Book Promotion in the Land Before Time – Chapter Fourteen on Self-Publishing

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Book Promotion in the Land Before Time – Chapter Fourteen on Self-Publishing

I’ve been fretting about writing this because I feel I still haven’t cracked the giant dinosaur egg of book promotion. Through piles of research I feel I know quite a lot about it, the frustration is turning that knowledge into pennies. Preferably enough pennies to supplement my part-time income so I don’t have to worry about not being able to afford good cheese. Book promotion is a long game. I suspect many formerly enthused self-pubbers suddenly find a wall of apathy within them when trying to tackle this thing.

You see, you are an unknown in a saturated market, trying to get known on the cheap. The fast way to ‘get known’ is generally to throw money at it. But the point of this new era is that in theory, you can do this for nowt if you do all the donkey work. But it takes more time. Much more time. I’m feeling the January blues as well, which doesn’t help. Hopefully sharing some brain goo will help bring back my promotional mojo (promojo).

1. Get a Blog. I still can’t believe it when I chat to self-publishers & they don’t have a blog. You need a way to drive internet traffic to your amazon/smashwords page. It won’t happen by magic. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr. Get a free one. What to post? Stuff about your book, stuff about yourself that gives you a bit of a cyber personality, but don’t share too much. Write blogs about themes related to your novel, so people interested in those themes will be drawn towards your book.

2. Plan way ahead & do your research. Don’t rush your book to market and then find yourself chasing your tail. Get your blog & social media persona up & running way in advance. Hopefully build a little following. More on blogging & social media here. Plan your book launch, try to publicise a bit in advance building to your dramatic entrance. I found it difficult to launch print & ebook at once. In retrospect, as I was throwing a big party, I neglected the ebook a little. You will make mistakes though, don’t dwell on them, think ‘What can I do now?’

3. Don’t rely entirely on international cyber-reality. Local people tend to be interested in local authors. Do contact independent magazines who cover creative stuff. Again think about themes/topics unique to your book. What groups/magazines might be interested? This is easier with non-fiction, but still worth a thought for fiction. Dogtooth Chronicals has strong elements which may be of interest to survivalists, environmentalists, or dog/wolf enthusiasts. It is highly likely much of your correspondense won’t get a reply, but this doesn’t mean they haven’t taken notice.

4. Don’t get ripped off. You’re swimming in shark-infested water. Hopefully you’ve already avoided the vanity press through checking Predators & Editors but you’re not out of the ocean yet. Your stance on anyone who wants to charge you for promotional help or large sums to enter indie book awards should be caution. What will you actually get out of it? Do your research. Writer Beware has lots of good advice on this.

5. Find places to reach readers. There are hundreds of promotion sites for self-publishers. Most of them are only known to self-publishers. Yes, fellow indie authors are also readers & you will need peer support in this, but imagine a roomful of writers all shouting over each other about their own book. That’s what most of these places are like. The most popular sites to reach readers as far as I know are Goodreads and Library Thing. On both you can register an author profile in conjunction with your reader profile. Having a profile on big sites like these will also help with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation, for more info see Blogpreneur).

6. Try to contact book clubs. Offer a group discount on your book and material to promote discussion. For an example, have a look at my Dogtooth Chronicals PDF. I admit I haven’t used it yet but apparently Meet Up is a good place to find local book clubs. Also ask friends if they’re part of/know any groups. People are more receptive to writers they have a connection with. If they do read your book, offer to join the group one night for a chat about it.

7. Find book review blogs that are open to self-published work. I will do another blog later with more details on this. You will find most of these sites have a huge backlog and may not be open to new submissions. I’ll be honest it’s a big slog. Try to find ones that are suitable for subject/theme etc. Always have a look at the sort of books they review and their submission guidelines first. You wouldn’t believe how many idiots cluster bomb any old review site with their requests. Have some respect, they’re doing you a favour! To find suitable subjects one way is to google e.g dystopian book reveiws and use googles subsection ‘blogs’. If they come up in the top couple of pages they’re likely to have decent readership. Try a variety of different keywords you want your book associated with. For Dogtooth Chronicals I use ‘magic realism’, ‘environmental science fiction’, ‘dystopian’, ‘speculative fiction’.

8. Speaking of keywords or tags, use these everywhere. Tag your book on online shops (amazon & smashwords give you most control) with these subjects & ask reviewers to agree with these tags. Use them (casually) in blog posts and social media profiles (e.g as #hashtags on twitter). This all makes it easier for someone looking for the next best book on ‘dystopia & dogs’ to find what they’re looking for (clue: it’s Dogtooth Chronicals).

9. Be nice. Share & help others. Be social and take time to chat with other bloggers or forum users about any old stuff. If you were at a party you wouldn’t just wander round shoving your book in people’s faces saying ‘This is great, read this!’. You need foreplay, and sometimes you’ll realise your book isn’t for them anayway, but you may still have made a cyber friend. Don’t over-react to bad press/reviews/trolls. You will be respected more for not rising to it. When writing Dogtooth Chronicals I named one of my chapters ‘The Same Things Celebrated will be the Same Things Berated’, because I knew not everyone would like the swearing/dialect/film references/Wolfgang’s mental ramblings in pigeon English. As a writer putting your work out in the world you must be ready for both constructive and unconstructive criticism.

10. Don’t give up. Even if you have a great product and you’re doing all the right things, it may takes ageas. Give it all the gusto you can for 8 months to a year. You may feel lost in a time warp, wandering plantively down the rabbit warrens of the internet. Take a look around you cos I’ll be there somewhere.

Boom. This is sort of the basics. As always I recommend Self Publishing Resources and the Flourish Blog for more of the good stuff. Also go on the Amazon KDP forums and look for a thread in General called ‘Newbies Start Here’, loads of good tips on the whole process. I will be doing further blogs on promotion. I particularly hope to crack a few specialist areas such as promoting awkward books/literary fiction in a landscape dominated by commercial serial fiction.

All the best, see you in cyberspace…

9 thoughts on “Book Promotion in the Land Before Time – Chapter Fourteen on Self-Publishing

  1. Some good information here. Thank you. I’d be interested to read what you have to say in that ‘promoting awkward books/literary fiction in a landscape dominated by commercial serial fiction’ post.

    1. Hi Joel, in the middle of reading Distintegration & Other Stories. It’s fantastic so far. I’ll write a glowing review when I’m done. I think we need an ‘awkward squad’ area of the web to promote & share these things!

      1. Hi Kirsty – thank you for taking that awkward/literary chance on DaOS! Very much appreciated, and it’s good to hear you’re enjoying it. It was a labour of love indeed. A review would also be excellent if you would. It’s always exciting (and a little scary, in a way) in anticipation of others’ reading of your own writing (don’t you think?) I’m well used to peer review and readership, but every reader is an individual and new readers offer new insights.

        Dogtooth’s on offer, I see . . . I shall investigate further (not because I feel obliged to but because I want to).

        That ‘awkward squad’ area does need a home, yes. Perhaps it’s already out there somewhere, but co-operatives are good places to find them . . . 🙂

  2. Yeah, Dogtooth is a little longer & more of a commitment. Hopefully the style of chapter is still snackable though. I find I’m mostly reading short story anthologies at the moment (then I don’t have to feel bad for not having finished reading 900 pages of Gravity’s Rainbow). But they still have a power to draw you in. It still feels very much like ‘a body of work’, as these things should. Yeah, even people from my writing group who have already actually spoken to me about reading my novel, I still find it odd reading their reviews. But I do feel you have to give your work up to the readers & it’s theirs to make of it what they will. It gives it a whole new life, which is nice!

    1. Dogtooth sounds like a labour of love too. Maybe all books, at some level, are. I hate to think that anybody could just trot them out without attention (though, on second thoughts, I think that probably some writers do: those of the formulaic book type). This ‘body of work’ you write about for collections is important, I feel. There needs to be some thread that ties the constituent parts (if not directly in theme or subject matters, then certainly in commitment to the greater whole). I definitely don’t think collections are the easier route to take than novels. That said, the novel is a major undertaking, I know. On reading, reviewing, feedback: yes, there does come a point where we should realise that the creation can belong now to others. This is our own individual journey though. Review interpretations are always interesting: it’s like someone plumbing your darker corners with psychoanalytic precision! (There’s anticipation in me to hear your interpretations of the stories I’ve let out into the world). All in all, we wouldn’t write if we didn’t believe the words could, one day, find their own way.

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