Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Marketing

publish_buttonYou’ve studied craft, developed a working relationship with your muses, written the book of your heart, and clicked Publish!  Congratulations, you’re a self-published author.

Now what?

Will readers flock out and buy your book, love it, and tell all their friends?  Probably not, unless you’ve spent a little time and effort on the marketing side of things.  As self-published author Molly Jameson confirmed during our recent interview with her, you don’t just hit “Publish” and experience phenomenal sales; promotion is a much more realistic way to sell a book.

At the most basic level, effective promotion means connecting with readers and cultivating an interest in what you’ve written / are writing, as well as maintaining that connection.

Great.  So how do you do that?

Connect with Readers where they are

Social media is a good way to build your audience and connect with readers.  I follow several authors via Facebook, which has an abundant number of author pages.  The authors generally post on a periodic basis – sometimes on topics relating to their writing or their books and sometimes on humorous or other non-writing related topics.    The posts serve to keep the authors visible, raise awareness of their upcoming releases, and create a connection with their followers.  That connection can keep an existing reader buying an author’s books and can also cause a potential reader to give a new author a try.  One new-to-me-author that I encountered on Facebook was so engaging in her posts that I bought her book when it was released, though it is unlikely that I would have considered it, had I just seen it at the store.

Whether you’re connecting with (potential) readers via your social media channel of choice or reaching out to them in person at book signings, conferences, farmer’s markets, or other places where readers gather, the goal is to:

Build your network

“I told two friends, and then they told two friends, and so on and so on and so on.” ~ Breck shampoo commercial

Word-of-mouth is an effective marketing tool.  How many times have you picked up a book because a friend or someone whose opinion you trusted recommended it?  By connecting with your readers and building your network, you are creating a word-of-mouth marketing channel.  Members of your network can also provide a boost to your book sales by posting reviews (perhaps in exchange for a free or early copy of your book) on sites like Amazon and Goodreads; reviews that will be seen by potential new readers.

Reach out to reviewers and bloggers

In addition to leveraging your reader network (or if you don’t yet have a reader network), you might consider reaching out to people/sites who do reviews, like The Reading Café.  That can be a good way to expand your reach and connect with readers you would not otherwise find.  You can also reach out to bloggers for guest-blog opportunities, which will get you and your work in front of a new audience that, hopefully, will contain some potential readers.  As always, you’ll want to do your research and make sure any reviewer / blogger you work with is a good fit for you and your writing.

Other Promo

Everyone likes to get something free, right?  The Goodreads Author Program provides a simple (and free) mechanism for doing author giveaways.  You can add per-click paid advertising to your giveaway, which is a little more complicated, but a basic giveaway is pretty easy to setup.  You can also run giveaways via Facebook and place ads for a relatively small fee.

Use a book promotion service

Depending on the time, money, and inclination you have, you may consider adding a book promotion service like Robin Reads or Fussy Librarian to your marketing plan.  Keep in mind, however, that even if you are using a paid service, you will still have work to do.

Whether you’re self-published, traditionally published, or just getting started, the main goal of any marketing/promotion is to get and keep your name in front of readers.  One of the best ways to do that is to keep writing.

So, have you had done any marketing/promotion of your own?  If not, what kind of things keep you connected to the authors your follow?

6 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Marketing

  1. I was a Mary Kay lady for three months, and managed to sell one lipstick to non-family members. I’m probably the worst salesperson ever: obnoxious, yet not pushy. (OTOH, I got a bunch of samples that I’m still working through 20 years later — y’all, MK lasts for-effing-ever. Good stuff!)

    I think I’ve bought two books because of an engaging blog. One was pretty good, and the other was a bit disappointing. So, I’m one-for-one on that score. I’m much more likely to pay attention to a review, so I think it’s important to get into some sort of network where you exchange reviews with likeminded people. Although, this is so hard. I used to review things for the school newspaper, and I’d feel funny sugar-coating a review. I would want to have a good reputation for honesty as a reviewer. Which may conflict with my other goals . . . .

    • Michaeline, I think the key when looking at / for reviewers is “like minded people”. If their tastes are different than yours, then the reviews are mot likely to be of much help to you or, on the other side, to bring in the audience you are looking for.

    • Actually, you have to proceed with great caution when it comes to Amazon reviews. They will remove reviews if it looks like a reviewer is your ‘friend’ in some way (social media or otherwise). They have also removed book reviews by authors, maybe because it looks like (and in some cases may be) quid pro quo. And on some of the self-publishing groups, writers have complained that some of the reviews by their biggest fans – which are exactly the reviews we want to keep most! – are removed because they show up to review every book, which makes the Amazon algorithms suspicious.

      TL;DR: An author review exchange is probably not the way to go if you want the reviews to survive the Amazon algorithm gods.

      • It probably would be very good for me (on several levels) to review a book a week on my own blog (which doesn’t exist in public yet). Maybe I should blog about this this week (-:.

        I find the exchange of reviews idea a little unsettling, I guess (even though I brought it up). I wouldn’t want to put anyone in the position of lying about my book in order to get a good review from me, and I wouldn’t want them to fluff it up, even. Then again, I would probably resent what I consider ill-considered criticism, and I wouldn’t be happy with anyone pointing out real flaws in my work (I wouldn’t try to stop it, but I probably would be a bit biased toward the person who wrote it, because . . . human nature).

        Maybe the thing would be to try to find someone who reviews positively books I like, and then send them an ARC or e-ARC of my work.

        I feel Amazon reviews are not something I should try to influence. I think my future readers would be smart enough to see through a fake review (positive or negative). And if they are not, they probably wouldn’t enjoy my work anyway.

        I like Goodreads a lot. I will only review four or five star books under my pseudonym. Under my real name, I like to go a bit broader, mostly for the reason that I like having a summary of the books I’ve read and why I’ve liked/didn’t like them handy. I should probably put my IRL goodreads on private mode.

        Sorry I’m rambling and not making much sense probably. So fuzzy today . . . .

  2. Many people who have read my book have indicated they would review but haven’t. When it comes down to it many people find it hard to put down their feelings for a book in writing. They’re not writers but love to read. I was never a reviewer but now I try to review every book I read.

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