When it comes to promotion, a web search for ebook promotion in the genre you wrote is your best bet. Social media (Twitter and Facebook) also have a lot of promotional posts for this stuff. Sorry I can’t be more exact in offering specific places to look, but reaching readers really is a needle in a haystack, as so many things come and go. I often share things I run across on social media, but here’s what you need to know when you do your own search:
- Watch out for scams. There are a lot of places that will be glad to take your money for promotion, but they won’t deliver anything in the way of sales. Use a lot of discernment in deciding whether the promotion you’re considering will truly reach your target audience.
- Book sales have yielded the best results for me. You can change the price easily when you self publish. Consider running sales from time to time. For example, I often put one of my $1.99 novels on sale for $0.99 for three days (usually a Tuesday –Thursday). Be sure to promote it on social media (Twitter gets the best results for me, but maybe your Facebook friends will actually pay attention to those post better than mine do).
- Book reviews have been another good sales spur. Unfortunately, reviewers can be picky, and many of the better ones charge a fee to review it. For example, I’m a reviewer at Reader’s Favorite. You can apply for a free review, but you’re more likely to get picked up if you pay the $59 for an express review. But if you get a five star review, then you get a special seal you can use, and permission to use a blurb from the review on Amazon.
- November and December are a bit time for holiday ads. May review services run specials to include your book in an “advertising blitz” along with others. They may ask you to provide a prize for a raffle or drawing – I usually offer a free copy of the book I’m advertising. Some may ask you to participate in discussions or social media events on certain days. You can do this from home, but be sure your schedule will allow you to be available online for a few hours. Be sure you understand what they’re asking. I’m finding that more and more don’t allow you to passively pay the fee and advertise – they usually want you to do something interactive with participants online.
- If you don’t have a profile on Goodreads, get one. This is a social media site exclusively for books, and the best place to reach readers and other writer’s. Set up a profile both a reader and author, link up your books to the author dashboard, and participate in groups in your genre. This is a great place to find readers, reviewers, beta and proofreaders, advice on reading and writing, etc. Plus, you can get advertising and promotion tips as well. This is where I find a lot of my promotional information!
- Don’t waste your time and money on book awards, unless you’re a literary writer. Most of them are geared in this direction, and nothing else really stands a chance. Sure they encourage everybody to enter because they want your entry fee, but you don’t really stand a chance at an award or even placing unless it’s that high-flatulent stuff that you read in English class. They really don’t like plot and characterization. And they especially don’t like sci-fi, even if they have a category for it.
- Consider using a social media manager like Hootsuite to schedule posts. I like Hootsuite because I can sit down and schedule up to 30 posts at a time to deliver at a time that I choose, so I don’t have to be online all the time chasing it down. It’s pretty sweet to have them sending a promotional post while you’re having supper or doing your workout.
- Remember that your priority is to sell your book to people you don’t know. So often, I see new writer’s get frustrated with family and friends who lose their enthusiasm over the writing. Be realistic, folks: they have their own life, and can’t do this for you. It’s tough, but success means reaching readers that you don’t know who will buy, like, review, and recommend your book to others who they know. You have to grow that circle through these promotional efforts.
There is one more thing I’d like to note: don’t expect to quit your day job. I’m amazed that people still have the vision of the writer padding around their home in their PJ’s with a cup of coffee and their laptop for a living. That’s a beautiful picture that truly brings tears to my eyes, but you and I both know that the real picture of the writer is one typing furiously on their lunch break, or extremely early or late because it’s the only writing time we can squeeze in after work, family, home, and housework time. True story: I never experienced that “flow” when writing The Tenth Dimension because I literally had to squeeze my writing in between other tasks, from beginning to end. Fortunately, I saw on rewrites that it still came out ok, but I had to power through a lot of distractions and disruptions to write that novel. It’s truly a labor of love, and this is no casual interest. You have to be 100% committed to this and willing to work more for personal satisfaction of writing and delivering a story that readers like than monetary award. Maybe you’ll be lucky to get that big break and become another Dan Brown, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Hugh Howey, but I’ll bet every one of them could tell you stories of clawing their way through years of work for their “big break.” The truth is that ebooks are still fairly new, and we’re on the wave of a new revolution here. Think “grass roots.” It’s going to take time, patience, love, and dedication to build. Do you have enough of that to stick with it after everybody around you isn’t excited for you anymore? You need to!
So that’s my guide to self publishing. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you love your writing and want it to remain truly yours, instead of handing it over to others who have their own selfish interests at heart.
I’ll also say that this isn’t for everybody. If you’ve decided that this isn’t the path for you, then that’s ok. I have also been published through epublishers, and can tell you that if you go that route, then you’ll still want to bookmark this entry for promotional tips because they won’t really promote for you. I’ll also recommend that you check out these three books to help you prepare your manuscript and get your submission materials ready to query a publisher:
The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, by Noah Lukeman. I can’t believe I found a hardback version of this book in a discount bin, because it’s been extremely helpful in crafting a story that “pops.” Read this book while writing your novel so you know how to “hook” them in your submission materials to want to read more!
The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It … Successfully! By Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. I credit this book with getting Blurry, Anywhere But Here, and Splinter accepted by epublishers. I’ve read a lot of books on publishing, and this one is by far the best. It takes you step by step through the publication process to help you tighten up your book and submission materials to put your best foot forward.
Writer’s Market 2018, by Robert Lee Brewer. This is the ultimate guide to publishers on the market. It gives listings for book publishers, magazines, contests and awards, and literary agents. If you don’t want the full guide, then they do have smaller volumes for novels and short stories, poets, and literary agents available. I do recommend getting the full volume if you’re just starting out, so you can get a feel for what’s out there. They release a new volume every year.
Good luck to you on this journey! I hope these entries have been helpful and informative to you on your journey to becoming a published writer.
That’s all today. Take care and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!