Self publishing unfortunately also means self promoting.
When I wrote my book I had visions of a publisher doing all the hard work of advertising and all I had to do was relax and count the money. Even after I chose to use POD (Publish On Demand), I still expected to only click the “finish” button, then my book was available on the internet, and again all I had to do was count the money rolling in.
It doesn’t work that way.
In order for people to buy your book, they need to know it exists. They need to know where to find it. This is especially true after the fifty or so friends and family have bought their copy and your book’s website goes dormant with inactivity because nobody else knows about it. It’s true for some authors that their book is so good that word of mouth alone is sufficient to get it off the ground. That is extremely rare.
For the rest of us mere mortals, however, once we’ve put in plenty of hard work writing and publishing our book, we need to work even harder to get it noticed.
The name of the game is to direct as many people as possible towards your book. It’s like trying to capture rain in a funnel and channel it into a bottle. First you need a funnel. That’s where marketing and promoting come in.
Marketing your own book may sound daunting, but it’s not impossible. It certainly shouldn’t be for someone capable of writing their own book and then jumping through all the hoops necessary to publish it. There are many, many things you can do to promote your book that don’t require large amounts of cash and a huge marketing machine behind you to pull it off. Here are nineteen things you can do to promote your book:
- Craft Your Book Cover Carefully: Sure you can use your POD website’s free cover creator application, but chances are the result will totally blow. Your cover is the face of your work and what should initially entice people to look inside. It needs to 1) capture attention, and 2) adequately describe what the book is about. You don’t need to hire a professional graphic designer to do this. Maybe you’re a good enough artist yourself. Maybe you know somebody who is and would be willing to do it for cheap, or even free. There are great websites out there that are communities of artists of all skill levels showing off their work. I went to DeviantArt.com and looked through the galleries until I found an artists who had created work similar to what I was looking for. I made sure he was a good artist, but not a professional (that is, had never done commissions before). I contacted him about doing a commission. He not only agreed, but seemed down right flattered that somebody wanted to pay him money to do what he loves. So, what would have cost me thousands, ended up costing me hundreds of dollars. Your cover should not only draw people in, it should also direct people where to go. Somewhere on the cover should be the website where your book can be purchased. How else will people get their own after seeing it on their friend’s coffee table?
- Give Out Free Copies: That’s right, give your book away. Just be sure to give it to people who will appreciate it the most and are most likely to tell others and generate excitement.
- Put Your Social Network to Use: Use Facebook to do more than send farkles and Mafia requests. Posting announcements to your Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, and what have you reaches a tremendous amount of people. Change your profile pictures to the cover of your book. Post links to where you book can be found.
- Email People: Not everybody has a social network where they post self portraits of themselves in bathroom mirrors. Send out an announcement to your entire email list about your accomplishment.
- Send Postcards: …and not everybody has the internet. I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. Or they have the internet, but don’t use it to communicate. It’s a great opportunity to print up some postcard sized promo sheets with information about you and your book. You can mail this to people announcing the availability of your book. A postcard laying around the house or office with your book cover and/or portrait on it gets more face time than an email on somebody’s hard drive.
- Create An Email Signature: Know that cheery quote or business contact information attached at the end of emails you receive from some people? You can do that too with information concerning your book. You can do this through your email account’s preferences. Also, some email accounts permit you to attach graphics. Attach a low resolution miniature jpeg of your book cover to the signature.
- Generate Reviews: Once people start reading your book, gently insist that they write a review at the book’s website. People are more inclined to buy a book if they see that others have not only bought it, but liked it enough to take the time to rate and comment on it. Reviews can also tell potential readers more about the book than the work’s official description.
- Register Your Book With Other Websites: There are many websites out there that celebrate all things reading. Goodreads is a great place to show off your book, especially if you already have a fan or two there.
- Create A Website: Your POD site and vending site have all the pertinent information concerning your book, but they can’t do everything. You may want to show extended samples of your chapters, you may want links to related material, you may want to show large amounts of photos and graphics, or you may want ordering information that is different for bookstores than for the general public. Basically, you want one centralized location that people can go to for everything concerning your book. You can dedicate a Myspace or Facebook page to your book, but again there are some limitations. If you are a graphic/web designer, you’re golden and can make your own. Otherwise, their are people out there who need to make a living by charging you a modest fee to do this for you. Don’t forget to list links to popular agents, publishers, editors and artists. If you scratch their backs, you will soon find that you will become one of the links attached to their website.
- Send Out A Press Release: Newspaper Book reviews and radio spots normally don’t occur because some media outlet employee was looking long and hard for material to use. Normally they receive press releases from intrepid individuals telling them they need to showcase this or that story. A press release is usually a one page, well crafted article that draws attention to your book by tying it into something relevant to the media’s target audience. You want them to contact you for more detail and feature your story in a future segment. For example, I contacted all the newspapers and radio stations in the regions in which I currently live, grew up and went to college. In the release I pointed out my connection to the area and how I took advantage of my joblessness due to the economy to finish my lifelong dream to finish my book and used POD to publish it. Basically, the press release stated: Local man turns poor economy into advantage with technology. Seeing your book cover in the pages of a newspaper is a good feeling. Learn how to formulate a press release here http://www.webwire.com/FormatGuidelines.asp
- Use Your Real Life Networks: Now days it’s easy to forget their is such a thing as networking outside the internet. We all belong to some sort of organization, whether it’s the work place, school, church, or YMCA. Tell them about your accomplishment and ask if you can advertise on their bulletin board or make an announcement.
- Make A Business Card: This is the item I find most useful. I printed cards that are the book cover on one side, and the book description and other information on the other. Essentially a miniature book cover. I’m always asked what my book is about and it is very simple to whip out a card and give it to interested parties. Now they know what the book is about and have all the needed information to purchase it. This is another reason you want a centralized website. A single info-packed web address fits easier on your card. Vistaprint is the undisputed heavyweight champion of inexpensive business cards.
13. Make Bookmarks: Even if people aren’t interested in reading your book, they still use bookmarks to read the books which they are interested. Nobody turns down a free book marker, especially if it has a cool picture on it. So what if it’s sticking out of some other book? It’s out there in the world being seen, which is what advertising is all about.
14. Print up some T-Shirts: Make shirts with your book cover and a catchy tagline (like a movie poster). Give them away to people who work with the public. Be sure to keep one for yourself to wear to the gym.
15. Flyer: Remember that postcard you made? Well, it comes in handy when you want to canvas every coffee shop in town.
16. Make An Electronic Version Of Your Book: Kindle has been popular for a while now and iPhone and Blackberry users love to put all their eggs into one basket, including what they read. Expect this market to only grow with the introduction of Apple’s iPad. Convert your work to Kindle at dtp.amazon.com and other digital formats at Smashwords.com. My book can be found at both.
17. Blog And Participate on Blogs: There are a thousand and one forums out there that discuss whatever your book is about. Everybody has something to say. You can join the discussion threads and occasionally drop your name and title of your work (just don’t over do it). Better yet, start your own blog. Yet another reason to have your own website. Keep fans up to date on what’s going on with your book while discussing pertinent topics involving your work. Offer writing, publishing, and promoting advice. This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in real handy. The more you discuss a subject, the more it turns up in Google searches, the more people look at a page that has to do with your book. It’s all about catching those rain drops in your funnel. I contribute to an E-zine so I wrote an article analyzing the genre of my book while describing it’s plot and posted it there.
18. Do Book Signings and Readings: This is perhaps where the rubber meets the road. You just plain need to get out, be visible, and interact with people and tell them about your book. You need to be a salesman. You need to set up a table at book stores and coffee shops and put your wares on display. Even if you don’t sale your book in the store, the owner/manager most likely will be happy to have a signing or reading because you will draw potential customers. Once you’ve published and become a bone fide writer, people treat you differently and are eager to talk to an author. Also, you will sale books at these events that will cover the costs of the posters, T-shirts, and book markers that you had made for the occasion. The real reward will be the viral buzz you’ve generated that translates to more on-line sales.
19. Attend Conventions and Conferences. It’s almost guaranteed that there are conventions and conferences that revolve around whatever topic you chose to write about. If you wrote about quilting, you can bet there is a convention on all levels (city, state, and nation) where people gather to talk, eat, breathe, and just plain live quilting. Look into not only attending, but setting up a booth that shows off your book. My book deals with the realm of fantasy so it made complete sense to have a table at various “Cons” that cater to the science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, manga, comic book and graphic novel crowd. Also, there are conventions that revolve around literature. Portland Oregon’s “Wordstock Festival” is one such celebration of the written word.