Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been delving into some of the marketing mistakes I’ve made or seen made over my many years of experience in the self-publishing industry as an author who works alongside other authors to bring books to fruition. The first mistake? Devolving into a self-centered campaigner. And the second? Confusing the sales message with the marketing campaign. I’d like to stress that both of these mistakes–in fact, all of the missteps I’ll be unfolding over the course of this blog series–are incredibly easy to make, and have more to do with the vast numbers of authors flocking to indie publishing each year, with little to no experience in marketing to start, and no easy way of filtering through the noise of the countless resources available online. A blog post like this one is only helpful if it actually cuts some of the clutter, right?
Which is why, as we tackle the third most common misstep I see self-publishing authors make in marketing, I am reminding myself of one very important fact: No grandstanding. Just deliver the facts, with exactly the right amount of necessary context, and shine a little light on the path forward for busy authors with limited time to spend marketing much less researching new marketing strategies. And with no further ado, I give you:
He Who Waits To Finish–May Never Really Get Started
I speak with authors on a regular basis who are just one month–or one week–or one day away from having their book out, but who haven’t yet launched a website. “I’ll get around to it when the book’s actually ready for people to read,” they often say. And when’s that? When it’s already on bookstore shelves but there’s no buzz to sell it? But the fact of the matter is, if an author waits that long, anything they try to do after the fact will be too little, too late–no matter how much time and effort he or she pours into the attempt.
Don’t wait to launch your website, your social media platforms, your blog, and other aspects of your digital strategy. I want to repeat that: DON’T WAIT for your book to come out before you start marketing in earnest. Sometimes, a delay can’t be avoided–and I get that, really I do–especially since self-publishing authors are carrying a heavy burden on top of already busy lives. But in most cases I’ve run across, maybe eight out of ten, the delay is artificial, not practical. And it’s usually because the author in question underestimated the months and even years it can take to generate traffic on a website.
The instant a website is live, it can be paired with all of your existing online interactions. If you’re already blogging, fantastic! If you’re already on Twitter and Tumblr and Pinterest and Facebook and YouTube and Goodreads, great! Start shepherding your existing followers in the direction of your official website for updates. Get them used to turning to your website as a resource before your book is out–and that way, they can become advocates for your book even before its publication. One of the toughest things to do as a book-lover is to recommend a new book without having either the actual book in hand or some easy-to-find website to point new readers to. But if your website is live, then you leave room for anticipation and that much-desired “buzz” you’ll need to start selling books on the day of your book’s release. And don’t forget, you are the most undervalued tool in the toolbox. New readers don’t just fall in love with books; they fall in love with the people who write them, too. They will (understandably) want to know more about you, and when your next book is coming out, and where they can contact you for media and review inquiries–all of which is made 500% easier if you launch a website … and early.
One more time for those in the back: don’t wait!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠
|ABOUT 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. 10:00 AM|