I posted a meme on Instagram recently that showed a writer working furiously at his desk with this text bubble over his head: “You know you’re a writer when you are more interested in writing a story than selling it.” This is the story of my life! I, along with most of the writers I know, would rather scale Kilimanjaro than market their work. But alas, if we don’t market our books, how will anyone know they exist? After all, our mothers and significant others can only help promote us so much!
Over the last year or so, I’ve made a concerted effort to make friends with marketing, or to at least be civil acquaintances with it. I regularly listen to book-marketing podcasts (The Sell More Books Show, Book Launch Show, and Sci-Fi and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, for example), and have read a few books on the subject.
I think the biggest takeaway I’ve learned since I’ve embraced the sales side of publishing is that you don’t have to do it all. There’s an overwhelming number of ways to market your work, from blog tours and book review sites to newsletter promos and social media blasts. It’s easy to feel paralyzed just thinking about where to begin!
Personally, I am a major Twitter and Instagram junkie. While neither of those should be used primarily as “Buy my book!” services, I have had success posting about my upcoming books, usually via a simple quote image or a retweet from a beta reader or reviewer.
A few months ago, I posted a call for advanced readers to read my upcoming women’s fiction novel, Armor for Orchids, and as a result, now have nearly two dozen reviewers who’ve said they’ll leave an honest review when the book comes out in January! (Generally, only a fraction of advanced readers will leave a review come release day, so it’s best to cast a wide net.) I also have an amazing assistant, Jaime, who’s reached out to book bloggers on my behalf. Leading up to the launch, my publisher (the small press Evatopia) has placed the book on pre-order on Amazon for just 99 cents, which hopefully will give it a boost so it gets on the good side of Amazon’s mysterious algorithm. I’ve also been posting a quote from the book on Instagram and my Facebook page every Wednesday – you don’t want to overdo it!
As a long-term launch strategy for my in-the-works fantasy trilogy, I have a newsletter sign-up form on this website and promise that my newsletters will very rarely ever be “salesy” but will instead be fun (Greek mythology related) and feature cool giveaways. Once the first book in the series is available, my subscribers will be the first to know!
I will be the first to admit that my launch “strategy” (I hesitate to use that word – it sounds so militant and anti-artist, doesn’t it?) is simple. (Book launch expert Tim Grahl would probably cringe if he read this post.) But just as I’m growing every day as a writer, so too am I – despite my strong aversion to any left-brained activity – learning to be a better business woman, because like it a not, all of us must be somewhat entrepreneurial given today’s publishing world.
I know there’s tons more I could be doing to push my book and get the word out about it, but for now, what I’m doing is enough for me. Anything more and I know I’d be pulling my hair out, and never will I sacrifice my sanity or healthy blood pressure level just to snag a few more book reviews or earn a few more dollars. I for one would much rather forfeit the chance at a few more sales and fans than have my life consumed with the task of obtaining them.
As I’ve stated before, I would write even if no one ever read my work; announcing a release and having people respond favorably to it is icing on the cake. For some, “writing to market” and selling is the cake, and those people are wonderful to learn from, but not people I aspire to be like, at least not completely.
Perhaps one day I’ll have a launch strategy that more closely resembles an “Age of Empires” game, but at this point in my writing career I am more than content to do what comes most naturally, and for me that’s having genuine interactions with likeminded “book nerds” on social media and connecting with people who genuinely have an interest in the types of books I’m letting loose in the world. It’s my hope that the readers who like my work will then spread the message to their circle of friends, and so on and so forth. It may seem old fashioned, but I absolutely believe word-of-mouth marketing is still the most effective kind!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and encouraging in some way! What’s one of your personal favorite book launch strategies? Share it with me on Twitter @dandersontyler or leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you!