Sunday 21 April 2013

Promoting Your Work - The After Process

The majority of what I'm going to write here will apply to those writers who have chosen to go the self-publishing route. However, it's always good to promote your work even if you have an agent and a conventional publisher. The difference is that a lot of the organisation and content of that promotions will come from your agent and/or publisher.

So, how do you go about promoting your work? Especially if you're a first time author and have never had your name *out* there for the world to see. There are a number of options, some of which I mentioned when I discussed the publishing routes. (Found here.) Here's a list to get you started.

Make a web page
You need to have someone you can direct people when they ask about you, your book and other things relating to your works. It doesn't need to be flashy, it doesn't necessarily have to be your own domain. Though, it is fairly cheap and easy to set up an URL and use a pre made web page, such as through Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress and places like that. You need to ask yourself what you want people to see. If you have the skills to start from scratch, then do so, but I didn't and that's why I chose to go with Blogger for my template. I also have a domain on Tumblr, which we use for the band and both were  pretty easy to set up and easy to update and use.

What you *don't* want to do, is make a web page and just leave it with nothing but a "coming soon" label on it. You have to have some content. The basics can just be a post introducing that the website is under progress and to check back for updates, but it needs to be more than just the words "coming soon". That, at least to me, tells me that they are unprepared and it puts me off. That doesn't mean it will to everyone, I'm going on personal feelings here.

So, you've got your web page and you've bought your custom URL. Now what do you want to add? Well, you'll want an "About the Author/Writer" page or section. The wording is your choice. (But please don't say Authoress - as a writer that makes me cringe because it makes it sound like to me, at least, that it is somehow less of an author because they're feeling - again, a personal feeling.) You might also want to include a section which is dedicated to the synopsis of your book. Don't go into too much detail, but include what it's about and the front cover design - if you have one - and possibly some way for people to leave comments and/or reviews. You may also wish to make that a totally different part of the site. It's up to you.

Once you have you're website set up, you need to get the link out there. If you're book doesn't have an "About the author" page, add one and include a link to your website in it. That's a great way to get people visiting it. Now we move into the next thing.

Social Media
The era of social media is well and truly upon us. You can take advantage of that by making yourself a Facebook page for people to like and there you can share things like your book release date, your website link and any posts you make to the website, if you chose to go with a blog format within it. You can then link it to either your own Twitter or a Twitter account that you've set up specifically for promoting your book(s). Make sure to share both links on your own Facebook and ask friends and families to get it out there. If you chose Tumblr as your website home, then link that to your Facebook page and it will automatically update, same with Twitter. Once you have a few followers, they can re-tweet, share or re-blog the information and with the right tags strangers will come across your posts and possibly become interested in your work.

Using the social media beast to your advantage gives you great potential in reaching readers. When I first started my Facebook page, only people I knew would like it, but again, I included a link to it in my "About the Author" page in my books and now I have people I don't know liking it, which is always a sign that it's getting out there and being seen. The same with your book sales.

Run Promotions
As I said in the publishing your work piece, if you're with an agent and a publishing house, they will probably do promotions, or the individual stores will run them as well. I have found that usually though, these don't happen until they are sure that your book will sell well. If you're self-published, then promotions become something you need to do yourself. As I also mentioned before, Amazon KDP offer you the chance to enrol your books in KDP Select which will then allow you 5 days per book every 90 days to offer your books for free to drum up interest. They will also run advertising and I speak from experience when I say that it can lead to your books doing very well even after the promotion has ended.

Smashwords also allow you to offer a coupon with a percentage off, the amount is up to you, you can make it free or 20% off or anywhere in between. They allow you to set the start date of the coupon and they usually run for a month. Using your Facebook, Twitter and/or Tumblr you can advertise these sales to drum up interest. Doing so might mean that people who were not willing to risk a book they may not usually read, will do so for the cheaper price and that can lead to good feedback and reviews. Something I'll discuss in another piece.

Those are the three main things that will help you get your work out in the world once you've been published. You have to be careful to keep the balance between alerting people you have been published and annoying and spamming them with updates. I know of writers who overdo their promotions and people get annoyed and "unlike" or stop following because they do not want it rammed down their throats. On the other end of the scale, you do want people to know that they are actually out there for sale. If you do minimal promotion for fear of bothering people or looking like a spammer, they won't sell simply because people need to know they are there before they think about buying them. So, along with other things in the writing world, it is a case of getting the balance right.

I wish you all the best of luck in going down this road, it's fun, I enjoy it myself, but it does take hard work and it can also be an uphill battle at times. If you're prepared to put the work in, there's no reason that your books won't sell. I'm not saying you'll make millions, as discussed in my last piece, not everyone does, in fact it's pretty rare. However, for some writers, myself included, it is the knowledge that some one out there who is not related to me or my friend, has brought my work and read it. Sometimes, that is enough.

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