The hard part of selling any book in today’s lesbian fiction market is to make potential readers aware that it exists. It’s a struggle to get your voice heard among the huge number of lesbian books published daily. Ylva publisher Astrid Ohletz shares five easy tips for how to start.
Build your backlist of lesbian books
You’ll see it happen: Every time you publish a new book, your old books will sell again. Readers don’t just buy one book by an author. If they liked what they read—they love to buy as many of that author’s books as they can afford. So, write and publish regularly, and you’ll have a good chance of seeing sales of older titles go up. Regularly can mean one book a year or one every two years. Consistency is key. So, build your backlist and watch sales go up.
Develop your following
In our ever-changing lesbian book market one thing stays true—there’s nothing that helps you sell books more than developing a fanbase. If you don’t like that f-word (and I personally don’t) than let’s say “readers you are interactive with.” Readers love to meet authors. Usually they are much more interested in an author than they are in a publishing house. Readers enjoy discussing your books with you. They want to hear from you, to see a picture you’ve taken, be it of food, flowers, your cat, a sunset, whatever. And the cool thing is that nowadays authors can build relationships with their readers on social media and don’t rely on real-life meetings (at readings or signings) anymore. Which is great for those shy author types among you.
Get on Social Media
Being on social media is a necessity in today’s publishing world—for publishers and authors of lesbian books. I advise you to have at least a Facebook and Twitter account or a Facebook and Instagram account. This will make it easy for readers to find you and will make marketing your books easier for those who want to support you. For example, they might like to tag you once they publish a review. And then you can share their post or tweet. One or two clicks. That’s all it takes.
Don’t forget the “social” in social media
Buying followers for a newsletter, Twitter, or Facebook will not work out for you. The magic words are “organic growth.” Numbers can be impressive at a first glance but what really counts is the quality of those followers. For a newsletter, the important number is the opening rate and not the number of subscribers. For Facebook or Twitter, it’s important how many people interact with what you post, not how much followers you have. Interaction in social media will lead to more potential readers discovering you, who will then go and check out your writing.
A good web site is vital for authors of lesbian books
A potential reader needs to be able to find your lesbian fiction books quickly. An author website will help with that: it’s your professional online presence. A website is where you are in control—as opposed to social media, where “they” are in control and change algorithms regularly about what posts get shown where. Plus, you can run a blog on your website. But most importantly: a website allows you to build your very own email list for a newsletter.
At Ylva we are constantly building our own newsletter list, organically, and now have over 3,700 subscribers. Not all of those subscribers will open the newsletter, though. So, chances of getting the word out about a new book are obviously higher if the author also has a newsletter. Ylva author Jae added 1,000 new subscribers to her newsletter in just two months by giving away a free short story for every new subscriber and starting her famous Book Bingo. Readers of lesbian fiction are bombarded with new books on a daily basis. So, hearing about a new book through a publisher and through the author they love doesn’t hurt at all. On the contrary. You need to get the word out.
So, what’s next?
There are plenty of more things an author of lesbian books can do to reach potential readers. My list is only meant to give you a few ideas and something to think about. I’d love to hear about your experiences—both, success and failure. And if readers have any ideas about what works most for them to help them find out about a book, we’d love to know that too.
Feel free to comment on this article and share your ideas and experiences.
Copyright picture above: @ stockshoppe
Astrid Ohletz has an education as a library assistant but worked as a secretary for one of the partners of a large, international law firm for more than ten years before she became the CEO of Ylva Publishing. Publishing combines her love of books with her understanding of legal and economic issues. Being able to publish lesbian books where subtext is maintext is a dream come true for her. In her free time, she writes stories under the pseudonym Emma Weimann.