Sramana: Bella, it sounds like your book release schedule is almost like soap opera seasons.
Bella Andre: In a way it is. My books don’t have cliffhangers, but I would call them family sagas. That is a pretty good description of what I did with the Sullivans. My readers know there are eight siblings, so they knew they were going to get a love story for each of the siblings. Then when I finished those, I introduced five cousins. It is a nice way to follow through.
Sramana: So you are able to satisfy your readers by following a schedule with a book series. I think that is a very interesting approach. What do you do on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads?
Bella Andre: The schedule really helps. I am a huge reader; I will read a book a day when I can. I have my favorite authors, and I will be waiting for their next book. I get a feel for their publishing schedule. I definitely tap into that schedule when it comes to my readers.
When it comes to social media [and the idea] that you are not supposed to talk only about your books, you are also supposed to talk about yourself, I don’t do that. I don’t talk about my husband, my kids, or my real life. I am talking about the Sullivans. I will talk about the book I am currently writing and what my heroine just said to my hero. That is the kind of stuff that I am on there with every day.
I write everything under my Bella Andre name. I don’t have Sullivan-specific pages. I am sharing my excitement about the work. I will share a cover, a release date, or a link to an order. We just sort of hang out together and share the fun of the Sullivans together.
Sramana: What are the metrics on your social media following? How many fans and followers do you have?
Hugh Howey: I have three different Bella Andre Facebook pages. I have about 20,000 on Facebook and 60,000 on Twitter. I don’t know how many I have on Goodreads, but there are a bunch.
Sramana: Hugh, what about you? What is your experience with promotion? How have you built your following?
Hugh Howey: My greatest contribution has been to write more books. I did not even start promoting until my works had already taken off on their own. I have no idea if my promotional efforts have added a single sale or hampered my sales. Everything started before I started engaging people about writing.
Bella Andre: Hugh, I just want to throw one thing out there. Your videos are really great! I thought about doing some myself but realized I could not do them like you. I think it’s great how you just throw stuff out there.
Hugh Howey: Thanks! I think you would be adorable if you did some videos. My attitude towards promotion is not to ask people to buy my books because that does not work [for] me. When someone tells me to buy a book because they are a fan of a book, then I will check it out. When I hear someone say they have just written a book and they want me to check it out, my brain just turns off.
My attitude towards social media is to interact with my existing readership. They are the ones who spread the word and help build your fan base. I would say that since Amazon is on the phone I should give them a shout out. The reason my readership has grown exponentially is because there are feedback loops. If readers are happy with your work then Amazon wants to get that work in the hands of other readers. Their algorithms are amazing for me.
The number of people who have reviewed my work in a positive light results in Amazon recommending my work to other people. When I write something new, Amazon will send out email blasts to people. There is no way that I could afford to reach the audience that the Amazon system feeds into organically. It benefits Amazon to match readers with books that make them happy because then people will read more.