As far as self-publishing goes, the work really starts when you’ve finished writing. That’s because when we’re writing, there are no constraints or expectations. Well, maybe there are if you’re a meticulous plotter or set yourself rigid word count goals every week, or even day. But for pantsers like me who prefer a ‘write now, tidy up later’ approach, the writing period is very much about creative flow with few restrictions.
With marketing there’s so much to think about. It can feel so often like we’re screaming into the void. There exists a ReadingCommunity hash tag, but I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it was an invention of the #WritingCommunity to keep our abandonment issues away?
For one thing, there’s the very fact that you’re trying to sell something, just like everyone else is these days. Take my last blog for example. It had my lowest engagement stats ever. Why? Because I was trying to sell a press release service. People switch off when they’re being sold to. It’s human nature. Being a salesperson is hard, and even with some background in social media marketing or even sales, you’ll still find marketing your book tough.
As soon as your first self-published child is born, crawling its way wide-eyed through the expansive Kindle book community, your in-box will start to get inundated with people and companies offering to market your book, get it to a wider audience or review it for you (at a price). They know that it’s hard to get your book noticed, and know that you’ll be desperate for help.
This is one of the reasons why I started by writing novellas. How soul-crushing would it be to have your 1000-page sci-fi space opera, which you’d meticulously plotted to the extent that it needed its own user manual, largely ignored by the masses, despite you offering it at a bargain price? This way, I can get my next book out quicker, and not spend too much time wishing more people had read the first. Also, having more books available is a great sales tool in itself.
I certainly self-published on a budget, doing the vast majority of the promo myself, though I did pay money for a professional book cover, which I think is really important. I guess it’s about how much you want to spend, and how you want to spend it. Don’t expect #WritersLift to sell your books on Twitter, but similarly, don’t expect agencies to generate loads of sales for you either – they have thousands of other clients after all.
Try a few approaches and importantly, log what works and what doesn’t. Giveaways are useful too. Not only will they get you books out to more people, but they’ll increase your chances of getting some reviews – even harder than actually selling. I’m sure there’s quite a few people with Whisper Wood sitting around in their Kindle library because they downloaded it for free. Do I wish they’d read it? Yes. Do I wish they’d review it? Hell yes. The important thing is though, one day they might. Forgive the pun, but books can have a pretty long shelf life and you may find people stumbling across yours years after it was published.
So, get writing, be proud of what you do and don’t give up.