Skip to main content

right. You wrote it. Now sell it.

This a rant. A complete and utter rant on a Friday night. It's a rant to all my lovely, kind, clever author frienda who aren't natural sales people (so, Dan, walk away now. Or, better yet, comment with some tips!)

1. You have one big chance to promote your book unless you're with a big publisher. Your e-book. Your paperback will be lucky to shift 50 copies - your ebook will shift ten times that and more. Amazone start assessing your sales potential the minute you are live. Wait two weeks and you have lost your chance. Their algorithms will have you labelled as a slow seller and you have a mountain to climb to get thst back. Don't wait.

It is too late when the ebook is out. It is too late when the paperback arrives days, or weeks, later. You need to promote before it comes out, when it is out, when something happens with it. You need to hit All the chances.

Fun fact - it takes about seven mentions for a person to register a product. And no one will see all your posts. So you need to mention your book every legitimate chance you can.

2. That doesn't mean you need to spam! Just a tweet saying 'here's my book, it's live!' 'Here's my paperback copies!' 'I've dropped some signed stock into **** , go check it out!' Not buy my book, let me tell me about my book, let me bore you, but just ... Here is is. If you like. If not, move on. Drop twenty other tweets between that one and it's not even vaguely spammy. Same goes for forums, for facebook, for anywhere.

3. Local coverage. Everything is on line now! Get a three line column in your local paper - who always want stories - and you can tweet it, forum it, facebook it. It's fun, it's interesting and if you only do it every so often, it's not spam.

4. You don't owe anyone anything for promoting your book. Not Even your publisher. They will make money from your book. If you need a copy of your cover, ask. If you need a quote for an article, ask. If you need access to their forum, ask. If you want to know what they're going to so for you when, ask. They are not doing you a favour. This is business. You are their customer. Ask to be treated as one. You don't have to be rude, or difficult. But you can and should ask for what you need, when.

5. Suck it up. Yes, it's horrid if you're not a natural promoter. But you only need to do it sometimes. Get up, shout it out, and get down. Blitz two weeks of promo and slink off. But do it. You worked hard to get the book out. Selling it is not a dirty word. And if you don't, someone else will sell theirs instead...

Some ideas:

Blog tour - got a friend who is a blogger (waves at every sodding writer mate I have) - ask them for a spot.
Interviews - ask if anyone fancies one! Know anyone who does them - ask. Interviewers need people to interview as much as you need the coverage. It's not a favour, it's business.
Media packs - ask your publisher for one. Keep asking. Don't stop. You need it - and so do they.

All right, rant over. Stop vacillating. Tell me about your book. I want to know. Readers want to know. Don't spam, for sure, but tell me. We want to support you - readers need writers - but we can't if you don't tell us what you have for us to look at.


Dan Jones said…
I didn't walk away, but maybe that's because I'm not the target audience so I'm comfortable with everything you say! But, seeing as you asked for some comment....

You're further down the road than me. My debut novel (Man O'War, since you ask. Published by Snowbooks. Damn fine publisher. I figured I mentioned it before, but did you know you have to mention something seve... sorry, got sidetracked) is out in August, but I'm putting together my marketing / PR strategy now. That's even before my publisher will put their marketing stuff together for my book, which won't be until about April or May. I often hear about the glacial slowness of traditional publishing process, but actually, you can turn this slowness into an advantage by using the huge lead times you're given to build an effective marketing strategy, something you might skip over in the rush to self-publish.

Why do it so early? Because as Jo says, you don't know when the opportunities are going to come. And people are busy; you need to warm them up early and start hitting the right people. Press (even local press) certainly won't drop everything to feature your book. They work to lead times, weeks, sometimes months.

I'll be attending London Book Fair in March, not with getting an agent in mind, but with a view to approaching people for PR and marketing. Networking isn't everyone's forte. It's part of what I do as a day job, but I don't have the same amount of enthusiasm for my job (which I do enjoy, by the way) as I do for my novel. It's easier to talk about something you're passionate about.

I have to highlight Jo's point 3 in particular. Building a local following can be very powerful. Margaret Dickinson has built a career almost completely on exploiting and building a Lincolnshire-based audience for her Lincolnshire-based books. Her 6-8- week book tours of the county are the stuff of local legend, but have been built up over many years, and have ensured she gets a steady stream of sales as a result.
Anna Dickinson said…
Sorry, Dan. I didn't hear that. What did you say your book is called?

More seriously, congrats -- is this the one I saw a couple of years ago?
Sara-Jayne Slack said…
And from the other side of the coin, it's actually very frustrating for a publisher (especially a small publisher) when you offer all the media items, 1:1 training, contact information (etc, etc) and the author just shrugs and says they're 'not into marketing'. It should absolutely be a team effort - especially these days. Those authors who understand Inbound/Engagement Marketing are WAY ahead of the game. Unfortunately, a lot of it is to do with that 'I don't think I can, so I'm not gonna try' mindset, which is really tough for a publisher to deal with!

The other issue (again partially mindset) is the refusal to invest in learning. Whether that's financially or just with time (taking paid or free courses, for example) to master the foundations that'll put you ahead of 50-70% of the competition.

LOVE the line here: "Selling it is not a dirty word. And if you don't, someone else will sell theirs instead..."
Dan Jones said…
Cheers Anna. No, this is something completely new, only two peeps from Chrons have read it as betas, though I did put up a few bits for crit. This one is a sci-fi on robotics.
Joanne Zebedee said…
Sara-Jayne, I could see why that would be frustrating. I think it's a partnership thing - there are some places where an approach from the author goes a long way, others were it should be the publisher and the extra professionalism. But I do think authors are starting to realise they need to get more and more onboard.

Sorry, Dan - did you say you had a book coming out? ;) Huge congrats, can't wait to read it!