In response to recent reports on ALLi's Facebook forum from indie authors disappointed by poor results from professional PR campaigns, bestselling novelist Linda Gillard, a long-standing member of ALLi, draws on her own experience to explain why she thinks self-published authors don't need to splash out for such services and how they can build a large and loyal readership without them.
I'm sorry to hear that so many self-published authors have paid out for PR services and been disappointed, but I'm not surprised. I'm one of the veterans here and some of you have heard me say this before (here's my previous post on the subject), but for the benefit of new members, this is how you get discovered…
- Cultivate readers, *one by one*
- Give away books to individuals
- Do talks & workshops for free (to begin with)
- Give books to BookCrossing.com so they can circulate them
- Donate books to organisations concerned with the issues raised in your books
- Cultivate bloggers (but only after you've researched their blogs to see if they'll like your books)
- Ask any reader who contacts you if s/he'd be so kind as to leave a short review on Amazon & Goodreads
- Get quality promo postcards made & have them with you at all times so that when you get into conversation with people you can offer one (I handed mine out to nurses on my cancer surgery ward and to the ambulance men when I was knocked down by a motor bike.)
People will remember you if you do things like that & if you're a struggling indie, you're never off duty.
Make people remember you. If we feel overwhelmed by the quantity of books, imagine how readers feel – and they're pushed for time. Give them a reason to remember your name, to choose you, to stay faithful to you. Readers want to discover a new author who has a backlist so they don't have to shop around.
The people whose help we need to enlist are chatty readers who go on forums, tweet a lot and have hundreds of friends. I acquired some of those through BookCrossing and similar activities. They drip feed stuff about me to other people, so I'm always acquiring new readers.
Focus on Readers
I don't see any way to crack it other than via readers, and by sincerely focusing on readers, rather than sales. . They hold all the power now. I think it's up to us to create authorial personalities, become star authors (like Hugh Howey & Neil Gaiman) that people want to read and read *about*.
Do all this (and more) for five years, and publish a book a year. Then get in touch & tell me it didn't work, and I'll apologise for wasting your time. But I guarantee you will have made a lot of new friends.
Over to You
Have you tried this approach with your books? Is it working for you? We'd love to know, so please join the conversation via the comments box.