I’ve gotten several message this week from authors who are just starting out. The consistent theme has been: do I have any advice for them? I am no expert on marketing, and I want to preface this post with these are the things that have made an impact for me. I’ve learned tons about marketing and publishing in the last couple years, but I KNOW I still have lots to learn. If any of you have advice for other authors that I didn't include, PLEASE share the love and leave a comment with your advice!!
1. Personal connections. Every friend I have on Goodreads or Facebook gets a personal message from me. I’m more interested in getting to know a hundred people who read my books and loved them than I am in connecting with a thousand who may or may not be excited to hear about my latest release, a review that brought tears to my eyes, or a message from a girl in Sri Lanka who did a book report on one of my books for school (yes, that one made me feel as cool as Cat Woman!). Writing is very personal for me and I like the idea that the people I connect with are people I want to know and who want to know me.
2. Book Covers. Okay, true confession here: I am in the one tenth of one percent of the reading population who RARELY looks at a book’s cover. Every book I’ve read for the last two years has been based on a friend’s recommendation, a goodread’s group read, or an author I’ve met on-line who I think is fun and I’m anxious to see if their personality came through in their writing. For the other 99.9% of the population, a cover is CRITICAL. Make sure it looks as good when it’s the size of a quarter, as it does when you’re looking at it stretched across your screen. The bulk of the people who see it, will see it when it is the size of a quarter. It’s got to be dramatic enough to catch and make them want to read your synopsis and peruse your reviews.
3. Meet other authors in your genre. They’re just like you and me. They have families, jobs, community commitments and they write because they love it. If you read one of their books and a character or scene moves you, tell them. Of the books I’ve read in the last two years, every story that brought tears to my eyes, made my heart race or made me want to throw my kindle across the room resulted in a message to the author. Most have become close friends and exceptional sounding boards for ideas.
4. Edit. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a professional editor, find one that you can trade with. Offer to help them market their editing business, offer to recommend your friends to them, do whatever it takes to make sure you publish a polished book. There are thousands of readers out there who will overlook spelling and grammatical errors (yes, I think these people are angels on earth), but there are nearly as many who will be sever in their critiques / reviews. A well edited book with a great plot and characters is one readers will gladly recommend to all their friends.
5. Get to know bloggers, not just at a superficial level, but get to know them. Bloggers are the unsung heroes of the independent publishing world. They routinely take a chance on an unknown author, devote hours of their personal time to read and review a story then publish to the world their opinions. Word of mouth is THE BEST advertising any author could ever hope to have. Experienced bloggers have a substantial group of followers, know how to insert tags in their posts, and if they fall in love with your story will more than recommend your story, they will advocate for you!
For any authors out there who don’t know where to start, John Locke’s book: How I sold a million E-books in 5 Months is the best $3 you will ever spend. When I was just starting out it was recommended to me. It is full of exceptional marketing ideas.
I hope this has been helpful.
Happy Reading (And Writing!)