The act of self-promotion. Getting Out There!
I worked in sales and marketing before deciding to self-publish. This background gave me the confidence to go forward. I’d trained many people to successfully sell and market. Combining what I knew before with what I know now, allows me to pass on some of the tips I’ve learned about selling and marketing my books.
At the beginning, I mimicked what others were doing. I played with social media, went to conferences and networked, purchased promotional packages. Did I have success? Some. But nothing that put me on the Amazon’s “most sales list” or matched Hugh Howie’s numbers.
As a past business person, I know a business needs to eventually run in the black. Maybe not the first year, but eventually. So after two years, I pulled up my expenses and balanced them with my assets. DEPRESSING. Yet, instead of discouraging me, it has motivated me to do it all differently. Here is what I have found:
- I no longer go to conferences unless the attendees include readers as well as writers. Writers don’t buy books. Or very few. I’m a reader and have an addiction for anything on paper.
- I go to conferences that are close by and don’t cost a flight and hotel to attend. One conference cost me two thousand dollars and I sold one book. I joined active association, like Sisters in Crime, National Women’s Book Association, SCBWI, Mystery Writers of America. I became active. If I wasn’t active, I generally found excuses not to go to the meetings. Kind of like having a gym membership.
- I remind myself that I am as good as my last book. I have received one award and was nominated for another. I have received 4+ stars on my novels. Many Goodreads people “Want to Read” my work. But, sales diminish after the book has been out there for a year. I need to produce one to two novels a year. And let me emphasis, Good Novels. That means, I need to be disciplined in my schedule, working on my writing at least four to six hours a day, and I spend about five hours a week on social networking and promoting.
- I used to work many social networks. Now, I am only on Facebook and Twitter. Trying to do it all meant I didn’t do any of it very well. I also limit how much I promote my books, only doing so when I have a special promotion going on, revealing a new cover or mentioning a launch. Don’t you thumb right past those twenty posts requesting, “Read My Book”?
I use social networking for networking, not marketing. I meet new people in the industry and by putting myself out there, I am received.
- I use my Kindle freebies only before I launch a new book. I hold maybe one/two .99 cent promotions. I try to do a Goodreads giveaway once a month. I offer two, sometimes three books. I send them by camel.
- I use snail mail to keep others updated on my new work. I’ve found postal mail more beneficial than email. It takes nothing to hit the delete button on a computer. The person getting the postcard has to see what the card is about and who it’s from before giving it a toss in the trash basket.
- I set a dollar limit for promoting a book. If you look around, you’ll realize a whole industry has been developed to swallow author’s dollars, promising to get their books noticed. I have limited my promotional money to $500 a book. I know that sounds low, but I think I have sold more books in this past year than the two years combined. I advertise on free or low-cost sites. Amazon ads have been very successful, and the cost is low. Finding a way to get to readers or promote without spending a lot of money has become actually very fun. I had Fiverr.com create my book trailers. Go to my website http://www.djadamson.com to see for yourself. They aren’t bad. They are also on YouTube, and go figure this, the trailer of Outré has been seen by almost five thousand viewers. Did that turn into sales. Probably not. But five thousand people learned my name. Like a shampoos brand, Clairol. You may not buy it, but you recognize it as a shampoo.
- I put myself out there by creating a newsletter. Le Coeur de l’Artiste reviews books and interviews authors. I publish it monthly. It comes out, like any other deadlined project, on the 15th of every month. Sometimes not until midnight, but one minute before, I press the send button. The newsletter has not necessarily created sales, but it has branded my name a bit as a writer. Plus, I find a great satisfaction in promoting other authors.
Stephen King said in his work On Writing that to write you need to read a lot. You need to read what is good and what is bad. I read at least 5-6 books a month, just for the newsletter. I also try to read one or two books on promotion and craft.
- I began accumulating email addresses as soon as the newsletter idea came to me. So far, my Le Coeur de l’Artiste list is almost two thousand readers. I don’t promote myself in the newsletter, but it can be found on my website. I also offer it to many readers as a PDF. The newsletter has been so well accepted that I now have a blog, L’Artiste, that spends a little longer with an author and their work. I produce it three times a month. I also include others besides authors: musicians, scriptwriters, playwrights, etc. The blog emphasizes that getting the story out has many forms.
- There are great books out there by people offering promotional ideas. Read them all. Take an idea, put it on a card, then try it out. One idea at a time. If it doesn’t feel good to you or didn’t pan out, throw the card away and pick up another. Don’t be bashful, ask others for their promote stories. I have rarely been told to “beat it.” In fact, I think it’s a writer’s responsibility to help other writers. We all know how defeatist we can feel when things aren’t going well.
I am not sure I was helpful to anyone reading this. I am merely sharing my experience so far. I want to write for a long time, which means I need to be sensible about what I do, both with time and money. It might also sound like my whole life is consumed behind my computer. I still teach a full load of classes, grade papers, make dinner, clean house, and find the time to give my family a hug. Keeping to a schedule helps manage everything. Plus, I am my own boss when it comes to this publishing gig. If I want to take a day off, I do. I just don’t miss a deadline. Readers might fire me!
Putting yourself out there is the ultimate KEY to being SUCCESSFUL. Please share with me your promotional stories, both the horror stories and those that gave you some success. You can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or my Website. And don’t miss the latest issue of Le Coeur de l’Artiste.