With self publishing and indie publishers being the choice for many writers to get their work published, the matter or promotion and marketing is one which weighs heavily on the minds of the authors. Although I haven’t had the experience of being published with a ‘traditional’ large firm publisher, I have both self-published and had work published with small and reputable indie publishers; and from all accounts, regardless of what sort of publisher you go with, the promotion of one’s book lands almost squarely on the author. While a traditional large firm publisher may set up a few book signings or send out a media kit to a few marketing firms, this often is all they do. It’s therefore important to become your own promotions bandwagon and peddle your own goods; after all – who else is as passionate as you are about your characters and storyline?
Love it or hate it, the success of your book comes from it being visible to a wide range of people and the best way to do this is through social networks. Get yourself noticed by having a wide range of profiles, including Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter.
Have a profile
Its not enough to have a facebook page and a blog or website with your details on it. The internet is jam packed with information. Unless it is immediately relevant, visitors click past your profile. By all means, have the facebook/myspace/google+ profile page, but also have active blogs. Keeping a blog specifically giving your opinion on writing or reviews of work will set you apart from those whose profiles are stagnate. However, you need to participate and be part of the community to be noticed. Become a voice within your online community or special internet interest group by joining forums, posting comments on blogs and giving advice, rather than with negativity or pushing your own barrow.
If you are a writer, you need to be a reader as well. Review others’ books (either on Amazon, Goodreads or on your own blog), giving them honest feedback. Others see through transparent and blatant self promotions – so don’t be tempted to add a little tag line about your own work. You will be respected in the long run if you have considered and valuable advice or opinions to share, and others will be more likely to consider reading one of your books and reviewing it if you have shown that you are willing to be part of the community.
Start by getting profiles on these sites
Use Twitter the smart way
I have been as guilty as the next person with twitter junkmail. Nothing turns off a follower more quickly than having the same, boring links selling things being posted up on their wall. This social networking medium can be an extremely targeting and beneficial tool, if used correctly.
Find an online twitter system which will automate your tweets such as ‘social oomph’, “Tweet add” or ‘tweet later’. Set up a series of scheduled tweets with links to where your book can be purchased – but don’t sound like a broken record. Have a list of different quotes or ways to promote your work in interesting ways, rather than ‘buy this book’. Consider using the professional version (one you pay for) for a short time as it really saves time and effort.
Target your tweets by using hashtags. Participate in chats and groups who would be your target audience. For example, if your book is a recipe book, use hashtags such as #foodchat. Unless it involves spaceships and aliens, it would not be beneficial to tweet with science fiction hashtags.(though it might actually be funny…)
Tell people about it.
This is a pretty simple concept – email, facebook message or print flyers and hand them to your neighbours, work colleagues and within your community. Post your exciting news on your blog, remembering to include things like links to where readers can purchase the book, or meet you for a book signing.
Participate in a blog tour
Book tours sound grand and from all accounts can be hard work. Try one where you don’t leave your lounge chair and do it virtually. Many writers are part of an online community of like-minded writers. Most of these people have their own blog – or multiple blogs. Ask a handful of your blogging comrades to either review your book, or to post up a blurb you can send them. Make sure they include the links to where readers can buy the book. An example of this is here
Think of creative ways to promote the book
Some people are great with graphic art, or making youtube clips, or talking to the church congregation. Use your skills and work in your comfort zone to let people know about the anthology and encourage them to buy it. In the past, we have done book trailers – either for anthologies or for novellas. Here are some links to some to give you an idea.
New Sun Rising – Charity Anthology
Dust and Death
Buy the book
Again – a simple enough concept, besides, who doesn’t want to see their words in print?
Throw a party
Why not celebrate your publication by inviting some friends around for an afternoon tea or drinks? It can be a simple affair, with crackers and cheese, or as lavish as you want it. Why not buy a stack of the books and do an ‘Author signing”? If you aren’t financial enough to buy books to give away to your family and friends, ask them to buy one and put in a bulk order to be opened on your party date. Even if your party is celebrating with one friend, its important to recognise the achievement you have made in being published.
Throw a virtual party
Facebook has a function called ‘events’. You can set up a virtual book launch or party on a specific day and invite all and sundry to it. Explain in the details tab that it is a virtual party as some people still don’t ‘get’ it. Encourage your friends from all around the world to post photos of them celebrating or congratulating you on your publication. Encourage your friends to invite others and promote it with giveaways or prizes or run little competitions or giveaways during the day. Particularly if you have an ebook version, you may consider giving a copy of that away to the 10th person who posts a photo, or the person who answers a pop quiz right in the next hour. Make it as light-hearted and fun or as serious as you choose. The whole idea is to promote not only your book, but you as a writer. People will take more notice of others that they have felt a connection with, rather than just a blank email or face staring out at them.,
Of course you can follow all of this up with letters to independent bookstores, schools (if the content is appropriate) and libraries, who are often delighted to be able to have a ‘live‘ author willing to do a talk about their book. Ensure you have copies of your book for signings and quick sales as people who are interested will buy them from you on the spot, but will often forget when it comes to purchasing online.
That all said and done, word of mouth and honest reviews will most often be the best advertising you can get. The bottom line to promotion is to get your name and your work out into the hands and minds of a wide range of readers in as many different forms as you can manage. Good luck and have fun with it.
I always find it hard to determine where “the line” is in terms of self-promotion. I worry too much in general, but I worry about turning folks off with too many “hey, look at my book and buy it and like it and…” posts. The line between too little and too much seems hard for me to pinpoint.
I REALLY (not shouting, just enthusiastic) like this Annie, please bring it with you on 1 August! I think you’ve nailed it nicely – now I just need to begin to Tweet. Aaaaaaaagh, I just can’t bring myself to…
Something I definitely need to learn. I hate it when people bug with me with their latest self-publishing venture, and now I have to do it. Arghh!
Love the ‘virtual FB party’ idea. I’ve been experimenting with Google Hangouts. Teaching an online class. Quite fun. Going better than I thought it would.
Really good advice, Annie.
I never really got into Google and don’t understand it much. but what a great idea Jacqui.. thanks
Margie – I most def will be!! I am looking forward to running the workshop with all those keen writers in August..