The fun and fearless way to self-marketing for the independent author
Guest Post by Faiz Kermani
You have nothing to lose!
If you have self-published a book then the next step is to market it. This can be quite a daunting experience, and if you do not have any previous experience in this field you may feel quite stressed. This is not helped by the fact that many people believe that the only way to market a product is to use a professional agency.
The truth is that there is a lot you can do for yourself and you can learn a lot from the process involved. There are no rules in marketing, and many of those you hear casting doubt on your efforts will probably be doing so in order to sell you their services. In any case, how many of these agencies/individuals can really promise you that they will make your book a literary and commercial success?
The major advantage you have, if you decide to do things yourself, is that you are the author of the book. Therefore, anyone wishing to learn more about the book gets to deal with the source behind it and not a faceless entity representing you. I have participated in various author events, and wherever I have been, it has been a lot of fun to meet people who were genuinely enthusiastic about my books. These interactions and experiences will keep you motivated when you run into critics and the feared prophets of doom!
Some people believe you need to have a defined, “set in stone” marketing plan before you finish your book. While this might be desirable in an ideal world, as an individual there is a limit as to how many tasks you can take on. Therefore, I would suggest that it is best to ensure that your book is written and published before devoting too much time to marketing. As long as you have a long-term vision for your book, there will always be marketing tactics you can employ, whether it is shortly after publication through to years down the line. Get to know your audience and experiment with ideas so that you end up with a flexible marketing plan that works for you over a long period of time.
I recommend that you keep several different marketing initiatives on the go, so that you are not solely dependent on any one of them. Sadly, you will come across rude, unhelpful and dismissive people while you try these out, but all you need is for one friendly person to show interest in what you are doing and it can open several doors!
Mixing it up
One of the fears most authors have about marketing comes from the fact that they have only witnessed marketing on a mass scale, as carried out by large publishing companies. This distorted picture means that many independent authors lack the confidence to carry out their own marketing and lose heart when a particular approach does not work. However, the world of publishing is undergoing great change and thanks to features such as the Internet there are a variety of tools you can harness for your marketing at minimal cost. You may be surprised at just how widely you can publicize yourself for very little cost!
For starters, make sure that your book is available for sale online at Amazon and similar sites. Amazon also has a number of features to help the independent author connect with their audience. These include the “search inside feature”, which allows people to read an extract from your book, and the Author Central page, where you can build a profile about yourself and your writing. Make use of free opportunities such as these, since they are the easiest ways to publicize your book internationally.
I would then suggest that you set up your own website(s) –as it will become the most easily accessible information source on your books to the rest of the world. Thankfully, you can now find numerous website design agencies that are happy to work with clients who have modest budgets.
Once your website is up and running, you should consider producing a press release. Some people believe that only professionally-written press releases succeed, but if you can write a book then you should be capable of writing a perfectly suitable introductory press release. What is more important is that you distribute the press release to the right places, mixing traditional print media with online media outlets. Try to look at other press releases for format, and think about your intended readers. What is the best way to tell them about your book in a snappy and appealing way?
The local and regional media can be some of your best allies, so try to look up the details of editors at newspapers and radio stations. Send them your press release as an attachment, with a short, friendly, introductory message. If you include a photo of yourself in the press release and a statement that you are happy to be interviewed you may be surprised at the results.
Numerous book review websites abound on the Internet seeking news releases and interviews with new authors. Some will also review your book for you and encourage you to use their write-ups as part of your publicity material. Through these approaches, you may find yourself making a name further afield than you imagined!
Although the Internet and electronic media have an important role to play in your marketing campaign, do not underestimate how much you can achieve through direct contact with people.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful routes for book publicity; it can lead to some exciting opportunities. People are always interested in books, and will be quite proud to know an “author”. You may find that friends of yours get talking to other people and through a network of more distant conversations it results in you being invited to an author signing event or being introduced to editors at magazines and radio shows.
Be ambitious, but realistic
If you are an independent author, then you must be realistic about what you can achieve through a self-run marketing campaign. The mainstream publishing industry is highly competitive and often controlled by those who are more focused on what they think will be a commercial success than what is of literary value. This will depend on their analyses of audience wants and needs, and if your book does not fit their criteria then, rightly or wrongly, you will have a hard time becoming that overnight success you may have always dreamed of. Equally, the media is carrying thousands of new stories each day, so it may not necessarily pick up on news about your book.
However, this does not mean you should give up, but just be more focused on what led you to write your book. If you can set the publicity goals for your book around your passion for writing, then you will be able to enjoy the process of marketing your book. You will develop a highly effective and targeted campaign that also maximizes your commercial opportunities!
As a PhD-qualified immunologist, Faiz Kermani’s day job is light years away from his fun hobby of writing children’s fiction (www.faizkermani.com). His latest book, A First Guide to Space Creatures, received an Honorable Mention at the 2011 Reader Views Literary Awards. His first book, My Alien Penfriend has also been translated into French as Mon Correspondant Extraterrestre (http://www.myalienpenfriend.co.uk).