Building a Following
As a new author, I jumped head first into self-publishing with my first two works. As far as mistakes go, I tend to think that I made every one that seasoned authors warn new authors about, and like many, I didn’t realize how challenging marketing would be.
Here are two versions of my marketing history:
Scenario 1: I wrote a book, posted it to Amazon, and expected my work to speak for itself. After all, I put a ton of effort into writing, and editing. That idea quickly vanished and I found myself searching high and low for ways to market my material.
Scenario 2: I wrote a book, found a publisher, and expected help with events and getting the word out from my new business partner. I had a publisher! Again, the idea quickly vanished and, again, I found myself in a marketing quandary.
So what is a new author to do? There is no silver bullet for this beast. I’ve tried google ads, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, lots of ads. Whenever I’m tempted to write an ad, I have to put the situation into perspective. How many times have I clicked on an ad and actually bought a product? For me, the answer is: close to never. I don’t believe ads work to sell books. I do believe that ads help build a following.
Instead of targeting an ad to buy a book, I’ve been targeting to build an audience. I primarily use Facebook to build my platform. Periodically, I place $5.00 to $10.00 ads with the goal of gaining followers. The more followers I gain, the more I can reach them with free posts to my Facebook page. Are people more likely to buy from someone they don’t know through a random ad on Google, or are they more apt to buy from an author they have chosen to follow?
Rather than spend money on marketing, I now look for creative ways to reach my targeted audience. At first, I was thinking too big. Ads people can buy are a massive audience, and people seeing the ads are inundated with competing advertisements. I’ve shifted my efforts to reach people closer to home. I’m targeting my effort by honing in on people that are interested in my work, rather than casting a small net in a large ocean, hoping to get a fish or two.
I’m looking to libraries, and looking to hold events. I can talk all day about my publishing endeavors, and it’s a chance for me to connect with people while showcasing my work. Instead of spending money on ads, I’m spending on marketing materials such as pens, coasters, and bookmarks, all with images of my book and my website address printed on them. I use these for incentives to help promote my work.
Instead of spending time on advertisements, I now spend my time researching ways to get my book out to bloggers and review sites. The more reviews I can get for my work, the more my writing will be visible to others searching Amazon for their next read.
As an author striving to get my material out to the world, I am faced with countless sites offering services for marketing and promotion. I tend to believe that it’s not the authors making money, but rather the companies and individuals offering services to the authors who hope that by paying another party, their work will get noticed. My advice to other new authors out there: don’t fall into that trap! Find ways to reach your audience that won’t cost a large sum of money. I have yet to read about a pay service that will guarantee sales.
It used to be that publishers took care of marketing, but I believe that to be less so now. More and more, authors need to handle their own marketing, and much of that marketing is about connecting to readers and building a foundation for future works.