We all feel it sometimes…that fatigue that comes when you have spent hours marketing and yet the fruits of your labor don’t appear abundant. Whether you’re a traditional, independent, or soon-to-be published author, a good portion of your time must be spent promoting your books or all your hard labor will have only generated a wonderful story to be shared with yourself and close loved ones. I won’t pretend that marketing endeavors don’t wear me out. They absolutely do. It is hard to feel “on” all the time. We writers of the modern age are plugged in quite literally to the world’s social hub. We have Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, Goodreads accounts, Pinterest accounts, Wattpad accounts…the list could go on for quite a while. With Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent tomorrow, people are not only talking of limiting certain food items for their fast, but also time spent on the internet. This is because being “on” all the time takes a toll after a while.
However, though it may take its mental and emotional toll on you, marketing is a necessary part of your job when you’re a writer. Obscurity is the plague of the newly published author and in order to break out of its grimy clutches, you must put yourself out there! So how can you keep up your mental, emotional, and physical energy for both writing and marketing? I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it is doable. The tips below won’t necessarily result in hundreds and thousands of book sales, but I’m a firm believer that steady and consistent will win the race in the end. In total honesty, sales for me have been very up and down ever since I published Night Bells and Silent Shades last year. Some months are great…others are not so great. Am I giving up, though? Absolutely not. I’m almost 20,000 words into another novel and I’m excited about 2013! I know it’s going to be a great year for my books.
In order to keep my spirits up, my energy up, and my mind positive about my sales and attracting new readers, I do the following.
//1// Make free advertising opportunities a priority: When authors are just starting out, they don’t have a ton of cash to throw at advertising (or maybe they do, but I would bet the majority don’t). That’s alright. There are plenty of free advertising opportunities to get involved with! For instance, if you see my sidebar to the right >>, you’ll notice I have lots of sponsor buttons! I offer paid sponsorship on my blog, but I also get involved with swapping buttons with other bloggers! It is a free way to advertise your site and for other bloggers to advertise theirs! This continually increases traffic to my website, which in turn introduces people to my writing and information about my books. I would highly recommend you get involved with ad swapping. For more information on my swap policy, check out my Advertising Page. Along with ad swapping, you can reach out to book bloggers and offer them a free copy of your book in return for a review! For me, personally, this hasn’t stimulated a huge rise in sales, but many book bloggers are extremely busy and are always weeding through email submissions from authors. You have to be patient with that one, but it can pay off if you diligently seek out book reviewers who specialize in your genre! Spend at least a small portion of your “puttering around on the internet time” searching for legitimate, free advertising opportunities! They are definitely out there, but you have to keep your eyes open.
//2// Be active on Twitter: This doesn’t mean that you should constantly spam people with, “BUY MY BOOK! BUY MY BOOK!”. Read that? DON’T DO THAT. That’s a bad idea and it will turn people off to your writing. Instead, use Twitter as a way to interact with fellow writers, authors, and readers. Someone who is excellent at this is Lindsay Buroker. She is very informative, entertaining, and professional. When you are tweeting, keep your tweets professional and respectful to all. Twitter is not the place to enrage the populace. It won’t help you sell books and, if anything, it will alienate you from other writers and potential readers. Use Twitter as a means to engage in discussions and pass along useful information.
//3// Find one or two forums and become an active, contributing member: I hang out on the KindleBoards a good bit and jump into a variety of discussion topics. Some are writing related, some are reading related. Another theme? Don’t use forums to spam people. Use forums to actively engage in topics that interest you or that are related to your books. The great thing about most forums is the signature underneath each of your posts. With a bit of code savvy, you can create a signature that includes your books’ cover art and links to places readers can buy them. This way, you can freely engage in the forum without feeling the need to “market” your book. If people like what you have to say, they will click on your books and website. Be sociable, professional, fun, and write your thread replies well.
//4// Don’t spend hours marketing, rather take a few minutes every day: This is a key tip for me, personally. In the beginning, I let my marketing eat up my writing time. I was convinced that I needed to take several hours a day for marketing and in the beginning, you may need to do that. After a while, though, I discovered that I could put in a solid half hour to an hour a day and perform the same task. Every morning, I spend time checking forums, updating my blog, sharing links on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and commenting on other writing and reading blogs. This is a great way to keep a steady, online presence in key places. Throughout the day, I’ll take a few minutes to tweet about my writing or reading progress. I might use a break to research advertising opportunities. All of this is done casually so that my brain doesn’t explode. Marketing is difficult and draining. Find ways to make it fun and stress-free!
//5// Word of mouth is STILL a great way to promote your books: When people ask “what you do”, have a business card on hand or an eensy weensy pitch about your work. Don’t be annoying, be informative. I have my first batch of business cards on the way as we speak. I’m REALLY excited about them. Not only are business cards a great way to appear professional (because you ARE), but they are a great way to spread the word about your work to people you meet. Those people might in turn tell others about your books. Friends and family are great places to start spreading the word about your books, too. I have friends who are telling their friends, who will then hopefully tell their friends about my stories. This is a slow way to market, but it is STILL a legitimate way. Use every avenue you can.
//6// Find out about local author events in your area: “It never hurts to ask” should be one of your marketing mantras. Call up local booksellers in your area and ask about whether or not they host any author events! You would be surprised how many local bookstores invite local authors to come and participate in meet-and-greets and book signings. Though that might be intimidating to you, it is worth reaching out and asking about. Usually, you’ll need to provide the hosting bookstore with a cut of your profits (as is to be expected) and you will also need to purchase inventory if you have print books, and any other supplies. Signings can be pricey, but they can provide great exposure and help you to meet potential readers in person. Never hurts to ask. 🙂
//7// Praise fellow authors! Help each other out! As has been stated over and anon in this post, marketing is hard work. Every once in a while, reach out to your followers and praise a fellow author’s work! This helps to establish good will between you and the author and it also introduces your readers to other wonderful books they might enjoy! Foster an attitude of generosity and you will be rewarded in your life.
//8// Take days where you do absolutely NO marketing and spend that time writing: We all need breaks from certain activities. Because marketing can be so strenuous, be sure to take marketing holidays and just write. Last week, I was a bit under the weather, so I stepped back from many of my usual work duties (including marketing) and spent all that extra time writing. I wrote over 10,000 words in three days last week. It was glorious. You can’t always take a break from your job, but you can take a break from certain duties to focus on others. You’ll find yourself refreshed and ready to jump back into normal duties after your mini-vacation.
//9// Keep writing those books! This is a big one. If you keep writing books, you’ll keep creating avenues for readers to discover you! Try to publish your work regularly. Last year I published two books between August and December. This year, my goal is to publish three works. Maybe I’ll be able to do more! Whatever publishing goal you set for yourself, work hard to achieve it and it will create more stories for your readers and potential readers to find and enjoy.
//10// Don’t despair or give up: There will be months, weeks, or days where your books just aren’t selling well. We are in a tough economy right now. Don’t let it get to you and don’t let it make you think all your marketing efforts have been in vain. They haven’t. Keep on keepin’ on and good will come of your hard work. Keep smiling, keep writing, and keep publishing! You will rise out of obscurity, but it takes time. Show lots of love to yourself when you get discouraged or down about sales. We all have days like that and it is important to remain positive and keep your spirits up if you are to succeed.
I hope these tips have helped you to feel more energized about your marketing! What sorts of marketing tips do you have for the busy writer? I’d love to hear!
Happy Tuesday. Go out there and have a wonderful day! Read some books! Write some words!