Like all indie authors, in addition to actually going through the labor-intensive process of writing books that people hopefully love and rave about, I also have to market those books. That is a much less pleasant process than writing (which can also be unpleasant at times), and most authors are horrible marketers. We spend hours at a time locked up in a room, pecking out words on a keyboard, and trying to make the stories in our head make sense to everyone else. Writing is done alone, and it is mostly done by people who would rather spend their non-writing time with their cats, playing Dungeons & Dragons, or just reading books that other people wrote. That’s why it’s hard for most authors to make the switch to being gregarious marketing people.
But authors are also people who do well with challenges. You have to be a certain kind of stubborn to have the resolve to complete a novel and, like all artists, authors also need to have a special kind of fearlessness. When you put your work out there for all to see, you’re exposing a raw part of yourself to criticism and ridicule. But we still have the guts to say, “this is mine and I want you to look at it.” That stubbornness and fearlessness comes in handy when you’re forced to switch from book writer to book seller.
I’ve been gradually making that switch myself, and making some hilariously bad mistakes in the process. But my suffering and embarrassment can be your gain! In this first installment of my marketing series, here are a few lessons learned from my epic fail adventures in getting people to care about indie authors:
- Don’t be afraid to be just a little annoying. The most effective sales people are persistent without being pushy. Know where the line is, but get as close as you can to that line without crossing it. Be like an asymptote, my friend (and yes, I did break out the high school math on ya).
- Be genuine. Nobody likes fake people. Say what you mean and mean what you say. A short-term sale is not worth your long-term credibility.
- Focus your efforts on a target audience. Yes, Facebook has eleventy bajillion people on it. But the vast majority of them aren’t there to find new books to read. Go where the readers are: book blogs, GoodReads, book forums, etc.
- Help others. Think of it as promotional karma. You may not see an immediate return, but your kindness will be repaid in ways you never could have imagined.
- Start conversations. I know this can be hard for the aforementioned socially-awkward wordsmiths, but it’s important. Show people interesting things to see, learn, or talk about and they’ll be more likely to listen when you start promoting your own stuff.
- Be funny. “If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything.” ― Marilyn Monroe