Saturday, July 27, 2013

Marketing and Promotions – and you thought you had finished your book aye?!!

So you have finished your book, it's been edited, illustrated, covered, and you've just published it online – yay, time to party and watch all the cash roll in?  Yeah-nah...  You have only just begun as an indie-author.  What happens next will make or break your career as an author

Thanks to online retailers and the invention of the ebook, times have changed.  It used to be that traditionally published authors could sit back and let their publishers do all of the marketing and promotions, distribution and author visits.  They would do all they could to get your book out there in the 'verse to make them and you HEAPS of money.  It doesn't work like that any more – not that it was really all that to begin with.  With little money left over for marketing and promotions, a book will be at the top of the newly released lists for a year before the author has to work their butt off to continue sales.  More and more traditionally published authors are having to market their own titles now.

And how do they do that?  They build their author platform.

Excerpt from an earlier post: Building Petal the Owl's Marketing Platform
It is essential for every author – self-published/traditionally published/not-published-yet – to build their platform.  What is a platform and what does that mean for self-publishers?  According to Chris Robley of, he writes in his blog: 'The “author platform” is a fancy buzzword folks in the book business use to talk about an author's fan engagement, their social media and web presence, the size and dedication of their readership, and their connectedness to other authors, bloggers, critics, agents, publicists, publishers, etc.' ~

I've learned the hard way how difficult it is to market your publications.  Ebooks are a relatively new market and kids' ebooks even more so.  But in the 18 months that I've been selling them online, the number of kids ebooks being sold on Amazon has more than doubled.  Being featured in the top 100 was a normal occurrence to me late last year, but now it's harder and harder to get books in those lists and even harder to keep them there without a million people giving great reviews.

Without you author platform how are you going to find readers?  How are you going to find support?  How are you going to sell your ebooks?  How are you going to learn what works and what doesn't?  How are you going to learn and better your trade skills?  How are you going to keep yourself from going nuts, spending hours/days/weeks/months talking to your imaginary friends like they exist in real life?

At the beginning it was scary to think about how I was going to market my products.  I set up a website, which is my biggest source of sales even though it just sits there doing nothing!  I set up a Twitter account – even though I'd vowed I'd never go there!  I set up a Facebook page, and a Google+ account.  I then liked a million other Facebook pages, followed a million other Twitter accounts, and checked out a million other authors' pages.  I started a blog – well, a news link really – for my website and guest-spoke on a million other blogs, and I think that it has worked for me, just not in the way that I first expected.

I don't sell many more books with this marketing platform.  It really doesn't help much at all, but what it has helped with is networking and connecting with other writers and self-publishers.  It's given me a greater understanding of the self-publishing world out there, and it's helped me learn my trade in a greater way than I ever thought possible.  I have to admit though – it is a bit of a time-waster.  I think I spend more time on Facebook than actually writing each week ~ just, please, don't tell the hubby that! [Ed: then she gets me to edit this post...!]

Things that can help you promote your books and you as an author include:
Author Bio: a couple of paragraphs about you as an author.  Make it genre-appropriate and interesting, keep it brief, and don't misspell anything – bad look!

Author Pic: get a nice, professional photo of yourself showing off your best assets/side... did I say assets??? :o)

Things that you can use to promote you and your books:

Facebook is a great way to build a following of locals.  I have set up an author business page.  I don't have many people from overseas on my Facebook page, and most of my overseas followers are friends of friends.  I have found Facebook to be a great place to build rapport with readers and build a community of supporters.  I have often asked for reviewers from my page and have found a few really honest individuals who are keen to give an honest review for a pre-release copy of my ebooks.

I have enjoyed connecting with other small business owners on facebook as well, because lets face it – you publishing books online is a small business.  You have to keep accounts, pay tax and promote and sell your product.  Learning small business management is really important!

I still don't know how to use twitter to all its potential.  I have learned that if people 'follow' you on twitter they expect to be 'followed' back.  I have linked my Facebook page and twitter accounts so that everything I post on Facebook gets tweeted to the 'verse.

Google Plus
Google Plus isn't very popular in New Zealand.  We mostly keep to Facebook and Twitter.  But there are advantages to having a Google Plus account – overseas connections.  A huge techie and geek community use Google Plus like it's going out of fashion.  If you can break into that market you will do well.  [Ed: with Gmail now starting to automatically give people a Google Plus account, the popularity of this may start to change.]

I've found a few writer's groups who are really supportive on Google Plus.  I am slowly building my 'circles' here and it is going well.

I haven't used a blog for long, this blog 'Confessions of a Kiwi Self-publisher' is my first real blog.  I had my husband show me how to get it all set up and have found it to be extremely user-friendly.

You will find that most authors have blogs.  They will write about their daily lives as writers and will use their blogs to give snippets of their work for their fans to keep them engaged while their next book is being produced.

Many authors will find like-minded authors who write in similar genre and they will all 'Blog Hop' – write guest posts for other's blogs.  This is a fantastic way to extend your readership and fan-base.  I really encourage you to blog hop and have many guest bloggers on your own blog.

Unless you have a huge amount of books to sell – like me – or a huge following – not like me – then a website is an expense you can do without.  It costs to have your own domain name, to host your site and to have someone update it day-in and day-out.  I have a techie for a hubby and am blessed with FREE WEB MAINTAINANCE but without him it would all add up.  [Ed: another option is to look at something with a simple content management system (CMS): but much of this could be done as a blog.]

If you do consider getting your own website then make sure you purchase your domain names now before they get taken.

Author Central
Author Central is an author page linked to Amazon.  If you set up your own author central page you can list all of your titles in one place on Amazon.  Amazon lets you select the books that are yours and it is a great place to update guff about your books – like if you accidentally miss-spell something in your book's description.

If you have written under a pen name, you can also set up an author central account under your pen name and link it to your KDP account.

Author Central allows you to link your twitter and your blog (RSS feed) to your author page and there is place for your author bio and pic.  You can link to your website and other social networking sites as well.

When I am looking for more books by an author on Amazon I always check out their Author Central Page.  REALLY IMPORTANT TO GET ONE IF YOU SELL ON AMAZON!!!

Goodreads is a social networking site for bookworms and authors.  It is great for listing your books and getting another set of reviews from readers.  This is a great place to get noticed, but I'm not totally convinced you will get many sales via this site.

Just like on Facebook, you can set up chat times with readers, set up giveaways and connect with other authors.  There are book cover competitions, Top Ratings lists, etc that you can engage in.

Goodreads is now owned by Amazon, but Amazon doesn't have as much governance over what is posted there, unlike the review system on its own site.  This means that readers can say what ever they want and they can 'shelve' your book where ever they like.  I have seen some sad behaviour on Goodreads by authors and readers alike and it makes me wish I had never set up a Goodreads account now.

If you want to find more online places to add your author profile to, check out Author Discovery.  They have a great list of places you can add your author profile to to boost your discoverability:

Author Marketing Club 
Author Marketing Club is another great resource for promoting your self-published books:

There are loads of other book sites you can list your books with, especially if you have a free promotion or a book launch.  Review sites are aplenty, but most you have to pay for now.  These two links show lists to dozens of other sites you should try to get your books onto.  Have a read, check them all out and find out which ones might fit you best.

Basically, you have to promote your own books, everywhere you can.  It is a whole lot of work to get your books out there in the 'verse, but if you stick at it, you will see results.  Becoming a self-publisher really is a full-time profession.  Writing and publishing was just the birth your book – don't let marketing and promotions become the death.

Last piece of advice for this subject – make it fun, enjoy your marketing and promotions, celebrate every achievement with the 'verse, and above all, don't ever give up!

~ Joy Findlay

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