Elbows deep in marketing? Good. You need to be.
“Writing a book is hard work, but it is not the hardest part.”
That is one of the most frequently repeated phrases I hear about the experiences of authors. It is true of those who publish via the traditional route, as well as independent published writers like myself. Whomever is representing you, whatever your genre, you are going to have to roll up your shirt sleeves and get elbows deep into marketing your book – and you as an author!
The other thing I read a lot is that writers are naturally shy and not inclined to blow their own trumpets. This is probably also true for many. Personally, I am an introvert in the true behavioural sense – I get my motivation from within. It also means that I pay little truck with small talk. Not obvious aids to networking! That said, I have thrown myself into this marketing malarkey and so far, it’s paying off. I’ve made some great friends and promoters along the way, so I can’t take all the glory for the tips I’m going to share with you today.
This is an eclectic mix of publicity tips and I’m sure if you ask me in five years, I’ll have a lot more. But for now, here’s a few to get you started.
- Know your target audience.
It’s very easy to get on to Twitter, start tweeting and furiously following, and get a few hundred followers. This is not a numbers game however. You cannot overlook your potential readers. Ask yourself – what are they likely to be talking about on twitter? What tweets/hashtags will get their attention? What Facebook groups are they in? Hang out with them. Be a person.
Use social media and other networking forums like Goodreads as engagement tools in the first instance. Yes, whack out some occasional promo posts but ensure that you are a real person first. Engage don’t broadcast. People will eventually clock on to the fact that you are a writer and pick up your book, or recommend it.
- Build a writers network and learn from it
There is a myth that authors all want to stab each other in the back. This is not true. Writers are very happy to support other writers and I know many. We cross post our blogs, retweet each other and often host each other on our websites. Why? Because we know what it’s like. We are also all avid readers.
Find a way to build a peer community. Offer advice. Support each other while you can. You will discover some great books, tips and probably develop somewhat of a fan base.
Personally, I’ve found a Rave Reviews Book Club really useful. Goodreads has its place too. Facebook has lots of groups for authors and writers so I’d check those out too. Make sure you pick up writers crafts books – there’s a few recommended in the For Writers section on my blog, along with posts I stumble across that I think are helpful.
- Get Reviews … And get them early.
Don’t finish your book and publish straight away. This is a lesson I learned from publishing my first book, Relative Strangers. I had a two week window between finalising the print copy and putting it out there. It didn’t even cross my mind to send advance review copies out to people. Naive? Absolutely and I’ll hold my hands up to this one.
PDF versions are an easy way to get ARCs out to book bloggers and interested parties. They have long TBRs (To be Read lists) and you could be on their pile for months. Send them out as soon as you can – around four weeks feels good if you can – to give them time to read it.
Don’t send them out uninvited though – check review policies or contact the reviewer in advance. Many book bloggers are happy to review and will have information on their websites. They usually post reviews to Amazon and other sites too.
If this seems like hard work, it can be but not if you give yourself time and do your research in advance. If you are really up against it, many book tour companies will offer a review/blog tour, or review querying service. Typical costs for that type of tour cost $50 – $120 so shop around.
- Befriend Bloggers
Book bloggers are not out to get you. They are, however, inundated with requests. Be friendly. Be polite. I’ve had a lot of success approaching people directly and asking for their help promoting my book, so don’t be afraid to email them and ask if they’ll post a promotional spot for you. Some won’t deal directly with authors and you might need to use a virtual book tour company to approach them (costs of virtual book tours range from $40 – $250 depending on who you use and what you have).
Be nice to us bloggers (yes I do that too!). Stay in regular contact through Twitter, Facebook and their websites. We do most of what we do for FREE so reciprocate by sharing their posts, liking their pages etc. Following book bloggers will also give you a feel for the genre they prefer, what their readers are looking for and how you can best market your book to that audience.
- Do it All the Time
The greatest mistake than anyone selling a product makes is to stop selling. While it might be easier to do a big “sales push” when you launch your book, it cannot end there. The odds of someone stumbling across your promo on a particular day and time are negligible. I hate to say it but it’s true. If you want to sell books, you need to do it all the time.
So that’s my top five, high level marketing tips for you. It’s not rocket science and the granular detail of your marketing plan will change over time I’m sure. Mine sure has!
In closing, thanks to R A Black for having me over today. Please feel free to stop my blog anytime and say hi! www.helentreharne.wordpress.com
In addition to being the creator of the ‘Sophie Morgan’ vampire series, Helen writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry. She is also a book blogger and book promoter.
Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments. When she’s not writing she spends her time daytime hours working in communications and PR and volunteers for a feline welfare charity. She also spends too much time watching Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Happy to be contacted here:
Twitter @Tea_Talks https://twitter.com/Tea_Talks