To most of you who read this article it’s going to be old news. Many authors are such pro’s at promo that they could teach classes on it. And a lot of you actually do give classes and talks on the subject on your blogs and at conferences. But I wouldn’t get questions about this stuff if every author knew all there is to know about it. So here we go.
Marketing and Promotion are the best tools anyone has to sell their product, no matter what it is. And ultimately, if you plan to sell your books it helps to think of them as products when it comes time to advertise. In the realm of authors there are far better sources than me, but I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in to help if I can. I’ve made a lot of observations over the years and I hope they might be of use to anyone who may not know how to get started promoting their own work.
Don’t be shy. Many authors, especially when they’re just starting out may be a little hesitant to show their books to anyone for fear of criticism. But sadly criticism comes with the job. If you do anything and make it available for public scrutiny it will get criticized. No matter what you’ve presented to the world or how good it is…somebody will hate it. A lot. But on the other side of that sharp edged coin there lies the smiling face of praise. Praise is awesome. When someone identifies with your characters or story and they love it, it can be gratifying to hear. I love it when a client is pleased with my work. Truly. But harsh, or even soft criticism can be difficult to take. So some authors refrain from promoting their work, sharing it or even having a website. But if you don’t have the basic tools to let others know you’re alive and that you wrote a book they might like, you will sell very few books.
And then there are some who simply don’t feel comfortable promoting themselves. They may feel that they don’t want to engage in “bragging” or “selling”. My advice on this is to look at it a different way. If you are pushing all the time in tweets and posts “Buy my Book!!”, then yes that’s kinda too much. But if you mention on your blog or Tweet that you’ve just finished a chapter on your new romance novel, you may strike up conversation and get others interested in what you’re writing. Remember to keep it conversational. If you’re talking to a friend you wouldn’t have the “Buy my Book” phrase coming up every five minutes. The same rules apply to social media. Keep that in mind and you can avoid feeling like you’re “selling”.
Diversify. What I mean here is that the more avenues you have for a potential reader to find you the better. That means publishing your books on as many sites as you can and taking advantage of as many social media sites as possible. Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. If you don’t have these basic tools, then you need to start some accounts and use them to create a presence online. Just know that if you are just now starting out, this process takes time so settle in for the long haul. Also, it’s never ending. You have to keep up your presence to stay relevant.
And again, don’t just talk about your books and exclusively promote your work. It’s irritating to everyone. Treat social media the way you treat any conversation. Talk about a variety of interest you have and salt in comments about other authors you like. Make friends.
Free Stuff! Everybody loves free stuff. So, another good thing to consider is having a contest once in a while where you either give away free books, or small gift cards to online retailers. If a reader posts on your blog or re-tweets something you said, then they get an entry into the contest. Get creative. Try internet scavenger hunts for things that relate to what you write. It should be fun for readers, and if done right, can really draw a crowd. Digitally speaking:) Stuff like that creates a little buzz and can bring in more eyes to see what you’re up to. Also, posting compelling and exciting excerpts from your books on Goodreads, Facebook and your blog is a great way to give readers a taste of what you do. Blog tours with other authors can help to bring in new readers as well. And if you’re one of the lucky one’s you’ll say or do something online that will go viral…in a good way. But don’t get too serious about it. Have fun.
Join the Club. There are lots of author communities online that are set up to answer any questions you have about publishing, writing, and anything in between. I’m personally partial to RomanceDivas.com. It’s a free forum for romance writers and is a great place for author resources and has a huge amount of support for new authors and multi-published authors in the romance genre. Also, there are national groups like RT and RWA that have lots of resources and advice for authors on every subject. If you write in another genre use the google machine and find some groups that write what you write and go make friends.
Writer beware! Beware the amazing claims you’ll find online for advertising services to authors. I’ve seen sites that say they’ll get you X number of twitter followers, X number of RT’s and blah blah blah, for the low low price of $300! It’s a great way to waste your money. If you ever read an interview with a successful author they never say they made it big because of some get rich quick scheme to advertise their book to the universe. They talk about the hundreds and hundreds of hours a year they put in writing and communicating with readers online. It’s hard work.
Ultimately my point is this. Be everywhere, make friends, and stick with it for the long term. The more places where you’re visible and the more social media connections you have the better your chances are of finding that sales groove that so many authors look for and so many have found.