Two weeks ago, I launched a new summer series on self-publishing, particularly as regards publishing and marketing your book during this busy time of year–and how to take advantage of our July theme of freedoms and independence while doing so! And I continued the series last week, with a discussion of unfreedom and what constraints are placed upon us as self-publishing authors also engaged in self-promotion by necessity. How does one market a book effectively, without the reach or access or time-honed skills of a publishing company’s full marketing team? (It’s hard, but not impossible.)
This week, seguewaying off of last week’s discussion, I’m here to talk about the freedoms which are possible when working as a part of a team. Not just any team, either–a team of self-publishing authors! Which I think you will find is something of a different proposition from a marketing team at one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses.
But first, let’s dispel the myth of the solo indie author, struggling valiantly against the current of traditional publishing, and vanquishing his or her demons alone, without assistance, and for free. It may in fact be true that some indie authors make a success of themselves this way, just as James Patterson and Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling have made blockbuster success stories out of their lives in traditional publishing … all while conveniently ignoring the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of midlist authors struggling to get by, and required, despite their status as “traditionally published authors” to carry the majority of the promotional burden for their books.
Publishing is hard, no matter which way you go about it–and going solo, either in the publication process or all that comes after, harder still.
But freedom can be a collective achievement. You sacrifice nothing by teaming up with your fellow indie authors to sell your books! You lose none of your dignity, your creative control, your independence–your freedoms–but you gain oh-so-much-indeed!
We’ve talked about the importance of book readings, book signings, and attending book fairs in promoting your book to new readers–but what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Many of the best readings, signings, and other bookish events I’ve attended have been panels, not singular affairs. Pulling multiple authors into one space, particularly indie authors, lessens the load on each participant while multiplying the event’s outreach. Imagine–even if all that happens is that your fellow readers bring their friends and families along, you’ve reached two or three or four times as many friends and families as you yourself were able to bring! That’s no shabby number.
Or, you might consider partnerships with local businesses, your public library, or events like our annual Cherry Festival as opportunities to build a coalition. Some of the fiercest book advocates are librarians and indie booksellers, yes, but don’t forget about the reach of a clerk at the counter of your local quilt store, or a restaurant with a waiting area! Your self-assembled team of advocates doesn’t have to be made up of the expected literary types; your team should make room for readers of all shapes and tastes, and partners who you normally wouldn’t think of. Once you’ve made contact with someone offline, make sure to make them a part of your online presence as well–either as a part of your social media network, or an email newsletter distribution, or something along those lines!
Lastly, you might consider going in for something like a co-op advertisement, something along the lines of this fabulous offering from Outskirts Press. In this case, you may never actually meet your fellow authors, but you’ll help each other out anyway–financially!–by reducing the cost burden on each contributing author. (And watch OP’s yearly deals, too–they often offer seasonal holiday-specific deals on their co-op ads.)
This is just a couple of examples of the kind of collaborative partnerships which can make your life, as an indie author, so much easier! Dig around online and see what suits you, but remember: you’re only freed if the marketing workload itself is reduced by your partnerships, so commit to projects with tangible and measurable outcomes, and clearly defined contributions.
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. ♠