Marketing 101

You're done it! You're finished your magnum opus and have published it, either through a publisher or self-publishing. And now you're waiting for the public to discover it.

You're going to be waiting a very long time.

In 2012, over 3,000,000 books were published. Traditional publishers only account for 300,000 of them, meaning the rest were self-published or from indie houses. Compare this number with one from a century ago: 9,260 books were published in 1907.

Needless to say, it's hard to get your book noticed among so many others. It's especially difficult for introverts, because it's often against their very nature to be bold and assertive. This blog is an attempt to help my fellow introverted writers find ways they can market without being unduly stressed.

There are some things you need to know:

1) Book reviews are your most important form of advertising. A good review on a popular site will induce more people to check out your book than any number of ads. Think about it for a moment: what was the last book you saw in an ad? Yeah, I couldn't think of one either, but I remember the last book review I read that led me to go to the book's Amazon page.

Reviewers won't come to you, at least not in the beginning.  You have to ask people and offer them a free copy in exchange for their honest opinion. The best options are:

  • People who have read and reviewed similar books to yours on Goodreads.
  • Small book blogs
  • Book blogs in your specific genre
  • Facebook book review pages

Start small, because the smaller the blog, the more likely they are to accept review requests. Check their info page and obey their rules carefully. Don't try to stretch your genre to fit.

2) Build friendships and relationships on social media. There is a hard and fast rule involved: 80% of your posts should have nothing to do with your book. You're building friendships and relationships, not spamming. Make a separate page for your author self or for your book & spam the hell out of that, if you like. But your profile should be very low on self-promo. Post funny pictures, links to articles and posts on writing, links to fellow authors' book pages, free books in your genre, etc.

Important note for introverts: You do not have to get personal in order to build relationships. I've shared very few details about my life. I have chat turned off on every social media outlet I use. I answer messages sent to me asking questions about writing and publishing, but not "Let's chat about you!" Those get a polite but firm response I'm not interested in chatting about my personal life.

3) Start a blog. I struggled with this one initially, because frankly, I didn't know what to say. I'm not terribly interesting, and I highly doubt anyone would be interested in my opinion on the economy, or what I did yesterday. (Same thing I did the day before: type at my computer.)

So, instead of boring my small audience to tears, I posted about writing, how to deal with criticism, editing, the publishing process, books that taught me something as a writer, and interviewed fellow authors. I've since expanded a bit and now have separate blogs for my books, my fanfiction and my main page. See my article for tips on how to make your blog more effective.

4) Build relationships with your fellow authors. Remember, they are not your competitors. They are your colleagues, your allies. Feature them on your blog. (Some of my most popular posts have been hosting other authors.) Some of my fellow authors and I have created a small promo group, where we exchange posts on our work, have contests, and giveaways. It was originally supposed to be a one-time event, but it worked so well for all of us, we decided to continue with it.

5) Join Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit and Google+ and StumbleUpon. These are simply more sites where people could find you and your book. I use these sites the same way I do with Facebook: funny pictures, posts about writing, other authors I like, and a page for my books. One of my fellow authors has recipes from her novel. It is important to note you should not use other people's pictures to promote your novel unless they're in Creative Commons, marked for commercial use.

6) Link your social media accounts. My Facebook and Twitter are linked, so that when I post on one, it automatically posts on the other, as well. It keeps both accounts more active and interesting to the reader. I put my blog posts on Tumblr.

7) Join sites which amplify your content. Triberr is a site I highly recommend. If the members of my tribe find my posts interesting, they approve them to be sent out over their own social media to be seen by their followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc. If every member of all my tribes shared my post, it has the potential to be seen by four million people. Now, that doesn't usually happen, of course, but my posts usually get shared about 60-70 times or so. That's a bunch of people I wouldn't normally reach. For more information, see my post on using Triberr.

World Literary Cafe has a Tweet-sharing program in which ten people share each other's Tweets over their networks. Since almost all of them are authors, you're reaching a lot of potential readers.

8) Make sure you have sharing buttons on your blog. Seems simple enough, but you might have to install them, based on which platform you install. Blogger has a small bar of social media sharing options you can elect to have at the bottom of your posts, but you need to manually install a StumbleUpon button. (One author I know swears by StumbleUpon, and says it's directly responsible for a large increase in his traffic.)

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