Growing Your Readership

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Author Kelly Lord’s advice for writers

Kelly Lord, author of My Sexy Stepbrother Is a Werebear, offers these tips on bringing readers to your Inkitt story. Here’s what Kelly has to say:

You have a book that is struggling to gain readers, even though you uploaded it over a year ago. How do you make it visible to readers? What keeps those readers interested? This also applies to a work in progress. 

I’m the world’s slowest writer, so I’ve tried and tested this. Impatient readers might just give up if they have to wait too long, but if the quality of the story is worth it, they will keep checking back for updates. This is when you will notice your follower count increase. I want to share my experience and help you and avoid some common mistakes.

A catchy cover

Readers judge a book by its cover. It’s true. An eye-catchy cover can make all the difference when it comes to pulling in the reads. If the cover looks interesting, they will check out your story. You might be tempted to use Canva, but so do lots of people. You want your book to stand out from all the rest and shine like a star. 

If you’re a whizz at Photoshop, then maybe you could create your own, but you will need to purchase licensed stock images. Sometimes even fonts are copyrighted, so check before you use them. 

The alternative is to purchase a cover from a designer. The prices vary. Facebook has 1000s of cover designers who offer amazing deals. You can find a premade cover for as little as $30 or commission an exclusive design (prices vary). 

Miblart is a great company to work with. I use them for my covers. They charge $150 for a custom ebook cover, $130 for every other book in a series. If you have a smaller budget, then there are plenty of designers on Etsy who offer great value for money. 

If funds are tight, look at entering some competitions to win free covers from legit designers! It’s free, so you have nothing to lose.

Interesting story descriptions

Write a blurb that will hook your audience in. Readers want an idea of what the story is about. Add a mysterious dialogue or a catchy quote. Once you’ve piqued their curiosity, they will want to read your book.

Putting your best work forward

Take the time to edit your chapters before you publish them. If your work is poorly written, readers will stop reading after the first few paragraphs. Readers are like the grammar police. They WILL pull you up on it. I still make mistakes, but when spotted, I go back and fix them. 

If you put out sloppy chapters, it shows you don’t care about your work, which means that readers won’t care about your work either. Reading is their hobby as much as writing is yours. They know a great story when they see one, so you want to pull them in with the first chapter. 

That first chapter is the ‘make or break’ element of your story. It determines whether they want to continue or quit reading. End the first chapter on a cliffhanger. This captures the reader’s interest and they can’t resist turning to the next page.

Beta readers

Beta readers can be incredibly helpful. I have used them before, but you have to respect that they have their own commitments too. They may not work as fast as you’d like them to. Just be mindful that they have lives, families, jobs too. And remember, they are helping you out for free. 

My top tip is to use a spelling and grammar checker, like the ProWriter app and the Grammarly app. (I use both.) Then your beta reader can focus on the flow of your story and give you some vital pointers. Cleaning up your work saves you both time, and they are more inclined to stick with you until the end.

Now for the promotion

You might think the right way to promote your book is to spam every group you can find, hoping it will increase your readership. It won’t. Promoting a book takes work. And if you do it correctly, you will start to see good results.

There is no point in promoting in a group that is mainly used by authors. As you can imagine, the authors are too busy writing their books to stop and read yours…and likewise. Instead, look for genre-specific reader groups who welcome authors to promote themselves. 

But posting in groups isn’t enough. Your book must be visible, and the only way to achieve that is to keep it in the book charts. Readers scroll through the book charts looking for juicy new reads. That’s where the majority of your reads will come from. 

You want to gain a loyal readership where they keep coming back for more. Invested readers will fall in love with your characters, get mad when they make mistakes, and most importantly, they will tell all their friends to read your book!! 

Word of mouth goes a long way. Believe it or not, loyal readers do an awful lot of free promotion and gain you plenty of new readers. They will comment on your chapters and leave a review, even promote you on their social media accounts. 

This is the kind of activity you need to boost your story up the charts. You might be tempted to try read for reads. Unless you are looking for constructive feedback, it’s pointless. Yes, it can boost your read count a tiny bit, but it’s not the answer. It is unlikely you will gain any long-term readers that way.

Never promote your work in the comments section of another author’s book or drop the link to your book on their wall. That is considered highly disrespectful and is frowned upon in the community. They may have more followers/readers than you, but that didn’t happen overnight. They had to start from scratch too. A large following is what you want to achieve, and trust me, you WILL get there. It takes time and effort.

Use your social media as a means to promote your books. I bet you spend hours scrolling online so make the most of it. Look for reader groups, not author groups, and remember your target audience. If you write romance books, post in groups supportive of that genre. 

Make an Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, Facebook account under your pen name and invite readers to follow you. Post teasers from your chapters and try to tempt readers that way. Tik Tok videos are huge right now. Engage with your readers. You’ll be surprised how far a reply of “thank you” will go. It shows that you value them and that you have taken the time to respond to them. Kindness should always be rewarded with kindness.

Tag like crazy

That’s right, tags increase your visibility! Readers search for tags of interest, so get tagging! Use keywords that are relevant to your story. Don’t forget to do the same on your social media posts! Look to see what tags are most popular. This matters. A Google search will tell you which ones are best to use. Look at posts that have thousands of views and see what tags the poster used.

Other platforms

It can be useful to post some of your work onto other platforms, keeping your Inkitt book a few chapters ahead. Think of this as fishing. If you cast your net wide, you’re going to score a bigger catch. There are so many other writing platforms out there now, so take a look and see what is trending on their book charts. You don’t need me to tell you what kind of stories are hot right now. That pretty much speaks for itself. 

To target that audience, try writing a short story and use it as bait to lure more readers to your other books. If they like your style, it is likely they will check it out.

Complete or incomplete?

Some readers love to binge read while others like the suspense of waiting for weekly updates. Whether you have a completed book or a work in progress, here is a tip that could help you out. 

Post regularly. Even if you have a complete book that is sitting there gathering dust. Unpublish all but the first chapter, then begin uploading it chapter by chapter every few days. If you are still writing your story, try to keep a chapter ahead—that way, you will always have content to post. 

My brain explodes when thinking about algorithms, but if you publish regularly, you will see your story emerge from the “pit of books long-since forgotten” and rise up the newly updated chart.

I hope you find this useful.
And remember, if you need help and support, just reach out and ask for it. 

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Let us know about your suggestion. 


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