Once you’ve been published, you might think that your job is done, and that it is time to move on to your next project. You would be right on the latter account; wrong on the former.
There are a number of ways to get the word out about yourself and your book. Here I shall focus on the three I consider the most important. They are: social media, paid advertising, and live appearances.
With so many people using these online platforms nowadays, this is probably a no-brainer. And the more ‘followers’ you have, the broader your potential selling base. In fact, there are some publishers who will look at your social media presence as a factor in determining whether or not to publish your work for this very reason. I didn’t even bother with social media until fall of 2017, and would not have even then if I did not think it was an important tool.
The options are pretty broad when it comes to choosing your platform. The more platforms you have, the wider your potential audience. But of course, it eats up much more time, too. And worse still, it can become a distraction from working on your book (or just about anything, for that matter). Therefore, it should be used with caution. I myself started off using three platforms, but found some of them more trouble than they were worth. Remember, writing books (or poetry, stories, etc.) is your primary goal as an author: If you find social media distracting, it may be better not to bother with it at all. There are drawbacks to avoiding it, but they can definitely be worked around.
A great book if you want to learn more about this is topic Social Media for Writers by Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. It is this book that convinced me to give platforms like WordPress a try, and might do the same for you. And if in the end it doesn’t work out for you, you can always simply delete your accounts.
Paid advertising/promotion is another route for getting the word out about your works. This can take the shape of online, newspaper, magazine, or even television commercials, if you’ve got the funding for that. Generally what you pay for is what you get, but you have to be very cautious. Not only are there the inevitable scammers out to give you as little as possible for you money, but you also have to consider what kind of ad will reach the audience you’re looking for. A late-night television commercial, however neatly done, is probably not going to sell many books to young children (or anyone, for that matter). Likewise, an ad for a romance book is probably not going to get a lot of attention in a scale model magazine. You may have to try a few things to see what works at first, though, so in short, caveat pro emptor.
I made a post on this topic about a year ago called “On the Benefits of Live Appearances,” which I recommend looking at, but I will try to give the highlights here.
There is nothing better for making sales than face-to-face contact with other people. Whether at book signings, one of the many themed ‘cons’ out there, or simply at a local fall festival trying to garner a bit of hometown support, live appearances can be both fun and lucrative. It depends very much on what kind of event you attend, of course, as well as on what you have to sell. Your budget may also be a determining factor too. For instance, your sci-fi book might do better at a ComiCon than at a fall festival, but a $400 entry fee for an event where everyone is selling stuff in the same genre as you might not look as appealing as a $25 entry fee to reach a more diverse (if much smaller) audience. The choice is yours.
Some appearances will work out better than others. With outdoor events especially, weather can put a damper on even the best-organized show. But when everything goes smoothly, it’s worth the trouble. One dedicated fan made at a live appearance is a much better reward than a single book sold to some stranger online who has never met, and may never meet you.
That’s my take on self-promotion. No doubt there’s a lot more to say, and there are countless books and articles on the subject. I highly recommend you go look at some of these if you’re serious about making a business of writing. They might give you some great ideas on where to start, or perhaps take you through the whole process. Part of the fun, in my humble opinion, is finding out for yourself.
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