I’m back! On top of my crazy schedule the past few weeks, my Internet stopped working on Thursday, so I’m currently at Starbucks writing blog posts like this special one. We’re back today with Self-Publishing Sunday to talk about promoting your book and yourself when you are a self-published author.
I’m sure it’s obvious to you that you’re going to need to promote your book. As little as I knew getting started, I knew at least that. However, it ended up being way more than I initially anticipated.
The biggest thing about self-publishing is that self part. Unless you want to fork over the money for a company to promote the heck out of you, you’re going to need to do a lot of it yourself. And what’s the point to publishing a book in the first place if no one is going to buy or read it?
ONE – Get over your fear.
I know that there is probably someone out there who has no probably whatsoever promoting themselves, but most people are self-conscious to a certain degree about it. I knew that I didn’t want to bombard people with information about my book, and I was also self-conscious about people I knew reading Aureole in the first place. If you don’t get over that fear, no one is ever going to read your hard work. This isn’t like someone in the publishing industry is going to randomly pick up your book, read it, and go, “By George! I simply must get this person on The New York Times‘ Bestseller list!” (Don’t ask what is with how this person talks. Just roll with it.)
TWO – Make a plan.
It isn’t going to be successful unless you know ahead of time what it is you’re going to do. That being said …
THREE – Start early and keep going.
Let’s say that you are aiming to get your book out by Memorial Day, so that people can read it while on their long weekend. You then need to start promoting at least a month beforehand. You need to reach as many people as possible and build up as much hype as possible. If you’ve already published or you have some sort of following (such as, you write a blog or a newspaper column or something), then just bombarding your followers with information about it might be enough. If not, you definitely need to refer back to step one, take a deep breath, and tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW that you have a book coming out before Memorial Day and they should consider checking it out, thank you very much.
The biggest regret I have with publishing Aureole is that I didn’t start promoting earlier than I did. I did a pretty good job with it, but I could have done better if I started earlier and kept up promoting longer than I did.
FOUR – Know what you’re going to stay.
This is surprisingly difficult, but you need to come up with 2-3 descriptions of your book that will make people want to read it. I say 2-3 because you should have a one-sentence version, a one-paragraph version, and maybe a one-page version. Stick to those 2-3 so that people are getting the same information, and if someone hear’s about your book, they could very easily find out what it’s about. The one-sentence version is most important because if you’re promoting online (which you obviously are) then you know that most people aren’t going to read beyond the first sentence. Oh, and tweets have to be pretty short, too.
FIVE – Say it so much that it seems like overkill.
Since you’re the one doing the talking, it will seem like you’re going a little overboard. But you need to drum up as much support and chatter as possible. Talk a lot, online and off.
SIX – Don’t forget the offline support.
This will seem a little antiquated, but you should probably write up a press release or two. Email them to local news stations, local newspapers, anyone who might be interested. Ready for story time explaining why this is a good idea?
The summer that Aureole came out, I wrote press releases and sent them to newspapers in Maine. I’m from a suburb of Portland, so I sent one to the main papers in the Portland area, including the local one for my hometown. At the time, though, I was living in a little town (population 1000) in central Maine outside of Bangor, so I also sent one to the paper in Bangor. In this town, everyone knew everyone, except they didn’t know me because I had been primarily a summer resident for the previous 15 years. When that small story ran in the paper, they all immediately ran to the Internet to check out my website and find out who on Earth was this person publishing a book. My website traffic was crazy high after that article ran!
Then, the following week, I went into the post office to get my mail as well as my grandparents’. As soon as I said my name and that I was Kathy Healy’s granddaughter, everyone in the post office new who I was and that Aureole was coming out soon.
PS – I don’t know which is a better press secretary, small town gossip or proud grandparents.
SEVEN – Network. Network. Network.
You can network online, but this really does fall under offline work. Go into local bookstores – specifically any independently owned ones – go to book festivals, talk to anyone you know who has a following of any kind. Talk yourself up and talk up your book. Make sure you tell them what makes your book different and why they would be interested in it. This will probably be different depending on who you’re talking to. Make sure you’re specific, concise, and well-spoken. You might want to order business cards or postcards with the cover of your book on them so that you can hand them out.
EIGHT – Make yourself and your book stand out.
What makes you and your book different from someone else and there’s? Highlight anything you can that makes you stand out and makes you different. I emphasized that I was an incoming college senior, that I wrote it my senior year of high school, that Aureole was based on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, that it featured drama and money and love. Whatever it is that might interest people, talk about it, whether you’re talking about your book or you.
I know that I’ve been teasing this for literally weeks, but next week’s post is about social media and self-publishing. It affects so many other aspects of self-publishing, and it’s how you’re most likely going to reach the highest number of possible readers. I have my own opinions and suggestions, but if you consider yourself to be an expert in social media and want to contribute your own suggestions to promoting with it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to include your suggestion in the post. Make sure you contact me by Friday, May 9.