If you want to self publish, you will have to work to get noticed.
Here we are at last, on the final point of this blog series “Before You Self Publish.” So far we’ve talking about the importance of thinking like a CEO, the danger of releasing a book too soon, the value of print, and the importance of the cover.
Now let’s think about how to get that book in readers’ hands.
Yep, if we’re going to talk about self publishing, we need to talk about the M word: Marketing.
It’s not a bad word. Really.
Marketing is the collection of things that you do in order to build positive name recognition for you and your work.
It’s not a bad word, but it is one with a bad reputation. Many writers who self publish act as if the hard work will be done once the book is written and edited. They’ll just put the book up on “one of those websites,” and then sit back and collect the checks while people buy it.
If that’s your attitude, I’m sorry to tell you that those checks are never coming.
Even if you have great editing, and a great cover, and a print copy, the public isn’t going to find and buy your book unless you help them.
There were at least 650,000 books self published just last year (and that’s the conservative interpretation). That doesn’t include the ones from previous years, or books that were traditionally published. Some estimates say that there are as many as 13 million books in print in the United States.
Books are coming out so fast that even the most avid readers can’t look at them all, let alone read them.
It’s up to you – the CEO of your self publishing business and the person most invested in your work – to rise above the crowded field and help them first find your book, and then decide to invest their time and resources in it.
I wish I could tell you that there’s a magic formula to help you know how to market a book. Like, two hours a week on social media + one banner ad + plus a blog tour and three radio interviews = marketing success.
Sorry again, but it’s not that easy.
Marketing looks different for every writer, because it’s based on the unique audience for your book, your own talents and strengths, and also a fair amount of good timing.
I can’t give you a formula. But I can tell you this: you’re not going to make it work without a plan. And a good plan starts with these two questions:
Who Will Want to Read Your Book?
A good marketing plan starts with knowing who you’re writing for. Who will be most excited with this title and cover? They’re probably the people who are already reading books like yours. If you write fantasy, they’re the people who already ready fantasy novels. If you write history, they’re the people already browsing that section of the bookstore.
Beyond that, think about what those people do when they’re not reading. Are they physically gathering somewhere, like a church, or a parenting support group, or a professional conference? Are they spending a lot of time online? If they’re online, are they on social media? Which sites? Pinterest draws a different crowd than Twitter.
Do they watch videos? Read magazines? Where do they shop? Whatever you identify, that’s where you should think about marketing.
What Can You Do to Get in Front of Those People?
Once you know who you’re writing for, set yourself up with unique, specific, and measurable projects that will build connections with YOUR readers and tell them about YOUR book.
Your marketing projects don’t have to cost a lot of money (just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it will work) or make you miserable (if you hate the idea of Twitter, don’t create an account or start tweeting). But it does have to exist.
Marketing encompasses everything that you do to connect with your readers. It’s how you present yourself on social media, or at writers conferences, or when you chat with your local bookstore representative about your work. It’s being selective about the best channels for paid advertising (if any) or the best story pitch for your press release (hint: “Author releases new book” doesn’t get much attention).
Shameless plug alert: My book, The Author’s Guide to Marketing, is full of specific suggestions and guidelines for a variety of author marketing ideas, from how to establish a long-term relationship of trust with your readers – what the industry refers to as “platform” – to how to implement specific promotional tools to get a book in front of new buyers.
Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is to stay active, paying attention to your audience and knowing that just because a book is published doesn’t mean it’s “done.”
Which brings us back to number 1: a CEO can’t just check out once the product is created. It’s on you to continue to do your homework about the industry, study the trends, and look for new opportunities.
Oh, and keep writing. That’s what got you into this business in the first place.