Any indie author who has ever self-published a book has been there: regretting the wisdom of hindsight highlighting an error of judgment that has hampered the marketing potential of their new book.
But the indie publishing community are a very generous bunch, and today we're sharing top tips gathered from ALLi's Facebook Forum (one of 21 membership benefits available exclusively to paid members of the Alliance of Independent Authors) to help you avoid the many traps that lie in wait for new and beginner authors.
(It's a useful refresher course for seasoned self-publishers too!)
1 Publishing before your book is ready
“Pushing that first book out too early when it's not properly edited or properly ready,” says author im Heath. “Usually because of sheer excitement!”
“Rookies especially need lots of critical feedback on plot, character development and pace. Don't publish without at least two rounds of critical feedback on the story,” adds author Anna Castle.
“It's also important to have a marketing strategy in place before you publish,” says author Helena Halme. “No matter how loose – even if it's only the back of an envelope – though preferably much more detailed than that!”
“Marketing should not be an after-thought,” advises book marketing consultant Belinda Griffin. “So often it's neglected, and then marketing ends up being haphazard, desperate and frustrating. A well-thought-out plan made well in advance can minimise all those negative feelings around marketing.”
Editor Helen Baggott has seen newbies so over-eager to publish that they've booked their launch venue before hiring their editor! “I can't tell you how many enquiries I reply to that earn the response: ‘Sorry, I can't wait till then. I'm launching the book on *insert unrealistic date*'. Finish the book before you plan the party!”
2 Getting family and friends to buy your book when it comes out
“This messes up your ‘Also Bought' algorithm,” advises author Barry Hutchison.
3 Review swaps with other authors
Making a pact with other authors to review each others' books is another way to screw up your ‘Also Boughts', advises author Jacquie New. “Plus it can get you in hot water with the retailers, especially Amazon.”
4 Trying to use social media to sell the book rather than to be sociable.
“Far too many authors simply retweet links to their books day in and day out without holding a single conversation or sharing anything else of interest,” says author Rebecca Bradley. “They simply have an account because they think they should and have no idea how to use it.”
“Instead, make your shares content-rich,” advises author Toko-pa Turner. “This will always come across as generous, rather than market-y, but will have the added effect of creating interest in your work as an author.”
6 Writing a novel that doesn't fit into any of the established genres
This tip comes from author JJ Toner. Yes, we're indie – we can write what we like. But there's a trade-off between writing what we want to write and writing what there is a real market for. “Genre choice is straightforward and vital to get even a small number of sales,” says JJ. “There are many who are happy not to conform and accept it will affect their sales,” says author Sarah Marie Graye. “Not everyone writes to be commercially successful.” JJ adds: “But most people who publish a book want others to read it!”
7 Ditch any sense of entitlement
“Do not feel entitled,” says author Alison Morton. “No-one s as deeply interested in your book as you are. Nobody owes you a living or indeed a book sale. Be realistic.”
Three Positive Notes to End On…
- Follow the seven points above, and you'll be off to a great start. There are plenty of resources online and in books to take advice from – some good, some bad, some indifferent. If you're new to book marketing, or would like a refresher course, a good starting point is to click here for a collection of key posts about book marketing for newbies on the ALLi blog.
- If there's a particular aspect of marketing that you'd like to know more about, type the appropriate keyword into the search box on our blog (see sidebar on the right).
- And if you're a paid-up ALLi member, make sure you join our members-only Facebook forum, where you can ask any question on any aspect of book marketing (or indeed any other part of the self-publishing process), any time day or night, and quickly get authoritative answers from author and partner members all over the world.
With thanks to the authors named above, and many other ALLi members, who contributed to this conversation on our Facebook page – we'll be revisiting your collective wisdom in future posts and sharing more of your great advice.
Not yet a paid-up member of ALLi? Would you like to be able to join our Facebook forum – and take advantage of the many great deals and discounts available exclusively to ALLi members? Many of our members report that the money saved by taking advantage of these offers at all stages of the self-publishing process more than cover the (already affordable) cost of their annual membership fee. Find out more about how to join ALLi at our membership website here: www.allianceindependentauthors.org