Sometimes we learn a lot of things by watching somebody screw up before we get the chance to. Well, here's where I tell you all of the naive mistakes I did that's made my writing career less pleasant than it should be. So, what bumps have I hit along the way? Lets find out.
There are basically two options in getting published, both with both pros and cons. The first option is the most familiar one: Finding a publishing house that looks for stories with that "certain spark" in a particular genre. The other one is self-publishing, where you go out on your own to get your book published.
I, of course went the way of the indie. I figured I'd have an edge in the game due to my graphic design experience, so marketing on my own would be a snap. If my art was pretty good, the traffic would come a-runnin' when people saw my web ads on Facebook. I researched other possible venues like blogging and networking with like-minded people, but nah. I was sure I could handle this without going out of my happy bubble place. Besides, I felt other authors are trying to grab the same readers I want.
"As long as I stick to what I'm comfortable with, I'll be fine," I thought. "This will be easy."
. . .
And I can already see some of you shaking your head already. :P
Looking back at it now, I noticed three main mistakes I made upon my initial launch:
- I limited myself to one marketing area, which was Facebook
- I wasn't willing to step out of my comfort zone for the sake of expanding readers.
- I saw other authors as competition only, instead of peers
- I wanted to bring attention to a book through the visual only, and not the story itself
In short, I put all of my eggs in one basket, and that's already a big no-no for any sort of business. There's nothing wrong with using Facebook ads to get some attention for your book. If anything, it's a great idea as long as you know how to utilize it properly. I preferred using the ads since I was already an active user on the social network. Still, as useful as that one avenue was, how much more effective could Facebook have been if readers saw this book called Prossia on their ad walls and hearing a little buzz about it in some of the blogs they followed as well? The name of the game is constant exposure, and sadly, I limited my audience to only a small handful of people on one network. Even then, people might click on the link provided by the ad, but that doesn't guarantee that they will even buy the product I was trying to sale, which was my novel.
My story was published almost two years ago, and I just recently started networking with other authors and book bloggers about a month ago. So, guess what I'm doing now? Having to play catch up, and I might have cut my book's "lifespan" short because of it.. Prossia may not meet its full potential due to the mistakes I made in its initial first few months. I'm told that it's a good read by the few that have read it, but boy, it is quite a few. Now I have to set my pride and joy on the sideline so I can put more attention onto other future projects. And does it hurt? Beyond reasoning!
Here's the other thing. This is the 21st Century, folks, and guess what? People don't just talk to the folk they go to work, church, or school with anymore. We live in a day where we can send a quick "hey" message to our favorite athlete or actress and not be too surprised if they actually write "what's up?" back to us. And since that's the case, readers expect the same sort of interactivity with the authors they read their books from. So, don't be afraid to put yourself in an opening that allow people reasonable access to you in case they want to chat about your story. I mean, they were willing to invest a couple of bucks and their time to read your work. The least we can do is send them a quick email response, isn't it? Besides, it's cool! It's cool! Trust me. I mean, never in a million years would I have thought that I'd be friends with people in the UK because I chatted with them about my book on a blog or on Facebook.
So, where should you look to market yourself?
Well, I already mentioned Facebook. It's a very powerful tool, not only due to its ads, which are considered some of the cheapest and most effective ads available on the net. You can even make a page made for you, the author, or for one of your stories.
There's, of course, Twitter as well. Got a book signing coming out? Tweet that bad boy up? Did you finish the draft to the next installment in your series? Readers want to know! Did you just make the best ice cream sundae of all time? . . .
. . .Well, some folk like to read and tweet about that too, but to each their own. :P And if you're not into the whole twitter thing, you can set your Twitter account up to automatically post updates that you made on your Facebook wall or page. That way, you won't have to worry about hopping all over the social network worlds, posting up the same things all the time. And remember, just because you may not use Facebook or Twitter doesn't mean someone who can be your biggest fan doesn't.
I even had a post about a very cool site called the Indie View not long ago. It lists indie-friendly bloggers that cover many different genres. So, that's a start. But bloggers are some of the 21st Centuries most powerful unofficial journalists. They can point readers in your direction, as long as you know how to find them and ask them (more on that later) nicely. A great deal of the reviews that you see on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other book review site might have come from a blogger.
Here's the other thing. As noted in my Indie View post, some bloggers can have thousands of followers listening in on someone to say 'yay' or 'nay.' Wouldn't you like somebody that has a healthy number of your demographic just waiting to hear from YOU? Again, you want to make sure these bloggers are credible and will offer some honest insight, but like I said, more on that later. ^_^
Ah, and how about that there Goodreads? The name should speak for itself. It's a VERY popular site where readers and writers can find out the best books to consider investing in. Do you have a book? Go ahead and list it. Do you need to find a group of people that read the genre you write? Chat up with some potential fans in one of the site's clubs.
As most of these items, I'm taking baby steps in this area, but it's already been quote a thrill! Why, my latest illustration client is from Goodreads, who is also the other admin to a club I met on the site.
I can go on all day about Social Networks, Blogs, and Goodreads, and still have plenty of things to suggest. Still, you won't know how useful these avenues might be unless you try them for yourself. Who knows? One of these options might put in that spark of interest needed for your book. I'm sure there a plenty of more areas that can increase your marketing potential, but I'm just pointing out the one's I'm familiar with at the moment. Even two years after publishing my first book, I'm still learning ways to expand its target audience.
Don't worry though. I won't leave ya hangin'. Information and knowledge is rich, and we should all be willing to share some of the wealth whenever possible. ^_^
I'll discuss stepping out of the comfort zone in the next DM3W (Don't Make My Mistake, Writers). Yeah, I just thought that up right on the spot. ^_^
. . .
Heyyyyyy, I might be able to make a cool logo out of those letters and number. . . Uh ohhhhh. Gotta go ===>_>