Monday, 3 April 2017
The Trials of an Indie Author: Marketing Yourself
THE TRIALS OF AN INDIE AUTHOR: MARKETING YOURSELF
I've had some questions recently about when is the best time to start promoting yourself as an author. One thing I have always been clear on in these pieces is that my experience, and my mistakes all wrapped up together show both how you should do this, and how you shouldn't. It's been a long fifteen, almost sixteen years since I first took up my pen and started writing. It's almost twelve years since I was first published and started on this journey as an indie author. With nearly eleven books out there in the wide world ready for anyone who wants to, to read, I've wracked up a few things that I feel I should pass on. One of those things is quite simply that it is never too early to start marketing yourself.
It sounds like a scary, daunting prospect because it is a scary, daunting prospect. Not only are you writing your first novel, but you're also trying to drum up interest in both the book and yourself. That's one thing you have to remember that, you are just as much for sale as your work is. So how do you get yourself out there? How do you know when is the right time to make that Facebook page and a website and blog and all the rest of it? It's time for me to let you in on one big mistake I made and that was waiting until the books were published.
I say that, I did do some marketing in those early days when I first started writing. But it wasn't on a big enough scale. I talked to friends and I built a website but I didn't really "market" myself. I didn't put myself out there. Now, I could argue that back then there was no Facebook or Twitter, Youtube was a new thing and even that wasn't well known and the tools I had to use weren't all that great. I had to rely mostly on a small street team and word of mouth and it showed. It showed in my sales and it showed in the popularity of my work.
Cut forward to 2011 and suddenly I've got the tools available to be putting myself out there. There's Facebook and Twitter, Youtube is a big thing and Goodreads had been around for a number of years. And what was I doing in my writing life? I wasn't regularly writing, but I was publishing my books through KDP and I wasn't really putting anything about them, or me, out there. I learned the hard way that I didn't promote and market myself soon enough. I'm now playing catch up all these years later. I have books on shelves and people are aware of who I am, but I am still a very small fish. My advice is simply to not be like me and not risk your career because of making the same mistake.
So what can you do? You can join Facebook groups, set up an author page as soon as you can and market yourself, and your work, through that. Even if as of yet you've not gotten to the point where you know for sure when you're work is going to be out there. I have corrected a lot of the mistakes I made by learning from other indie authors (and let's be honest here, traditionally published authors have to do the same amount of marketing themselves too) who have come into the writing and publishing world after me. These are writers who have not made my mistakes and have put themselves into a position where they can showcase their work to the point of a huge following. I'm talking about writers like Jenna Moreci and Vivien Reis. Both of which have a bit following on Tumblr and Youtube and because of that, their books are well known, even those they are both indie authors with only, so far, one book out.
Being an indie author means wearing a lot of hats. I've talked about this before and it's still true. One of those is not just writing your books and having them ready to be published, but also marketing yourself as a brand. People in your target audience have to know who you are. They have to know what kind of work you do, and how you go about it, but they have to know who you are to be interested in what you're writing. I'm a young adult author, and I have a few readers who will buy whatever I write with one-click and for that I am very grateful. However, that is the result of working hard to make myself a known person and a known author. As of yet, you can't say the name "Joey Paul" and people automatically assume you mean me. Now that's just an example, the writing and publishing world is full of authors who, like me, will stay small fish and not just because they may or may not have marketed themselves well. But also because there's just so many authors and it's not possible for every single one to reach the heights of J K Rowling and Stephen King. It just doesn't work like that.
That said, you do want to get to a point where people in your target audience have some idea of who you are even if it's not an instant recognition. And the only way you can do that is by getting yourself out there. So make yourself an author page, get a blog and website started and get the word out there. Whether that means using social media and hashtags for writing such as #amwriting, #authorslife, #writerslife and others that are popular and get you connected to a world of other writers, authors and readers. There is no "too soon", but there is a "too late."
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