I recently wrote a blog about things self-published authors should be absolutely sure of before pushing the final button—and one of those items was having some semblance of a marketing plan.
How are you going to promote your work? What are you going to do to increase the chances of people buying and reading your work?
You can’t sell a book that no one knows about.
Whenever I talk with self-published authors about their strategies for marketing their work, there’s one constant issue: the lack of money for advertising. But there are many ways shrewd writers can promote their books for little or no money. All it takes is a little work.
Here are five quick and easy tactics that will hopefully increase awareness of your literary release—and increase sales.
1. Use social media: Yeah, I know—this one seems like a no-brainer. But the number of self-published authors who don’t have Facebook and/or Twitter accounts amazes me. (And let’s not forget Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.!) When I review a self-published novel that just blows me away, I like to shout about it from the rooftops—but oftentimes when I try to share my review with a link to the author’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, I find that they are essentially nonexistent.
Obviously, it’s not just about having Facebook and Twitter accounts. Writers have to create a presence—and by doing so, they are essentially growing their potential fan base.
The bottom line is this: Social media gives you the opportunity to increase awareness about yourself and your work to a virtually limitless audience. If you’re a self-published author and you don’t have a social media presence, you’re dooming yourself to fail.
2. Channel your inner publicist: You’re the author of your book, but you’re also the publicist as well. Your job is to get your work into the hands of those who may enjoy it. Channel your inner publicist and send press releases or emails to any relevant newspapers, magazines, websites, and book blogs with information about your work and yourself. And always let those in charge know that you are available for interviews: any time, any place.
When I self-published my second poetry collection, I sent a letter to the managing editor of a local newspaper telling him about myself and my collection, letting him know that I was completely accessible if he wanted to interview me. The subsequent interview and article got noticed by thousands of people. It was a huge boost for me back then, and it cost me absolutely nothing.
Even if you send out a few hundred emails and only get a handful of articles, interviews, blogs, etc. out of it all, any one of those articles can be your “big break” that will catapult you into national recognition.
3. Get your book reviewed: A sizable percentage of the readers I know read reviews before purchasing books—especially self-published books. Yes, having positive customer reviews on Amazon and BN.com is nice, but I take all customer reviews with a grain of salt. I know for a fact that some unethical authors ask their family and friends to write glowing reviews of their work, even though they’ve never read the book!
Having professional reviewers—from companies such as BlueInk Review, Clarion, and PW Select—critique your work is risky. They may give you a less-than-stellar review. But if your book is reviewed positively, the upside is huge. Not only will your book get international exposure, you’ll have a great review to share on social media, and some glowing excerpts to use on your website, your next release, etc.
4. Use a tagline on your email: I recently saw this and loved it. A self-published author sent me an email, and at the bottom was a cool quote from her latest release with a link to Amazon where I could learn more about it. What a brilliant idea—every email that you send can be a subtle and savvy way to promote your book!
5. Give book readings: This is how I sold most of my two collections of poetry. If you don’t mind reading in front of and interacting with crowds, this is a wonderful way to get your work out there and do some face-to-face selling. I did readings at bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, art festivals, high schools, even bars! Make it an experience for those attending—entertain them. You’ll sell some books, make some connections, and hopefully have lots of fun!
While none of these ideas are guaranteed to work, I believe they are all worth the effort. You put a lot of time and energy into writing your book—it only makes sense that you work just as hard to promote it.
Paul Goat Allen has been reviewing books full-time for almost 20 years, including writing for BlueInk Review, a service devoted to reviewing self-published work exclusively. In addition to BlueInk Review, his work has appeared with BarnesandNoble.com, The Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and more. Readers of this blog are offered a $75 discount on a BlueInk review by using the discount code D7G2. (This in no way guarantees a review by Allen.)