Now we have a completely finished product, so it’s time to sit back and rake in the cash from all the sales, right? Not so fast. After all the work we’ve done to get here, now comes the hard part! Yeah – the hard part.
Writing is the easy part. That’s the part we’re comfortable with. Well, aside from the insecurity. I can fight through the self-doubt and everything that comes with the writing process, but then what? Advertising and publicity is a whole other ball game. There’s an entire industry that is overflowing with experts on how to sell things. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do that and have no idea where to start…and it shows! This is where being an author turns from writing stories to becoming a small business owner. Didn’t know you were signing up for that, did you? I sure didn’t!
Just because you’ve written a book doesn’t mean that anybody knows about it. Or even that they care about it. Sure, you may get a few supportive family members who buy a copy out of obligation, but trust me when I say that even these sales aren’t guaranteed. There is a lot of work involved to publicize your work once it’s released in order to get people to actually give it a chance. That last sentence says there’s a lot of work involved to publicize your work once it’s released. In reality, if you wait until it’s released to start publicizing, then you’re already behind the eight ball.
Publicity should start early in the writing process and can be utilized in numerous ways. The easiest, most affordable way is to create an author page on your social media platforms of choice. This is where my advice is going to differ from “expert advice”. (Also, I’ve already acknowledged that I’m no expert and also not really effective with tactics to sell books, so maybe listen to the experts.) A lot of experts will tell you to publicize across all social media platforms. Different users utilize different sites/apps, so if you want to maximize your exposure to your target audience, then be active in as many areas as you can. The keyword there is to be ACTIVE in as many areas as you can. My personal recommendation is to utilize all platforms that you are comfortable with. I’m good with certain platforms and not so great with others. While I certainly think it’s good to learn new skills and keep up with technology, I’m just not effective on certain platforms. I’m not convinced it’s worth my time, effort, and hassle to focus on those when I can have a bigger impact in other areas.
The biggest takeaway from this point is to be active. Post regularly to stay relevant. Nobody releases new books every week (except for maybe James Patterson), and if you only post when you release something then people are going to lose interest. Post about progress on your WIP (work in progress). Post relevant updates about difficulties you’re having or things you’re excited about with the story. Have a title/cover reveal on your social media pages. Create a blog and post on there. Use your social media to advertise your blog. Get a mailing list created. All of these things are free and simple if you can devote just a little bit of time to each. In addition to writing, I also have a day job, so I have to be selective about what I spend time on. If you have the luxury of being a full-time writer, then by all means, become a master of the internet. It can only help.
As you get closer to release, schedule a book launch release party. There are a couple different methods with this: either schedule it for the same day of release or even a pre-release party so people can get a copy before it actually hits the market. I prefer the latter because it’s another way to build hype leading up to the release date.
Select a group of beta readers (folks identified to read the book prior to publication) and send out advance reader copies (ARCs). These are usually just e-copies of the book so that people can start to form an opinion about the book. Then have your beta readers leave reviews as soon as the release date hits. That’ll help build hype and credibility for other readers to see that people have enjoyed your story. Word of mouth is the biggest factor for new authors.
Blog tours. I don’t know what they are, but they’re a very popular tactic online for a massive numbers of authors. Online release parties with multiple hosts. Don’t know how they work, but they seem fun and surely can’t hurt. (If you’re an author and want to educate me, then please fill me in on these!) Conduct giveaways for free e-copies. It might seem counter-intuitive to give copies away when sales are so precious, but you can’t count on sales before you build an audience.
Once you have hard copies in hand, publicize guerrilla-style. Drop copies around your community in free little libraries. Donate a copy to your local library. Look for places where you can have book signings or participate in local author fairs. This part might be one of the hardest parts for writers because we’re typically introverted, but it’s crucial to make personal connections with readers in order to build your audience.
And after all that, if you’re lucky, you’ll sell a few books. You aren’t going to make a best-seller list right away, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Good luck to you! And if you’ve had success, then please share in the comments below!
Thank you, that is all.