Our guest blog today was written by the talented Michelle Dunbar. She lives in Glasgow, United Kingdom (be jealous, everyone!). She is an English Literature undergraduate student in her final months of study, a writer, an editor-in-training, and a promoter of independent books. She is currently editing her first science-fiction novel, which she intends to self-publish in the future.
But today, Michelle has a plea for the newly published author.
You’ve written your novel, spent anywhere from six months to a year guiding it through the editing process; the beta readers loved it, and the advanced readers too; you’ve got the perfect blurb, an eye-catching cover, and the time has finally come to release it to the world and relax…
Did I say relax?
Well, I suppose you can relax for a little while and get your breath back from all the excitement, but hitting the publish button is really just the beginning.
Unless you can afford to pay a professional marketer to promote your book, you will have sole responsibility for getting it noticed.
As a writer, I hear many a story of woe from authors claiming their sales have run dry, or that there are too many books in the market for their voice to be noticed. On the other side of the coin is the reader; Amazon recommended a book to them, and they read it, loved it, and are now interested in following the up-and-coming author of their new favorite genre.
But there’s a problem: there’s an Amazon author page (sometimes), but no Twitter handle, no Facebook page—there isn’t even a website address.
As someone who has been actively engaged in book promotions in recent months, I cannot understand how anyone could devote so much time (and money) on preparing a book for publication, only to let years of hard work disappear into obscurity.
It didn’t take me long to find out why: knowledge—or to be more precise, a lack of it.
While some people are confident with Facebook, they might not be so confident with the inner working of a blog or website. Some people are very proficient with Twitter, yet refuse to consider Facebook because they “don’t like it.”
Some authors have Facebook and Twitter, sell a multitude of titles on Amazon, and yet have no Amazon author page to bridge the connection. I don’t know if a reader will take the time to Google a new author on the off chance there might be a way to follow their work, but let’s assume they won’t.
It is far better to play it safe and provide them with the means to follow you through a couple of clicks of the mouse.
There are hundreds of potential social media websites available, and you may need to be specific with how many you use. Whichever you decide upon, a crucial tact is to interact with your followers: samples of shorter stories, extracts from a new release, inspirational photographs, quotes from classic authors, even a simple “good morning” can suffice.
In the age of self-publishing, the distance between author and reader is closing. The most powerful tool at your disposal is that of the spoken word—of personal recommendations from one friend to another, as a recent Fanfic taken on by a traditional publisher and made into a film has proven.
Listed below are some strategies that can be used to promote yourself, and therefore your book.
Create and maintain a blog/website (Blogger and Wordpress.com being the most common). By providing interesting content on a subject you are passionate about, you can attract new visitors to your website/blog via search engines—people who have likely never heard of you before.
Create a Facebook page (pen names, character names, and book series/titles are all acceptable in the form of a page).
Create a Twitter account (which is extremely useful for networking with other authors, readers, and publishers. Use hashtags #likethis to promote your tweets to as many tweeters as you can).
Create a Pinterest and/or Instagram account to share visual images, such as inspirations that urge you to reach for your pen or laptop.
Join writer forums. Most allow you to display your website link in your signature (which shows in each post you make). Engage with other writers, and where appropriate, share your blog posts in response to another writer’s question.
Engage in guest posts with fellow writers of your genre/approach to writing, and where you can, show other bloggers your appreciation with a comment. As with forums, there is an opportunity to link your name to your website. If someone likes your response, it could generate another visit to your site.
This post really only touches the surface of promotion, but the most important advice I can give you is: don’t just talk about your book. Interact, engage, and enjoy your moment, because if you can earn the respect of your readers, you will be tapping into the most powerful resource of all: loyalty.