May 5, 2016

Self Publishing? What’s Your Plan to Keep Readers? — Part Three

Stick figure at a chalkboard with text: What's Your Reader Retention Plan?

It’s time once again for my monthly guest post over at Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. We’ve been exploring the choices for what path we want to follow in our indie publishing career, and today, we’re digging more into how to walk our chosen path.

My series about Indie Publishing Paths at Fiction University has highlighted some of the choices we have to make and given us a few guidelines for figuring out how to make the best decisions for us.

We started off talking about knowing our goals. Given the conflicting advice out there about self-publishing and the frequently changing retailer specifics, we need to have an understanding of why we’re choosing certain paths so we can adapt as the industry changes.

Depending on our priorities, we might make different choices about distribution, release schedules, or pricing. I focused on each of those areas in the previous segment of the series, calling them the where, when, and how much of our decision process.

My current posts in the series focus on how to make the most of those choices we made. We started with a discussion of how to keep our readers after they finish our book and then explored our options for what type of buy links to include.

Janice Hardy's Fiction University banner

However, those buy links won’t do us any good if they lead to broken sites or missing pages, etc. Yet the internet is fluid and so is our publishing strategy if we adapt to the inevitable changes.

What happens to our Apple iBooks links if we decided to go exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select? Or what happens if we decide to publish directly with a retailer instead of using a distributor like Draft2Digital?

Or more optimistically, what if we have a book coming out soon, but we don’t have pre-order links yet. Can we still lead readers to something now and in the future?

This month, I’m exploring something called redirects and talking about how they can help us with every one of those situations.

For example, I wanted my most recently published book, Ironclad Devotion, to include links to my next book, Stone-Cold Heart. Except at the time of Ironclad Devotion‘s release, Stone-Cold Heart was still over six month away from its turn in the sun, so I didn’t have pre-order links in place to keep my “daisy-chain” publishing schedule going.

Sure, I can update the file for Ironclad Devotion after I have those links. But what about everyone who’d already downloaded the book? I needed any links in the file to work both at the time of the release and as far into the future as possible.

The solution is to use a link in the file that can change (be redirected) instantly. One minute, I can send clicks to a “coming soon” page with an invitation to sign up for my newsletter to hear about when the book releases. The next minute, I can send clicks to a newly established buy page on Amazon or any retailer I want.

In this month’s post, I explain more and give additional examples for how redirects can help us keep up with an ever-changing publishing situation.

I hope you’ll join me at Fiction University for this month’s post!

Have you ever encountered bad links in the back of a book? Can you think of other reasons why links might go bad (such as other publishing industry changes)? Are you familiar with redirect links? If so, how have you used them?

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Timely post for me. Heading over to Fiction University now 🙂

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