Something’s been bothering me for years. It is my reluctance, and the reluctance of so many authors I talk with, to commit to promoting our books (and ourselves). We’re told to by publishers, agents, fellow authors, even readers, but we resist. Oh, how we resist!
It started (for me) with Carina Press back in 2010. They said their authors needed websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and to be engaged online with readers. I struggled. Basically, I wasted opportunities to get involved on Facebook (which still isn’t an intuitive social medium for me, i.e. I get lost on Facebook), although I do love Twitter – but that’s because I have a short attention span and a magpie’s curiosity. It’s not because I use Twitter effectively to promote my books.
I’ve also tried and abandoned Tumblr (I felt old over there), Pinterest (too much), Tsu (remember it?), Google+ (loved the functionality but never fell into a community that let me nest there), and on and on, all the while avoiding what I ought to have been doing.
And what ought I have been doing?
I ought to have been listening to great advice from successful authors; advice like “start a mailing list”. I have now, belatedly. (The VIP New Release newsletter, subscribe today!) Advice like joining other authors in my genre to cross-promote our books. Advice like getting professional covers for my self-published books. On that, it’s under way! See Plague Cult, it’s the first, but Lou Harper is redesigning all of the covers for the Collegium series.
Basically, I can’t say that I didn’t know what I should be doing to promote my books and myself as an author. I received excellent advice from people I respect – and I ignored it. And the reason I ignored it suddenly struck me last night, and I thought on it overnight, and now I’m writing this post.
It’s about thinking I’m not good enough. Take the newsletter issue. I resisted starting one because I struggled to believe that a) I had anything worth saying, and b) that I (via my newsletter) was truly welcome in readers’ homes (i.e. their email inboxes).
What a lot of ****!
I listened to the demon of self-denigration and doubt, instead of giving it a kick in the rear.
A newsletter will have worth if I start it with a clear value proposition – a promise to readers – and keep that promise. So the promise I made was that my newsletter would be an alert to my new releases (which is information of value since my books are great! ha! take that demon!) and would often include links to other free books or … but I won’t give away the goodies I’m thinking of providing to add extra value while I deliver on the core promise of a new release alert. They’re a surprise! People love surprises.
My fundamental approach to book promotion has been fear that I’ll get it wrong, and so drive readers away from my books (and me). So I’ve played on the fringes, paddled in the shallows, tried not to dive in for fear of making a splash! By keeping the deep pool of promotional possibilities free of the contamination that is me and my less than perfect efforts, some superstitious, self-doubting corner of my psyche evidently believed (and believed powerfully) that I was keeping this space open for magic to happen.
Now, I write paranormal romance, so I write about magic all the time. But here’s the thing, when it comes to selling your books, waiting for magic to happen is a strategy on par with preparing for your retirement by buying a lottery ticket. It’s possible you’ll win, but the odds are against you.
Everyone’s marketing strategy is different, as it should be. It needs to take into account different genres, audiences, real life demands on authors (yes, we have lives), etc. So my tip is to analyse the authors you admire. What do they do to promote their books? Analyse three. Then balance it by analysing three authors whose books consistently top the best-seller list in the genre you write in. Note everything they do: the titles they choose, their cover design, keywords, categories (metadata), their blurbs, website, social media, how they work with their publishers’ publicity departments, their street teams’ activities, sign up to their newsletters. Note down everything they do – I’m repeating that advice because often we kind of don’t. We filter our analysis through the “that’s too hard for me to replicate” thinking and resist possibilities. Only once you have a complete list of activities from six people can you sit down and see what ALL of them are doing, the things that you judge most effective, and then, how you will replicate the important bits (yes, you too can be an awesome author).
Have I done this myself? No. But remember, I only had this revelation last night!
Whatever the strategy you use, please be honest with yourself. If you’re saying “I can’t…I won’t…it’s not sensible for me to…” then at least question your resistance.
You’ve written a book. That’s a damn fine effort. Now, back it up with confidence in yourself. The world is waiting for you.
***If you’ve found this post helpful, could you please do one of three things for me (or all three, that would be beyond cool)?
- Share this post with a friend, or on Facebook or Twitter.
- Like my official Facebook author page, and in particular, the post sharing my beautiful new cover for Plague Cult so that Facebook will share it with more people (because the social proof of likes and reshares = viral reach).
- Check out my latest release, Plague Cult, on Amazon and if it intrigues you, preorder it for the bargain price of 99c.
Thank you! Now, go forth and rock the publishing world!