Guest Author Interview: Elizabeth Naughton …by Susan Lute
Posted by Susan
Recently we had the thrill of watching fellow Pacific Northwest author and chapter-mate, Elizabeth Naughton stay at the top the USA Today Best-Selling Books list for nine weeks. You can read about her journey at her blog, April 6th post, Self Publishing #1. Of course this Jane had many questions, which Elizabeth agreed to stop by and answer. Please join me in giving her a big See Jane welcome…
So Elizabeth, what would you say is the most important element to your success as a self published author?
For me, it’s been having a lot of books out that readers can purchase. Every time a reader reads your book and falls in love with it, they immediately rush out to buy everything else you’ve ever written. If you have no other books out, your readers will quickly lose interest and move on to a different author. Romance readers are voracious readers. When they find authors they love, they’re loyal. The key to self publishing is giving them books on a regular basis so they continue to look for more.
Metadata is crucial to discoverability. When a reader types in a keyword search, metadata tags take them to a listing of books about whatever subject they’re looking for. If your book is about a southern belle romance in the Civil War era, your metadata tags should reflect that so readers looking for that kind of book find your work easily.
Metadata is also what’s responsible for getting you on bestsellers lists. Amazon, Kobo, Apple, etc. all have genre specific lists, and readers troll these lists looking for books to buy. If they find six of my Eternal Guardians books on the fantasy romance bestseller’s list, they’re more apt to stop and say, “Hm, that must be a good series if all six books are on the list.”
Each online retailer has a different place to refine your metadata tags when you upload or edit a book. The key for most authors is figuring out what category your books fit in. Sometimes they cross sub-genres. For example, my RS books can be classified as both romantic suspense and contemporaries, and my Eternal Guardians books are tagged as both Sci-fi/Fantasy and Paranormal.
What is the best strategy when pricing books? When and how do you offer free books to increase sales?
I experiment with pricing all the time. That’s one of the great things about Indie publishing…if it’s not working, you can change it! I’ve given thousands of books away for free, I’ll do sales, I combine books in box sets, anything to get a book visibility and create.
As for free sales, it usually works best if you offer the first book in a series free (though there are exceptions…see my answer below). Readers read that first book, love it, then go buy the rest in the series. As for length of time to leave a book free…that’s really up to the author. I’ve left books free for a week, a month, even several months. The key—for me—is never being stagnant. At any one time, I always have a book free, or marked down or a new book releasing. When your books are stagnant, readers can’t find them. And when they can’t find them, your sales will drop.
What are the three best tools for marketing books?
I don’t do a lot of promo for my books outside social media, my website, and an occasional ad (BookBub has been great to me). In my opinion, the best marketing an Indie author can do is 1) Write an awesome book, 2) Create an eye catching cover, and 3) Experiment with pricing until you find the sweet spot. But by and far the most IMPORTANT piece of this puzzle is this…WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. Without a backlist, all the promo in the world won’t drive sales the way releasing the next book will.
What is the single most important strategy that set your course for success?
The best part about Indie publishing is that you can try different strategies, see what works, and adjust those that don’t. Gemma Halliday once said that in order to be successful in the Indie world, you have to stop looking at your books as works of art and view them as products. That’s not easy to do when you’ve toiled over a story for months (sometimes years!), but if your goal is to sell books, you have to be both artist AND entrepreneur. Every time I finish a book, my goal is not just to sell that book, but to sell all my books. To that end, I will try any type of promo if it looks feasible.
At this point, the best strategy I’ve implemented is giving books away for free. I’ve done free promos several times – usually with the first book in a series – with great results. Every time I’ve done this I’ve seen a jump in sales of ALL my books. But the best response I’ve had with free was with WAIT FOR ME. In December 2012 I decided to make WAIT FOR ME free with the hopes of drumming up a little visibility for a book that was (at the time) my slowest seller, but highest rated story. All I was hoping for was a few more reviews. What I got was a book that shot to the top of the free list on Amazon. Reviews exploded, and over the course of four weeks I gave away more than 500,000 copies. When I took WAIT FOR ME off free, it jumped to #6 on the USA Today List and #3 on the New York Times Ebook List (and #4 on the combined print/Ebook list). It spent 9 weeks on the USA Today list and 5 on the NY Times. My agent has sold countless foreign deals, audio rights and we’ve even had Hollywood interest. I’m convinced none of this would have happened if I hadn’t made WAIT FOR ME free.
Thanks so much Elizabeth for sharing your insights with us.
Here’s Elizabeth’s bio: Bestselling Author Elisabeth Naughton writes full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her books have appeared on every major bestsellers list, including the New York Times, the USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Digital Book World and IndieReader, and have been nominated for numerous awards such as the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her website at www.ElisabethNaughton.com to learn more about her books.
About SusanAuthor, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.
Posted on May 9, 2013, in Auth: Special Guest and tagged Amazon, Apple, BN, Bound, discoverability, Elizabeth Naughton, Eternal Guardians, guest author, Indie Publishing, Kobo, metadata, See Jane Publish, self-publishing, success, Susan Lute, USA Today Best-Selling Books List, Wait for Me. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.