For all of my other Fictional Workers struggling with how to sell your books well, I’ve got a lot of things to share.
My first step was to fill out a marketing plan. I have a link to one and talk a bit about the process here.
But let me rewind things just a bit.
Here are a couple of quick reads if you are new to self-publishing or have been in it for a while and feel you are spinning your wheels. Reading these will help you understand the strengths of self-publishing and maybe point out a few things you’ve been neglecting in your own plan.
Next, self-pub evangelist Gaughran’s site is another detailed look at the movement and unlike many of the other self-pub gurus, it isn’t cluttered with excessive marketing. You can download a copy of his initial book, Let’s Get Digital, as a pdf for free.
The creator of Smashwords, Mark Coker, has a couple of free books online as well that are also great primers to successful self-publishing and marketing. Yeah, like Guaghran, he has a product to sell, however these books are completely free too and not at all specific to his indie publishing tool, Smashwords.
True, some of the “advice” in these books is simply cheerleading for the self-publishing movement, but there are plenty of practical, actionable tips as well. The book marketing guide includes a great template for a press release which is worth reading by itself.
In fact, this week, I have been focusing on completing a media kit and press release. I already had a few of the components for this put together – a bio, a pro headshot (well, me and a camera with a timer) and a list of published works. However, I needed an extended bio and a few great descriptions of Crimson Son to round things out.
Writing the descriptions is every bit as fun as writing a query letter and a synopsis. But this is a pitch to your audience, not an agent or publisher, so you have to keep that in mind. You don’t want any spoilers and yet you need to grab their attention and convince them to click the “buy” button. Good news is, you won’t have to navigate all the personalization and baggage of pitching to only one person.
Just like writing queries, I’ve seen all kinds of advice for these, but the best was to simply look up bestselling books similar to yours (comp books – you need a list of these) and study those descriptions. Integrate the things that work into your own unique description of your book.
For my extended bio, I added a bit of personal information which wasn’t previously spelled out. Anything a reader might identify with or find interesting is fair game. You want them to get a sense that they know you and let that indicate a bit about your style. Over at Smashwords, I took advantage of another free tool – the “Interview Generator“. Journalists and marketers are busy people. Providing stock Q and A is a great way to make it easy for them to flog your work. You’ll find the interview generator here at the bottom of the page.
I’ve also been busy surfing. Yep, hard work but someone has to do it. I’ve been digging up places where I can a) submit my book for reviews and b) send press releases, advertisements and possibly interview.
My ‘b’ list will most likely be useless to you unless you happen to be writing a superhero novel. The point is, you want to find places where your target audience hangs out. Places they go to get information about the books they read or even where they participate in hobbies similar to your book’s subject. I’ve found several websites that focus specifically on superhero novels. Of course, there are a zillion sites out there for comic books, and I figure the general science fiction audience will have some interest as well.
My ‘a’ list is for book review sites. The big name sites will request payment and may not even guarantee a review (and don’t expect a good review simply because you paid.) Another unfortunate problem is that many have been swearing off self-pub books due to the flood (and possibly subpar quality) of submissions, so you need to check their guidelines carefully. However, I’d be willing to bet that a really professional looking self-pub piece could slip into the stack. Reviewers are readers too and all they want is good, quality fiction.
Here’s a list of some of the sites I have uncovered so far:
I hope this is useful for my fellow fictional workers. Even if you aren’t self-publishing, often some part of the marketing will fall on an author’s shoulders so every writer needs to be part creative part salesman. I’d love to hear about any other tips or experiences you may have had marketing your own works. Feel free to comment below!