How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Marketing

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

self-publishing, authors, indie publishing, writingThis is part six of a six-part series.

You’ve written your book, had it edited, sorted out the formatting and typesetting and done everything you can to make sure it’s as good as it possibly can be. Your cover design makes your book stand out to potential readers and you’ve polished the blurb until it gleams. So what can you do to get it in front of as many people as possible and get those sales rolling in?

Getting your book reviewed

It takes a long time to review a book. Reviewers often have a backlog that they’re working through, and naturally you want them to read the whole thing and give their considered opinion. You need to plan your campaign well in advance and start much earlier than you might imagine. If you want national publications or well-known/tastemaker bloggers to review your work, you’ll probably need to allow four to six months’ lead-in time, and remember that it’s likely they’ll want hard copies.

Plan ahead and get creative!

If you’ve written other books before, you should already have been using these as a platform to generate excitement among your readers and get them anticipating your next one. Even if this is your first book, you should always try to create a buzz on social media. The more resources you are able to create, the better your campaign will work. This could even include writing short stories based on some of the characters in your book. Try some point-of-view changes, experiment with pre-releasing a prologue, write a poem, start a story and invite your readers to finish it as part of a competition—this is your chance to really get creative!

Social media

It’s better to use just one social media platform well than to try to do everything and not get the results or engagement that you’re looking for. We recommend Twitter and Facebook as starting points, but if Pinterest, Instagram or something else is your thing, then go for it.

Every platform has its benefits and reaches a different audience, so it helps to know who your target audience is beforehand and to determine which platform they are likely to be using before diving in there yourself. It’s important to be enthusiastic about the platform you’re using rather than seeing it as a chore; this will shine through in the way you use it. You can use a scheduling tool like Buffer and then plan some time in your schedule to create your updates all at once rather than letting it eat away at your writing time. Try not to use formal language (unless it suits your target audience), and don’t forget to check back on your notifications and to respond to your followers!

Giveaways

Lots of self-published authors recommend free giveaway periods to generate interest, get further up the lists that matter (recommended reads, etc.), gain reader reviews on sites such as Goodreads and then start gaining some traction elsewhere on the web.

Save your money

Be cautious about going for paid reviews. They aren’t necessarily bad, but the general consensus by both authors and tastemakers is that they aren’t worth the money or the effort. Reader reviews have a more engaged reader base behind them and are more honest, therefore perceived as more trustworthy and of greater value.

Keep the momentum going

Think about how you are going to sustain interest for more than just the initial release period. You might want to plan some longer-term projects to keep the enthusiasm going, or look at how you can use this book to start marketing the next! Keeping your fanbase engaged over a long-term period is the key to a successful writing career. Is there an aspect of your life or a theme in your book that you can use to connect more personally with fans and use as leverage in your marketing?

If your main character is a baker, for example, and this is important to the story, why not target baking or related trade magazines and see if they’ll give you an interview or feature? If a character has a health problem, would a related charity like to collaborate with you to raise awareness of what they do? Whatever the theme, create content based around this and start conversations on a regular basis; this can be anything from blog posts or Q&As to a mini video series.

In the real world

There is a wealth of information about how you can promote your book online—use it to your advantage. But don’t neglect real-world promotion as well. Bookstores are often keen to promote local authors and may be able to help you stage events like book signings. Libraries might welcome the chance to get more people through their doors, too.

Don’t use social media as your sole method to drive sales online. Try some old-fashioned promotional tools like bookmarks and flyers as well, and try to get people back to your own website and to join your mailing list. Remember that you don’t own your fanbase on Facebook/Twitter etc. The network does, so by converting likes and followers into mailing list sign-ups, you have more ownership over their contact details. You can then use this to create higher engagement and better relationships with the people who are genuinely interested in your writing.


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2 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Self-Publishing: Marketing

  1. Chris Syme

    Great tips Catherine. Thanks for the shout out on the less is more on social media article. I love your advice on book reviews. I agree we need to plan far enough ahead to get books to reviewers way ahead of time. We’ve come to the point where we concentrate on our cultivated review team first. We send ARCs to the team after the first edit and make sure they know there may be a typo or two there just so they can have lead time. Our review team knows they’re getting a book in its unpublished state and are very grateful we give them plenty of lead time. When we send to review blogs we make sure it is a finished copy.

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  2. Matt Curtius

    Sustained efforts authors have to make for arousing public interest in reading a book! Sometimes it can occur naturally by concatenation of circumstances: an editorial team of well-known edition may express their appreciation of the book or on the contrary some attempts of great delicacy can be undertaken to cause a scandal. The last situation isn’t always bad. Let’s imagine the ordinary situation: someone has plagiarized your masterpiece, being devastated, you send the plagiarism report provided by software like Unplag to web magazine and voila – articles bristles with headlines about you.

    In theory everything is possible, but we all known that to achieve something, we need to do something. It’s a natural law. And tips mentioned in the article are worthy to be followed. Thank you Catherine!

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