You dreamed the storyline of the century. You lovingly write your book. You painstakingly edit it. Again and again. Then, you're FINALLY published. But that's far from the end.
With a focus on self-publishing or authors working with a smaller, independent publisher, you have to work harder than ever to PROMOTE your book. Without properly executing this, your book will collect dust (or virtual dust), and not receive the attention it deserves.
I have spoken with three amazing authors who have lived through the grueling process, and I wanted to share their true, honest, and unfiltered opinion. I hope by sharing their experiences, you can learn a thing or two as you begin the process of promoting YOUR book.
Three authors interviewed will be abbreviated as such:
Elise Edmonds: EE.
Matthew Dewar: MD
And their information is after the interview. I highly recommend checking them out!
Congrats on your publication! Was promoting your book a priority during its release?
EE: Yes, [Where Carpets Fly] was my first book, I wanted to make a bit of a splash to announce myself to the world as a published author! And since then (I published in February), I've been trying out various promotion methods. First and foremost, I have ensured that I have: a professional looking cover, an error-free Look Inside, a decent blurb, and appropriate Amazon keywords and categories.
HH: Yes, definitely. I’ve released three books so far (two of them anthologies in collaboration with other authors), and for each one I’ve done a variety of promotions to support their release.
MD: Thanks! Promoting my book was—and still is—a bigger challenge than I thought. After the initial excitement of friends and family wanting a copy, sales died right down, and it really hit me that if I want to sell this book to other people, I’m going to have to put some effort in.
Would you mind sharing a few methods you chose to promote your story? Was it more social media focused, or hitting local book shops?
EE: I am focused on online marketing and pushing my ebook, although I do also have a paperback. I've tried a lot of different methods of promotion and marketing, and my current method is to give everything a go and treat it as a learning experience. Then, even if I don't get good results, at least I've learnt how to do something.
Things I've tried:
- Blog tour surrounding the release; regular blog posts including an author interview series, plus learning about improving the SEO of the blog (that's a work in progress)
- Social media: Twitter and Facebook, [including] Facebook promotional group[s]; Facebook author/writer groups, involving graphics and interaction with others, and also Instagram
- Giveaways: Goodreads, Rafflecoptor both solo and group. I haven't tried an Amazon one yet.
- Kindle Select Promotions: I did a 99p promo linked with paid promotion services, I've got my first free promo planned for next month, and also tried out Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
- Entering competitions to gain exposure/win marketing (awaiting results!)
- Reader magnet linked to newsletter/mailing list.
- Paperback: provided free copies as prizes in local raffles
J.E's note: You have to keep us posted on the competition results!
HH: For Augment, promotions were done mainly through social media. I also did an author talk at a local library and spoke with a local bookstore to see if they would stock my book (they did!)
For From the Stories of Old, myself and the other authors did a lot of promotion on social media, including a Facebook launch party which was a lot of fun.
For Between Heroes and Villains, we did some promotion on social media and also teamed up with another anthology (as well as other authors) to run a joint promotion.
I’ve also started to do more author talks and recently spoke with some bookstores about stocking all three books—two were very receptive and I’ll be doing book signings there later this year!
MD: I created a few social media posts leading up to the release, with a few teasers, promotional images, and links. I also approached a few local bookstores and libraries, and there have been talks of doing author events. I would say my approach is rather minimalist for now. I’m a statistics person. I wanted to establish a baseline of sales with no promotions so I can then compare different promotional and marketing strategies to see which are the most effective.
What didn’t work for you?
EE: Facebook promotional groups seem pretty useless. Writers stop by, post a link to their book, and disappear again. Barely any posts get reactions and I'm pretty sure no actual readers go in those groups.
HH: For From the Stories of Old, we had a massive launch party planned. It was a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a great learning experience, but ultimately I don’t think the amount of effort we put in was reflected by the results it gave. It did give us a nice boost in page reads that month, though, so I’m not saying it was a complete waste of time, just that we’ll have a better idea of what to do in the future.
MD: Doing nothing! I can clearly say that putting one book out into the world of millions (billions?) is not going to generate sales. You thought writing and editing was tough? Try marketing and promoting!
What have you learned through this process?
EE: I have learned EVERYTHING! And I'm still learning. Every promo method I try is new, and I'm constantly improving what I'm doing, doing more of it, and learning how to do it more effectively.
For example, this month I've spent time focusing on improving my blurb with some other writer friends. And I've learnt a lot there. But I'm sure I'll need to redo that exercise when I get around to writing my next blurb.
HH: Marketing is HARD. It’s worth it, but there’s a lot of knowledge out there to learn and understand and adapt, and the market is always changing so what might work one year could fail the next.
MD: Have something to compare it to. Is spending a few hundred dollars on a certain promotion really worth it? How will you know if you don’t have baseline data to compare it to? Keep a record of all the sales information from each promotion so you can save time by avoiding the duds, and return to the better tactics in the future.
Elise Edmonds: Magic Carpet Weaver
Elise Edmonds is a new writer from the South-West UK. Reading and writing have always been her doorways into another world—a way to escape and spend time walking with wizards, flying with fairies and dealing with dragons. By day she is a finance professional, and in her spare time she pursues writing as a creative outlet, to put the magic back into everyday life. In addition to reading, Elise enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and going to Zumba classes. Her greatest loves are God, her husband, her family and friends, and her two beautiful cats.
See her Author Spotlight interview, which includes links to all her social media:
Heather Hayden: Queen Bee Extraordinaire
Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden's not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015, she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. Her second publication was the short story "Beneath His Skin," released in December 2016 as part of a fairy tale anthology titled From the Stories of Old. Her latest release is another short story, this one titled "In a Breath," which was published in June 2017 as part of the anthology Between Heroes and Villains. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog, her Twitter, and her Facebook page, all of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.
Matthew Dewar: Everyone's favorite Aussie author
Matthew’s passion for reading and writing developed at a young age. Fascinated by all genres, enthralled by the endless creativity of imagination, and captivated by foreign worlds and intriguing characters, Matthew makes time in his busy schedule to write every day. If he’s not reading or writing, you might find Matthew working as a physiotherapist, teaching group fitness classes, entertaining his dog, or dreaming of travelling to an exotic destination.
In May 2017, Matthew published Nightmare Stories, a collection of young adult horror fiction where twelve young teens discover that happily ever afters only exist in fairy tales. His short stories have appeared in From the Stories of Old, Between Heroes and Villains, The Seven Deadly Sins Anthology: Gluttony, and The Seven Deadly Sins Anthology: Wrath.
You can connect with Matthew on twitter (@WriterDewar), Facebook (Matthew Dewar Author), or at his website: matthewdewarauthor.wordpress.com.