I’m beginning to worry that these posts on being an Indie Publisher and especially the ones on marketing might be getting a might too moany. To be clear, I know how lucky I am to be living in a situation and in a time when I have so much freedom to follow my writing passions and to put my writing out there. And I want to thank every single person who has read, bought and commented on my novel, every reader is precious and a little bud of joy in my garden.
I guess I am trying to work out for myself what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing. I hope my ramblings will also be of help to others.
A brief update on last week’s post on social media
It is possible to use the ‘Twuffer’ app to send out automatic tweets which you can schedule for during the day and night over days at a time (other such apps are available). I have done this a few times to promote my book and, as far as I can judge, this has not resulted in more followers or more sales. Putting a cute photo of donkeys on Scarborough beach, did, however, result in around 30 re-tweets and a little flurry of new followers. Maybe there is a lesson for us all there.
Where to start?
One PR specialist I spoke to said start local and work outwards. So my first act was to send an email to everyone I had ever spoken to with a link to my Amazon page. This in itself was difficult. I was putting myself out there, I felt exposed, naked even. I was saying not only that my book is worth reading but it is worth spending money on! I felt (and still feel) uncomfortable making these claims. However, as an Indie publisher, I don’t see how this step can be avoided. Plus, I got some lovely responses, and some enthusiastic readers.
I also had to take a deep breath when I asked for reviews. I asked people I knew, of course. I also used the Book Reviewer’s Workshop group on Facebook, plus asked reviewers I came across on Twitter. Currently I have 18 reviews on Amazon, and I’ve had three reviews on blogs and one review in a local newsletter.
I think it does help to be part of a writing and arts-and-culture community. I think it is essential for any writer to be connected to other creative people anyway, but when you begin promoting your book, being part of a community and having contributed to that group in the past (‘paying it forward’ attitude) means opportunities are likely to open up to you. For instance, a local gallery prepared to stock my book and the chance to do a book event as part of Scarborough Flare, a local spoken word festival.
One of the things I enjoy doing is events and talks. So I have set up various local ones. I am now beginning to contact festivals around the country offering a workshop on indie publishing. I have one taker so far. Maybe others will come along.
Bookshops & Libraries
I have sold my soul to Amazon in terms of my e-book. To get the KDP select terms, I have to give them exclusive rights to the digital volume. For the paperback, however, I can sell through any channel I like. As I may have mentioned before, for my next novel, I am looking into printing some copies off locally in order to sell and give-away. As an author, I get copies from Createspace at cost price, but with the delivery from the US, it will probably work out better for me to go to a local printer for my own copies. It would also help me feel better, as I do believe in supporting local businesses when I can.
I love bookshops and libraries. It was relatively straightforward getting my book into my library as I already knew staff members and had worked with them on projects before (part of the ‘paying it forward’ attitude I think we indie publishers need). Similarly with local independent bookshops, galleries and cafes. Ask nicely and there’s rarely a problem.
Getting into the chain bookstores is another matter, however. I haven’t found a way to be stocked in my local Waterstones. My novel can be ordered by any bookshop as I have filled in the requisite forms for the book distributors Gardners (and got the ISBN sorted through Nielsen). Plus I have found WH Smith open to hosting a signing, even though, again, not keen to have my novel on their shelves. I’ve decided to give this a whirl when I bring out novel number two, ‘The Art of Survival’.
Next week more on marketing …. how to keep going and how to get creative.
Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv