Our greatest gift in life is hope, and it is this burning flame within us all that often causes our downfall when it comes to self-promotion. We have a misconception that if we throw truck loads of money at a ‘marketing professional’ our product or service will magically sky rocket to best selling status and everyone around the globe will know our name and we will live happily ever after.
Sadly this is not the case. What is true however, is that with an extreme amount of hard work and persistence; you can achieve your goals – albeit not in such a dramatic and instant way.
When I self-published my first book I was so immensely relieved that my book was actually finished and now available for adoring fans to buy and gush over, that when I realized the actual work was yet to start, I was shocked and slightly demoralized.
There is no point in writing the world’s greatest book if no body knows about it, which of course is why we need to promote and market the hell out of it. Having spent my allotted budget on an incredible editor, illustrator, ebook conversion, business set-up and so much more – when it came time to begin marketing I realized I had to think outside the box because my current box was sadly lacking in coins.
The first thing I did was educate myself: I have limited time (being a single working mom) and so I knew that I had to use what resources I had to their maximum, rather than floundering around trying methods that would bare no fruit.
There is an enormous amount of free resources available online and I made the most of them. I learnt about which marketing channels would best suit not only my genre but my personality as well.
- From these videos, blogs and courses I made a list of what I would need to do. Before I tell you about my list I would like to quickly give some advice – it’s called EXCELL. To save yourself time, frustration and headaches I implore you to keep an accurate record of all your marketing strategies and actions.
- Record who you spoke to, from which company, on which date. Also keep a file of your correspondence so that you can copy and paste key paragraphs (like book synopsis, author biography, statistics etc) and save yourself from having to type out yet another email (the 100th one that day).
My marketing strategy took into account where I lived, who I knew personally, who my friends knew, and what I was or wasn’t willing to do.
This self-assessment is important because a lot of advice I read online suggested that I networked at writing and publishing conferences, unfortunately we have no such luxuries in South Africa and so that was off my list.
As I am a non-fiction author there was also advice around hosting workshops. Now this is something I will do in the future, but I weighed up the time and cost involved in marketing myself as such and setting up the events and so decided again that this method of self-promotion wouldn’t fit at this stage.
SO WHAT DID I DECIDE TO DO?
STEP # 1: I prepared my pitch. This is important. I covered my book, why the book is important/unique/noteworthy etc. I prepared my press release, author biography and pretty documents that were ready to be sent when requested.
STEP # 2: I reached out to all my friends and asked them if they knew any journalists, magazine editors, celebrities etc. You’ll be surprised at how many good contacts come back to you, and it’s always easier to approach someone in the industry when you have a mutual friend.
STEP # 3: I googled all the magazines that I thought would be interested in featuring my book and phoned them. Yes you could email but people get hundreds of emails a day and I think you get better responses when you speak to an actual person and have the opportunity to connect with them. (These were local magazines)
STEP # 4: I googled podcasts that speak about my genre and emailed them asking if I could be a guest speaker. (International podcasts)
STEP # 5: I went onto trusty google yet again and found radio stations, and specific shows/DJ’s within those stations and then called them as well. (Local stations)
WHAT ELSE DID I DO?
- I made sure my social platforms like facebook and twitter were up to date and started following interesting people and groups. I engaged in conversation with them and supported their posts and promotions.
- I set up my website to offer free resources and chapters, together with automated emails (Mailchimp) that would help me manage those tasks.
- I offered barter deals. In my previous life I was an animator and so I am pretty nifty with design, programming and web. I offered friends and colleagues free work in exchange for their help.
- I offered free books for give-away competitions through various channels.
- I blog when I have time, not necessarily on the topic of my book but just in general – sharing who I am and how I think. I recently opened up my blog for guest-writers so I can get additional great content and support others.
- I continue to stay connected with what’s happening in the industry via my subscriptions and every week try out a new idea or method.
AND WHAT ELSE? (This is the important part)
- I believe in my product and in myself. You cannot successfully sell anything, never mind a book, unless you stand behind it 100%. I know that you can feel very exposed and vulnerable when sending your baby out into the world, and there is a very real temptation to sit at home hiding while hoping for the best. I used the word ‘f*ck’ in my sub-title, believe me that took a lot of um’ing and ah’ing but in the end I stuck with it and I’m prepared to defend my choice when I’m questioned. The point is that I am being my authentic self and I am willing for people to connect in with that. You are not only selling your book but your self as well. So be proud!
- I asked. In every one of my phone calls or emails I asked for what I wanted. Don’t waste people’s time and write an enormously long email that goes nowhere. Try… Hi, I’m Sonia, I would like to be a guest speaker on your podcast and this is why… If you don’t ask you won’t receive.
- I never stop. You are not always going to be received well, people won’t return your call and others will say your book isn’t for them. It’s ok – you aren’t trying to win a Miss Universe pageant here. Take it on the chin then carry on. There isn’t an author alive who hasn’t been rejected at least 10 times. Try not to take it personally.
I started this article with ‘hope’ and now I’ll tell you why: through my various Internet trawling sessions I come across publicists, publishers, you name it. Each and every time I go into their site and feel that hope rise within me. I think; maybe if I work with them they will turn me into an overnight sensation and I wont have to put in all these long hours that are soaked with blood, sweat and tears.
Then I look at their services and I realize that they would be charging me hundreds of dollars for what I am already doing. I also know that they would never put in as much dedication, love and hard work as I myself am.
And that’s it folks – there is no magical formula or publisher that will make your dreams come true. There is just your commitment, your passion and your love for writing and sharing that love with the world.
With a plan, some knowledge and a lot of elbow grease you can make your own dreams a reality. Don’t give up, keep pushing and always remember there is a solution for every problem, most especially when that problem is a budget.
As written for www.bookmarketingtools.com