It's commonplace for indie authors to find marketing stressful and overwhelming, especially when they are new to self-publishing and only just beginning to realize that there is much more to being a successful author-publisher than writing a great book. To encourage anyone who is struggling to get started, US author Cathy D Dudley shares how she made the task less daunting, more manageable and even enjoyable by breaking her marketing campaign down into baby steps.
At first, getting your book into readers’ hands can seem impossible, like moving a mountain. But since I self-published my first book in March 2012, I’ve learned there are many little things you can do, one at a time, to steadily walk in this direction. Here is what's worked for me, and I hope these ideas will help you too.
First Step: Lift-off!
My own first small marketing step was to ask our two local newspapers to help me announce the publication of my book. Both interviews were extremely complimentary. As a result, I got an invitation to speak at a nearby community church and told I was welcome to bring copies of my book for a signing afterward.
Identify the Target Audience
My next task was to figure out my book's target audience. I’m the author of Toddler Theology, a Christian book for children and their families, so almost every day I’m looking for opportunities to invite myself to speak at churches, preschools, Christian academies, and civic organizations.
Find Appropriate Local Stores
I asked “mom and pop” stores in my area to carry five or more copies. I've known most of our local store owners for years, so I went in person, book in hand. When I approached them, they were all so gracious and agreed to display my book. I now supply copies of my book to a total of seven stores, which include two in the adjacent city of Roanoke and one in the nearby city of Rocky Mount.
Book signings are a delightful way to market your book, with the store owner’s permission, of course! Buy a small portable table, make or buy an attractive poster, and put out a stack of your books with one displayed on an easel. As folk come and go, make eye contact, and tell them you’re a local author. Ask if they’ve got a minute to take a look at your book. And this is the perfect place to have an email sign-up sheet for your website. I’ve also been thrilled to have book signings at Barnes and Noble and several other book stores that don’t carry my book. The key is to ASK!
Social Media – Pick One to Start
I heard from many different sources that I should have a Facebook page (separate from your personal profile). I started mine in 2012. Invite your personal Facebook friends to like your author page, then post about your book activities. Use pictures to draw attention. Tag a few consenting people to increase reach. Some authors also use Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, but be careful not to get overwhelmed. One or two social media options done well is the main principle.
Simple Promotional Materials
- Keep author business cards handy in your wallet and put them on your table at book signings so people have your contact information.
- Add a descriptive line under your name in emails, plus your author website and social media links.
An author website is a much bigger step. It took me over five years to seriously consider this venture. But now that it’s completed, I couldn’t be happier. (You can find it at www.cathyddudley.com.) People from anywhere in he world can be introduced to me and my book with just a click and also have the option to stay connected by subscribing. So don’t wait as long as I did! Keep it simple. Choose colors, fonts and images that reflect who you are and what you want to say. The four essentials in the navigation bar are the home page, the about you page, the book page, and the contact page. Link your website to all your social media. A blog is optional.
The more book reviews you have, the better chances your book will have to sell. Most people, including your close friends, don’t write a review unless asked. ASK!
Whether it’s at a Spring Fling, a Fall Festival, or a Christmas Bazaar, you need to be there. Set up as for a book signing. Don’t be shy – you never know where a conversation may lead. Someone I met at an event introduced me to the director of a local morning TV show. You guessed it ~ I got an interview! Depending on the fee for a space, I sometimes ask an author friend to share my spot. It’s also a great way to encourage one another.
On the Move
When you're traveling, tuck away one or two of your books in your luggage. Who knows who you’ll meet? I’ve given copies of Toddler Theology to new friends in Arizona, Oregon, the British Virgin islands, New Zealand,and many other locations around the world, providing valuable connections beyond my own community.
Network with Other Writers
Join a writers’ group that meets regularly. I’m a member of the Roanoke Valley Christian Writers. I also joined the Alliance for Independent Authors and benefit from its member forum on Facebook. Both of these groups put you in touch with other authors and their sets of experiences. You can ask questions. You can share what you’ve learned. You’re kindred spirits, and the exchanges are wonderfully positive. Memberships like these give you the added bonus of educational programs. Our writers’ group has monthly speakers on everything from poetry composition to website design. Our President also keeps us up to date on Writers’ Conferences in our area. ALLi sponsors a wide range of podcasts produced specifically to help indies.
Set Time Limits
One final word of caution: marketing your book can become an all-consuming passion.
There’s always one more thing you could do! It’s a good idea to set time limits. Sometimes you need to take a break altogether. Tomorrow will be there. I’ve had to ask myself more than once, “Am I paying attention to what’s going on with those around me?” Don’t forget your husband, your children, and your extended family need you and your time too. Balance in these areas is the recipe for joy in both your marketing and your private life.#indieauthors - is the challenge of #bookmarketing getting too much for you? Try Cathy Dudley's approach - breaking it into baby steps, as described in her guest post here. Click To Tweet
OTHER POSTS ABOUT HOW AVOID FEELING OVERWHELMED
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive