I was talking with a publisher friend the other day about some of the scariest (and saddest) delusions many self-published authors believe about having a successful book. Here are a few I hear all the time.
IT’S SO EASY
Yea, sooooo easy. Please. I’m grateful that when I decided to self-publish my first book (A Walk In The Snark) in early 2011, I connected with several great folks (and some not so great, but we shall ignore that for now). I learned quickly that writing my book wasn’t a simple ‘copy and paste’ of previously written blog material, as someone had tried to convince me.
I’m now working on my fourth and fifth books, and can tell you that there’s nothing easy about creating our books.
I knew jack about publishing, but I knew enough to know that anything I created, I wanted it to be amazing — after all, MY name was going on the cover, right? Nothing good is simple and easy. I researched, I asked questions, I learned. I also hired a structural editor, proofreader, formatter, and graphic artist. It cost a pretty penny, but they were all pros (and I still use them for all my books and suggest them to my clients). Why bother? Because selling books is a business.
If you self-publish, you are the business manager. No longer can writers hide behind ‘I’m too shy to promote my work!’ because even if you are signed by a publishing house, you are still going to be doing all your own marketing and promotion.
PROMOTION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
Nope. Many authors mistakenly use social media as free advertising, sharing constant, repeated links to their work. SNORE. Even if you know nothing about how social media works, even you have to admit that seeing that stuff on your wall and timeline bothers you. So don’t do it. Don’t be that annoying writer who does nothing but that. You are turning people off.
People try to rationalize it:
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Social media is SOCIAL. That’s the opposite of one-way broadcasting (that’s radio). Social media is not radio. Sharing doesn’t mean hawking your own books constantly. It also doesn’t require that you are active 24/7. It means sharing interesting content — your own and others. We are not capable of being ‘on’ all the time. So we curate content from other sites, pictures, quotes, excerpts, promotions, whatever (always give attribution). Self-promotion is fine occasionally.
Some say the 80/20 rule applies: others’ content 80%, yours 20%. Others say 3-1-1: 3 links to others’ content, 1 link to your own, 1 quote or visual. Whatever you do, change your paradigm from Me-centric to Other-centric. ‘Every content marketer is competing with viral cat videos, compelling Snapchats, and knee slapping tweets’ (Social Media Hat.com).
There are so many other ways to promote your book besides spamming links on social: advertising, blog tours, regular blogging and guest blogging, interviews, signings, optimizing our website, using social media properly to garner a following/fan base, email marketing (a newsletter), and more. Marketing our books is a multi-pronged effort — no one prong will do it all.
IT’S ABOUT NOISE
No. It’s about visibility and connection. Writing a book and publishing it is a big deal — but expecting immediate sales just because you published is not a realistic expectations. Creating a name and a fan base is how people find you. Branding is how you stand out. Authenticity works. Readers can sniff out the fake — humans are pretty good at that.
We need to create visibility and connection by providing great content, not spamming links to our books. I may sound like a broken record, but that’s because out of every ten tweets I get, nine are authors hawking their books — Instant Follow Repellent. Don’t be that guy.
Instead, save your more promotional tweets or shares or posts for a free promotion or contest or giveaway. Add the link to your books to your bio — every bio, everywhere. Then refer people to the bio if they want more info.
I’LL WAIT TIL MY BOOK COMES OUT
No, no, no! It’s too late. Start teasing your book (via quotes, excerpts, blog posts, guest posts, interviews) a good three to six months prior to release. If you want to find readers, reviewers, book bloggers, start before you need to. Connecting with your reader base before you have readers may sound crazy, but it’s not. You also need to connect with people — talk with them, not at them.
Do you friend or follow people just so you can ask them for favors (‘read my book! review my book!)? Instead, ask yourself what you can do for others? (a la JFK) By the time Broken Pieces came out in late 2012, I had established a terrific following on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and others.
Remember, authors are competing with everyone else online. How are you going to stand out? You need to connect with a core of devoted fans — but first you have to find them and they have to find you.
Do you find any of these misperceptions to be part of your expectations? Please share below!
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Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published by Shadow Teams NYC and represented by Lisa Hagan Books. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs, #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.