Writing a book is easy. OK so I know it’s not but, if you thought writing was hard, marketing your book as a new author is going to drive you toward madness.
We are all either inherently lazy or short of time
As writers, if we are awake, we want to be writing or living life; even if that just means drinking wine and having sex. There are a lot of people out there who want to sell you their books about how to market your book. Anything that promises a quick fix is going to be attractive (if you are looking for a quick fix stop reading this and go and write a book on marketing your book).
I am not a marketing expert
I am a writer who, struggling to market their first book, decided to do some research into the subject. These are some of the useful things I have discovered. There is no guarantee they will work for you (there is no guarantee they will work for me but I am making steady progress), there are no quick fixes and no ‘you must dos’; just suggestions to work on.
Credit for many of these must go to Tim Denning, Sergey Faldin and . There are links to his, and other, source articles at the bottom of the page.
Don’t Follow Me. Come on, masses of followers means a ‘proper’ author – right?
I mean Lee Child’s Reacher has 81.6k on Twitter and Stephen King has 8.4m. Yes but Lee Child has sold 100 million books and Stephen King 300 million. That means Lee Child has sold over twelve hundred books to each follower and Stephen King a slightly more believable thirty-five. These guys have huge fan bases who are interested in their latest books and their ideas on writing. Who knows how many of their followers are actual book buyers. Their readers will search them out so the correlation between followers and sales does not really hold up.
Posting on social media is like standing on a grouse more and firing a shotgun into the air without looking and hoping to hit a bird.
I follow several hundred authors on Twitter. Some of them because I like their work and some because they obligingly retweet some of my posts. The problem is some of them retweet another twenty or thirty authors posts each day; many of them from completely random different genres in which I have no interest. The result; my feed is clogged by posts I am not interested in. The stuff I am actually interested in is so far down the page I have given up before I get there. My response is first to politely mute over tweeting accounts and then, if that fails, unfollow them.
On Facebook it appears that an algorithm decides what I would like to see. Authors who post regularly suddenly disappear from my feed and event notices pop up after they have happened.
Posting on social media is like standing on a grouse more and firing a shotgun into the air without looking and hoping to hit a bird. You have very little idea of what or who you are aiming at. So, what’s the solution?
Be Interesting – make them target to you
Decide what your brand is and create work that fits with your brand. Share other authors, writers and content producers posts that will be interesting to your audience. For example I have two brands: Simone Francis (Author) and Secret Obsessions (Fetish photos and illustrated short stories).
Simone Francis – Writes steamy thrillers featuring bisexual heroines. These are not sex on every page books but the sex is graphic and usually involves fetishes such as spanking, bondage and submissive and dominant relationships. There’s some romance but they are not firmly in that genre. I post work from other authors working in a similar genres; especially if their work is of a different heat level, not too explicit photographs that show my fetish themes (my personal taste is for pictures with more artistic elements rather than bland selfies, so I go with that). A lot of my followers are fellow authors (authors, myself included, are avid readers) so I share articles on writing and marketing.
Secret Obsessions – A partnership between Simone Francis and the photographer Dmitri Vasarian. The site is a vehicle to display fetish photography and illustrated short stories on the fetish themes of spanking, submission and bondage. Again I share a lot of similar work from authors and photographers. The posts and shared work is hotter, more graphic, more explicit than Simone Francis but not hardcore. This is a personal decision, look at my sites or read my books and you will see that I am far from prudish; I just like to leave something to the imagination. There are other subjects that I have set limits on but will not detail those here as it is up to each author to decide where these lie.
You can probably see that there is a lot of overlap between the two brands. I can cross post between the two and gain an insight into how many members of my audience like hotter work when they follow both. But, why promote other authors if it’s not just to get followers? Firstly – a book costs, on average, about a fiver. Most people can afford more than one; it is not a major purchase like a sofa, a car, or a house. If you recommend something and it is good people will (eventually) remember you. They might even bookmark you or join your mailing list.
(Update – I have noticed that, after creating my brands and limiting retweets and shares to those that fit with my brand I am getting an increasing number of followers from outside the usual writers circle. If this translates into email subscribers I will declare a success.)
Imaging if you could be like Google – you’d be unstoppableSergey Faldin
Pick a specialism, something you are passionate about. Write about it on your website but include lots of useful links to more or alternative information. If the links and the ideas are good people will bookmark your page as a reference for this specialism. They will seek you out, join your mailing list, interact with you.
Interact With Your Readers – Create a mailing list
A mailing list is the only medium where you have a direct contact with your audience (Tim Denning). Yes they can ‘like’ or ‘follow’ you on social media; you can even send them messages individually. Try sending a thousand messages on social media and the Facebook spam police will be at your virtual door before you reach ten. Post to your two thousand plus friends (did you know there’s a limit?) and how many will see it? A mailing list consists of people who have said, ‘yes I’m interested in what you say, Tell me more; inform me; entertain me.’ Setting up a mailing list.
Back on that grouse moor we are now targeting individual birds with a snipers rifle.