I'm an author, a published author, so I spend most of my time...
PROMOTING MY BOOKS
Did you think I was going to say writing? I wish I spent most of my writing-allocated time actually writing. Instead, I—like every other author out there (probably)—devote hours (and I mean hours) to book promotion.
A book is a product. In order to sell a product, you must promote it. A book no one knows about will sell exactly zero copies. Promoting is the difference between <<whispering>> "I wrote a book. Want to buy it?" and proclaiming loudly through multiple channels, including paid ads, "Buy my book!"
I don't have a magic recipe for book promotion. My sales are not stellar... yet... but I've only been in the game for ten years so I'm practically a baby author. In that time, I published six books and had a major life crisis. Long, long, long story short... In 2013, I was physically assaulted at work, received no support (my employer actually tried to push me out), and developed PTSD. I started writing A Vampire's Tale, the first book of The Magicals, when I was bed-ridden with "unexplainable" low blood pressure, high cortisol, and fainting spells. But that's enough of that talk. Everyone has stuff going on. This is my stuff, and while I do talk about it sometimes, this post is supposed to be about promotion.
So, promotion... If you're a veteran author, you might want to skip over the basics...
The promotion process starts long before you publish a book.
The minute you decide to write a book and have aspirations for publication, you need to think about your author platform. An author platform is your online presence—website, social media, newsletter mailing list.
A good-looking and functional website is very important. Social media platforms come and go, but a website is digital real estate you control. I run my own website through Weebly, but there are many hosts who offer the "plug and play" functions you need to build a DIY website. You don't have to be a computer programmer. I'm certainly not. If I run into problems, then I Google for solutions or outsource when the issue goes beyond my ability. Running my website is a huge cost savings, and I appreciate the ability to make timely, on-demand changes.
Social media is huge. You don't need to use all of the platforms, but you need Facebook, at least. As for other platforms, research what social media your target market uses. If you're using social media, then stay consistent with posting and engagement. I am active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Blogger. I use social media planners, like Planoly and Buffer, to schedule posts. I have a YouTube channel, but I don't consider myself an active user. I buy Facebook and Instagram ads, and have also promoted tweets. I signed up to use Google ads, but their process is more complex and I haven't run an ad campaign yet.
Maintaining a mailing list is still an important part of your approach. Email goes directly into the hands of people who are interested in you or your work. I have a quarterly newsletter and send out notices of sales, cover reveals, and events like blog tours.
Once you have a book to sell, before it releases, you need to email your mailing list, line up book reviewers, update author profiles, post a cover reveal, add the book to your website, book a blog tour, create an inventory of social media graphics and quote cards, and post to social media. At the pre-order level, you can also book promotions and new release newsletter spots.
Recommended Book Promotion Sites:
- BookBub (the holy grail of promotion sites) - I haven't been able to secure a spot yet, but I use BookBub ads.
- eReader News Today
- Bargain Booksy
- My Romance Reads
- The Fussy Librarian
- Free Kindle Books & Tips
- eBook Discovery
- Kindle Nation Daily
Each book promotion site has its own guidelines for submission. Make sure you submit for the right genre and have the correct price set on promotion day. I track the effectiveness of each campaign in order to determine where I spend my dollars.
Eye-catching graphics on social media are a must. Like the DIY website, there are a lot of sites or apps for DIY design. I use Canva. I use both the website version and mobile app. Canva has templates for the correct dimensions for the various social media platforms, taking the guesswork out.
And the book itself is very important to the promotional process. Professional cover design and editing—whether you traditionally or self-publish—is an absolute must. Don't forget the concise blurb. They are a pain in the butt to write, but readers evaluate the cover and/or the blurb before making their purchasing decision.
And, then, if there is any time left in my day... I write.
Time management is a thing. I use social media planners to schedule posts, but it takes a lot of time to create graphics. I browse social media during meals or rests. But everything takes time. Scheduling promotions, keeping accounts (I track every transaction related to my writing), and contacting book reviewers. Then there's blogging (I post irregularly) and editing (if a book is in that stage).
When it comes to book promotion, I've tried a lot of different methods. There's no shortcut to success. I'm here to tell a story, and hope that it's meaningful to someone along the way. I write because I think better in words. I wrote this post because I was thinking about all the promotions I've been juggling this week. I have The Magicals Box Set in pre-order, a 99c sale for A Wizard's Choice, a blog tour starting this week for A Magical's Gift... There's a lot going on.
I'm also in the middle of writing a book. It's been difficult writing this summer. We had a three-week visit at my in-laws. I brought my laptop, but I didn't get much time to write. The kids were home for the summer so it's not likely I'd have had the time anyway. But school started this week and football is back... so, while my people are occupied, I'm going to finish my current WIP.
At the end of the day, I keep writing. Book promotion is a crucial part of the writing process since my dream, as a published author, is to sell books. And, to sell books, I need to get the word out. I don't have the answers. I might not even know the right questions. I try to stay current on the latest book promotion how-to, but one thing has remained constant. Book promotion requires consistency. Keep promoting and keep publishing because the last book sells the next book or something like that.
And, one more thing, buy my book... kidding... not kidding... :)