A final word on The Publishing Journey as we wrap up this series -
As I've been working through the posts, it's become obvious to me that the publishing journey - from book proposal to post launch exposure and everything in between - is a completely different beast to how I remember when I first started out at the age of 15.
If you aren't venturing down the traditional route - and even if you do - at some point you will need to embrace and learn about the virtual book marketing techniques available to you as a promoter of your own work. This series is packed with good ideas to kick start your publicity and branding - and I've been learning along the way too!
I'm going to squeeze in some last minute marketing advice for you before we get into all things self publishing next week ...
Like most of you reading this, marketing is something I've plunged into head first with no prior knowledge, but thankfully I'm picking up tips and tricks and helpful advice all the time.
Here are 10 pitfalls to avoid when marketing your book and how to stay on the straight and narrow:
1) Don't try to aim for everyone
You have written for a specific genre so stick to it
2) Don't bet on consumer rationality
Research suggests that emotion plays a big part in purchase decisions so market to your audience's whims. Don't be square with your strategy. Think outside the box
3) Don't take market research as the be all and end all
Interpret the data at face value and don't try to read between the lines - that could cost you
4) Don't get seduced by new, exciting marketing methods
Stick to what works whilst evaluating what might
5) Don't advertise your aspirations
You are setting yourself up for a mighty fall by inviting your potential readers to catch you out. Live by them and set the tone for you and your writing that way
6) Don't follow the leader
Focus on your individual hook because that's what makes your story unique. If you try and copy someone else's style or idea and it doesn't work, you are proving to your audience that you will never be as good
7) Don't create a big marketing team
What's that saying? "Too many cooks spoil the broth". I can't afford a big team of people to help me market my work which is just as well because the best committee is a committee of one
8) Don't starve your budget
Tricky because I have no budget, but every writer must somehow get their message out. For now I'm using free social media and the internet. That's as good a starting point as any...
9) Don't expect your marketing efforts to work immediately
It takes time to build a brand. Credibility grows through consistency. Plan plan plan and stick to your plan
10) Don't get stage fright
Now it's time to execute those plans and find out what works and what doesn't
And here's a novel tip for free advertising overseas:
Write a message in the front of your book linking back to a promotional piece about your story on your website or blog. If you travel a lot or know someone who does, give them a copy of your book to leave in a well trafficked area like a cafe, hotel reception or even on public transport. Get them to take a pic of your book in-country and "social media" it, then you could post their pic and words back to your website or blog and keep an area dedicated to this ongoing promotion.
Wouldn't it be amazing to see your book travel all around the world!!!
I promised a blog post on the daunting subject of networking so here we go. I'm hopefully going to show you that it isn't as scary as it sounds...
I know for a fact many writers are the shy, retiring type (like me). We don't want to talk to people. All we want to do is be left alone to write. Our creative space only has room for one!
But, here's a thought - what if you're already talking with fellow writers through Facebook and Twitter? And hey presto, guess what, you're networking.
My first word of advice - don't think of it as networking. Don't think of it as what can I do / what do I have do for this person for them to like me and connect with me. And turning it on its head, don't go into the relationship with the selfish motive of what can I get out of this, either.
Think of it as socialising with friends - meaningful sharing of ideas, sharing books and articles you've read and interesting industry advice. Who wants a shallow, negative relationship anyway?
Seek out the people you admire and invest in them. After all, you get out what you put in. And people will reciprocate. The idea is to surround yourself with those friends who will motivate you and keep you sane on the rocky road of a freelancer.
I love giving something back through my blog. Put yourself out there with your writing and pretty soon you'll be attracting like-minded people. It really is as simple as that - and once again I say Hallelujah to the Twittersphere!
Not only did networking uncover the real world of publishing to me, but it found me my agent, who in turn found me my publisher. I also made some good friends and held some lively debates at the events I attended. This is why it's so important to throw yourself out there every now and then. You never know who you're going to meet and what will happen.
Go on, go for it!
Here is a splash of my favourite networking tips:
Your book's exposure
Something I never capitalised on with my debut novel - because I was learning how the Publishing industry had changed and adapting - was maximising its exposure at the time of release. Looking back now, I would definitely have a solid marketing strategy in place before the launch date based on the advice I've been sharing in The Publishing Journey blog series.
We spend so much time plotting and writing a book, editing, re-writing, editing, re-writing so it seems criminal that the hype will probably only last for a couple of months after all of that hard work.
Marketing yourself and your book/s has to be scheduled into your writing week unless you can afford to pay someone to do it for you. It's a hell of a lot of work but will ensure you do your work justice and get it in front of as many people as possible on a regular basis.
The point is to keep networking - making new friends / contacts / potential readers and sharing your experiences as a writer. Therefore it stands to reason, much the same as the build up to your book launch, your long term marketing strategy should include some or all of the following:
You know, this does take up a huge amount of your time and could completely overrun any time you have for writing, so don't pressure yourself to do all of these things at once. Pick one from the list and see how you get on. Maybe give yourself two months to accomplish it. If it doesn't work out or you didn't find it useful, pick another and try over. As I so often say, it's all about finding what works for you.
I'll have some tips for networking in my next post.
More book promotion ideas
If you are able to write full time, try to spend a couple of hours a day on book promotion and marketing (this also includes any social media), but don't go over that two hour time slot because writing should always take precedent. As with anything, it takes a lot of discipline, so draw up a schedule say over the next six months breaking down each area of your marketing into manageable chunks.
Today I've got some more ideas for promoting your book:
Create a book trailer and publish it to your website and social media. Most of us are on a budget so using footage with real actors and actresses is probably out of the question. In that case, go the stills route. Find some quality photographs - either your own if you dabble in photography or I'm told pinterest could be useful. Always ask permission first though! Write a script for the stills, find some music and then use a movie editor like iMovie to put the whole thing together. You could even create it in Powerpoint. Make sure on the final slide you have your contact details, where you can buy the book and possibly the blurb.
Write articles around your book's themes and / or your writing life and send them to ezines and article directories. Link back to your Amazon page, website and blog where you can.
Here is a list of potential ezines / article directories:
Amazines – www.amazines.com
Article Alley – www.articlealley.com
Article Base- www.articlebase.com
Article City – www.articlecity.com
Articles Factory – www.articlesfactory.com
AuthorConnection.com – www.authorconnection.com
Buzzle.com – www.buzzle.com
Constant Content – www.constant-content.com
Ezine Articles – www.ezinearticles.com
GoArticles.com – www.goarticles.com
isnare.com – www.isnare.com
Jogena’s – www.jogena.com
jorbins.com – www.jorbins.com
LinkSnoop.com – www.linksnoop.com
PromoteNewz.com – www.promotenewz.com
PromotionWorld.com/articles.html – www.promotionworld.com
SearchWarp.com – www.searchwarp.com
upromote.com – www.upromote.com
WorkAtHomeArticles.net – www.workathomearticles.net
Work911.com – www.work911.com
Your book will most likely be on Amazon and Goodreads as a starting point, but run a Google search and see where else you can place it on the virtual book shelves. A few that I know of - Smashwords, Createspace, Independent Author Network, Indie Kindle, Indie book of the day, Celebrating Authors, The Kindle book review, World Literary Cafe and Indie Book Collective. That's enough to be getting on with, but seriously, there are loads! More on these sites over the coming weeks.
Keep an eye on your Amazon ranking and offer your book cut price - or even for free - to get it back up the various charts. Again, more on this over the coming weeks.
Finally, write a press release for your book and submit it to a whole host of press release websites (see below). I've read that press releases are recorded within the news filter of Google search, so that's handy for getting the word out there if you are planning any events - launch, signings, meet the author, etc
Ongoing book promotion
Here are some more ways you can promote your book. The good thing is a lot of it you will already be doing, so, with a little extra effort, it could really pay off for you:
Post launch book promotion
Before I take a side road in The Publishing Journey and talk about self publishing, we're going to take a look at ongoing promotion for your book. With the changing face of the Publishing industry, it's not simply a case of launching the book and then sitting back. If you want your work to be a success, post launch is when it really counts.
Here's how you can maintain the momentum:
Finally, a word of warning: Blogging about book sales will get you publicity (because other writers are chomping at the bit for this information), but you run the risk of being banned by Amazon.
Planning a virtual book tour
So far in The Publishing Journey blog series we've covered the book proposal, what the professionals in the publishing industry expect of an author today, what you can be doing whilst searching for an agent, publicity tactics before publishing, YOU as a brand and finally the coveted book launch... But what happens next? How do you continue promoting your book?
Enter the virtual book tour. Of course, you can do a real life one too, but it's likely to be more cost effective and you'll reach a bigger target audience by continuing to promote your work online.
Planning a virtual book tour is much the same as planning a blog tour and I'm sure with a little refreshing, you can use much of the same material.
Here are 8 steps to follow:
1) Make sure your blog is active along with your social networking accounts - Twitter, Facebook, etc
2) Give yourself at least 2 months planning time (if not more). Determine the type of tour you want to do, what you hope to achieve, and specific dates and duration
3) Plan your content and giveaways
4) Research for prospective hosts and send them an invitation (much of this work you would've already done when organising your blog tour)
5) Once confirmations from hosts come back in, assign dates to them for the tour
6) Begin pre-tour promotional activity for the book tour (again, use the same strategy from your blog tour)
7) Write your articles / blog posts and interview questions and send them to your hosts
8) Finally, when the tour kicks off, monitor daily, be virtually visible and available, and co-ordinate any action points (like prizes for giveaways)
The book launch
Ah the coveted book launch... just thinking about it puts a smile on my face. I never got round to organising one for my debut novel, but I'd love to do one some day. Maybe for the next book...
Everybody is talking about Goodreads, so take a look at their author program which I shall be signing up for shortly. Here you can promote you, your book and your launch - and more importantly, build your fan base block by block. I also like the fact you can share your favourite books and what you're currently reading, so it's a two-way portrayal - you the author and you the reader. And you can link your existing blog to your author profile keeping things very streamlined.
Now onto organising a book launch. I'm no expert but I've found some helpful advice to share with you today:
YOU the brand
Remember I said you had to think of yourself as a brand and not be a one book wonder - unless that's your intention. Depending on your marketing budget and time constraints, there are many ways to promote yourself and it's all about finding what works for you and then running with it. For example, something I've picked up on: I don't think having my blog as part of my website is as effective as it could be, so I'm also running a blog on Google's Blogger platform alongside this one to see how my audience differs and whether anything obvious jumps out to prove one is better over the other.
Over the past few weeks, we've covered the key ingredients to an author platform - having a Twitter and Facebook presence plus any other profiles which work for you, and having your own website and the all important blog. We've also looked at following blogs across the publishing spectrum from Agents and Editors to marketing gurus and your fellow writers. Commenting on these and guest posting. Running a blog tour with competitions and securing reviews for your book. Attending events and networking with the industry professionals and other writers, and talking to local libraries and local book stores to run book signings and Meet The Author Q&A sessions.
So what else can you do?
Here are a few more ideas:
Next up, we'll take a look at the book launch.
Using your blog to promote
Through networking for reviews and piecing together your blog tour, you will no doubt make many new contacts and find a whole host of helpful websites for cross promotion opportunities. It's definitely a minefield and so easy to get distracted, but you need to have a clear idea of what your objectives are - and then stick to them.
Now bringing it back to your blog, which for me is the basis of all the platform building, promotion and publicity you will do, here are some ways to use it to promote you and your book:
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.