Monday 12 February 2024

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Delving Into Promotion


One thing that a lot of people don't realise is just how much promotion it takes to sell books. I can't claim to be an expert at it because even though I'll have been published 19 years in August and my 22nd book is coming later this year, I am, and have always been, a very small fish in the book world. I do find it hard to get all the ducks in a row and manage to get the word out there, and a lot of the time, it's that word that is going to help people see you, recognise you, and go on to read more and more of your works.

So why do I then come on here and talking about promotion when I've already made clear that I'm not an expert? Simple, I do know some, and a lot of it is things that might have escaped your notice. I don't really do the hard sell. My process is more about putting my book out there for people to see, and then letting them make that decision about whether or not to go any further and buy, read, and all the rest.

I spend a lot of time working on the promotion side of things out of sight of the public eye, as do a lot of authors I know. There's not much that appeals to readers by showing them how you go about making ads, or how you go about approaching promo sites and the like. The readers know this all happens, but they have no interest in having it laid out for them. Now when it comes to other writers and authors, that's when it appeals because they might find themselves in need of that information and know how. So, like with the majority of my blog posts, let's talk to the writers and authors in my audience.

I know you've probably heard people talk about your target audience before and it's something that is really important to pin down. Like I know that my target audience is primarily young adults, so teens, but I also know that there are not a small number of adults who read YA, and I'd like to bring them into the fun too. For one part of my audience, the bigger chunk, the legitimate young adults, I'm going to focus on things like Instagram and YouTube, because I know that a lot of young adults will use that as their main social media, if they have any at all.

For the adults who read YA, I'll stick to Facebook and before I left the platform, Twitter, and now BlueSky and Threads. These are places where a lot of YA readers are hanging out and looking for their next read. It's hard to juggle having both an author platform that appeals to readers, while also having a platform that appeals to other authors, especially those in similar age categories and genres. I'm not going to claim that I've cracked it, but I'm getting to a point where I think the majority of the time, I am drawing in the right kind of people from both audiences. You need to do the legwork to find out who your audience is, and how you're going to reach them, or more to the point, where they are.


Now that you know that illusive target audience and have some idea of who they are, how you reach them, or at least where they are, then you have to focus on how they do things online. I'm sticking to online because so much promotion these days is done in the online space. While you can spend more and more on maybe billboards and the like (depending on genre and age category) I don't have those kinds of funds and a lot of what I do is done on a smaller scale and limited budget.

When you know how, as in if they prefer posts, or reels, or shorts, or long form videos, then you can tailor what you're doing to hopefully catch the right eyes. I recently, as in this year, started doing reels, and given my platform I knew they were going to fall into three distinct categories: bookish ones, those focusing on my books and enticing readers, author life ones, those focusing on my process, and bringing in either curious readers or other authors, and wheelchair walk ones, those focusing on the wheelchair walks I do that bring in people interested by that and maybe might be open to learning more about me. You don't have to go to that level, but it's worked, or is working for me, and I'm enjoying myself which is the main thing.

This is partly a carry on from the previous step, in that once you know how they go looking for things, you can decide what your next steps are. Like I said above, reels are a great quick tool, and rather than me making more videos, which I already do on youtube, I looked to places like Canva to make reels that stand out, maybe have a few clips here and there, and also appeal to those three distinct audiences I attract on Instagram. You can apply that to any social media, like if you know that on Threads you hang out more with authors, then your promotion there should be tailored to them. If you know that on Facebook, you're connecting with readers more, same applies. It's about being smart with how you do things, and also going into it informed by those choices.

So yeah, that's how I approach things, and I know it's a mammoth task and it takes forever to sometimes see any traction, but the thing about building an author career is it does take time. It's very very rare for it to happen fast, and you just have to keep plugging away at it and hoping things all come together nicely. Good luck!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

Follow Joey here on her blog, or on Facebook or Tumblr to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

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