I was in a lovely conversation with a fellow writer who asked me about marketing and promotion. When you work a regular job and put in more than 40 hours a week; when you have a family who needs, craves, and actually LIKES your company; when every spare moment is dedicated to either working for a living or re-acquainting yourself with the progeny to which you gave birth or the person with whom you share a home; when any time above and beyond that is spent with the creatures who live inside your head, how do you find time to market and promote your work?
It’s difficult enough to find enough time to write, much less pimp yourself out. And how effective is it to be an Internet ho? I don’t have the answers — all I know is what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned from those who have come before me (and you will find some very helpful links to some amazing blogs on my sidebar) and what I have observed all my years in the writing biz. The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re angsting about selling books is:
THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.
The best, most effective way to sell more books? Write more books. This is the secret most writers blow off, think it’s too simple or think it doesn’t matter. It does. You see, you hook someone on your book, and the first thing an avid reader is going to do is buy every single thing you have written. And they’re going to talk about it. Readers are very loyal and once they find an author they like, they would rather buy from them than someone new. It’s the truth and that’s what’s behind all the big name success stories you see in the news. Amanda Hocking? Has a shit-ton of work for sale. Joe Konrath? Barry Eisling? Same thing.
That’s not to say you don’t have to do ANY marketing. It just means without the material out there, it’s not going to be effective. You need books, short stories, novellas, on the market, more than one. The more you have, the more you sell, and the more you sell.
Marketing can be a total time-suck, but there are things you can do that take very little maintenance. Here are some of my suggestions:
Your blog is a great start, but put links in your email signature. I like WiseStamp because you can link it to update automatically with your blog posts and Twitter feed. Don’t have a Twitter account? Get one. Use a service like Buffer (free) to capture pages you surf and to schedule automatic posts, but set aside a little bit of time to actually talk to people. Twitter takes time to establish, and it has evolved over the three years I’ve been on it. It’s social interaction and if you don’t interact, it won’t do you much good. But, it’s great for networking and support, even if it doesn’t sell a whole lot of books.
Support other writers. I am in an awkward position as an editor for some of the best books I’ve read this year. As an editor, it’s a conflict of interest for me to pimp my clients out, and that totally sucks. (Because really, what am I going to say? They suck? Of course not, plus if I don’t give every one the same amount of time, that will cause problems. PLUS, if I don’t like the story, what happens when I don’t pimp that one out? PLUS, I’m an editor, not a promoter and I barely have time to pimp myself out. I hate being in this position, I really do, but there it is. Other than a link on my site — I do that for all my clients, but that’s the most I can do. Although I do post guest posts. It’s a problem for me because I love all my clients and some of them are great friends, as well. *sigh*)
Goodreads — get yourself an author page on Goodreads, and hook it up to post your blog posts there, too. Same with an Amazon author page. Make it as easy on yourself as you can by taking advantage of the RSS feeds and that way, all you have to do is update your blog and it will update on Goodreads and Amazon. I’ll be updating Goodreads with a video trailer once it’s done for “Athena’s Promise”.
Here are mine:
Shelfari is another good site to set up the same way.
Use as many “set it and forget it” options as you can.
Get your book in the hands of reviewers.
Put together a media kit. You only have to do it once, and you’ll use components of it over and over. Here’s how: How To Construct a Media Kit
Do you have a Facebook Fan page? I offer exclusive excerpts from my book — a couple of lines from every chapter, then some blurbs, then the cover…that’s the only place people can see them. I plan on offering the book trailer there first and then I’ll post two or three sample chapters on the blog when I get closer to launch, which will then update automatically to all the sites I just mentioned. Here’s my page so you can see what I’m talking about: Annetta’s Facebook Fan Page
Instead of devoting huge hunks of time to marketing, you’re much better served by setting up as much as you can that requires the least bit of attention and using the time to work on the next book, and the next, and the next. That is honestly my best advice.
WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.
Now, get going.