Marketing is a minefield for self-publishing authors, and sometimes it feels as though there’s nothing we can get right–and a lot we can get wrong. And I’m not going to lie: the marketing missteps I’ve chronicled in prior weeks, listed below, can cut off any chance of success. But don’t look at this list as a litany of discouragements, even as it grows over the weeks to come. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “knowledge is power,” and I’m convinced that if you know the pitfalls that can await you, you’re almost guaranteed to steer clear.
It’s the greatest misfortune of all that self-publishing authors are launched into the world without a guide–imagine Dante facing purgatory without Virgil!–and are somehow expected to make a success of their work the first time out of the gate. To that end, I’m compiling the following set of missteps I and other self-publishing authors have made, so that you don’t have to!
- devolving into a self-centered campaigner,
- confusing the sales message with the marketing campaign,
- waiting till the book is done to start marketing,
- designing your own book cover,
- printing anything other than on demand (POD), and
- taking it personally.
This week, I’ll be tackling a misstep which at first may seem a tad hard to define. It’s the misstep that fails to innovate, that is content to settle into a routine without continuing to push the envelope:
Failing to Ask “What’s Next?”
Two sides of the same coin:
- There’s nothing more worth cultivating in the world of marketing than the restless and questioning spirit of an innovator.
- At the same time, there is nothing more toxic to marketing success than sinking into a routine without constantly asking “What more can I do?”
There’s no way around the fact that you’ve taken on quite a challenge in choosing to self-publish. Many close friends of mine, whose books are perfectly suited to the world of indie publishing and whose moral compasses are aligned with the indie pursuit of authorial rights and control, have nevertheless chosen the path of constant disappointment so common to traditional publishing because they just can’t face the prospect of marketing solo.
“The bottom line is that I don’t think I’m at all a good publicist,” one of my friends told me this week. “I have next to zero web presence, either via website (although I am putting together a professional website!) or social media.” In his case, the sheer volume of work and energy it would take to develop a web presence and push his book was hard enough, much less add that extra layer of questioning and innovation that’s necessary to really succeed.
But it doesn’t have to be that daunting.
While scrolling through our Facebook feeds all day does not a strong book marketing campaign make, there are quite literally endless opportunities to procure exposure for your book in creative way–and yes, social media does play a big hand in many of them. My advice? Establish a routine for what I call a “Bare Minimum Marketing Campaign” (BMMC) that you can keep up with minimal effort week in and week out. On top of that BMMC, challenge yourself to add one new out-of-the-box promotion per week. Make a custom photo, film an author video or a book trailer, craft an infographic, host a giveaway, do a planned or guerrilla book reading or signing, contact a favorite author of yours, and take advantage of the calendar to create targeted promotional gestures. Brainstorm a list of possibilities and pin it up beside your computer or workspace, and start ticking off items as you move through it. Once you finish your list, take it down, tuck it in your journal, and write a new one! And don’t be afraid to look to what others have done–hop on Google, read a couple of interviews with self-publishing authors, and maybe even post some direct queries. If Rilke can carry out a fruitful long-term advisory correspondence, so can you!
In short, don’t give up if your campaign feels a little stale. Take your strategy stratospheric with ambition, one week at a time. Keep what’s vital, and cut out the dead wood so you can move on. Your marketing strategy doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s–it just has to look like something you find useful, and that you are proud of.
(And here’s a secret: I’m already proud of the steps you’ve taken!)
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|