With traditional publishing changing so quickly, many writers turn to independent or self-publishing to get their work out there. OK, it’s “out there.” Now what?
Writing Tip for Today: Let’s discuss a few easy ways to market your work:
But It’s on Amazon
I do a lot of coaching, and many who have self-pubbed will say, “My book is on Amazon!” I don’t say “So what?” but readers may. Millions of titles on Amazon float around unseen in the book universe, so the wisdom here is: Readers can’t buy a book they’ve never heard of. If you publish either digitally or in print or both, ask yourself how you will make sure as many readers as possible hear about your book. If you ARE on Amazon, take the time to learn about and understand KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and how books are ranked. Gather those all-important reviews. Make sure you have solid key words associated with your book. Investigate ideas such as free promos or giving readers extra value with exclusive extra material such as booklets and pdfs. There is a lot to learn, but if you do a bit each day, you can succeed. You spent a lot of time writing, rewriting, editing and publishing. Don’t leave out the marketing step.
Many writers take to Twitter and Facebook, endlessly “promoting” by repeating, “Buy my book!” But this approach feels pushy and annoying to most potential readers—the writer hasn’t answered the why of the situation. If you want to sell me a widget, you must show me how my life is incomplete without it. Similarly, writers must identify their readers because the book fits with a reader’s needs and interests. That means building relationships, not by e-blasting the reader with sales pitches.
Build Your Network
Those writers who produce nonfiction books can usually tease out their readers more easily that say, a work of commercial or literary fiction. If you write a How-to type of book or you give important info, it’s more straightforward than the reader who is interested in poetic, philosophical or how-we-live subjects. That’s because it’s much harder to quantify “squishy” topics, and because such general stories require a high level of skill to work. It’s so much easier to market Romance, Mystery, Thrillers or Westerns. Yet if you have a more mainstream novel or a memoir, you can increase chances for a solid readership by first identifying some common ground. You say your book is about Latina life? Or that the main character loves ferrets or English Setters? What already well-known author would you compare your work to (be honest!)? By pinpointing common interests with potential readers through characters, their likes and dislikes, the setting, the era, the history—you can begin to say, “If you love Ancient Greece, you’ll love my novel.”
The One-hundred Mile Radius
Another strategy I use with my own work I call the “100-mile radius.” I can’t jet around the country on a book tour (well, not yet) but I can afford to saturate my own local area. I start by sending emails or by phoning local organizations I think might either be interested in my topics or else who need regular speakers. I work in concentric circles all around where I live, first targeting my town, then working out to surrounding communities. The 100-mile tag refers to a day trip. I can drive 100 miles in any direction and not have to stay overnight. I work on one hour talks I can give to various kinds of organizations and groups and offer potential hires a list of the talks I do. I don’t generally work for free—it gives people the idea you aren’t a pro—but I negotiate a price in the group’s budget. I pitch in person wherever possible, followed by phones and as a last resort, email. I always state I’ll be selling my book at the back of the room. The 100-mile radius should keep most self-pubbed (and traditionals, too) writers busy for awhile. There are, of course, many other things writers can do, but these ideas should help you get started.
Your Turn: What’s your biggest challenge in marketing your work?