importance of marketing

In Your Corner : On Marketing

 

importance of marketing

Marketing, for the self-publishing author, is a many-headed hydra and prompts endless questions and dilemmas.  Major publishing houses have plenty of time and money to throw into marketing (although they would argue otherwise), particularly in comparison to you or me and any other self-publishing author out there.  They hire people whose entire careers revolve around taking care of the marketing process for their A-list authors, an enviable prospect because all we really want to do is write more books, right?  And yet, instead, we have both the blessing and the burden of running our own publicity campaigns.

Sometimes, I wake to a new day packed full with plans and routines to balance against each other, and I wonder:

  1. Aren’t we always told that the hardest part of writing a book is writing the first paragraph?  (Whoever says such things has clearly never attempted to tackle the tricky beast of self-promotion.)
  2. Are there ideas I can steal from others about how to be more effective, so that I have more time to spend on what I actually love?  (Which is, of course, writing.)
  3. Who gave the world permission to make me wake up to an empty coffee pot?

In all seriousness, though: the way we approach marketing, as self-publishing authors, matters.  Because it’s not optional.  It’s not something we can get away without doing.  We won’t sell books, and we won’t make room in our lives for the next book, either, if we don’t give some of our time over to marketing.

As Gareth Howard over at Infinity Publishing puts it: “Would you bake a delicious cake and not even eat it?  Would you revise for important exams and not bother sitting them?  Would you book an exotic vacation only to stay at home, wasting that precious deposit?”  The answer is, of course, no.  No, you wouldn’t want to waste the precious time and energy you’ve invested in crafting a beautiful manuscript–you want it to be read.  You want your ideas to reach your readers!  And sadly, we still haven’t figured out a way to guarantee authors that their books will just magically sell once they’re published.  There’s still a vital legwork and elbow-grease component to the whole thing.

You do, thankfully, have an advantage over the enormous publishing houses with their big budgets and their paid professionals: You can make it personal.  You can lend the marketing process a human touch, and you can take advantage of the most effective means of self-promotion known to humankind: your existing social network.  You can also pick the things you do well, and reach out for professional help (with a shout-out to my day job) only when you really need it.  The key is, of course, being prepared to work and work hard to achieve your marketing goals.

Others here on the SPA blog have written about marketing before, and have presented a number of ideas on how we can all be more effective at self-promotion as self-publishing authors.  This holiday season, however, I’d like to issue a specific challenge to you (and myself!): Let’s figure out the next workable, manageable, and sustainable step that we can use to bolster our existing strategies.  It’s no good if we have lofty goals that we never reach, so let’s be specific even while we’re also being optimistic.  I bet you my best unsharpened pencil that we can do better in 2016!

There is, of course, a danger in all of this:

Once we acknowledge just how important marketing is, the process has a tendency to take over our lives and erode away all semblance of spare time we might have.  Fortunately, there are a whole host of resources out there for you–to get you started, and to help you along once you’re already partway down the path.  And of course, I’m here for you too–and the SPA email as well as comments section is always open to lend you a listening ear.

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.
frightened

In Your Corner : The lonely road to self-publication

The road to self-publication is many things, and “frightening” can certainly register as one of those things, especially when you throw the word “lonely” into the mix.  Maybe it’s because we’re human beings and we’re hardwired to crave the affirmation and support that community brings, but there are few expressions in the English language that hold as much potential to inspire fear as “striking out on my own” or its close cousin, “in uncharted territory.”  And while it’s true that there are many other people out there self-publishing these days, there’s no exact way to translate that “head knowledge” into “heart knowledge” if it hasn’t been made real to us in personal experience––which is one of the reasons, I think, why digital communities hold so much potential for the self-publishing author.

frightened

Chances are that you or I will run across few others who will choose to self-publish over the course of our lifetimes, so where else are we going to turn for feedback or even for some basic know-how than the internet?  Blogs like Self Publishing Advisor and hybrid self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press provide important bridges to a successful and meaningful self-publishing experience for those of us who find ourselves stymied or at a loss, or even just lonely.

In this, my first post here, I’d first like to clear the air: it’s completely alright to be scared to self-publish.  Your feelings, whatever they happen to be, are one hundred percent valid.  My job, both as a contributor to this blog and––separately––as Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press, is to be your ally, cheer squad, sounding board, and advocate all at the same moment.  Everyone faces discouragement at some point when bringing a big project through from its beginning stages to its final execution and delivery, and self-publishing is no different.  But the challenges you’ll face or are already facing must be addressed as the specific things that they are, peculiar to your own individual experience.

There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter self-publishing experience.  But there are such things as insecurity, and fear, and trepidation.  These feelings are real, no matter what the reality of the situation is and whether they are built upon a factually accurate perception of what’s going on with your book.  And I can’t change what you feel simply by telling you “things are otherwise than how you see them in this moment.”  I’m lucky enough to have the (hopefully unbiased and wholly objective) perspective of someone whose work hinges upon being able to honestly and earnestly remind authors they’re not alone, and to simply be there, time and time again, when the authors I work with need someone in their corner.

It doesn’t hurt that I work for a company I really believe in.  As an employee at Outskirts Press, I don’t have to fudge on the details to make a sales pitch: we really are there to help authors before, during, and after publication.  Authors really do get to keep their profits, they’re really not stuck waiting for agents to like their books enough to publish them, and they really, truly, are not alone … even when it comes to the marketing process, which can often feel like the most isolating part of the whole experience, as the post-publication phase requires self-publishing authors to take responsibility for the course of their own careers in ways that more traditional avenues don’t.

Outskirts Press aside, self-publishing is now more common than traditional publishing––even though, sometimes, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.  (And there are a whole host of reasons why perception doesn’t line up with reality on this one, many of which can be traced back to the traditional publishing industry and its stranglehold on media outlets and therefore the larger public conversation.)  Self-publishing authors have a collective voice that resonates much more clearly now than it used to, maybe, but we still face an uphill battle when it comes to dealing with those fears and insecurities I mentioned earlier.  I’m here for you, though, and every week here on SPA I will keep on affirming your decision to self-publish and backing up those affirmations with a veritable onslaught of cold hard inspiring and encouraging facts, data, anecdotes, and proofs that I’ve amassed over a lifetime of experience in the self-publishing industry.  I hope you’ll check in every Thursday, and use the comments section, below, to ask questions and respond with your own insights.

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.
ereaders

The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide (Part I)

We’ve crossed the Rubicon, dear readers.  There’s no going back, when it comes to the print vs. digital divide, at least if we’re speaking on the commercial level.  There are quite substantial numbers of readers who are introduced to books via their smartphones and computer screens and then move into the musty world of mahogany bookshelves and neighborhood used-book stores … but these numbers represent not so much a desertion of one form for another, but rather the natural progression of addicts who will simply, and always, want more–more good words strung together, more stories in their hands, more eyes to peer through and lives to live in the way that only literature makes possible.

I’m here to speak about e-books and e-readers this week and in the weeks to come.  We’ve just finished a tour-de-force marathon of social media platforms spanning several months, so it’s time for a bit of a change of pace … but without sacrificing our desire to examine trends and patterns and possibilities with the fine eye of a book connoisseur.

ereaders

The data is in, and readers have spoken.  As this infographic (courtesy of Publishing Technology and Nielson BookScan) shows, e-book sales dropped slightly from an all-time high in early 2014, but they’re not going anywhere fast.  (I should also note that the initial speculations for this year seem to indicate continued stability.)  The digital market has matured, and readers are simply spreading their pocket change around, and being more selective as they do so.  Essentially, it’s not just “still” useful to publish your books in digital form, but it’s actually more useful than ever–readers now know how to find what they like, as the information infrastructure–including indexing search engines like Google and Bing, and social media platforms with a literary bent like Goodreads–has matured alongside the market itself.

ebooks vs print

But how does an author, especially an indie, hybrid, or self-published author, go about figuring out how to navigate both the debate and the process?  Well, first, you have to know a little bit about e-books and e-readers themselves.

And so we dive off into the deep end of a new series.  This time I’m going to walk you through the process by examining each big player in the e-reading market (past and present and future, at least so far as I can see it), from Kindles to Nooks to iPads to chips implanted into your brain.  Okay, okay, I’m kidding about that last one … for now.  In all seriousness, I hope that this series will be of use to you as you take next steps into the oft-hazy world of digital publication!

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.
social media

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Summary Edition

Well, it’s been quite a project, this social media primer of ours!  I hope it’s proven as useful to you, our readers, as it has been enjoyable for me to write!  I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to take a lingering glance in the rear-view mirror, and write a bit of a retrospective on what it means to carry out a social media marketing campaign–and how a primer fits in.

We’re here,” I wrote in that initial blog post, first and foremost, to talk about how to market your self-published book.”  And therein lies both the value and danger of social media as a marketing tool.  If you really are using social media effectively, as a natural and organic extension of your existing work and personality, then you’ll most definitely benefit, and your book sales will most definitely benefit as well.  If you approach social media as an all-purpose tool and the only tool you need in your toolbox–or if you present yourself falsely, inauthentically, or otherwise find yourself at odds with your fans–or if you bite off more than you can chew–or if you find yourself slipping into social media as just another time-waster–then you’re missing the point of being an author on social media.  These are the pitfalls, or at least a few of them, and they should not be taken lightly or underestimated.

social media

Here’s the trick to being a self-published author on social media:  You must always remember that you are, first and foremost, a writer.  And as we’ve said before here on Self Publishing Advisor, the absolute best decision you can ever make in marketing your book is to write another book.  If social media helps you spread the word, and helps you keep writing, then it has a place in your campaign.  If it distracts you, or distresses you, or eats into time you would otherwise spend writing, then you should revisit the expression “effective marketing.”  There is, however, a great deal of value to trying something new, especially when you hit a roadblock.  It is my hope that, by providing a primer guide to each of the major (and some of the minor) social media platforms, I may take some of the guesswork and fear out of launching yourself into the world of social media.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to bypass some of the misery and second-guessing and mistakes that I myself have made over the years–and find a new home, a new community, and an engaged readership in some unexplored corner of our digital universe.

The List:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Twitter
  3. Tumblr
  4. Instagram
  5. Snapchat
  6. YouTube
  7. Pinterest
  8. Goodreads
  9. Etsy
  10. LinkedIn
  11. Flickr
  12. Facebook

Thank you for helping me build this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.
Facebook

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Facebook

It should come as no surprise that we’re going to take a quick look at Facebook as we work our way down the list of social media platforms the digitally-savvy indie or self-published author should consider using when launching a comprehensive self-promotion campaign.  And it probably is similarly unsurprising that we’ve looked at Facebook beforeseveral timesso many times–and that we’re just one blog among many to have done so.

Facebook

There are, in fact, so many resources out there about how indie authors can make use of Facebook, that the greater challenge is not in finding information–in contrast to, say, my posts about Etsy and Snapchat and so on–but in discerning which information is actually useful!  To that end, I’ve compiled and curated some of the better (and more well-maintained, that is, up-to-date) resources below for your easy review, as opposed to listing our own “best practices.”  My hope is that you’ll find all the appropriate details you might need at your disposal in order to navigate the intricacies of the complex proposition that is Facebook.

Debunking the Great Facebook Myth: “It’s just one giant moving target–there’s no point to trying to master anything about Facebook, because it’s just going to change again in a few months!”

While Facebook’s developers are constantly tweaking the algorithms and codes and format of things (it’s true, we must admit), the website itself remains fairly stable in a number of ways.  First of all, the fact remains true that Facebook is where the people are–the people, the relationships, the possible connections, and the real market for your books.  Consider this infographic, courtesy of Rebekah Radice:

Social-Media-Active-Users

The people are staying put, and sticking by Facebook, despite the not-uncommon doomsday forecasts to the contrary.  But that’s not the only aspect of Facebook that is stable: the features may alter a bit in form and function, but the concept of what you’re using those features for remains the same.  I’ve written a great deal throughout this series of primers about social media marketing targeting certain specific pillars of the online experience: findability, adaptability, usability, and authenticity.  If any of these four aspects is missing from an author’s social media presence, they’re bound to suffer.  If, however, you are conscientious in maximizing your Facebook presence, as these resources should help you to do, then you’re practically guaranteed to grow your reading audience.

Top 5 Best Resources:

1. “The Power of Facebook for Authors” by David Henry Sterry over at The Author Online.

2. “30 Ways to Build Your Fanbase with Facebook” by the folks over at Duolit.

3. “My Experiments with Facebook Ads” by Rami Ungar over at Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors.

4. “Facebook Ads: Should Indie Authors Buy Them?” by Joel Friedlander over at The Book Designer.

5. “7 Essential Elements for an Author’s Facebook Page” by Antonella Iannarino over at the David Black Agency’s official blog.

And a bonus additional resource:

The tag archive for “Facebook” over at ALLi‘s “How-to For Authors” blog.

Please keep us posted of your own successes as you experiment with new platforms.  You’re our most inspiring innovators, and the internet is your laboratory.  We can’t wait to see what you do!  And make sure to check back next week, as I wrap up this social media primer with the all-important summary edition!

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.