SXSW Collaboration: Promoting Your Book Via Social Media



This month Shannon Barczak and I decided to dish about marketing.  Being Indie Authors means that not only are we expected to write an awesome book but we also have to sell it.  Telling your friends and family about your accomplishment is just the beginning, after that marketing becomes a full time job.  Both Shannon and I have embraced social media in hopes of getting our books out there, and hopefully we have a few pointers. As always my responses will appear in black while Shannon's will be in pink. 

Shannon how do you feel about Marketing?

I’m just going to go on the record by saying that I am probably the least inefficient author when it comes to doing the whole promoting thing. I think it’s because when I first started writing my book, I really didn’t give much thought to the actual promoting and marketing that I would have to do at the end of the whole writing a book process.  I still feel like I’m a published author in training sometimes but I have learned a few tricks along the way. I know that there are thousands of people that are far more educated and informed than little ol’ me but I hope that I can give a novice like myself a few words of advice.

Yes please share:

-1.  First and foremost, you need to have a plan in place when you start writing. I know that it’s pretty much the furthest thing from your mind when you sit down to write your novel but you have to figure out how you are going to market and promote your book. Being a self-published Indie writer has some perks but it also has downfalls. One of those downfalls is that you don’t have an agent or a publisher singing your praises to everyone involved in the publishing world every second of the day. You are responsible for getting the word out by whatever means are necessary.

That is SO true.  As an Indie Author you’re in charge of it all, from writing, editing, publishing, finances, and of course the dreaded marketing.  As authors I think we tend to be more introverted and we want people to read and love our work but having to put ourselves out there is a whole other story and it makes us uncomfortable, but it is 100% necessary and part of the job.  After I wrote Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers, I sat down and thought who’s my target audience i.e. who the heck is going to want to read a book about a nineteen year old, samurai sword wielding, future-seer?  As authors we’d like to say, everyone can enjoy this book, it’s a story that reaches everyone, but that is just not true.  Your book is a product like any other, think of deodorant, there’s a reason there is an entire aisle dedicated to them at the supermarket, because one deodorant isn’t made for all people.  So make your job easier and figure out who your target reading demographic is and go after them, and only them, at first, and then you can venture out after you’ve built your die-hard fan base.  Shannon, Any other tips?

- 2.  The best way to promote your book is by word of mouth. You need to tell every person you have known in your entire life that you wrote a book. Don’t be ashamed to use guilt or even blackmail when you go about doing this kind of self-promoting. I’m sure you have an embarrassing picture of one of your buddies in high school that they don’t want to ever see the light of day. Tell them to buy the book or it’s being uploaded and tagged. When you’re done with the people you do know, move on to any random person that you come into contact with as you go about your day. Cashier in the grocery store? Check. Your children’s teacher? Check. Weird lady who walks her cat in the stroller in your neighborhood? Check. The annoyingly cheerful telemarketer who wants to sell you a time share? Check, check! 

Hahaha I love it.  Yes be shameless, I am constantly trying to find ways to stick my book into everyday conversation.  When they ask, “paper or plastic?” and the grocery store I say, “Oh yes I did publish an ebook version as well.”

-3. Start a website immediately. I love to read other authors blogs. I find it interesting that sometimes writers, like myself, who are just starting out have the same issues of more successful authors. Writers love to read not only books but also other writer’s ramblings (say that ten times fast). I sat down the other day and read a 600 word article all about commas which completely fascinated me. 

Great advice, when I told one of my best friends that I was going to self-publish he was like, you should start a blog.  I was like, a what?  It makes perfect sense, it’s easier than starting a website in terms of effort and it allows writers to do what they do best, write.  Blogging is excellent because it allows your readers to see you ‘behind the scenes’ and it allows you really connect with them on a more personal level as well as write every day or at least once a week which is great practice for your next novel ;)

-4. Twitter is the second best place to spread the word and the first best place to give you the
Twitter is the second best place to spread the word and the first best place to give you the support you need. I was never a big fan of Twitter but I have to say the best thing I ever did was create an account after I started my blog. Almost all my followers and those that I follow are writers. I have met some really great people through Twitter and it’s always fun to get retweeted or mentioned. 

I couldn’t agree more!  Twitter is a fun way to advertise to more people than you could reach with the more personal Facebook, and it allows you to choose who you want to reach, did you write a YA book then look up YA authors and readers. You can get free advice, find copy editors, and retweets are basically free advertising space.  

-5. Don’t worry about blowing up your friends and families newsfeed on Facebook when you start posting stuff from your website. I know that for years I have had to see pictures posted daily of other people’s children, cocktails that are being consumed and the always lovely ‘Do you think I should see the doctor’ photo of an infected limb. If they don’t like the fact that you are trying to sell a book or writing about what’s going on in your life then so be it. Unfriend!

I am always updating my Facebook status so that it hints at my book or just blatantly discuses my book, remember the more ‘likes’ you get the more people see your plugs.  What other means have you utilized in order to promote your work?

-6. Set up an author page on Facebook. I am not the best at promoting this aspect. I pretty much have my friends and family that I have bullied into liking it and a few lovely diehard fans. It’s necessary and let’s face it, people love to stalk other people, so give them an all access pass. 

I like that my author Facebook page is separate that way I can plug as many book signings, author giveaways, starting new projects, pics of me doing all of these things on one site without people getting numb to the information, also that way people that I met at book signings don’t get to see my more private photos unless I friend them.  So you’re still able to be a private person even if using social media to promote your book.

-7. Book release party. This is probably my favorite!  I have had two book releases for the first book in my trilogy.  It’s a fun way to promote your work, catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and most importantly make connections.  I can’t tell  you how many people I have met who have either, offered a free venue for another book release party, asked me to appear on their radio show, or simply said, I now someone that reads and I’m going to tell them about your book.  All of things would not have happened if I hadn’t sat at a table with a stack of my books offering to sign them after I sold them.  So it’s an easy way to drastically increase sales and just awareness of your material.  And you can have them wherever you want!  I had my first one at a Wine Tasting Room and that was super fun because people could sit back with a glass of wine, buy a cigar and one of my books and BOOM-perfect Saturday night :)  Shannon any thoughts on this?

This is actually something I haven’t done yet as of yet but I am planning on throwing one when the third book to my trilogy is finished and released. I spied a lovely little bookstore in my new town and I am going to pop in and chat with the owner when I have a minute. 

-8.  There are also other tools to help you market your book, like giving it away.  Shannon do you have any experience with this? 
I choose to publish my book with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. I think it’s the best platform for new authors and I really like the benefits of enrolling in the KDP select. Although you do have to give them exclusive rights for 90 days, you can use a few marketing tools that are at your disposal. I have taken advantage of the 5 day free promo twice now for Isle of Skye and because of that I have had over 3000 downloads. I know that every author may have stars and money signs in their eyes when they get done writing their book. You hit publish and think ‘Wow I’m a published author, I’m going to be rich and famous’… that is a lovely but unrealistic goal. Keep in mind that with your first book the most essential part of promoting is just to get your name and work out there to the masses.

Yes I love Amazon.  There are numerous platforms that you can use but I like Amazon the best because I knew I didn’t want to just have an Ebook but also a print edition (something about seeing my name on a book’s spine and resting on my bookshelf) so I went through Amazon’s Createspace and they are awesome because of their expanded distribution channels.  (I have an entire blog post dedicated to it actually so check it out if you want more info.)  But KDP has a free book promo option as well as their Kindle Countdown Deals and yes like Shannon said it would be nice to make millions off of your book and have adapted into a screenplay but that probably won’t happen and if it does it’s because it’s already a huge success.  In order to make it a huge success people need to read it.  And even if they read if for free that is still a success because that means they can post a review or just tell someone about your book.

The most important thing to remember is that you will always be your books best cheerleader.  Think of your book like it was your newborn baby. You have to love, nurture and protect it at all times. Like any mother, you also at some point need to let your child spread its wings. If it’s a good book, it will do well on its own but you must first put in the time and effort for it to do that in the first place.  Lastly, have fun! You wrote a book for goodness sake, enjoy it and spread the word. Writing a book is a major accomplishment and you should feel proud and happy to tell every single person you come into contact with about your story. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your book. Nothing that truly is important to you comes easy but that just makes the reward even better!

Amen to that!  Promote, Promote, Promote, in whatever way you feel comfortable, or in a way that only makes you slightly uncomfortable.  Your friends and family will grin and bear it when you talk about your book but mostly they won’t be able to hear you shameless promoting your work because they’re too busy talking about their daughter, aunt, sister, cousin, friends, that just wrote a freakin book.  Surround yourself with people that want to see you succeed and remember if you’re not uncomfortable you’re not marketing your work enough :)

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