Back in the days when an agent was required to present your work to a traditional publishing house, there was a grim catch-22: in order to get published, you needed an agent, but to get an agent, you needed to be published. It’s amazing that any of those many authors who were repeatedly rejected doggedly persevered anyway. Indie publishing has evened the playing field somewhat, but we’re up against a new version of the same problem: to have successful sales, you need to have a readership, and to get that readership, you need to get your book read.
To do that, indie authors tirelessly work all the tools and references available to them, but one that I strongly believe is criminally underused is Bublish. I think it’s the very nature of its unique features that make authors tend to pass it by, which is a shame, because it offers reader engagement like no other site, and can help you catch the eye of a reader-to-be.
Bublish, at its most basic, allows authors to upload book “bubbles,” or snippets, to snag the interest of potential readers, but that’s only the beginning. It also allows the author to offer their thoughts on each of the bubbles being published: you can tell the reader what exactly inspired that particular scene, you can offer your own musings about it, you can even ask the readers what they think about it. Here’s a snapshot of one of my recent bubbles from Sub Rosa:
You pick out your bubble content, add your insight, and BOOM! Bublish does the rest for you. As you can see, it has links to the book’s synopsis, to my biography, to my website, as well as direct links to purchase the book, share it with others via social media or email, to follow the author (so readers are notified when another bubble is published) and to comment if they so choose. Share via Twitter, Facebook or email, and your job is done! Well, not really, but more on that in a moment.
Each week, as long as you’ve submitted your bubble by 12pm EST on Friday, Bublish will include it in a weekend of tweets where it shares a brief line, relevant hashtags, and a link back to the bubble:
You may even be selected for that week’s “Floating Bookstore,” a curated list of bubbles that Bublish does additional social media promotion on. Very cool, yes?
It gets cooler, because Bublish also offers some very relevant metrics about how your bubbles (and therefore your presence and effectiveness via Bublish) are doing:
If you notice that you’re getting a lot of bubble views from Twitter but not so much from Facebook, you know you need to keep up the good work on the former and beef it up a bit on the latter. It’s definitely very encouraging while also telling you where you need to spend a little more time enhancing your online presence.
One thing that you absolutely must understand about Bublish is that it isn’t a magic bubble machine that you plug your book into, sit back, and watch the views roll in. Despite all the exposure you get from Bublish’s tweets, you’re not really going to see any appreciable uptick in traffic or sales unless you take the initiative to go forth and actively direct users to your profile. Everyone loves sneak peeks, and everyone definitely loves a freebie, so make sure you’re playing up both of those details. You can also upload deleted scenes/additional material, advertise a sale, etc.
The downsides? There are a few, and although they don’t outweigh the benefits, they’re worth mentioning.
- First of all, you have to upload a “completed” manuscript to their encrypted site. I’m not worried about someone hacking in and reading my next book before it’s been released (I’m not writing the next Harry Potter over here), but if you’re not finished with your book yet, you’re going to have to repeatedly upload what you’ve finished as you go along. You don’t have the ability to just plug in a blurb.
- Next, the interface for building bubbles is a bit clunky, and it doesn’t recognize things like indents, new paragraphs, or font styles. For someone like me, whose book included bits of another language for emphasis, not having those words italicized makes the selection useless since it appears they’re gibberish.
- Finally, I find the search function to be sorely lacking: I accidentally stumbled across a book bubble that sounded incredibly interesting, but I was in the middle of something else at the moment and didn’t have a chance to bookmark it or follow the author. I still haven’t been able to re-find that book, despite its very clear subject matter and autobiographical subject.
Lastly, the brass tacks, and one that may turn some fledgling authors off initially:
Yes, $99/year sounds steep, but hear me out:
- They are always offering specials where an Authorpreneur account is $79. In fact, I forbid you from paying $99 for it. Sign up for a free account to get your feet wet and make sure you read the e-mails from them. They also always offer the upgrade at the end of every webinar they host.
- I’ve only published a whopping eleven bubbles (I do one per week) over two books, and it’s already paid for itself. So yes, it’s worth it. Like I mentioned above, sign up for an Emerging Author account and start working it!
So some final thoughts…
Bublish is hands-down one of my favorite marketing/engagement resources, and I’m actually formulating a plan to take much more advantage of it than I currently do. Its very lack of fancy features offers a world of opportunity for you to use it, and I haven’t even played around with the more advanced Authorpreneur benefits yet. They offer regular interactive webinars about marketing, advertising, engagement, etc. which I’ve found extremely beneficial.
Get over to Bublish and create an account! Throw me a Bublish follow and, if you do create an account, let me know in the comments so I can follow you back!