Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 4)

future forecast

As the summer draws to a late middle, it’s time to ask some of the tough questions—questions about the future for you and other self-publishing authors looking to market your books.

So, what is the general outlook for self-publishing in terms of independence?

Everyone seems to have an opinion.

Lorraine Candy, interviewed for The Guardian, thinks that “There is enough evidence to prove that there will be print, and it will continue to be in many forms and be available in many places,” and that the future “will be about working in a much more collaborative, better and bespoke way.” Sounds neat. The Guardian‘s other interviewees have a lot to say about journalism (understandably) and the “disruption” created by social media.

Meanwhile, over at the 2017 London Book Fair, industry vet and the executive director of a publishing business, Kristen McLean writes that “one thing we do know: there is no going back. People now integrate technology seamlessly into their lives, and they do whatever makes the most sense to them as they pursue their goals in a particular moment.” So—disruption isn’t all bad, and we don’t at this point in time have to pick a side in the ongoing Print vs. Digital debate. Says McLean:

The passion of the individual organizes [their] pattern of investigation, not necessarily the content creator. In fact, the most exciting examples of this type of consumption are not usually the product of a single creator or company, and seem to take on a life of their own. (For instance, are you aware of the current slime frenzy? Google it.)

All the same, children’s media and audio—particularly cross-platform audio, available in analog and digital forms—are on the rise. If you’re looking to market a self-publishing book this year, you’ll need to pay attention to the buzzwords associated with these trends. Check out the Publisher’s Weekly article for more!

Jason Illian of Digital Book World begs to disagree—or at the very least, to take a different tack from these other pieces. In an article titled, somewhat snarkily, “The (Real) Future of Publishing” he writes that “Everything being said about the state of publishing is (relatively) true—but not everything that is true is being said, as there are data points and trends being left out of the broad discussion.” What isn’t being said? He cites major shifts at institutions as diverse as Penguin Random House, Wal*Mart, Barnes & Noble, and public libraries as representing a growing confidence in digital, despite talk about plateaus and slow-downs. Says Illian:

When a new technology gets talked up and fails to fundamentally change everything in a short amount of time, the conversation turns negative. But that doesn’t mean change is over. It is the pause in the action, the short breath of time where most traditional firms tout their belief that disruption is over, only to soon find out that real change has just begun. What we are experiencing rather is just the break between the waves. And the next wave could forever change publishing.

Lastly, Justin Pang of Tech Crunch has his own take. Says Pang, “The playing field is starting to level between the most-savvy traditional publishers and top digital native publishers.” This is good news for indie and self-publishing authors looking to break into a crowded market, although Pang’s primary interest is with companies like Netflix and Gawker. It does seem clear, however, that as messaging apps overtake social media for the highest number of user hits per month, that we may need to shift how and where we market our books. As publishing races to catch up to this particular shift, smaller and more nimble indies may finally find themselves on an even playing field.

It’s time to get savvy and experiment with some of these trends. How will you go about marketing in a post-digital, rapidly changing world? We’d love to hear from you; simply drop us a line in the comments section below!


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. ♠


Kelly

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

In Your Corner: Libraries, the book-lover’s paradise!

public library

Let’s face it, if there’s one place we go to find out information about books, it’s our local public library. Bookstores just feel like such a commitment sometimes, you know? But at a library, the art of browsing is elevated to an art form, and you can feel free to study the shelving arrangement, the genres, the popular nooks and crannies, the competition, and the various ways and means librarians use to “sell” their books to the public–all without feeling guilty for not buying something! In fact, if you’re “caught” browsing in a library and the librarians find our you’re a local author, you’re far more likely to get hooked into giving a book reading than you are to get shushed or to get side-eye from booksellers who really need to sell a certain number of books a day.

Libraries mean unlimited books and unlimited resources for free. And one of the best resources is the librarians themselves. Your local librarian can provide help with, yes, possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, as well as finding answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in that library and much more. Librarians are an amazing source of help and information!

What are some other ways you can promote your book by using the library?

  • Donate a copy (or several copies) of your book to the library. Be sure to go through the proper donation channels.
  • If your book is geared towards children, give a school library presentation on your book’s subject. School libraries are always looking for new books! Just make sure to reach out through the proper channels (i.e. through the principal and administration, as well as the librarian).
  • Connect with librarians via social networks. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are powerful ways to network!
  • Stock promotional materials such as flyers and letters at local libraries. Be sure to include of the essential information about your book such as subject, genre, audience and purchasing information. It’s best to ask if they’d be willing to stock these supplies on their “freebies” counter or in their brochure pocket wall first, just in case they need to check their policies.
  • Ask a librarian to review your book in a local publication. This will bring positive attention to your book and encourage other locals to buy it! You might even be able to get a librarian to review it in your library’s state or regional newsletter, which would encourage other librarians to buy it.

Libraries are a powerful part of your book promotion strategy. Creative marketing tactics can increase your chances of a library stocking your book. They can also lead to great relationships with librarians and readers. The best way to find out what your local library wants is to talk to the librarians. Work on building an honest relationship, and you may just find one your book’s best promoters.

Not sure where to find your local library? Hop on www.publiclibraries.com and search by city, state, or zip code–or you can visit the American Library Association (ALA) at www.ala.org, where you’ll find loads of information on the current state of libraries and how you can get involved, both as a self-publishing author and a lover of books!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information.rvices 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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 3)

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.

teamwork

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 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. ♠


Kelly

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

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 2)

Last week, 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!

Today, I want to talk about the flip side of freedom.

You might call it … UNFREEDOM*.

(*After all, there has to be some sort of language to describe the opposite of ‘freedom’ which isn’t problematically tied to this nation’s long and deeply troubling relationship to captivities of various kinds … right? I’ll make the attempt, while recognizing and honoring the tight spot into which the English language … and the history of American expansion … has put me. Here goes!)

Point: Self-publishing authors are constrained by their circumstances, and therefore limited as marketers of their works. Let’s slow down and look at some of the speed bumps in our way!

independence, bird

Time.

The first constraint you’re likely to hear about when talking with self-publishing authors about their marketing attempts is how difficult it is to find the time to market well! After all, most indie authors aren’t living lives of leisure; they’re working, sometimes multiple jobs, to pay the rent and bring in the groceries. They usually have families; often, young kids and sleepless nights are also on order. In this kind of typical environment, it’s hard enough to find time to sleep much less write much less market your books for sale to the general public! And this problem also often inspires a great deal of self-doubt and frustration, as the marketing goes on.

Why don’t people just buy my book already? Hint: if it were that easy to sell books, traditional publishing houses wouldn’t have dedicated marketing staff, either! As a self-publishing author, you’ve written and signed a contract with yourself to do whatever it takes to become a published author … and that includes signing away a large chunk of your time.

Suggestion #1: Protect your time by slowing down long enough to sort out your priorities, and set a schedule that is both ambitious … and attainable.

Money.

Here’s the other big speed bump, right? If you don’t have the time, energy, skills, or access to do what needs doing in order to market your book, you’re going to have to fork over some cash to make it happen! Of course, how much you spend is going to vary greatly depending on what path you take towards publication; vanity presses often tout their marketing successes, but often prove disappointing in results anyway, and the really good self-publishing companies–with dependable, expert staff who’ve been in the business long enough to give you a really good leg up–cost a pretty penny.

Spending some money is unavoidable. Breaking the bank … is.

Suggestion #2: Guard yourself against both amazement and disappointment by doing your research ahead of time. Don’t trust a company’s own press releases for your data, either! Do your due diligence and check out customer reviews, and as with my suggestion for time, go ahead and slow down long enough to plot out what services you can take care of effectively on your own … and which ones you really need help with!

Energy.

Alright–it’s time to take a deep breath and feel your body for a moment. Are you sitting in a chair? Criss-cross-applesauce on the hardwood floor? Hanging from the rafters? Are you comfortable? Are you feeling … a little … sleepy?

We’ve mentioned this every now and again on SPA, but it’s always worth mentioning again: a person doesn’t wake up each morning with endless energy! Energy is a budgeted resource, and your body has no qualms about letting you know when you’re close to running the tank totally dry. Like, right now, my eyes are burning from having worn contacts all day, my knees are aching from walking in to work, and I can’t stop yawning no matter how hard I try–all of which are signs that I’m about a half hour from keeping the neighbors up with my zzzzs.

As a self-publishing author, you need to pay close attention to your energy level: it comes at a premium, and just like time, once it’s spent you’re done. There’s no writing when tired, and even coffee will only get you so far. Sleep, my friends, is inevitable!

Suggestion #3: Build some select mindfulness-based practices into your daily writing routine. Check in with your body when you sit down in your chair. Are you actually feeling good and comfortable–and energetic? If your body is screaming “NO MORE! I CHANGED THIRTY DIAPERS TODAY!” then it may be time to back off, allow yourself to get some sleep, eat the right kind of meal, and do a thing which brings you joy. Make a promise to yourself to come back the next day in a better frame of mind and body, and I guarantee you’ll produce better work–work you can be proud of!

Skills.

Look … we’re not all born with a Wacom tablet or a Master of Business in our hands! It’s okay if you don’t know how to set up social media accounts … THIRTY DIFFERENT WAYS … or how to design your own book cover, including blurb, ISBN, LOC numbers, and so on and so forth.

Knowing what your skill set is, and how best to take advantage of what you already know how to do, is absolutely imperative! So, too, is knowing where your skill set runs out, and therefore when you ought to turn to established and verifiable experts–such as those employed at various self-publishing companies, or working on a freelance basis.

Suggestion #4: Before you sit down to submit your book for publication, sit down and sketch out all of the different little processes which go into making a book, from start to finish. EVERY SINGLE ONE. (There ought to be at least thirty!) Only then can you come back and say–“Ah, yes, I can easily take care of those, but not anything to do with Goodreads giveways or writing a press release!” Listing everything will feed straight back into allocating where you spend your time, money, and energy … so make sure you get it right before the wheels are in motion and momentum is pulling you in another direction!

Access.

Last but certainly not least, one of the most oft-mentioned barriers to self-publishing–an unfreedom–is the strictures placed upon indie authors by those with the knowledge and access to make things happen. Indie authors are often left out in the cold, with no recourse but to generate their own networks and influences from scratch … which, yes, can work but often doesn’t. Meanwhile, traditional publishing houses–who have, by the way, refused to evolve to fit the changed world around their signature markets!–snigger behind their hands and offer little or no help at all … because, I assume, they don’t want the competition.

Oh, if only you could imagine all the wonderful ways we might help each other!

But what a pipe dream. Traditional publishing houses have good reasons (from a business point of view) to try and uphold their monopolies by restricting access and denying support to indie authors looking to break out. I’m talking about everything from email lists of potential customers who they hold in reserve, contracts denying their authors from collaborating with self-publishing authors, and so on.

Access is a big problem for indie authors. If you don’t know who to get in touch with to get this certain thing done, it doesn’t get done.

Suggestion #5: Don’t despair. As I’ve mentioned, some authors have made it! There are some existing networks and resources in place to help you … but just don’t expect to find easy access to knowledge and the means to act upon that knowledge within more “mainstream” or “traditional” circles. I mean, take us for example. We’re here for you–every week!


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. ♠


Kelly

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

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 1)

july 5th fifth

We all know that self-publishing and independence go together, right? Or at least, that’s the general idea, and the ultimate goal. We kick off the constraints of the traditional publishing houses, their heavy-handed contracts and royalties disputes, and waft our way over to the Elysian fields of indie bliss ….

But that’s not how self-publishing works, is it? Yes, you’re independent, but independence comes with a price tag. And this isn’t some fatalistic attempt to push you, our readers, towards traditional publishing (believe me! we hate it as much as you do!). The fact remains, however, that when it comes to self-publishing, you get what you pay for, and the rest you accomplish through elbow grease.

So … how does one market as an independent, self-publishing author? Is it even possible to rival the promotional work of the Big Five when all you have is a halfway decent laptop, debatable graphic design skills, and very little free time? How do we break free from Big Business but still sell books?!

The simple answer is: it’s hard … but totally possible. And we’ll dive into some of the pros, cons, and various logistics over the Wednesdays to come. Stay tuned for more musings on a marketing theme! (And say that ten times fast.)

Tomorrow, Royalene will be talking about how self-publishing intersect with the personal freedoms we so value here on our side of the pond. Watch her space for more excellent “independence” advice on Friday mornings this summer!


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. ♠


Kelly

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

In Your Corner: Where (& Where NOT) to Sell Your Book

Typically, a (midlist, traditionally-published) book tour can only last so long–about three months, on the average–and that same book has about the same length of time to linger around brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes & Noble before being shuffled off to (midlist, traditionally-published) book heaven. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and those rare blockbuster successes like Harry Potter and John Grisham’s latest book will never know these trials. But what about self-published books and self-publishing authors? It’s hard enough to get your book on any shelf, period, so how do you figure out which shelves matter the most, given the limited times that various retailers will be interested in stocking it?

I would offer up the following list of places to consider NOT selling your book:

  1. Big box stores. I read somewhere recently that around seventy percent of American adults haven’t stepped inside a bookstore for the last ten years. Blame the skyrocketing usefulness of digital services if you like, but the point is … most people aren’t going to find your book if it’s only for sale in a bookstore, particularly a big box store like … well, Barnes & Noble and now Amazon’s physical bookstores (Amazon’s algorithms are always sure to privilege Kindle Direct-published titles, anyway). The greatest problem of all with big box stores is, however, simply this: they won’t go to bat for you. There are too many other competing concerns, and they’re not likely to take the time to care about your individual success in the midst of all that. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try at all to stock your book at B&N and elsewhere, but be prepared to have your books returned to you after some months if you don’t actively promote your book in each location yourself. We’ve mentioned it elsewhere on the blog, but stores may not even be willing to stock your book if you don’t give them a free return option.
  2. Independent bookstores. This one might get me into trouble with some other self-publishing authors, but my point is that independent bookstores are for the most part incredibly crowded places, with thousands of competing titles jammed into a small space. I would posit that the indie bookstore is a fantastic place to hold a reading, but a difficult place to sell books if you yourself are not present at a book launch party or a reading in order to promote it. Indies don’t have the budget to do that for you, and as with all other sales locations you should expect to bear the brunt of the marketing.
  3. Restaurants and wine bars. There can be ways to make a restaurant or wine bar or coffee shop or other “edible” establishment a happy home for your book, but usually only as a live event space–for readings and launch parties and such. Problematically, however, these locations tend to charge for such events, often a hefty sum, and the cost can outweigh the advantages–especially if there is a library or civic space nearby where you can hold your reading for free. If you’re going to sell at a restaurant, be ready to have to compete with lots of other activity and noise OR to be sectioned away from the main public area and therefore unable to draw newcomers in. It’s hard to feed serendipity when there’s a wall between you and the front door!
  4. Online. Not all algorithms are created equal, right? Amazon has come under fire in the last few months for deliberately downplaying indie and self-published works that were produced by other publishers than their own Kindle Direct service, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store has never seen the same level of traffic as their amorphous competitor. You should not expect for your book to sell, magically, online without extensive marketing on your part and careful attention to where you sell. As in a lot of other facets of self-publishing, you want to sell through people who will go to bat for you. The folks over at Outskirts Press seem like a great example of such a company, and their online bookstore is easy to find and navigate.
  5. Under your bed. There are plenty of ways to NOT sell your book, but hiding them under the bed and expecting them to sell without you having to put in some serious elbow grease is perhaps the worst of all. The other entries on this list of “NOTs” is still a better place to start than here, in the realm of neglect. Promote, promote, promote!

… but of course, every challenge has its flip side. I would offer up this second list, in increasing order of value, as a compendium of places to DEFINITELY sell your book:

  1. Local indies. Look, I know what I said about independent bookstores on list #1. But local indies are another story. A nearby town has three of them, and they constantly compete to get visiting and local authors to stop by and sign books, host readings, and generally be a presence in their stores. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership, and many of the problems of the general indie bookstore disappear when you’re able to stop by multiple times a month and make yourself a part of the life of your local indies. They’re often willing, even, to pass word along about your other local events–readings at libraries and such. The three local indies I mentioned above all network with the big city library to take some of the pressure off in hosting parts of the annual state book festival. When things are local, they become fertile ground for long-lasting relationships.
  2. Local libraries. For many of the same reasons as with local indies, local libraries are fantastic places to sell your book. Not just at book launch parties and readings, although those too are fantastic, but possibly even at the front desk or via the community bulletin board. The point is, again, to keep yourself an active presence at the library, to stop by both at planned and unplanned moments to engage with the library patrons and staff. To cultivate relationships. One little local library I visit regularly had a special relationship with a local historian who published books about the town, and always had one or two copies of his book on hand to sell for him. When he passed away, those books suddenly became very hot property in the community, and the library hosted a farewell memorial with his family. I won’t say this particular arrangement is a common occurrence, but it’s a possibility.
  3. Local businesses. There are all kinds which might be willing to partner with you, either by putting up posters or keeping a couple of copies by the register–hair salons, museums, art galleries, specialty stores, you name it! Wherever people browse slowly, that’s an opportunity. And it’s all the better if you have a personal connection with the staff at these businesses, so that they’re interested in picking up the books themselves and having a read. The more people who know what’s inside the covers of your book and who stand behind counters in authority positions, the better, I say! The author who had that special relationship with his library? His books really move at the local city museum, too. There ought to be at least one place which just fits so perfectly for you, right?
  4. Elevators. You will have heard of the “elevator pitch” if you’ve hung around authors or businessfolk at all, and I can’t overemphasize the importance of having one of your own. There are countless opportunities to deliver a thirty-second spiel as you’re going about your daily life, your weekly routine, and your monthly once-offs! It’s all in the mindset, and flipping that switch which turns you from a regular everyday commuter to a self-promoting self-publishing author. It’s often a conscious decision, and it’s not always easy–we all want to just zombie around and relax, every now and then. Social interactions can be awkward enough as it is! But every day is full of opportunities, and if you’re sensitive to them and the mood of the person stuck in that hypothetical elevator with you, you might just have a potential future fan on your hands.
  5. Online. Yeah, yeah, I know this made my list of “NOTs” earlier. But it’s more about how you go about it and where you do that going-aboutness. And as always, think in terms of relationships. Where can you cultivate relationships so that you’ll be creating a team of people willing to promote your book with you? Very likely, social media will play an important role–but only if you’re willing to spend the time to cultivate real and actual, authentic interactions with your followers. So long as you’re dependent upon people you trust and care about–your fans–and not some faceless algorithm, you have a very good chance of growing your reach and selling some books along the way.
Girl (6-7) standing in front of bookshelf
Girl (6-7) standing in front of bookshelf — Image by © Sasha Gulish/Corbis

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: 10 ways to promote your book for under $100!

Publishing is expensive, right? Well, yes, especially if you go about it the way that many blogs and books recommend, which assume you have unlimited funds, time, and energy in order to do what you like. But most of us—I’m assuming, at least—are not exactly rolling in it, not with the economy the way it is, and not with this whole thing called “having a life” is. Life can be exhausting, and expensive, and self-publishing your book should be part of the recovery process—not contributing to the problem!

grow your money

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of ten ways you can market your book without breaking the bank. And if you have any ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section, below, or you can contact us over Facebook or Twitter. (Our twitter handle is @selfpubadvisor.) Best of all, all ten marketing strategies I’ve listed below are cheap.

  1. Reach readers where they live. This is a process which starts with researching them. Thoroughly. What are their demographic details? How old are they? Where do they live, geographically speaking? Are they diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender? What social media platforms do they use and which have they discarded or never picked up to begin with? In the case of younger readers, are they old enough to be in command of their own savings–or will purchases be made by parents and caregivers? What subjects occupy their waking thoughts? You also have to actively go out and reach them. Carefully and effectively. With precision. Draft a well-thought-out, targeted marketing strategy that pares back on the manifold possibilities open to you … to just the ones that will reach your core readership. Once you have established a sustainable system in place, you can begin experimenting your way through additional marketing strategies and see what is sustainable.
  2. Give them a taste. Whether we’re talking about an e-book or an audiobook, digital formats offer some truly exciting possibilities for incentivization.  Amazon automatically offers the first ten or so pages for free (the so-called “first chapter freebie”) and you can replicate this on your blog and with other online retailers.  Curating your own freebie chapter isn’t an option with Amazon, but it is when you choose the method of delivery via blog or email, and I highly recommend taking the time to edit what makes it in to your freebie–this gives you an edge over the Amazon preview, which often cuts off in the middle of a paragraph.  Make sure the freebie ends with some sort of natural cliffhanger or emotional hook, to keep your readers coming back!
  3. Discount it. Perhaps the greatest weapon in your digital arsenal is the option to offer timed discounts and sales. Because you control the base price as a self-publishing author, you get to shape your own sales! You can time them to coincide with events of national interest (say, Father’s Day or the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s final fateful voyage–you know, only relevant to you and your work) or you can use the calendar as a guiding star. Sales tend to find success when they close on the last or first day of a month, holidays, and so on.
  4. Host giveaways and hand out merch! You don’t want to leverage these as bribes for reviews, but you can certainly use them to incentivize coming to other events where your books are sold, or to encourage the sort of general enthusiasm for your work that will naturally lead to reviews!
  5. Offer a limited edition or bundle! Comic book authors have created some really good models for bundles that you can use for inspiration, and creating short runs of specialty covers is also a specialty of theirs; don’t hesitate to mix it up to build demand.
  6. Create loyalty by doling out insider access. Readers want to feel special for being your fans, and you should reward this impulse; maybe the purchase of a book becomes a ticket to an author interview via Google Hangouts–or maybe it gives them access to a limited-access “behind the scenes”  page on your website? The options are endless!
  7. Set up a book signing. You probably already guessed that this would rate a top ten list, and you’d be right! Book signings and readings are amongst the most powerful and effective marketing tools available. They take some work, logistically speaking, in that you have to be willing to carry a lot of the weight in organizing the programming and making the calls to set it up, as well as printing flyers and submitting a notice to your local newspapers—whatever it takes to alert people to an upcoming event. But the payoff is rich, and ongoing.
  8. Get thee to a book fair! Much like book signings, these events will give you and your book invaluable face-out exposure, bring you into contact with experts, reviewers, distributors, and many others who will be interested in partnering with you in the future. You can attend solo, or you can partner up with other authors who have published through your indie publishing company in order to lower costs. I highly recommend this kind of partnership, because it bodes well for my next point, which is ….
  9. Play well with others. Most self-publishing authors, no matter where they’re at in their publishing journey, could benefit from strong, dynamic, and useful collaboration. Collaboration can look like a lot of different things:
    • pairing up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together;
    • gathering several other authors together and applying to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention);
    • conducting interviews with other authors and sharing them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process; and
    • co-writing short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online.
  10. Optimize. What does it actually mean to “optimize”?  It means to try new things.  To try every new thing.  To try a new thing regularly. To try it daily.  To try it … always. To think about life and being an author and marketing as some kind of laboratory, where experimentation is the rule and not the exception–and where, like good scientists, we document our progress thoroughly so that we can track, exactly, which outcomes can be attributed to which changes in method.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.