You’ve probably read a similar headline when Googling what to do after publishing your book. All the research, frustrations, sleepless nights, draft after draft, stops and starts finally paid off; it’s done, out in the world, but why isn’t everyone rushing to buy a copy?
Suppose you have a large publishing company behind your efforts. In that case, the publicity machine is grinding its gears with publicists sending out book copies, submitting for reviews, awards, and setting up interviews for you on T.V. and radio. However, if you self-published your book, none of that will happen unless you do it yourself. There are legions of writers who have turned to teach “how to market” your book online. Some of them have been successful with the book they wrote, but time stands still for no writer.
In today’s world of copy, you are only as good as your next book, next post on social media, next round of likes, and favorable comments.
Keeping up with all of that requires a publicity department the size of Penguin Books or Harcourt Press. Even then, the job may not get done right. Your years of work may languish on Amazon, a dinosaur after a year, and ripe for the picking of some up and coming looking to repurpose your work and put it out there as their own.
Meanwhile, all you want to do is write, create, get back to doing what you do best. However, here’s the problem. Your focus now has to go towards marketing to book sites, posting on social media, getting lost in answering questions and comments on someone else’s book, so you can garner attention and hope they comment favorably on your page. Ideas swirl around in your head; you make notes for the next book and the next. You put together a proposal to send out to agents hoping to get a ride on one of those big publicity machines. Still, the wait is endless. Millions of other writers with plots about demons and aliens, abductions, murder, war, mayhem, or just a simple boy meets girl; boy meets boy, she meets vampire, they meet their, are circulating like planes stacked up overhead ready to land. How many more ways can there be to lose weight and keep it off? How many self-help books will add anything more to the conversation? It doesn’t matter. Someone will always have another perspective, a different way to say the same thing, so if that’s you, then go for it. Now to get people to read what you’ve written. Although you thought that writing was your full-time job, be clear that it is not.
Marketing and innovation are the key factors in any successful business.
That’s what Tony Robbins says to his millions of social media followers who want to follow in his footsteps and become a mega-star with a full-time publicity staff cranking out the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube posts 1-2-3. How can you compete with that? I wish I could tell you. Yeah, I know, you’ve read this far expecting that golden nugget of information that will miraculously propel you to the forefront of the book publishing world, but wait, I’m no tease.
There are formulas you can follow if you want to market your book. Plus, there are book companies with in-house publicity departments to assist the self-publishing author. They come at a price, but then so do you. I had a well-designed plan for marketing my books and Mindful Mandala cards, then a pandemic hit like a tsunami, and the world changed; I changed and kept changing, as has the internet. Social media has become a labyrinth of artists, authors, and business ventures hitting the screen with one advertisement after another. People are buying, selling, trading all from the disruptive comforts of home. How do you stand out and get noticed? Yes! You post a video on Facebook or YouTube, camera right up in your face, low light, out of focus, hair a mess, glasses askew, and the viewer seeing mostly your white ceiling, but you’re there, someone can see you for god’s sake, and maybe buy your book. Not just buy it, but love it, share it, help it to go viral.
After all is said and done, all the blogs and tutorials on how to market your book, the number one key to success is…wait for it…word of mouth.
Amazing, right? Talk it to friends, give away copies, then follow up to answer questions, like how they can buy more copies. Convince your aunt to get her book club to read it, voice record excerpts and post them online, take what you can from all the “how to market books” articles, and find what you are willing to do to encourage people to buy your book. Make it easy for them to find it online, or keep a few copies in your car. I keep three boxes of Mindful Mandala cards in my SUV. We’re still in a pandemic though, and socializing continues to be limited. Yet I talk it to people when they ask what I do or to friends when they want to know what I have been up to, having disappeared over two years ago only to suddenly resurface with a new book and a set of Mindful Mandala cards. At least you have something to talk about other than make small talk.
Create interesting photos of your book and post on Pinterest, and Facebook. Feed your Instagram account, but don’t overdo the postings. 3-4 times a week keeps people interested. Here’s a few examples that have motivated viewers to click through to the website and sales. This first image is one I posted to Pinterest with the link to purchase The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse book.
The second image was sent to me by a happy and satisfied Mindful Mandala card customer after opening her package. I used it as a post on Facebook.
For Chair Vinyasa I put together a collage of photos from the book and posted on all the social media sites.
And I did something similar for my photo storybook, Maya Awakens.
Most importantly, speak about your work with passion. Get people excited about what you’ve created; tell them your story, how you got the idea, the long road it took to become published. If they are still listening, then entice them with a sample of the plot, pull out the book and mention you “just happen to have a copy with you.” Make them want to read what you’ve written.
You are and always will be the best salesperson for your creative work.
We are all of us rethinking our entrepreneurial lives within the cocoon of this pandemic. What happens later will have its twists and turns. Having self-published four books and one set of Mindful Mandala cards, I have found that if you don’t speak up about your work, no-one will know, and if you are doing it just for yourself, well, then that’s your kink and no complaining. If anything, the internet has become our place to communicate to the world, so share, share, share your work, and make sure your audience knows where to buy your amazing, next New York Times bestseller. Good luck.