Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marketing and promotion

When I decided to self-publish, I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and I knew I wasn't going to be an overnight bestseller (or even ever a bestseller, unless I was incredibly lucky). And I knew that my biggest struggle was going to be promoting and marketing myself. Despite minoring in Marketing in college, it's not my forte. I think that's due to my introverted nature: I'm not good at asking people to buy my book.

An example: I was at dinner with my parents a week or so ago, and our waitress caught sight of the book I was reading on my phone (the Kindle app was on the cover image at the time) and got all excited because she recognized it: it was written by her aunt, Jeaniene Frost. Small world, huh? After that, my parents urged me to tell her about my book the next time she came back to the table. I felt uncomfortable doing so, partly because she said she doesn't usually read books. But even if she was a big reader, I'd have felt awkward pushing my book on her. I don't like when people hard sell to me, so I'm overly sensitive to doing it with others. In the end, my father did it for me, and she acted like she was interested in checking it out, though I really doubt she remembered my name five minutes later.

Promoting online is a little easier, but I find it difficult to find places to do so. The big places are too expensive, and many of the others are booked solid far in advance. I have one small promotion set to go at the beginning of February, so I hope that generates some interest, and I've done a few giveaways. I know some authors are having success with Amazon's KDP Select program, but I don't like the exclusivity requirement, and since Destined is my only book right now, it wouldn't benefit me in terms of generating interest in backlist. I had an ad on GoodReads that didn't really do much, and ads on Facebook that I turn on and off occasionally. They get me a lot of likes on my Facebook page, and seem to generate a few sales, but in the end, the cost of the ad ends up more than the royalties I get from the sales. Still, it's books I might not have sold otherwise, so I'll take what I can get. I have a bunch of requests out for book blog reviews, and while many said they were interested, only a few have read it yet. Those that have gave it 4-5 stars, so I keep hoping more will get to it soon. Reviews are key, and the more I can get, the better. I only wish more people would review on Amazon. I get a lot of ratings and reviews on GoodReads, but only have 8 on Amazon.

I know the best promotion is publishing more books, so that's what I'm trying to work on. I have one with a beta reader right now, another that's on hold so I can get some distance from it before editing some more, and a third I've recently dusted off. It still needs an ending, but it has one thing going for it the other two don't: it has a TITLE. (For me, this is a big thing. Titles stump me like nobody's business.) It's also kind of a dystopia, which is big right now, so I feel like it would be smart to take advantage of the trend while it's hot. I would never write specifically to fit a current trend, but since the book is already (mostly) written, I might as well make the most of it, right?

I just wish there was some magical, easy way to get people to see my book. But there isn't, so I will continue to slog on, and try to find more time to get a second book out there. If only I didn't need my day job, then I'd have all the time in the world.

Any other authors out there with advice on promotion that worked for them? Or readers who'd like to share how they find books? I know personally, most of my book discoveries come from GoodReads, with the occasional suggestion from Amazon's "also bought" lists or book blogs For those of you on GoodReads, how do you feel when an author sends you a message promoting his/her book? I'm leery of doing that, but it's an option I consider now and then.


  1. Hi Allison, I haven't read your "Destined" novel, but being a huge Titanic buff I'm so glad to find another. ;)

    As for marketing, it's eh with me as well. I'm also an introvert and daydreamy enough to wish there was a magical way for others to see my stuff, too. You're not alone in thinking it's a bit ick to coerce others to buy your work. I'm also leery of sending out messages and frankly, I'm too lazy to set up wild and crazy gift card/coupon/buy-one-get-one-free hoo-rah. Too many years in retail, I think. And I write in a not-as-popular-as-vampires-or-wizards-genre, historical fiction.

    However, I did want to share a fellow - and financially successful - author's advice that is so helpful I've immediately jumped on his bandwagon with flags waving. You can take of this what you will, but it eases the marketing jitters. He suggests to just write more. Write faster and write more. The more books/short stories you have, the more you'll be seen online. Your cover for "Destined" looks awesome, so you've got that part down.

    The truth is we can't control readers and what they want to read. But we can tip the scales (the boat?) in our favor by writing more. Think about it - if a reader lands on your page and you have ten novels there, it lends credibility. So, that's the path I'm on. Write faster and write more.

    Hopefully that helps you! So, quit marketing and write the best book you can as quickly as you can. The promotion will take care of itself. :)

    ~ Meg :)

    1. Hi Meg,

      Thanks for the comment. It's always nice to meet a fellow Titanic buff. :)

      I've seen the advice around that the best promotion is to write more books, and that's definitely something I'm aiming for. I have 2 finished novels and a third that's nearly done. I just need to edit and format them, which is taking some time. I want to be sure what I publish is the best I possibly can, so I don't want to rush anything.

      Thanks again for the advice!