Whatever you find yourself doing this Thanksgiving, I hope you have a chance to be with people you care about, even if it’s just for a little while. It’s a very family time of year and I’m extremely grateful to have good people with whom to share it. I hope you, Gentle Reader, are just as fortunate.
Note: I’ve been invited to participate in “The Giving Season: Orion Township Public Library’s Author & Illustrator Fair.” The fair will take place at the library on Saturday, December 6, between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.
Get Noticed With Earned Media
As an indie author, marketing my own work sometimes feels like walking alone in a dark, rocky canyon, even though I understand the principle of earned media very well. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve talked about this before, and it’s not as expensive and esoteric as it sounds.
It’s actually free (or mostly so), highly credible and likely to be a viral resource that amplifies your efforts to create interest about your work. It’s also known as word-of-mouth.
It sounds simple, and it is … but it’s not necessarily easy.
First, you need to write a book worthy of sharing, which is hard enough. Then comes the really hard part: finding a way to get it into the hands of people who will spread the word.
Although the concept is simple and the dollar cost is low (often non-existent), implementing it requires time and effort.
How to Get Started?
What you’re doing at the earliest stages is building relationships and, just as you might expect, that takes time. Your focus at first should be more on discoverability than selling. Find out who your book appeals to and get to know where those people are.
By that, I mean create a marketing plan that uses the same social media sites as your fan base. Now, screaming “buy my book!” all the time is certain to turn people off, but it won’t hurt one bit to be helpful to other indie authors.
Why? You never know when that helping hand you offer will get another reader pointed in your direction.
Make Yourself a Brand
I’ve mentioned before that you need to have an author bio available … ideally several different-length versions of it … on a media page specifically for bloggers and journalists.
Be creative. It should be more than a description of your education and work history. It should show some personality and give your readers something special to remember.
Make it Easy to Buy
Your author website should also include links that are clear, easy to find, and go directly to a retailer where your work is available.
Promote Free Giveaways
Believe it or not, giving away a copy or two of your work, if done correctly, is a good way to draw attention to it. You can arrange book giveaways on Goodreads … or try joining and make a member giveaway at LibraryThing.
Why do it at those sites? That’s where the readers are!
Get Media Savvy
Try listening to AM radio stations, particularly on weekend mornings or Saturdays. Many will host a segment highlighting a local author. However, they’re not going to discover you in a dream.
If you’ve ever wondered why local media interviewed “the other guy” instead of you, I’m willing to bet it’s probably not your qualifications, knowledge or ability. It’s your approach. You have to make more than a little effort to find out who they are and develop a relationship with them.
Connect with your local media folks on the Twitter, LinkedIn, the Book of Face, or … dare I say it? … in real life. Respond to comments they make on social media, but don’t try to sell your books or overtly ask for an interview.
Just be friendly and helpful. Sooner or later, they’re going to recognize you, become curious and ask about you. That’s when you tell them about your book.
If, like me, you have far more time than advertising money, you can also find regional or national reporters by combing through the site Muck Rack.
“Consign” Your Book
It’s hard for an indie author to get shelf space in any store. Consider trying a consignment-style approach in little boutiques and galleries. Stop by the gift shop in most hospitals. Store owners may not want to purchase your books outright, but they might display them in their store for a cut of the profits.
An indie can even get into big-box booksellers like Barnes & Noble. Such sellers usually demand a 40% discount from retail and they also expect the publisher (you, if you’re an indie) to buy back books that are unsold after a certain period of time.
If you approach them with your books and they accept, be sure to immediately spread the word that your books are on the store’s shelves. A sudden rush of interested buyers may make them order more of your work.
Introduce yourself and get to know owners, managers and staff at local independent bookstores. Talk to schools or your community college. Mention your books to friends and neighbors. I use my lovely bride as a gauge. When she starts rolling her eyes, I know I’ve said enough.
Build goodwill (and good Karma) by getting your book into the hands of people who might not normally have access to your work. Consider donating a copy of your book to places like hospital libraries, shelters, military personnel deployed overseas, senior centers, local civic organizations or clubs.
If you’re fortunate enough to have your work mentioned in places like Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, or Library Journal you can donate copies of your book to your local library. At the very least a donation should be good for some free press coverage.
The key is getting people to know your name and your work.
For instance, I donated two of my books (favorably reviewed by Kirkus Reviews) to the permanent collection of my local library and got the press release for it accepted in a local paper (Sunday circulation 81,935).
I’ve since been invited to attend a book signing at that same library (in Orion Township, Michigan) on December 6, 2014, from 1:00–4:00pm … and it was perseverance (along with a good Kirkus Review) that opened the door.
Does that kind of exposure help? Subscribe to the blog. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Note: One of the “paid” things you should consider is inexpensive promotional material. Bookmarks are an ideal, inexpensive way to introduce your books and tell folks where to purchase them.
Even if a prospect isn’t interested in buying your book, offer them a signed bookmark, and ask them to pass it along to someone who enjoys the genre.
Hint: If someone does buy your book at a signing, make certain to ask them the spelling of their name before writing anything. I’ve run across odd spellings of supposedly common names like Jym, Leesa and Maari.
Most of All … Have Fun … Keep Writing … and Dream Big!
Remember what Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
You can find my books as eBooks or paperback on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.
Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.