THE ART OF SELF-PROMOTION:
The ability to market one's work is the difference between
a hobby and a career
Writers, like it or not, cannot escape the fact they are small business owners. And to succeed in any small business, we need a business plan and a steady stream of activities to generate buyer awareness and desire for the product.
Here are some easy tips to help you with self-promotion.
1) PROMOTION AND MARKETING - Learn the difference here. Promotion is the 'what' in sales. Marketing is the 'why'. Don't just show potential readers your book. Tell them why they need to read it.
2) BRANDING - Do you write a series, or excel in a particular time period or genre? Recognize your brand and focus your efforts in that direction. This will also help you target your reading audience.
3) ENGAGE - Be more social on social networking sites. Go to the readers, don't expect they'll find you. Being social means talking to people, sharing their links, posting on your pages, etc.
Also, join reader and review groups on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YahooGroups to engage with potential readers and reviewers. Use those sites that allow advertising spots to post new releases, reviews, or contests to reach all of their readers. Use them often! 1-2 times a week is often their limit.
And if you're hosting a contest with each event you organize, be sure to mention that in your post. When you post:
- Make the blurb short and catchy,
- Always include buy links,
- And respond to anyone who comments on those blurbs.
4) SHARE - Blog or blog often (2-4 times a month, or more often):
- Blog about aspects of your books (location, research, in-depth character bios, etc)
- Blog about your own writing techniques,
- Post interviews,
- Post book reviews,
- Talk about your writing life,
- Share photographs from research trips,etc.
- Stay on topic . . . books and you as the author!
5) CONNECT - Use NetworkedBlogs to link your blogs to your social networking sites, like Twitter and Facebook so those posts automatically copy to your social pages. You can even link your Facebook and Twitter accounts together so that when you post to one, it copies to the other. This saves you time from having to double post.
6) VBTs/Virtual Book Tours - Organize blog stops or even week-long tours . . . you meet every blog's established readers just by being on those sites. There are many tours out there offering VBTs. Chose the ones whose author hosts offer reviews! Books sell on the backs of reviews and reader opinion. Preparing for VBTs can be time consuming so be sure to get something for your effort, other than exposure.
7) CONTESTS - Host a contest on your website or personal blog, and VBTs . . . have a few trinkets to give away or Amazon gift cards. People like to get something for visiting. It doesn't have to be anything big. People just like the chance at a little something for showing their support.
Awards also works on social media. For example: On Facebook or Twitter, let's say you currently have 128 followers on your page. Post a notice, and repeat it every day, that when you reach 200 followers, you'll give away a copy of your book by random draw (pull a name out of a hat), or even an Amazon GC of a token amount . . . $5-10. Anything emailable is best for you and your pocketbook! And when you reach 200 followers, host the same event and award a random prize when you reach the next milestone . . . 250 followers.
8) SEEK - Find readers! Do you have positive engagements with friends of friends? Why not 'friend' or follow them?
- While it's not always appreciated, you can go onto your friends' pages and connect with their followers. Some call this Friend Poaching, and Facebook will block you for a short period of time if they think you're poaching, but be discrete. Add a few here and there who share similar interests with you. Social media is all about connecting socially. You can't connect if you don't look for followers. As per #2 . . . people won't always come looking for you; you have to make the first time and find them.
- If you friend someone through FB or Twitter, or they friend you, ALWAYS go onto their page and post a thank you note . . . 'Thank you for your friend link. Please also find me at . . .' (give alternate addresses to find you online . . . if you're on FB, give your Twitter account address so they join there too and THEN when they do, post the thank you note there as well!) ** Always recognize a friend link whether you initiate it or they do.
9) DETACH - Keep separate accounts for you as an author vs you in your personal life. For example, if you're on Facebook, set up a separate page for you as an author and invite your current 'friends' to follow that page by 'likes'. These pages hang off your main account so you don't need to set up extra FB account. Use that page for anything pertaining to you as an author or your books.
- Avoid 'friending' potential readers and people you don't know on your personal page. Direct readers to your author page. Readers who want to follow their favorite authors want to hear about their work and life as writers. Readers do not want to hear your political or religious rants, and probably don't want their newsfeeds full of cat memes. Be professional by setting up separate pages.
- And avoiding setting up a page for the book itself, as readers follow authors, not books.
10) BE CREATIVE! We're all authors which means we're naturally creative and think out of the box. Use that to your promo and marketing advantage.
- Look at how other authors promote -- Do their efforts draw you in? Use their techniques as a spring board for your efforts.
- Contact your local bookstore or library for an event. Give a reading or two from your latest book and talk about your path to publication. Talk about your research, especially if your work his historical.
- Also, consider contacting local schools to talk to budding writers about life as a writer . . . offer simple research techniques, the process of writing, the importance of treating writing like a job by setting time during the day to write . . . anything writer or writing life related.
- For older writers, talk about publishing options . . . highlighting your own publisher of course! If you are a hybrid author (have a publisher for some work and self-publish other work), give writers the pros and cons of each option of publishing.
11) IT'S A BUSINESS - Look at how you view your writing. Are you a hobby writer or do you want to make a serious business out of this? If you're a hobby writer, write for yourself, in your own time, and if you consider publishing, think about self publishing.
But, if you want more, you need to treat your writing like a business:
- Set up a 5 year business plan . . . and be serious about it.
- Surround yourself with supporters.
- Get a good critique partner.
- Plan promotions and marketing and be consistent about them.
- Don't be afraid to spend money on paid ad spots in daily newsletters. Most are very affordable.
- Get business cards! Put your book cover on one side and your contact info on the other (website, email, name), along with a short blurb about your book, or a great quote.
- Hand those out everywhere! See someone with an ereader in a cafe, slide your card onto their table, cover side up. See someone reading on a device on the bus, hand them your card. At the dentist, buying shoes, in the bookstore (I didn't just say that) . . . give out your business card. Leave your card with a tip in restaurants and cafes. Always with the cover side up!
12) HAVE FUN! - Hey, if it's not fun, why do it. Right?
Remember, you don't have to do all of these things all the time. Spread it out. Start with a Facebok or Twitter competition to boost your follower numbers. Get your friends to tell their friends about your books. Grab a couple paid ad spots. Get reviews!
And keep writing!