We’re chatting with Jeremy Bates today, author of The Taste of Fear (WiDo Publishing, 2012),which is quickly becoming one of WiDo’s most popular titles. Jeremy, whose debut novel, White Lies (Oceanview Publishing, 2012), hit #1 on Amazon’s paid bestseller list, has an ever-growing audience. We decided to ask him what his secret is.
CT: Besides having a great story to tell, you put a lot of effort into promoting your novels. Would you consider yourself a natural in this area?
Jeremy: No I am not a natural! I have seen many authors who are very good on Twitter, or Facebook, who enjoy that whole online environment. I approach it more pragmatically: I know I will probably never meet anyone I converse with online, so it’s more business to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t like chatting with people. However, if I didn’t feel social media was necessary for promotion, I probably would not be doing it, or at least as much as I am.
CT: What was hardest for you when you first started trying to promote The Taste of Fear?
Jeremy: Actually, it wasn’t that hard to begin, because I had everything in place from my debut novel–which was hard to promote! At that time, like many debut authors, I had no online network – no website, no Goodreads account. I didn’t even have a Twitter or Facebook account. Having said that, I’d probably say blogging was the hardest part to get into. I found this took the most time. I knew nothing about blogging and really had no idea where to start. I think I did a few searches for bloggers who were writers and just kept finding more links and more sites.
Google Friend Connect was a good way to start, and it was a lot of fun watching the members grow. However, when I switched to WordPress, I lost that option. Thanks, Google! Karen Gowen at WiDo was also a lot of help. She invited me to her BBQ blog fest, which was the first blog fest I participated in. This was a great way to meet people and followers.
Goodreads was a little difficult because I didn’t really know what to do on that site. Then I just started adding friends and commenting on books they read, and it was pretty easy from there. Facebook is Facebook. I knew about it, how it worked, and I just added friends and made sure to keep up a presence. Same with Twitter, which I enjoy the most.
CT: Did you run into any problems as you undertook your marketing efforts?
Jeremy: I guess just the time factor! The more you participate in social media, the more friends you get, the more messages you need to keep on top of. The funny thing is, when I started I had to find people to talk to. Now I can spend three hours just getting through all my messages etc.
CT:What was the easiest thing for you to tackle?
Jeremy: Twitter. I find it the best form of marketing. As I was new to it, I was a bit apprehensive at first. But it’s like being the new kid in the playground at recess. The first day you’re going to be shy, but once you’re there for a week you don’t even think about it.
CT: What was the biggest surprise for you, or the most unusual issue you encountered?
Jeremy: It was how many people would sign up for a Goodreads giveaway! On average I have 500-1000 people sign up to get a book. At least ten percent of those still add your book to their to-read list. So it’s a great way to promote.
CT: You have a great website and a very cool blog. How did you decide what to include when you began constructing them?
Jeremy: At first I wanted to add everything I could find to the website because I had nothing to put up, if that makes any sense. I didn’t even have a book cover or links to buy a book or a real biography or anything. So I started with a blog and had a lot of widgets/links in the sidebars.
When I finally started to get some “book stuff,” and a social media presence, I made the website, and decided to put up only what I needed. There are a lot of blogs that have advertising and other stuff on them that doesn’t really relate to their writing. I find this overwhelming. I have the basics on my site. It should be a place someone can find out something about you, maybe follow you on Twitter or Facebook, and buy your books.
That’s really all and that’s what I try to keep it to. The blog just naturally developed. At first the toughest thing was thinking up original posts, because I had nothing to say about my book. Now most of my posts relate to blog hops, which are the best bang for your buck, so to speak. I give news on my books such as giveaways or other such stuff. Once in a while I throw in a movie or novel review.
CT: Was there any traditional advice that simply didn’t work for you?
Jeremy: No. All the advice I got at first was very good. Get a website. Get on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads (any more than this you might get overwhelmed later on). And participate. That’s probably the most important thing. You can’t pop on and say hi once a week. You have to forge a regular presence so people see you and actually become “friends.”
CT: Which format or social media forum do you get the most use out of?
Jeremy: Twitter. It is so easy to jump in on any conversation. So easy to add followers, who in turn often add you back. And the conversation feels more natural, because you’re not stuck in a static dialogue, where you have to wait a day to hear back etc. You can chat instantly back and forth and there’s so much else going on at any moment you can log off any time you want without feeling like you’re ducking out.
CT: We often hear writers say that spending time promoting a novel gives them no time to write. How would you respond to that?
Jeremy: I’d say that can be true. It just depends on how you manage your time. My social media stuff doesn’t cut into my writing because I like to write in the morning. So I write in the morning before work and between classes. I do social media in the evening when the TV is on–a time I would never write anyway.
CT: Any words of advice to give to new authors who are worried about promoting their novel?
Jeremy: It gets easier over time, especially with each book. At the beginning it is pretty daunting, but it just sort of snowballs and you get into the groove. As long as you keep on top of it, it becomes second nature and can be a lot of fun.
We thank Jeremy for interviewing with us today. Visit Jeremy Bates at his website jeremybatesbooks.com
(This post was originally published on the CeleryTree blog.)