Sunday, September 14, 2014

Making A Name For Yourself

You might be the best writer in the world.  Your stories could be complex emotional dramas that punch into the very soul of anyone who picks it up.  Unfortunately, if no one reads your work, your talent means little unless you're writing only for your own gratification.

So how do you get readers to look at your stuff?  In the traditional world, theoretically, this is something your publisher and/or your agent handles for you.  The truth, of course, is that more and more nowadays you're on your own and have to arrange a lot of this for yourself unless your name is Patterson or King.

In the indie world, the writer is solely responsible for marketing.  This makes some people nervous, but I personally enjoy it(probably because I'm a HUGE control freak).  You've got to get your name out there, and there are a multitude of ways to do so.

To start with, utilize the connections you have.  If you write a blog, tap into that network.  Contact blogs you frequent and see if they'll do a blog tour for you.  Perhaps they'll mention your work, along with a link to your site or Amazon page, or maybe they'll interview you.  This can be mutually beneficial by either drawing reciprocal traffic, or you could offer to do the same at some later date and host that writer on your site.  It becomes a symbiotic relationship that can bear fruit for all involved.

There are also sites to advertise your book on that don't require cash.  Sites such as BookBub, BookSends, EBookBooster, and Goodreads offer advertising to start the circulation.  And remember that advertising comes in all forms, including book reviews.  Goodreads and Amazon have reviews for various works on their sites.  If someone is interested in your work but has never read you, chances are that they're going to listen to someone who has.  This is fraught with peril, for if a few people think you suck, the odds that others will pass you by increases exponentially, but good reviews have the same chance of enhancing your circulation.

Why is that?  Because the most persuasive form of advertising is through word of mouth.  How many times have you read an author and found the person's story so compelling that you had to tell someone else?  Reviews are sort of like this, but hopefully you can get your book to enough people that this will become a self-licking ice cream cone.  By spreading the word, readers can garner you more attention.  People are more apt to read if given a recommendation by someone they trust, so getting in with a good word of mouth campaign is vital.

But how?  You need people to read your stuff for this to start, but I've just said you need word of mouth to get people to read your stuff.  Well, it's really not that hard.  Start with friends and family(if they really like your'd be surprised how easily people can sniff out phony praise).  Move on to free giveaways.  Yes, this sounds almost counterintuitive - how am I supposed to make money giving away stuff for free? - but people like to help others if they feel they are privy to something new.  A free giveaway entices those kinds of people into reading, and you can use that as the kickoff for a good word of mouth campaign.  Remember, you have to build a base first before you can grow a large audience.

Be creative.  Offer bookstores(indie ones...large retailers are likely to tell you to get lost) a free shipment where they rake all profits.  Many will be eager to see if you sell.  Look into public and school libraries.  Go to college bookstores or campuses and see if young students will give you a shot(again, you'll likely have to do it for free).

In the end, marketing is your responsibility, even if you have the vaunted book deal.  No one is too good to do it.  Those that either think it's beneath them or that it's too much work are doomed to obscurity - don't be one of them.

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