Imagine self-publishing three books in two years. You know you’re writing is good (you’ve somehow had enough spare time to land an agent!), but that doesn’t even begin to cover the promotion you’ll need to do to get your work out there. Donna Hosie imagined this into reality with her Return To Camelot trilogy, and her books now sit within Amazon’s top 100 rank and within the top 15 Best Unknown YA Books on Goodreads. Today I’m delighted to bring you her top hits (and a couple of surprising misses) for DIY promotion. Enjoy!
Independent-Publishing: An Insider’s Journey
Thanks, Katherine! Now some authors may cringe at the thought of self-promotion, but it’s just got to be done. I know that without it, I wouldn’t have sold a single copy of any of my books (not even to my mother because she doesn’t own any form of technology other than a kettle…which I bought her!) So, here is what has worked FOR ME over the past year. I hope you find it helpful but of course, you have to bear in mind what you are prepared to do.
My top five promotional strategies:
Connect on Goodreads.
If you use just one social network with writers and readers, make it Goodreads. Write reviews of books you’ve read, join groups, then list your own books. When you get a review or a rating, thank that person for their time – you can certainly spare the time, especially when you are first starting out.
I recently ran a half-price promotion on Amazon, and I contacted those who had added SEARCHING FOR ARTHUR to their read list to let them know. It wasn’t spamming, because these readers were already interested. Many even thanked me for the news, and my sales shot up.
I now get daily multiple adds for my books now on Goodreads. It will start off slow, but momentum will build if you do it correctly.
Connect on Twitter.
I think it is important to promote your own books/social media profiles at least once a day, but DEFINITELY not all all of them at once, and DO NOT tweet nothing but yourself. I try to tweet ten times a day – I don’t spend more than ten minutes a day on Twitter – and from that, most will be amusing stories from the web, industry news and of course the obligatory tweet about how awesome The Hobbit movie is! Keep the titles of your book out there. I always see sales after linking to my Amazon pages.
For cover reveals and interviews, you just cannot beat an article on a blog. It’s one of the most visual mediums available, and therefore potentially the best way to stick in someone’s mind, so make sure you give yourself an unusual selling point so people actually notice you. Whether that’s a creative competition, your unique author voice or catchy titles people will be eager to RT, your reputation as an independent publishing professional will be markedly stronger if your feature stands out.
When Katherine first interviewed me for her blog, the article was essentially named ‘Interview and Giveaway’. We changed it to ‘On Cover Design, DIY Marketing and The Personification of Butt-Cheeks’, and our views and RT’s instantly increased.
It’s all about exposure and getting your covers, titles and name known. The best thing here is that you are getting exposure not just for yourself, but anyone who hosts. And of course, always pay it forward if you can.
Half price promotions.
The more people who read your novel, the more will spread it by word of mouth. Clearly your best promotional tool is to write a kick-ass book that will have others raving, but to get people to read it you also need to run promotions. My half price promotion during February sent my sales soaring. Readers then recommended the books to others. I got great reviews…you see how all of this becomes one chimera of awesomeness? Social media interbreeds but the end result can be beautiful.
The Grandma telling grandmas effect
Now this final one isn’t a strategy so to speak because you can’t control it, but it is something that I have found really works. I have two Facebook accounts: personal and a public author page. When I make an announcement on my author page I immediately share it on my personal page. Now I have the most awesome family and friends EVER and most of them are very social media savvy. The amount of times they have gone and shared one of my posts on their own pages is something I actually find hard to keep track of. It’s all about word of mouth. Let your friends share in your journey.
What didn’t/doesn’t work for me:
This is interesting because while half price promotions really work, I don’t believe free promotions do. I’ve done it once; I will never do it again. And giving books away for reviews doesn’t work either because the reader rarely writes the review. I know a lot of writers who have experienced this and I’m trying to work out why. Perhaps you are cheapening the experience by giving your work away? I looked at my own Kindle. I don’t download free books or ones for less than $1.99. Food for thought if you are planning to follow this route.
Facebook author page
I will keep mine and I will endeavor to utilize it more this year, but I get far more exposure from my personal FB page than my author page. Perhaps this is my fault as I haven’t had the page that long, but I find it far easier to attract new readers on Goodreads et al than on FB.
I hope my experience with independent publishing helps. I get so much happiness from following this route. I still believe in the traditional press and always will. I have an awesome agent who has proven to be my greatest advocate with another series and she is incredibly supportive of my decision to self-publish THE RETURN TO CAMELOT trilogy. There has never been a better time to be a writer. Good luck!