From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U
Did you notice our new nifty little tab? The one that says, “Indie U”? The Evil Genius put it at the top of the page. Know what the means? It means you can find all the great posts you missed from this week under the tab. Try it. You’ll like it. And now on to Suzan’s topic of the day.
Marketing and Promotion
By Suzan Harden
NO ONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD HAS A GREATER STAKE IN THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BOOK THAN YOU!
Now, you’ll hear people witch about how much of the entire M&P falls on the writer’s shoulders. It doesn’t matter if you’re with a major publisher, a small house or going it alone, the bulk of pushing your book is on you. Why? Because it’s your freakin’ book!
The publishing houses, no matter the size, have a million other writers in line wanting their shot. If your book fails, they shrug their shoulders, say ‘Meh,’ and move on to the next sap in line.
If you’re indie publishing, guess what? There’s no one else behind you to make money from if your book fails.
And please, PLEASE realize that “failure” means different things in different environments. If my critique partner only sold 5,000 copies of her book for Grand Central in three months, her contract would probably be dropped. If I sold 5,000 copies of Zombie Love in the same time period, I’d be a roaring indie success!
Anyway, you all want the secret marketing technique that will make you a multi-millionaire like overnight wunderkind Amanda Hocking, right?
IT’S CALLED WORD-OF-MOUTH.
Word-of-mouth publicity is an elusive, rare bird. Kind of like the phoenix, except that word-of-mouth is not mythological. Word-of-mouth is shy. You cannot force it into the open. You cannot bribe it into showing itself. You must coax it, gently and sweetly by writing the best freakin’ book that you can!
Place your book in an accessible place. If word-of-mouth scents your book and approaches, resist the urge to force the tome down its throat. I assure you that word-of-mouth will vomit the words and you’ll never see word-of-mouth again for a long, long time. But if word-of-mouth nibbles your story and finds it appetizing, she will tell all her friends. You will soon have an entire flock waiting for your next hand-out.
Three Ways to Market and Promote Your Book
Okay, in all seriousness, most indie marketing and promotion can be done cheaply and effectively. Here are three popular things every writer can do.
- Social Networking
We’re talking about Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Twitter, Google+, etc. Don’t try to do everything! I can guarantee you won’t be able to keep up (and may possibly give yourself a brain aneurysm in the process). Pick out the two or three methods that you feel most comfortable with, use those methods on a regular schedule, and interact with your readers.
- Book Reviews
There are many book reviewers who are happy to look at indie books. Make sure you target a reviewer who loves your genre/sub-genre for maximum effect.
Whatever you do, don’t pay for a review! Giving any reviewer a free review copy of your book is one thing, but readers find paid reviews suspect. In fact, New York Times Bestselling Author Joni Rodgers recently quoted an indie author on Twitter stating that the idea was “akin to paying a Mafia enforcer for the privilege of breaking your legs.” (Yes, I was quoted by a NYT author.)
- Blog Tours
Visiting other blogs as a guest blogger is a great way to meet new people and expand your reader base. Most bloggers are happy to host you. Just make sure you return the favor.
But what about traditional advertising (i.e. television, radio, newspaper?
Paying for traditional ads is certainly an option if you have the moola. According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, a consumer needs to see an ad seven times before the message sticks.
Let’s say you write romance and place an ad in RWA’s Romance Sells, which is $200.00 an issue. (Hate to tell you folks, but that this is relatively cheap.) The cost can quickly add up, especially if you place multiple ads. If you don’t target to the right audience, your efforts may be a total waste. (This is why you don’t see ads for feminine products during the Super Bowl.)
Similar methods, like commenting on other blogs, can be just as effective as traditional book marketing. Providing thoughtful commentary and intelligent questions will get you a lot farther than you realize. By the same token, acting like a troll and throwing about personal insults is a good way to alienate your potential buyers.
The real trick for new indie authors is finding the balance between producing new work and the M&P for the last work published. Back in November of 2010, Jon F. Merz called J.A. Konrath out on Konrath’s blog. Jon admitted, “I’m jealous as hell that I’m not selling thousands of dollars worth of ebooks on a monthly basis.”
When Jon’s traditional publisher rejected his novel Parallax, he decided to put it up on Amazon himself. At first, sales were great, but then they crashed. After that, Jon made a common mistake. He spent way too much time analyzing why Parallax and its follow-up, Vicarious, lost momentum. What he didn’t do was continue to put out new novels.
Keep your eyes on that ball, folks. Yes, you need to promote, but you also need the next book ready for your fans to read.
By now, you should have a page or two of expenses for your new publishing venture. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the income side of the equation.
If you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer them. If you’re too shy to leave your question in the comments, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Tara, the Despicable Muse of Indie U
Indie writers can make money in a variety of ways as they try to get a growing list of titles under their brand. You may even have a day job to pay the bills. Well, if you’re looking at your business expenses and wondering how long it will take for you to get started, then it’s time for you to pay attention to a cool idea a writing buddy of mine is trying.
Lina Rivera is trying to raise the funds she needs to produce her first independent novel, Vizcaya. She’s using KickStarter, which is a way to fund and follow creativity. Check out her listing. Who knows? You may find a way to start your indie publishing adventure by doing something similar.