Whether you’re planning on self-publishing your writing or going the traditional route, you will have to market yourself and build an author platform. For the self-published author this is an obvious necessity, but what I’m not sure people realize is that publishers want authors to have a following and to be able to market themselves, at least to some extent.
I think a lot of aspiring authors find the idea of marketing to be intimidating. There’s the stereotype of the hermit author who doesn’t want to interact with people and would rather write alone in a hovel and have someone else sell the books, and honestly I think the archetype of the introvert author is overblown (even though I am one), but even if you don’t fall into this category, the idea of getting your work noticed in a sea of other people trying to do the same can be daunting.
I’m going to have other articles that give more detailed information about internet marketing and some of the things I think authors should be looking to do, as well as things that I’ve tried myself. However, for this article I wanted to just touch on some of the basics on how to approach the endeavor. Whatever your plan is and whatever tools you’re using, I think this general tips will apply.
Social media allows people to share their lives with others, and while we like to make fun of people who post pictures of their meals on Instagram or tweet about the most boring minutiae of their days, anyone who follows you on social media will want to get a sense of who you are. This is especially true when you’re trying to create your own brand as an author, or really as any kind of entrepreneur. Of course you don’t want to divulge too much personal information or post thoughts or opinions that could hurt your brand, but you do certainly want to let your personality show in your marketing efforts. Don’t try to be all serious business all the time…unless that’s who you are, I suppose. Try to be playful and engaging and give people some insight into who you are and what you’re passionate about. Act natural, as they say.
You should also share your story. Why are you becoming an author? What have you learned on this journey? What is your work about, and what is your writing process? These are things that people are always curious about, and sharing your insights into the world of writing can help draw people to you. Everyone is different, and by sharing what you are doing and how you’ve done it you might help someone else adjust his or her process to find success, or inspire someone who is thinking about writing to start. Providing this kind of help will make people want to support you.
Share Your Passions
Connected to the above point, sharing things that you like through your different marketing avenues will let people get to know you better. For example, if you’re a member of a certain fandom, then sharing things associated with that fandom might attract you followers. When those people realize you also write, they are likely going to be more willing to give your book a chance because they know you’re into the same things they are.
You can also share things that have helped you on your journey of becoming a writer. Turn yourself into a resource so that other aspiring authors can learn from you. If you make yourself helpful in that way, people will be more likely to either want to buy your work and support you, or help you promote your work by sharing posts about it.
On Politics and Sensitive Topics
Since we’re on the subject of sharing…
Some people might say that you shouldn’t talk about politics or other similarly contentious issues. I don’t necessarily agree with this. Your personal views may turn people off and drive them away from your platform, but by the same token you’re likely to attract like-minded individuals who will want to follow you and maybe interested in supporting your work. In my eyes that’s something of a wash. However, if you’re going for the sort of mass appeal thing, you may want to stay away from some of these topics.
One piece of advice I will give you is not to waste your time interacting with people who happen to disagree with you. You’re almost never going to win an argument over the internet, and all it will do is make you frustrated and distract you from the work you should be doing. There is no reason to interact with someone who’s going to attack you for your views, unless maybe you think they are misconstruing what you’re saying in a harmful way, but other than that I would avoid talking to them. At most I might have some kind of stock answer prepared, perhaps a link to things they could read to educate themselves on your ideology, but even that is giving them a generous amount of time that they don’t really deserve.
While having your advertisement run over and over again on TV or radio might work, this doesn’t really fly for internet marketing, especially on social media. If you’re filling someone’s Twitter feed (or worse, their inbox) with a constant stream of ads for your book, people will get turned off and stop paying attention. Whatever marketing tools or platforms you’re using, make sure that you are using them to be a value-add for your followers. Provide content that will be helpful to them, whether it’s as an amusing distraction or insightful advice. Don’t just constantly ask people to buy your work because of the end of the day that will drive them away.
Try Different Things
One key thing to marketing is that you should not be afraid to try different things. Don’t limit yourself by what you think you can or can’t do, and certainly don’t limit yourself by only sticking to what appears to be immediately easy. There are a lot of different ways to market online, and you may actually have a knack for something that you don’t think you could do.
Also remember that you can try things out before sharing them. For example, if you’re thinking of getting into YouTube but you’re nervous about the potential quality of your videos, make a few test videos and share them with friends you trust. They can give you honest input as to whether or not this medium works for you. You might be a natural, or your work might just need a few tweaks, or you could be terrible blathering mess, but either way if you’re working with people you trust, you don’t have to share it with the masses right away. Bottom line: don’t let fear of embarrassment stop you from at least testing out some ideas, even if they only end up staying “in house”.
And for last I’ve saved perhaps the most important of all marketing advice, especially when you’re working for yourself as any author really is, and that is to have fun. As I said, try new things, but as an addendum to that keep working with what you find fun. Marketing, just like writing, is work, but that doesn’t mean it has to be drudgery. I’m sure that you have social media platforms you enjoy interacting on, so why not build your marketing campaign around those? While it’s valuable to diversify and have different marketing tactics, ultimately I would stick with whatever it is you enjoy doing so that you’re more likely to actually do it and not procrastinate on it.