for a website, there are many free options for building websites (WordPress, Wix, etc.), so this doesn't have to be an expense for us. And if we're only ever going to have our book on Amazon, it might be less important, as many of the Basic elements we'd usually include (book cover, description, buy link, excerpt, our bio, etc.) would all be on Amazon already. ("Less important" doesn't mean not important, for reasons I'll get into below.)

      However, if we're going to list our work beyond just Amazon (including WattPad, Smashwords, etc.--in addition to the other big retailers), it's a service to our readers to have all the buy links in one place. That way, when they discover our books, they can click on the buy link most convenient to them.

      Really, that attitude--thinking of what would be a service (including being in the service of fun!) for our readers--is what will help us know what we need or what we could do. (Unless our goals are so non-career-oriented that we don't care about having readers, much less connecting to them, which is also possible.)

      So, even if we just have one book, if it's published and at more than just Amazon, I'd say we should have a website. Even in the case of Amazon-only, we'd still need a website to include any of the Extras. In the case of a pre-published author (who is not blogging), a website is less important, but it wouldn't hurt anything either.

      For Amazon Author Central pages, I definitely recommend that authors set those up, because again, it's a service to readers (such as for seeing all our books in one place). However, authors don't get a list of who's following them, so the "Follow" function is not a replacement for a newsletter, as we don't own it and have no control over it. But there's no reason not to set up our Author Central page.

      Does that help? :)

    2. Woo, thanks for your detailed answer! Sometime this morning, I forgot that we can have a Goodreads author page too, which would be a good addition, in my opinion as a reader, haha. It would indeed be handy to have an author website with links to the many sites our books are available on! Ooh thanks for telling us that clicking the follow button on Amazon author pages won't show the author who just followed them. I haven't used these pages yet, so I had no idea, haha.

      Yes! I think of it in terms of being considerate and sympathetic to the reader. Simply having the attitude of "thinking in the readers' shoes" and caring about their needs, already motivates us to think about and research ways to make things more convenient and pleasant for them!

  2. Jami, I saved this post. :-) Thanks, Janice.

  3. Thank you, Jami, for making me think about doing more with my Website, and reminding me of what I already should've done.

    1. Hi A.R.,

      There's always more we can do, so don't feel bad about not having everything. I just hope to give ideas for our options. :) Thanks for the comment and good luck!