Mention the words marketing and promotion and you might send certain people into anaphylactic shock, that is how much authors loathe doing either.
No me though. I consider myself if not proficient in both marketing and promotion, at the very least, effective. This is not due to my Indie fiction sales, but instead to years of marketing my non-fiction on my own websites, as well as on larger marketplaces which are not Amazon. I’ve sold more than 50,000 books doing things my way and I’ve learned something new at every step.
I started writing science textbooks for home learners about four years ago and since that time I’ve become one of the most downloaded publishers in the homeschool world. Maybe I’m a big fish in a little pond, that’s OK, because the way I did it is directly transferable to other industries and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.
First let’s get some truths about being an author out of the way. These things exist and the sooner you accept them, the better you’ll be. Here we go:
- Being an author means you’re a small business.
- No small business has ever started up with zero money down.
- No small business has ever succeeded without lots (and lots) of long hours and hard work!
OK, got that? Those things are not negotiable. They just exist as truths. (And I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes going, “Duh!” – but we have to start on the same page.)
For the next part I’ll give you five tips for launching and marketing your book successfully. You MUST spend time and money to put out a quality product. Unless you’re some really serious writer, editor, and artistic genius, you must spend money.
This is where you should spend your time and money as far as production goes:
0.5. Write a good book
(This goes without saying, so it doesn’t count in our five tips). Write something original, thought provoking, exciting, and all that good stuff.
NOT NEGOTIABLE. I don’t care if you’ve edited for major publishing houses, do not edit your own work. I use RJ Locksley so I’m gonna plug her because she’s just all around awesome. I highly suggest that you look into substantive editing if you’re fairly new at this writing stuff because it’s like having a professional beta reader tell you all the important plot things you totally screwed up, not to mention the fact that you used the word “smirked” seven hundred twenty-four times in the first chapter. People hate that word, BTW. Use it once per book if you must.
If you’re an artist who is proficient in Photoshop or InDesign, go ahead and do your own. H.M. Ward (Indie author of Demon Kissed series and many more) does her own covers from model shoot to final text design and they look awesome. But please realize, you are NOT her. She is special. So plan on finding a designer/artist to do your covers.
In line with this tip is study your genre and imitate the basic cover design you find on most of the books. If you write paranormal romance, make your cover soft and pretty – and if it’s young adult to boot, a girl in a dress. I get it, it’s cliché, but readers like cliché when it comes to covers. They like them to be unique, but they expect it to tell them, just by looking at it, if your story is something they’d normally read.
Deviate from the genre norm at your own peril.
My cover for Clutch has none of that soft stuff because it’s science fiction. I wanted to discourage young adult readers (the series is violent and is filled with F-bombs) and I wanted everyone who looked at it to know right off the bat, this is not a HEA romance – so there are no couples on any of my covers even though there is a romantic sub-plot in each book.
Sure, I could trick them and make a soft and pretty cover and probably make a lot of sales off of that alone. But then they’d just be mad at me and leave nasty reviews because it wasn’t what they were expecting. You want to meet your reader’s expectations with the cover. My digital illustrator is James Ledger of jamesledgerconcepts.com. I’m plugging him because he’s all-around awesome too, just like RJ. (And he’s working on my fourth cover as I type.)
3. Book Blogging
NOT author blogging. Sure, we all like to rant and rave on our little author world minutia, but most readers don’t care. So start a book blog, get to know readers and bloggers, get involved in the book blogging world, and learn as much as you can. When choosing a platform (Blogger, WordPress etc.) think about how you will collect followers. You want followers and lots of them. If you have the money right away, spend some cash on professional blog design. This can wait though, so if you’re really limited, spend your money on editing first.
Tangent: You can have more than one blog, ya know. I have three blogs and more websites than I can count off the top of my head. I have both a book blog (New Adult Addiction) and an author blog (JA Huss), as well as a blog for my non-fiction stuff.
I group book blogging into marketing strategies because you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic group of readers on the planet. Book bloggers are book lovers. Chum up to them and make friends but DO NOT hawk your book! Believe me, if they think it’s up their alley they’ll check it out. Just make friends and learn how they do things, then do as they do and make your book blog so awesome all the other book bloggers squeal when you mention them in passing on Twitter.
I think GR is the next wave of book marketing. Get on there, make friends, contribute, review books in your genre (or whatever you enjoy reading) and find fans. Fans are readers. You want fans. I could write an entire six week series on how to use GR for effective book marketing, but this is not the time, nor the place.
🙂 You DO make print books, correct? If not, do that first. You MUST offer your book in print. Then as soon as you have your ISBN (buy your own to get this started early and buy in bulk, it’s cheaper) you can put that print baby up on GR months before it’s even ready for the formatter and run a pre-launch giveaway to generate buzz. Invaluable tool in my opinion.
The other giveaway you should’ve started using yesterday is Rafflecopter. There are so many ways to use this effectively I’d have to write another post to get it all down. But here’s the best tip of all as far as the Rafflecopter goes – OFFER SOMETHING BIG. No one wants your e-book, sorry. (I mean, yeah, maybe they want it, but not as a giveaway prize.) They want $50-$100 Amazon gift cards, B&N gift cards, even stuff like Bath & Body Works or Wal-Mart work.
And at the very minimum, they want an autographed paperback copy of your professionally edited, well-written book that has a cover so beautiful it makes them want to cry.
OK, those are five fast tips for you to ponder. Consider this the shallow beach water to the ocean that is author marketing. You’re wading with the babies, but at least your feet are wet.
Next week I’m going to start off with Twitter and we’ll get down to business.