Or, How to Find Others Who Care As Much As You Do
And therein lies the rub. There will never be another person out there to whom your book will mean the same thing that it means to you, the self-publishing author–but as our current president is wont to say on tour in Australia, “we have faced our share of sticky wickets!” (Don’t worry if you haven’t watched a game of cricket in your life … this is where I end my allusions to that game.) There will be other people out there–readers and other authors and self-publishing aficionados alike–to whom your book means a great deal. Just, you know, in different ways.
And some of them will run blogs.
No, wait, that’s a very important detail! Blogs sell books. More specifically, blogs have collectively served as the underground advertising board (and yes, market) for self-published books since the dawn of the internet. It has proven to be a mutually beneficial relationship, borne out of the early years of both blogging as a digital platform; think how LiveJournal and MySpace and, yes, WordPress were all coming into being around the same time as the modern incarnation of the self-published book–and the ebook. Blogging was a celebration of the freedom of expression of the highest order, and self-publishing was a reaction against excessive control and gatekeeping by the traditional publishing institution. Many bloggers became self-publishing authors, and vise versa. They were made for each other.
The mutually beneficial relationship continues today, as lists like “52 Great Blogs for Self-Publishers” by Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer illustrate. “Book bloggers love to read books and to recommend them to their own followers,” writes Alan Rinzler, a consulting editor with former entanglements at Harvard and The New York Times. He takes an in-depth look at the story of self-publishing megastar Amanda Hocking, whose books sold in the millions, reminding his followers–in, yes, a blog post–that they “collectively build markets that can reach millions of potential readers and can turn books into bestsellers. As serious and discerning critics and social networkers, these book lovers have formed regional and national organizations and established huge databases, including this searchable list of more than 1,400 bloggers.” It’s not ironic that Rinzler uses his own blog to discuss this; really, it’s incredibly easy to find bloggers who care about self-publishing enough to use their personal blogs to discuss it.
What’s hard is finding the right blog to help you sell your books. And by “sell,” I mean the word in both a transactive and a persuasive sense. You want someone who believes in your book–not just a passing mention or two. To find your blogsoulmate, I recommend following a few simple steps.
- Dig a little. If you’ve found us here at Self-Publishing Advisor, I’m going to go out on a limb and venture a guess that you’ve done your research. At the very least, you’re handy with Google and WordPress. That’s all you need to get started. Dig around a bit and increase your exposure to the types of blogs out there. We feature reviews of self-published books once a week, but we do a lot of other things, too, and many of our bloggers have close ties to one specific self-publishing company. Other blogs might feature only one blogger with no ties to the industry itself, but who maybe posts multiple reviews a week. Write yourself up a list of blog names that catch your interest, either in tone or reach.
- Take part in the conversation. Every blog has a comments section, unless someone ran wild and posted something offensive in the past and thereby forced the blogrunner to disable this feature. Whether the blog is on WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, or somewhere else, the whole point of its existance is to engender conversation. Sign yourself up for a profile if you need to, or use the handy “Google Sign-In” or “Facebook Sign-In” options to comment. As a blogger, I can tell you that replies are always awesome, and they are indicators of where real interest lies. I guarantee a blogger will take note if you interact with their posts on a regular basis, unless they have something on the order of a trillion commenters already. But that, too, is useful information. You want to engage withy communities where you’ll be noticed–so if you feel overwhelmed or lost, that might be a sign to pick a different blog with a slightly more manageable following.
- Ask for things. You know, once you’ve established a toe-hold in the community, don’t be afraid to ask for those things you really want–book reviews, interviews, the blog equivalent of a public service announcement. Everything helps. Don’t be afraid of rejection; the worst that can happen is the blogger says “no,” and there are plenty of bloggers out there, so it’s not the end of the road. In fact, since you’re looking for a believer and not just any blogger, nos are simply the most efficient way to whittle down your options to the best ones. Once you’ve got a couple of blogs interested in your work, step it up and ask for a blog tour.
- Don’t be afraid of the money question. Sometimes, you might really need the boost that a paid service provides. It’s a question of weighing the benefits against the expenditure, and determining whether A) you can afford it, and B) it fills a need. In my personal experience, most indie authors don’t like to consider this option until they’ve run out of other options–and understandably. I get it, I really do. Self-publishing is one high-wire act after another, and money is always tight. But I’ve seen a lot of authors who really could or even would have benefited from a promotional campaign like the one my company and many other companies offer–all of which come with promotion on the company’s official blog, with an extensive reach indeed–but who waited until they’d exhausted all other options. Like a lot of other components to your marketing campaign, paid promotion should be on the table early and woven organically into the rest of your strategies.
That’s it! Four steps! Each of them relies on you to take initiative, which may or may not prove exhausting, but I hope you know one simple thing:
You are not alone. ♣︎