This book by Patricia Fry (Allworth Press, 2011) certainly gives a self-published author a lot to think about. I have sped-read my way through and my mind has often boggled at some of the suggestions. On the other hand, some of them make perfect sense.
A chunk of Fry’s suggestions presuppose that you have boxes of your books at your disposal: you can set up an eye-catching stall at a market, or you can knock door-to-door. And you should always have a couple on you in case an opportune chat leads to a sale. Furthermore, you should have plenty of professional envelopes and labels ready to ship out all the copies you’ve sold on advanced order because you’d done such a good job of generating publicity for your book that people have been queuing up for a copy.
Personally, I don’t fancy paying for a load of books to be printed and sent out to New Zealand from North Carolina, where Lulu.com is based. I also wonder about the question of tax if I was to take it on myself to buy a bunch and then sell them on. The last thing in the world I want is to finally earn a pittance from books and then find I owe Inland Revenue.
That said, there are loads more tips that are less reliant on having had copies. Much is made of piggy-back marketing, or complementary advertising, where you align yourself with similar publications or products (but none who are in direct competition) and you help each other out by cross-referencing.
There are also stacks of useful links, like the following three:
- helpareporter.com – where you can contact a story-starved journo.
- writersmarket.com – a pay-for subscription to insider info
- writersweekly.com/whispers_and_warnings.php – for a list of people and companies who have fallen foul of literary law.
Of course Fry also talks about social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and the value of blogs. She suggests mentioning that you’ve got a book for sale in every post. I can’t see myself doing that but I can at least start reviewing more books than I do movies or music.
Finally, Promote Your Book has about 20 pages comprised of samples of people’s marketing plans, pitches, and bios. In all it’s a great, if slightly overwhelming, read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone in my position. What is my position, you may well ask? Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10, 000 hours to become an expert at something but with respect to writing, this concept was analyzed and found wanting in a column about a blog on Forbes earlier this year.
But I actually think I might not be too far off the mark. I feel like I’ve been writing and re-writing and then re-writing again for an eternity. In fact it’s been 17 years on four (shortish) novels, with a fair dash of journalism thrown in, plus one new one that’s already clocking 19,000 words.
For this, I have made about $60 in sales – but that’s no doubt because I have not previously done any publicity. My marketing strategy is as follows:
Phase One –
- Start a blog and have all the books featured on the front page (done)
- Create a Facebook author page (done)
- Start a Twitter account (done, but I don’t like Twitter. It’s a cacophony of ego!)
- Start an Instagram account to showcase local cakes and desserts, with a link to my blog (this was my friend’s suggestion, and who am I to sniff at marketing ideas?)
- Throw a Launch Party featuring my favourite DJs (booked)
- Put high quality posters of event in independent bookstores and music shops (in progress)
- Make new business cards ready to give to people at the launch and ever after (done)
- Get a rubber stamp made of my blog title, and stamp a bunch of random books to give away at the launch (done. I figure this is old-school viral marketing as books get passed on forever, don’t they? Does anyone throw them away?)
- Get high quality stickers designed and printed and send them to friends in London, Berlin, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and LA (design work is done, printing soon to be. People have said this is pointless but I wanted an element of street-style, physical promo to be spread around the world like pollen, or butterfly wings)
Phase Two –
- Pay for banner ads on club culture websites.
- Pay for banner ads on literary websites.
- Send a book to local friends who work for magazines and/or radio in the hope they’ll review it and/or interview me.
- Try to get reviewed on various international literary websites. To this end, I plan to take a closer look at the literary sites listed in the article that my lovely friend Steph recently recommended.
- Pay for a Helix review. It will apparently analyse my books and tell me why they are unique so then maybe I could do some of that piggyback marketing with similar publications.
- Write a new, better book.