Marketing, for many authors, is the worst part about self-publishing. When you first start writing your book, getting to the end feels like an impossible task, and once you do you feel elated and proud. Then you self-publish and realise if you want anyone more than a few of your friends and relatives to buy your book, this is where the hard work really begins.
In some ways, it’s fantastic to discover that there are a lot of different ways authors can try and market their books. However, if you are not particularly tech savvy, many of these can feel overwhelming, complicated and stressful.
However, without making a real effort you can’t expect to see those sales you deserve – you put all that time and effort into making your book as good as it could be, so don’t deny the world a chance to read it!
This is one reason I'm hesitant about considering self-publishing. Even though this would be my first book and I'm not a well-known celebrity. Though writing memoirs should not be limited to celebrities anymore. A bar-owner in my hometown wrote a memoir, which she self-published. I now wonder how many people outside Hollister, California have heard about and read her book.
Here are some clever ways you can market yourself and your book.
Even if I don't end up self-publishing, I think I may try most of the ideas mentioned below should any of my writing see the light of day.
Write a blog or get a newspaper column
The best way for people to discover you is by offering them useful free information that they want to read. Writing and promoting your author blog will help readers discover you. You could also try getting a regular column in your local newspaper (or a larger one!) and connect with a wide range of readers that way.
As you know, I'm already writing a blog (been at it since December 2008). As for newspaper columns, our hometown newspaper only comes out on Friday and it's been years since I've read any of the larger newspapers (such as the San Francisco Chronicle). I think just writing a letter to your local paper to let others know you've been published is a great idea. Putting up fliers at coffee places, your local library and other places that permit this is another way to let others know. These are some ideas I will consider.
Teach a class
Offer to share your wisdom by teaching a creative writing class. This could be a one-off or a regular thing. If this sounds like too much time and effort then why not get in touch with local colleges and universities to see if they’d like you to come along and talk to the students instead? Make sure to bring copies of your book when you do.
I was doing a writing class for my fellow clients at the local Behavioral Health, but if fizzled out at the beginning of this year because of lack of participation 😞 Maybe I could consider doing one for the public? Something to think about.
Hold a reading
Contact your local library, bookstores or creative events venues and see if you can hold a reading and book signing there. Then make sure you advertise yours in every way possible. This might feel nerve-wracking, but if you have confidence in your work you’ll do great!
The aforementioned local bar-owner held a book signing at her bar and traveled with her editor to other cities as well for signing. I may be thinking to far ahead (as I have tended to do), but should I get published (traditional or self), but I definitely want to have a book-signing. I'm sure the bar lady would let me have one there. I've also considered the local coffee shop where my book club meetup group meets most of the time. The nearest Barnes and Noble is in Gilroy (right next to Hollister), and I'd love to have a signing there. Should anyone in my hometown ever publishes anything by either means, all these seem like great places for a book signing.
Get some merchandise
Creating merchandise such as bookmarks is super cheap and can really help you spread the word about your book – you could ask local bookstores or libraries if you could leave them there for free. Make sure you have information about your book and a QR code linking to where people can buy it too!
I at least want my library to carry my book for checkout. But other stuff to promote sounds like a good idea too.
Host an event
Where there is wine, people will come. If you are having trouble finding somewhere that wants you to come along and talk about your book, take matters into your own hands and host a gathering (or several) and invite people along. Try to collaborate with other creatives such as poets and artists and invite as many influential people as you can.
Again, this could be held at a coffee shop. Just last fall, several local authors held an event at one of our local coffee shops to promote their books. Most were self-published, but I think this could work for traditional-published as well.
Connect with the local community.
There are lots of ways you can do this. Donate books to your library or local charities, sponsor a community event, talk to local bookshops about hosting an event, check out local festivals and see if you could get involved in some way while also promoting your work.
I think I've covered this one with what I said above about events, readings and such.
Publish a press release.
Sind a press release to every relevant journalist and publication you can think of. Newspapers always need content so while you might not achieve a 100% success rate, you could well see your book being advertised in some prominent publications. If you get that far, why not get back in touch and see if they would be willing to do an interview with you or write a review?
See above under the blog/newspaper, but also send it to major newspapers and other publications. I would likely try to send one to any medical journals as well as magazines such as Psychology Today or any other publication focused on mental health.
Get more mileage from your book
Have you ever thought about turning your book into a play, or a film? Why not give it a go? You never know, you could see your book being performed on stage or in the cinema!
Again, thinking too far ahead, but I've often wondered who might play me in a movie, should my book one day become a movie. I'm not too sure what currently popular actress I'd consider my doppelganger, just for the fun of it. Several books I've recently read have plots that just screamed movie.
Marketing yourself as an author is no easy task. Just make a plan, stay organised and do everything you can to get your book out there and visible to as many people as possible. Acknowledging you have done your very best to make your book a success will feel so much more satisfying than knowing you could have done more – regardless of how many books you sell
Would you consider any of these ideas, whether you self- or traditional-publish? And on a side note, a girl I knew from school said she plans to write an autobiography. She sent me an email the other day saying she fears being sued by others. I felt the same way as I began prepping notes for my memoir. This is why I didn't use real names, but told mostly true events. Some details about events and descriptions of people have been jumbled, some people are composites, or in some cases, one person is broken into two or more separate people. I haven't suggested these ideas to her yet (I have yet to respond to her email).