Certain common concerns spring up in writing groups and forums that receive mixed responses. One such general posted question might look like this:
“What is the right way to advertise your book? I see people get in trouble in groups for ‘spamming’. I don’t want to be obnoxious, but I do want to gather a grassroots following. Any advice? I already have a book page on Facebook.”
These become so common that those who have put in the time and effort to learn the answers for themselves either don’t share their knowledge (which would get buried in the comment section anyway), or they store up a strong response with excellent advice supported by their own study and experience. Author David Heath, thankfully, opted for this second approach and agreed to share his advice here. Obviously, this is one man’s approach, experience, and advice, but much of it is gold.
I sometimes opine when I see this topic spring up, so allow me to throw in a few comments. Excuse the long ranting, but here goes:
1) First and foremost, you have to decide on your overall goal. Are you looking to make a living off of your writing and be a best-seller, or are you just looking to make some friends, sell 100 copies and move on to the next project?
2) If you want to just do it for fun, self-marketing a promo is fine. Talk to some people, post on forums; that’ll do it. If you want to try and make this a career, you MUST invest money into advertising. The “beautiful lie” we tell ourselves is someone will discover our book by chance, start talking about it, and we’ll wake up and find that we have 10,000 Kindle sales overnight. The odds of this happening are not in your favor. There are millions of books available of varying quality on Amazon and yours will NOT be seen without help.
3) The hardest part of marketing is deciding where to put your money. Obviously, it’s an investment and you want to place your money wisely. I advertised my comic book series poorly and saw no results from it. My strategy was to do a few ads on Google, a few promoted Facebook posts, tweet about it, go on forums, etc. It never gained any traction. You have to really research, dig deep and understand where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck.
4) Facebook ads and Twitter ads, in my experience, are not worth the money. You pay for them to show up on peoples feeds, and these people will (in almost all instances) scroll right past them, even if you target them properly. The best looking opportunities that I’ve seen thus far are to invest in ads directly on Goodreads, popular READING (not writing) blogs and other sites where READERS (hopefully of your genre) congregate.
5) The biggest mistake I see made by indie authors is they try to target their advertising at WRITERS, not at READERS. Writers are in the same boat as you; we are trying to sell our books. If you post your link on a writers’ forum, it’s the same as walking into a crowded fish market and setting up another fish booth. There are no customers, just a bunch of old men screaming to buy fish, and no one makes any money. Look for pockets of readers who are looking for a new book to read and discuss!
6) Understand that advertisers and marketers are looking to make a profit too, namely off of people like you. Be VERY wary of anyone who claims “guaranteed sales” or “xxx number of impressions”. As an example, there are a lot of services that offer to Tweet your book to their 300,000 Twitter followers 6 times a day for a week. In theory, that’s 2.1 million people who could potentially view your book! But do the logical research. Look at their Twitter accounts where they tweet out books. Is anyone favoriting, re-tweeting, or commenting? If not, there’s a very high chance that their 300,000 followers are all fake, purchased accounts and it will do absolutely nothing for your sales.
7) The “magic spark” is this; you’re trying to get your book to a point where people are spontaneously discussing it on the internet and in person. Unfortunately, no one knows just how to get to that point yet. The most secure (but not 100%) path is through smart investment of money into good, quality ads on legitimate, high-trafficking reader websites and being personable and conversational with readers who will give your book a shot.
8) Also, give your book a proper run up to pre-release. Set a date three to six months in advance, and plan your marketing strategy to coincide with that date. Send out your book to as many review blogs as possible. Like I said, you want to try and get people talking about it.
I think that’s it for now. Keep in mind, I am not an expert self-marketer, nor am I a best-selling author. I just have a lot of experience in studying all these different methods and talking to a lot of people who both failed and succeeded.
FB page: www.facebook.com/davidheath23