How to Help a Book Succeed

I still remember when finding a Pagan book in a mainstream bookstore was a rarity. One of my favorite examples of that was a book on Pagan Parenting that I picked up in the late 90’s simply because it had ‘Pagan’ in the title.  I did not have children, and had no intention of becoming a parent.  I was just super excited to find a Pagan book in the bookstore part of the Post Exchange where I was stationed, so I bought it.

The world has changed, and in many ways for the better, when it comes to finding Pagan books.  Where there once was a desert, there is now a jungle. The new challenge, as a writer or as a reader who wants to support their writer friends, is how to get a Pagan book out of the tangled forest floor and into the canopy.

I’m writing this blog for personal reasons, of course – I just released a book.  But, this is useful information for anyone trying to make a little headway in the jungle. Before my book release, I solicited guidance from a LOT of different people – other authors, marketing folks, people deeply rooted in the book industry, etc. I have some good news: there are some simple things you can do to help a book succeed. The democratization aspect of the internet means that the power brokers still have some sway. But people like you and me?  We do too.  And that’s pretty cool.

Ignore the equals sign – the two little lines for the part of that hashtag fell off during the party. lol

1) Social Media

The number one most useful thing you can do is to post about a book on social media.  Social media platforms really are the new driver of sales. Post photos of the book, of you with the book, of the book with your cat…visual representation is powerful.  When you post those photos, use the official hashtags for the book and tag the social media accounts associated with it.  For my book, those hashtags are #blackfeathermystery and #magpietraining.  You can @blackfeathermystery on Instagram as well. You don’t have to write a whole review – literally just posting a bunch of smiley faces with a photo of the book will help. However, writers also love to hear what you think!

Why it matters: To break this down a little further, when I use an official channel (like the Blackfeather Mystery School Instagram account) to post promotional material for a book, that content gets suppressed.  Facebook and Instagram make money through how they manage their content.  What they want is for me to pay them to show my content – and that’s even to people who are already subscribed to my feed! It’s why you can ‘like’ a page or ‘follow’ an account and still not see their posts.  However, when YOU post about a book to your own social media accounts, it is not subject to the same suppression.  More people are likely to see what you post, especially when it comes with a photo.

2) Reviews and Likes/Recommends/Stars

The next piece of the puzzle IS reviews.  You do not need to have purchased your copy of the book through a given platform in order to leave a review there.  Reviews can be simple!  Platforms like Amazon allow for simply clicking the number of stars you think a book should have without needing to elaborate further.  You can also put your thoughts down once and then simply copy and paste them to other websites. Leave a review or feedback anywhere you can – it all adds up.

Why it matters: People still look at reviews when they’re considering buying something.  This is especially true in as wide and varied a field as Paganism.  Moreover, books that get a LOT of user reviews will appear more readily in search results on that website.  All of this translates to greater visibility, and a greater possibility that more people will read the book.

Links to get started:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Goodreads
Google

3) Do A Short Video Review

Photos are amazing, but you know what seriously kicks algorithm butt?  Videos. Record a short (or long – you do you, baby) review and post it on Tiktok, Instagram, Youtube, and/or Facebook. Remember to include the book hashtags and official accounts where possible.

Why it matters: Simple videos that we record with our phones are the new ‘best practice’ when it comes to social media.  Tiktok changed the game, and it’s echoing across all the other social media platforms.  And remember – you don’t have to make a perfect or flashy video.  Just talk about the book you love. Tell people why you like it, or why you think they should read it. Posting a video will automatically generate a higher placement in the algorithms that govern what people see on their social media feeds.

4) Hook Up Your Writer Friends if Possible

Are you friends with a podcaster, reviewer, or other publicity outlet?  Refer your friends to them.  One format that works pretty well is to contact your podcaster/reviewer friend first, tell them about the book you love, and ask if they’d like an introduction.  I can’t begin to tell you how many doors that format has opened for me, and for other writer friends.

This also applies to metaphysical shops.  If you’re friends with a shop owner or manager, suggest the book you love. There are SO MANY BOOKS now. I remember how overwhelming that could be from my own years working at a New Age store.  Having a friend vouch for a book makes a big difference.

Why it matters: For smaller scale authors, getting onto the radar of culture influencers is *really* tough.  This is even more challenging for people who self-publish or who (like me) are with a small, indie publisher.  Most good podcasts get a TON of solicitation from people who want to come on the program.  An unknown author’s message will get lost in that deluge. If you’re in the unique position of having a friendship with an influencer, you have the power to shed light on a book that might otherwise never make it to that person’s desk.

I know it might seem weird that getting a book into the phase of reality where it’s been physically printed isn’t enough, but that’s the lay of the land right now.  What’s cool is that you have some power and agency here, and in ways that your author friends do not. So, flex.

 

Your author friends will be so grateful to you.  I know I am.

 

Blackfeather Stuff:

One last little chunk of information that’s specific to my own book. Quotes from a book are a great way to put up content without having to do a whole lot of writing yourself.  Here are some of my favorite short quotes from Blackfeather Mystery School: The Magpie Training.  Feel free to snag them if you’d like :)

“The witch spirit, the wild thread of magick that runs through the veins of some humans, is not something that can be wiped out. Our souls long for freedom, for self-determination. Witchcraft is one way we obtain those exact things.”

“It is important to understand that we always begin our path as a healer by healing ourselves. Self understanding and empowerment is vital to being able to help others.”

“Within a culture structured around obedience, conformity and hierarchy, one of the most powerful forms of rebellion is spellcraft.”

“Spirit work is not attached to any one specific tribe, nation, or peoples. Healing the soul or spirit, in fact, only loosely belongs to humans. Archeologists have unearthed neanderthal burial sites featuring items and positioning that resonate with the techniques of spiritwork. We are building on practices even older than humanity.”

“The art of magickal self-defense is one of the most important tools a witch can have in their toolbox. As witches, we must own our power – that means taking sovereignty of and responsibility for it.”

“Magick is a form of agency, a way of reclaiming our personal power from a world that frequently seeks to take it from us.”

“A good deal of our own power comes through healing the places we carry wounds. Healing work can include many things – self-care, therapy, shadow work, energy work, and healing spells all fall into that category. Part of why people find witches scary is that we can tap into our own darkness to find strength. We are more whole, and more powerful, when we work with our shadows.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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